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Why you need ground wire

To the homeowner, the purpose of ground wire is to protect people, circuits, and property from short circuits and arc failures (loose wire spark) by providing unobstructed path to earth .... and protect the circuit breaker and wire during a short circuit by absorbing voltage.

To the grid, the function of ground wires and ground rods at each home, business, pole, substation, transmission tower, all bonded together by the Neutral wire back to power plant, is to provide an array of earth connections that stabilize the electrical system ... absorbing lightning, power surges, voltages irregularities .... the earth absorbs voltage and 'balances the equation.' ... and that's why people get electrocuted, because they become the pathway for electricity to reach earth.
... and that's why you stand on dry boards when working on electricity outdoors, and make sure you have Ground fault on the circuit so it will interpret and cut-off the rush of power going down the wire before the person becomes a pathway to earth.
Resource:
What is electricity
Power plant to end user
GFCI
Larger image
If your appliance has 3-prong grounded plug, then that appliance can have short circuit that travels to the outer shell of appliance, and this short can kill you if appliance is not grounded.

That's why UL rated appliances are important, and the US has national electric code.
The ground wire is connected to outer shell of appliance, and travels back to main breaker box, and then to ground rod outside home.

For example water heater recirculation pump has 3-prong plug. If recirculation pump gets a short circuit, then the ground wire will carry amperage safely away from pump, and away from water pipes.
Remember the recirculation pump is connected to your bath and shower.

If the ground fault is slight and not large, then breaker will NOT trip, and ground wire releases the small current into ground rod located outside house near main panel ... and it is generally safe to touch recirculation pump.

If the ground fault is large enough, it will begin to pull more current through shell of appliance and into ground wire and down to the ground rod, and that current will overheat wire at breaker, and breaker will trip. It will happen very quickly, but until breaker is tripped, the live current is available on the outer shell and can still kill you.

If you do not have ground wire, and recirculation has large short, and you touch recirculation pump while standing on bare ground, or while touching water pipe, or leaning into metal washing machine, or taking shower etc... you can fry like a fish, as current finds easiest path down to ground.

This is why grounding is important.
IF you have GFCI or arc-fault breaker on the circuit, then the slightest ground will trip breaker before it becomes dangerous.
Bond solar panel to ground rod

Ground wire

All phone, satellite, pool equipment, solar systems and electric panels must be grounded. Check local electric codes.
What does this mean? Drive ground rod 8-10 feet into soil. Bond #6-8 bare copper wire to ground rod and to solar panels and pipes on roof.
Do NOT ground electric system to water pipes. Ground must be connected to ground rod. Stray current corrosion can cause pipes to deteriorate. Uncertain bond to ground because of plastic pipes.

Buy:  
Ground rod and clamps at Amazon
Bonding lugs

Bond all ground wires together to help prevent surge & lightning damage

Bonding all grounds together will help prevent damage from lightning strikes beyond 100' away...
Strong lightning strikes within 100 feet must be handled by lightning rod
Local code requires bonding: this includes all ground rods for satellite, TV, phone, solar, electric panel, subpanels (within 100 feet) etc must be connected together and bonded to main electric panel ground rod driven into soil at correct depth to meet local code. Consult local electrician.
Codes for grounding depth vary: loose rocky dry soils are less conductive than dense wet soils
No system other than lightning rods will protect against direct lightning strike or strike within 100 feet.
Move indoors and do not stay on roof, or move metal ladders, or touch anything made of metal when lightning is within 1 mile or can be heard or seen.
Buy
Best basic electric book
Basic electric book/ very detailed
Grounding workbook
surge vs ground block

Surge vs ground

Generally all types surge protectors must be grounded. But not all grounding is surge protection.
A ground wire will NOT protect equipment from overvoltage .... unless the power exceeds device or wire rating, or causes failure so that electricity arcs to the box and follows ground wire to ground rod.
Surge protection is needed to protect equipment from overvoltage.
For example motors will cause voltage spikes etc that can harm other appliances.
Surge protection suppresses or absorbs overvoltage and anomalies in electric power. In some cases, the overvoltage is redirected to the ground wire, so the ground wire is a necessary part of surge protection.

