What Does Grounding Electrical Currents Mean?
Humankind has come a long, long way since we first invented fire. Groundbreaking innovation in all fields has led to increased quality of life, longer lifespans and myriad other benefits of modern technology.
One invention that has provided an immeasurable impact on our development as a species has been the harnessing of electrical power. Imagine a world without electricity. We would have some serious adjusting to do!
Here at All Electrics, we pride ourselves on being sector-leaders in best practice and knowledge of all things electrical. We love our work and we love to share about it.
In this helpful article, we’re going to explain about grounding electrical currents.
What is Grounding?
An electrical circuit is the means to which devices like light globes and your fridge are powered.
There is one wire, the active wire, which provides the power from the mains and then a “neutral” wire, which carries that current back, forming the circuit. In addition to these two wires is the “grounding wire” which can be affixed to outlets and other electrical devices, and then securely connected to the ground at the breaker box.
The reason for this extra wire is to provide a path for the current to safely reach the ground without any risk to anyone in the unlikely event of a short circuit. If this were to occur, the current would speed through the grounding wire – this would likely result in a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. This is much better than the fatal electric shock that could result from an ungrounded current.
Why is Grounding Important?
Grounding electrical currents are important for a variety of reasons. We’ll go into them in more detail below.
Firstly, a grounding wire helps to direct electricity to where it needs to go. It ensures that currents travel safely and on the right course, keeping your lights on and your appliances powered.
Grounding also protects against electrical overload. This is probably the singular most important reason for grounding a circuit. It protects you, your home, your appliances and everyone from a power surge – which would produce a dangerous amount of power. Grounding ensures the surge would be directed to the earth.
This process of grounding circuits also helps to stabilise the level of voltage in a circuit, which ensures that the circuit maintains a good level of power without risking overload and a blown circuit. This is because the ground provides a point for all the different sources of voltage in the system.
A word about the earth – it’s the best conductor of electricity there is. There’s a reason lighting strikes the earth the way it does because electricity will always take the easiest path to earth. This means a surge will go to the earth before it goes to you – which may just save your life.
Sometimes a power surge that isn’t properly grounded can cause a fire or explosion, risking damage to life and your property.
But How Does it Work?
By now we know why grounding is so important, but how exactly does it work?
In the majority of homes in Australia, the wiring system gets grounded to a metal rod that is driven into the earth or a metal pipe that extends from the house from the water system.
A copper conductor helps to connect the rod or pipe to a set of what is called “terminals” in the service panel.
Is My Home Circuit Grounded?
Yes, every home built or renovated in Australia will have a grounded circuit system, there is no need to worry.
If you’re unsure about the safety of your home electrical wiring, contact your local electrician for a check-up.
Some Safety Tips
When at home, here are some safety tips you can follow easily that will keep you and your family safe.
Never touch an appliance if the insulation of the cord is frayed and you can see a metal frame. Dispose of it safely. If you leave it you could risk a severe electrical shock.
Always inspect your appliances for loose or frayed wiring, and arrange repair or replacement if you notice this.
A Current Conclusion
In this article, we’ve explained what grounding is and how this process works, and why it is vital for safety. We’ve also explained that all homes in Australia should have a grounded circuit, and shared a couple of safety tips to keep in mind.