Grounding Plug Outlets
Converting plugs from 2-pin to 3-pin
When do you need a grounded plug??Most small appliances have a 2-prong plug. Check your clock, TV, iPad, cell phone or other small appliances. You will notice that most of them have two prong plugs. Two wire cords don’t have a ground wire.
Modern AppliancesModern appliances are “Double Insulated” They are all plastic on the outside and the wires are insulated. They come with two-prong plugs.
When You Need Grounded PlugWhen you are using a surge strip to protect high end home entertainment equipment or computers. Most surge arrestors/protectors use the ground to drain away the surge.
Code RequirementsTo convert a 2-prong wall outlet to a grounded 3-prong outlet, the electrical code requires a #6 copper ground wire almost the size of a slim pencil to be run all the way to either the main panel or a subpanel. $300 or less is a typical fee for the first one and about $100 for each additional plug in the same room. Of course, it costs less if you mass-produce of them. But wait! - There is a better way.
Metal AppliancesGrounding used to be used to prevent shocks from the metal chassis in case a wire came loose and touched the metal shell. Some old vacuum tube radios, old appliances and refrigerators had metal covers.
Maybe you just thought it was a good idea to use three prong plugs?
GFIsThe National Electrical Code has an exception that allows us to change the 2-prong plugs to a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) plug. The “U” shaped ground hole will not have a connection, but you’ll be able to use 3-prong plugs without having to use a “cheater” (2-prong to 3-prong, gray or orange colored adapter with a short green wire and a spade end.) The result is the same.
Ground Fault InterrupterA GFI outlet kills the power instead of killing you. However, the fear of getting in electrocuted (not just shocked) by electricity is a little overrated. For you to get electrocuted, several things must happen at the same time. Not only do you have to get shocked, but you must be in a place where you can’t get away from the shocks, such as a child in a bathtub or a workman in an attic laying across the grounded metal pipes or other situation where you can’t get away. The other way that people die from electricity is the fall from a ladder perhaps landing on their head.
GFIs are required by code in rooms with running water, in unfinished basements and outdoors.
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