100' feet away for lighting is the rule of thumb.
Anything closer than 100', and nothing can protect against the voltage.
Beyond 100' and proper grounding can help redirect the surge into the ground.
Proper grounding requires all boxes and devices to be connected with a ground wire that is adequately connected to a ground rod that is at sufficient depth to reach permanently damp soil, or an array of ground rods with sufficient low resistance to meet local code, and that all grounds rods are bonded together with a common wire. For example if you have a ground rod for satellite TV and separate ground rod for electricity, they should be connected with a common ground wire of bare copper or green-coated copper wire.
However the ground wire will not protect electronics etc from damage from lightning ... for this you need a surge protector, suppressor, arrestor ... and possibly a lightning arrestor
... and generally, the surge protection needs to be grounded.
Note: surge protection wears out over time ... because it is consumed by the continuous small and large surge that is typical with electric wire and devices.
Bond motor to ground

Outdoor Pump or pump in wet location ... must be bonded... or grounded... directly to ground rod... in addition to regular ground wire coming from electric service

Ground all electrical devices, and all household grounds together and bond to main breaker panel and to ground rod

Do not ground to water pipe: Make sure ground is connected to ground rod

Water heaters and metal water pipes corrode with stray current corrosion.
Modern pex water lines are not affected, and cannot be used as a ground.
When installing new water heater, water pipe, doing repairs on plumbing, installing new electric service etc... check that all electric is connected to dedicated ground wire that is bonded to outdoor ground rod
Bonded means steel electric panel enclosure must be directly connected to local ground rod
Outdoor control panel and pool pump must be bonded to ground rod located at point of installation/ local codes vary so consult local electrician/ some codes may allow bonding to metal conduit that enters the soil at point of installation... but stray current corrosion can cause deterioration of this conduit/ codes vary for grounding for many reasons, including because different soils offer different resistivity to grounding/ for example dense wet soils conduct to ground better than loose dry rocky soils

Buy:
 
Ground rod and clamps at Amazon
Bonding lugs

Resources:
Why ground is important
Basic household wiring
See inside main breaker box
What is 3-phase electric
How to wire T100 series timers
How to wire Control centers
Basic electric book

Basic electric book


Buy
Best basic electric book
Electric book series

Basic electric book/ very detailed
House wiring


Resource: My simple illustrations and wiring:
Do it yourself electric
Email and I'll make illustration
geno03245w@gmail.com
electric book Electric books: More technical
Lineman's electric book
Power generation by Singh
3-phase power generation book at Amazon
Electric Power generation books at Amazon
3-phase wiring books at Amazon
The reason I have not posted a page on transfer switches is because of the huge number of resources already posed on the topic...

I think the generator produces a neutral off the coil, and so that neutral must be supported. They probably want the neutral separated inside the box for reasons of code and safety...

BUT ... I do not have the engineering expertise to adequately explain why neutral and ground must be treated differently, yet are apparently the same thing. (I've seen the mathematical formulas, but they are above my pay grade).
http://www.amazon.com/dp/8120335600/?tag=waterheaterti-20

Neutral and ground are confusing under any circumstance.
According to books I've read: System neutral/ service neutral runs throughout the electric grid ... from every home, across every pole, through every substation, back to the power plant...  to 'stabilize' the entire grid.
The ground wire is attached to the neutral at each step along the way ... and I assume this is to protect each individual installation (pole, electric box, transformer etc) while the neutral 'stabilizes' the entire system.

Electricity always wants to flow back into the ground soil... and will do so with high speed and damaging effect without correctly designed safeguards.
One book talked about the neutral-ground system being able to safely route overvoltages or shorts to the ground soil without arcing or bolts of electricity jumping from the hot wires to nearest ground and causing fires and damage.
Since any material can conduct electricity if voltages are high enough, it is probably required to provide a quick and safe route to soil using ground wire, before voltages increase to point of arcing over to the nearest object.

By code... the neutral cannot be used as a ground... nor ground as a neutral.
As a general rule for household wiring... the neutral wire has to be as large as the hot wire... so that the neutral wire can support the same amperage as the hot. While the ground wire can be a smaller wire, but is normally the same size.
Why? I do not know that answer at this juncture.

