Ground Wire & How It Works

Kelly Benjamin
October 15, 2015

Ground wire is essential to ensure safety in just about any application, serving as a form of protection from electrical shocks. Establishing a ground in the electrical circuit minimizes the risk of these accidents. Whether it’s bare copper ground wire or HMWPE insulated wire, those working with the electrical circuit can feel safe knowing that a ground is established.

Grounding is the method most used to return electricity safely to a service panel. The ground wire offers an additional path for the electrical circuit to flow into the earth so as to not endanger anyone working with the electricity nearby in the event of a short circuit. Without ground wire, your body could instead complete the ground path and may cause shock or electrocution. Therefore, grounding is critically important to any sort of electrical and wire work.

Copper grounding wire is commonly used in electrical applications, particularly because of its conductivity and its durability. There are various types of copper wires used across applications. The main types of grounding wire most used includes bare copper and gauged copper wire.

Bare copper is the most commonly used type of copper wire and is often referred to with the general term “grounding wire.” It does not have any sort of protective coating, however, the lack of insulation allows bare copper to have the best conductive properties. It is typically used in residential homes or as the base for almost any type of wire or cable. As a base, the wire contained within acts as a ground. Contractors for outdoor applications prefer this type of copper wire, as it is protected from the elements.

Another commonly used type of grounding wires is gauged copper wire. This type of wire is offered in a variety of sizes, depending on the application needs. Standard sizes offered include 1/0, 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 gauges. In general, the larger the gauge number, the smaller the wire. Larger wires (or the smaller gauge) are needed for higher currents. For example, a 16-gauge wire is typically used in residential home circuits, as 15 amps is the maximum current allowed. Alternately, 4, 2, and 1 gauge wires are used for industrial settings, producing 150, 225, and 350 amps.

Do you need ground wire for your project? Performance Wire & Cable offers multiple styles and gauges, including solid and stranded copper ground wire, as well as small and gauge conductors, insulated or bare.