Grounding systems are vital electrical safety features. They protect against electrical shocks and fires by directing rogue electricity into the ground. In this introductory guide, we’ll explain what grounding is, how it works, and what the main components to an effective grounding system are. Read on to learn more.
Grounding is the process of creating a low impedance path where excess electricity can flow and discharge into the earth. Grounding systems are a standard safety feature found in most electrical systems. Occasionally, electricity will build up in wires and other devices. This excess electricity will eventually discharge. Without a grounding system in place, it will take an erratic path to the ground, potentially harming people or starting fires in the process.
How Does It Work?
Grounding works thanks to the tendency of ions to seek equilibrium, or a neutral charge. Electricity is positively charged. The positively charged ions in electricity seek out negative ions that will neutralize them.
The ground has a strong negative charge and is what most electricity is drawn to. When electricity needs to discharge, it takes the fastest route to the ground. Without a grounding system, it may travel through the air, water, or even people as a shortcut to its destination.
Every electrical circuit includes three wires: an active wire that provides power, a neutral wire that carries current back to the source, and a grounding wire. If a fault (like a short circuit) causes electricity to build up in the wires, the grounding wire provides a path into the ground so the excess electricity can discharge safely.
What Are the Main Components of a Grounding System?
Grounding systems sound complicated, but you’d be surprised by how simple they actually are. Most grounding systems comprise of just four main components. Here are the main components to an effective grounding system.
The ground rod, or grounding electrode, is what joins the grounding system with the earth. It’s an 8-foot-long metal rod, usually made from copper and bonded to steel or galvanized iron.
The grounding wire, also known as the conductor, is what connects the ground rod to the ground connection terminals in the service panel.
Also known as connectors, these clamps secure the grounding wire to the grounding rod.
While it isn’t technically a component, it’s a crucial part of every grounding system nonetheless. The grounding rod is driven into the soil. Excess electricity is funneled into the soil and then discharged.
Proper grounding is crucial to ensure electrical safety in the home or on the worksite. If you need to test your grounding system to confirm it’s working as intended, Dreiym Engineering can help. We’re a ground testing company with years of experience in the industry. Contact us today to learn more about our ground testing services.