When wiring electrical circuits, grounding is established as a safety measure, which prevents or minimizes the likelihood that excess electricity in a device will course through your body. Electrons have a natural tendency to move from the area of most concentration to the area of least concentration. Unfortunately, the human body does well as a conductor, and we tend to get electrocuted when we touch open circuits. However, when a circuit is formed through the Earth, electrons will move there, which makes it a safe place to drive all the excess electricity.
Most homes will have a grounding rod buried deep into the earth. This is usually a six-foot pole driven into the soil, which acts as a conductor for excess electricity in your house’s circuitry. If you are setting up lighting fixtures or any other electrical circuitry in your home, it makes sense to ground these to prevent untoward incidents.
In some countries, electrical standards call for the grounding circuit to be included in the power outlet. Hence, in the European Union (particularly the UK), you will notice that power outlets are three-pronged. In the Americas, power outlets are usually two-prong, and the grounding wire is usually separate. However, in some cases, each power socket has a screw where you can connect the ground wire.
- The ground wire is usually identified as the green wire coming out of an appliance or fixture. Locate the green screw either on the lighting fixture, or on the mounting bracket that’s included in the fixture. In some cases, the fixture will have a green wire for connecting the grounding.
- Find the ground wire in your circuitry. This usually comes from your fusebox, or connected to the fuse meant for your lighting circuitry. The ground wire is usually covered in green insulation. Sometimes, the wire might be bare.
- Create a screw loop at the end of the ground wire. Grip the tip with pliers and twist these to form a hook at the end. The resulting shape should be like the letter J.
- Loosen the ground screw either on the lighting fixture or mounting bracket. Hook the screw loop onto the ground screw, and then tighten the screw.
- If the lighting fixture comes with a ground wire instead of a screw, you can connect this using a wire nut. You will need to insert the tips of each wire into the nut, and then turn it clockwise to lock the two wires in place.
- Once you have connected the ground wire, be sure to connect the remaining contacts to the correct circuit. Then, you can finish mounting your light fixture. Check with the installation manual for specific instructions on mounting.
For your safety, make sure that you turn off all electricity in the circuit you are working on, prior to installing your light fixtures. You can easily get electrocuted, and this might cause further accidents (like a fall from your ceiling). Also, wear protective gloves when working with wirings and electricity. Wires can be sharp and can cut through your fingers when mishandled.