Only one ground in outlet

(Jason Nielsen) #1

I’m installing a standard switch in Plate that has two other switches in it ( three total ). I’m not an electrician and wanted to see if this would work, only one of the switches is grounded. The one I am changing out is not grounded. Since this is a dimmer GEZ wave I need to ground it from what I’ve read.

Would I be safe in just taking a piece of copper wire wrapping it around the copper wire that’s ground in the other switch, and taking the other end and putting it into the Z wave switch?

Thank you

( co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

In a Switch* you don’t “need” a Ground wire, but you will need a Hot and a Neutral wire.

The Hot brings in current from the grid. Don’t touch the hot wire, cuz even if you’re not grounded you usually get a shock (perhaps a very bad one).

The Neutral returns current back to the grid. You might find one carrying current already because it is on it’s way back from something else in the circuit. Regardless a “smart switch” needs a way to grab current, so it flows from the hot to the neutral.

The Ground returns current back to the “earth” in the rare case that there is an electrical fault (i.e., a short) and the switch or toaster, etc., leaks current to some metal part of the appliance. Appliances usually tie all their metal to the Ground so that it will “spill” the current to the earth instead of the human touching the toaster or vacuum’s stick or fridge door or …

A circuit can live without a Ground, and switches, often don’t have grounds because they aren’t like appliances, etc.-- they don’t have exposed metal parts. Old home “two prong” outlets also don’t have Ground wires, but may ground the wall box itself.

A smart switch can be powered between the Hot and Ground, but that is a “no no no” because now the ground line will carry current all the time and could shock anyone on the circuit touching metal of an appliance; more than defeating its purpose.

So … are you missing Ground or missing Neutral?

In a Switch you have: Hot In -> Switch -> Hot Out
That’s all a dumb Switch requires to operate.

A Smart Switch (except for Lutron) requires Hot In -> Switch -> Neutral Out and Hot Out.

(Jason Nielsen) #3

I have a line and a load wire going into the switch currently. There appears to be to housings that contain the neutral wires. I have to remove the wires from one of the housings to replace it with an eight vs six port.

So I have the wires to hook up the switch, just wasn’t sure if I should use the ground that is on the switch to the left of one I’m installing to ground my Z wave switch. But from what it sounds like that is not necessary as long as I have line, load, and neutral.

Thank you for the advice/input


(Jimmy) #4

You still need a ground. Do as you proposed, jump a wire from the switches ground to the one that exists.

(Jason Nielsen) #5

I can do that, thank you. I’ll run to the store and grab some copper wire.


( co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #6

Y’all don’t live in a very old house!

But, yup… If a ground is nearby, it’s certainly worth wiring it in.

In old homes, we often have to rely on the conduit to ground stuff, so it’s automatically grounded by the installation screw and/or to a screw at the back of the box.

(Jason Nielsen) #7

Ha, yeah we built our house four years ago. Still can’t figure out why electrician only grounded the one switch. But like I said I’m not an electrician, just dangerous enough to screw it up :grinning:

(Paul Haskins) #8

Look into a GREEN wire nut, rather than just wrapping around, one wire passes through the nut and lets you run a pigtail from it.

If wrapping - ensure it;s super tight and sufficient wraps… There also are ferrules that you crimp.

(Jason Nielsen) #9

Thank you for that. I’m going to look into this a little bit more. It appears the grounded switches copper wire runs into our housing with five other wires in it. At first I thought it was the neutral wires but appears they may all be copper wires. So not sure if that is grounding the other switches. This goes beyond my expertise. And I don’t want to make assumptions.

The top left wire in this picture is the ground from the switch on the left.