The question is, do hanging lights need to be grounded? has arisen more than once. The information contained in this article will help you determine whether or not you need to ground your lights.
Do hanging lights need to be grounded?
There are some cases where a hanging light needs to be grounded. The general rule of thumb is that if the hanging light is fluorescent, then it needs to be grounded. If it is incandescent, then it doesn’t need to be grounded. So, if you are wondering if your hanging lights need to be grounded or not, the best way to find out is to test to see if you get any sparks when you tap the light fixture. If you do, then it is grounded, and if not, then it is not.
Most lights don’t require any grounding. However, there are a few exceptions. Most lights that plug into the wall or operate on batteries do not require grounding. Some metal halide and fluorescent lights do require the wires from the power supply to be grounded. If this is the case, a wire connecting to the grounding terminal on the power supply must be included in the light.
Usually, lights hanging from exposed beams should be grounded. The reason for this is that the light fixture may come into contact with the beam. For example, if a light fixture has three exposed wires and is being hung from a wood beam, you should ground the fixture to the beam to prevent shock or fire. Light fixtures that are not hanging from exposed beams do not necessarily have to be grounded, but it’s still a good idea because of the risk of children touching a light fixture and receiving an electrical shock.
How to ground a light fixture with old wiring?
Grounding light fixtures is a very important part of safe electrical wiring. If you are planning to replace your old light fixture, first, turn off the power to the fixture at the fuse box. Then, unscrew the wires and replace them with a new wire and a new attachment plug. If you are going to keep the old fixture, you have to check your old fixture to see if it has grounded. If it does, use a plier to remove the grounding, and attach it to a wire of the new fixture to ground it. You should always ground the light fixture and make sure it is attached to a grounding wire.
Have your electrician install a new switch with ground wires in the box with the existing fixture. The existing switch is probably not rated for full current, but the new one will be. You can use a wire nut to connect the ground wires in the box. The new wires should be bare or green. You can use yellow to connect them to the white neutral wires, but that is just a convenience, they should be connected to the green wire of the new switch.
Be sure to tell your electrician that you have old tube wiring. If he is not familiar with it, tell him to look it up on the Internet. The insulation on the wire is about the same as for modern wiring, but the wire itself is not grounded. Screws connecting the wire to the metal box are often not stainless steel and become corroded, leaving the wire ungrounded.
When a light is turned on, the power wire heats up, the insulation gets hot, and the wire can abrade through. If the wire is touching something else, the power will jump across the insulation and cause a fault that is hard to find. You can use a multimeter to test for ground, but it is not 100% reliable. The safest thing is to have your electrician check it.
How do you install a light switch without a ground wire?
- You can replace the existing light switch with a new one that fits in the same hole as the old one. If the new switch is not the same brand, you will have to pay an electrician to change the wiring for you. (Not worth it.)
- You can install the switch with a pigtail. A pigtail is a wire that connects the old switch to the new one. You’ll have to fish the wires through the wall and use wire nuts to connect them. So, if your switch is not grounded, you’ll have to connect the grounding wire from the switch to the grounding wire from the wall. Some switches have a grounding on the side of the switch. Use a wire nut to connect that wire to the grounding wire. (Not as safe.)
- You can also install a dimmer switch. Dimmer switches are not grounded and therefore don’t require a grounding wire. The best place to install the dimmer is on the receiver side of the switch. (See the diagram below.) If you want to call an electrician to do this job, you can use the electrician locator just below this sentence.
What if I don’t have a ground wire?
If you don’t have a ground wire you don’t need to do anything, it’s not dangerous, just annoying. Usually, it’s the little blue wire that is used as a ground, but if it’s been cut, you would find an empty wire or a wire with a green stripe on it in place of the missing ground.
If you’re missing a ground wire on your outlet, or if your ground wire isn’t working, you can still have your circuit breaker protect your outlets. Current from the breaker will run into the ground wire and then run directly back out to the neutral wire. This isn’t ideal because it has the potential to cause electrical fires and shocks, but occasionally it’s your only option.
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