Ungrounded light fixture

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by maddfrog, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. maddfrog

    maddfrog New Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    California
    I'm installing two new lights and a switch in an unfinished basement. The wires to the existing fixtures are all 14-2 with a ground wire. I purchased two plastic ceiling boxes and two simple porcelain light fixtures. When I started the wiring, two questions came up:

    1. The light fixtures don't have a ground screw - just the two for the hot and neutral wires. Did I buy the wrong fixtures or do I just not attach the ground to anything?

    2. Should switch legs have ground wires? I see the ground screw on the switches, but not all of the switches in my house were wired with grounds.
  2. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Let one of the pros come in here but in the meantime here's what I do for 1.

    1) I connect the ground wire to the box with a screw to one of the unused mounting holes. Then I wire up the fixture as usual. I'd like to know why those lights don't have a ground wire.

    Tom
  3. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Porcelain and plastic fixture don't have provision for a ground wire because there is nothing to ground. If the box is metal it should be grounded as described.
  4. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    There is no ground on your fixtures because there is nothing conductive that you can touch.

    Grounding of switches is a new thing so your old switch boxes won't have pigtails. Is it necessary? IMO it depends on the location. If someone is likely to be barefoot and wet when they operate the swirtch it's a good idea to ground it or use plastic coverplate screws.

    I don't know what the code says about grounding switches. The P&S brand of toggle switches don't have ground screws on them.
  5. maddfrog

    maddfrog New Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    California
    So it sounds like it doesn't really matter what I do with the ground wire in the ceiling fixture - I could just as easily cut it off. It's a plastic box, so connecting the ground to the box won't do anything.

    I think I'll connect it to the box just to keep things neat in there and to have the wire available if I ever replace that fixture with one that does need a ground or extend that circuit to something else that needs one.

    Thanks for your time.
  6. 480sparky

    480sparky In the Trades

    Messages:
    149
    Do not cut it off. It is still required to be accessible at that location. What would happen if years down the road someone installed a light fixture that was required to be grounded?
  7. maddfrog

    maddfrog New Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    California
    That was the conclusion I reached in the second part of my last post. Thanks for confirming.
  8. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    NEVER cut wires off.:mad:


    Somebody might need them someday.:)




    It will ground the screws.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    I'd also make sure to run the hot lead to the center conductor of the lamp fixture. Some of the porcelain ones don't have any pigtails, or silver and brass screws.
  10. maddfrog

    maddfrog New Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    California
    This one does at least have silver and brass screws, so I was good there.

    As far as the grounding goes, if I connect the ground wire to an extra screw in the box, does that actually ground the fixture if the box is non-conductive? Wasn't sure if
    was tongue-in-cheek or not...
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    Grounding the box gives another chance to protect things if the hot should touch something it shouldn't. Course, if you have a plastic box, it doesn't buy you anything, but if it is metal, and the box got energized, having the ground there would trip the breaker.
  12. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    Some plastic boxes have a metal bar that has a gnd screw and runs around to both fixture screw holes. This will kind of ground a metal fixture via the screws should there be no grd wire on the fixture (old school).

    If your box has NO metal, there will be nothing conductive/exposed that could ever get energized.
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