Here are simplified resources that match my pay grade:
http://waterheatertimer.org/What-is-3-phase-electric.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/See-inside-main-breaker-box.html
The ground wire is a direct and certain path into soil.
While the Neutral wire is not as direct.
Probably the neutral is not direct because it is also to complete 120V or 277V circuit, or 230-240 Volt circuits in other countries, and neutrals are not always twisted together to make a direct path..
.. Example 120 volt outlet, one neutral can be connected using quick connect located on back, and another neutral connected to the screw terminal located on side.
Another example... gfci... the neutral travels through metering device before connecting back to other neutrals.
Contrast all bare copper grounds are twisted together, or screwed straight to the metal shell of a motor/ appliance ... and do not travel through outlets, or other obstacles before reaching the ground rod.
Codes for grounding vary by local soil.
Certain soils are less conductive/ rocky soils/ dry soils, so copper ground rods have to be deeper or other variations. Tests and formulas determine conductivity of soil.

Electric safety

Cleanliness, Oil grease carbon dust can accumulate on electronics and electrical equipment
Do not work on electricity with oxygen or other explosive vapors such as paint, gasoline, varnish
Close paint containers, store in separate, well-ventilated room

Always de-energize circuit
Do not apply water to electrical fire
CO2 fire extinguisher
Do not use foam fire extinguishers/ foam is conductive
Some electronic parts give off toxic fumes
In event of fire, de-energize equipment, use CO2 extinguisher, ventilate room, avoid breathing smoke
Do not touch burned equipment with bare hands

Always use non-conductive tools
Be careful when soldering that extra solder does not drip on other parts causing potential short
Protect power cords from sharp edges/ Replace worn power cords
Always cut power to tool that is jammed

Electrical danger death and injury from shock falls burns flying objects
Muscle spasm causing person to clasp the electric device
Knock loose with 2x4 or belt, rope, coat, blanket
Do not touch person or you will become electrified

Tight clothes only
Do not wear loose clothes on sleeve, neck, legs, chest or abdominal area

Shock from electricity

All voltages are dangerous. 120 volt is most common voltage for death from electrocution.
Person suffering from electric voltage:
Lay them down. Keep from moving
Check if they are breathing.
Continue artificial respiration
No stimulants or opiates because the heart might be affected by electric shock

Electric burn can cause pain, shock, open wounds
Wash minor wounds with soap clean water apply cold water
Deep open bleeding wounds, sterile compress, immediately call medial personnel

Equipment can have more than one power supply
Each box should be powered by one breaker but sometimes not
120 v is sometimes considered safe it is not
Install safety switch within clear view of equipment
Make sure switch is in open or safety position before working on equipment.
Note location of high voltage lines
Be cautions around incoming power lines when painting
use insulated ladders
Electric workbench should have insulated mat
Use insulated gloves
Remove jewelry rings watch metal before working on power

Use one hand only when possible
Post warning signs
Do not reach into enclosures
circuit breaker

Circuit breakers

Water heater is tripping breaker
How to replace circuit breaker
How to wire gfci
Can AC breaker be used for DC breaker
How to reset circuit breaker
Not enough space for circuit breakers
Circuit breakers
How to install subpanel
Why you need ground wire
Match breaker and wire size
How to wire subpanel
See inside breaker box
How to wire safety switch
How to wire whole house surge protector
Transfer switch
Use twist lock plug for extension cord that plugs into compressor

Install 20 or 30 amp as needed.
X Y terminals go to either Hot,
W is always Neutral
G is ground
These are standard markings for 240 volt plugs and outlets.
Connect X to one hot busbar inside the transfer sawitch, connec6t Y to other hot busbar, ground and Neutral to respective terminals
Buy:
Leviton 2711/ 125-250 volt/ 20-30 amp/ 3 pole
Resources
How to wire subpanel
How to wire transfer switch
30 amp safety cut off
Safety switch
Fusable pull out
Fusable pull-out

Pull-out disconnect -or- Non-fusable Safety cut off 

for outdoor installation:

Locate cut-off next to electric equipment ... or short reach away... within sight of appliance.
Purpose to protect anyone working on electricity ... so person knows power is OFF, and power cannot accidently be turned ON.

Resource
How to wire safety switch

Residential information: varies by state and locale
Non-fusable safety switch required on outdoor installations, and high-voltage indoor applications such as 90 amp tankless electric water heater where breaker box not in plain sight of equipment.
Fusable vrs non-fusable: Non-fusable means there is no breaker or fuse inside the cut-off box. Non fusable is manually-operated on-off switch for safety.
Fusable means there is a fuse or breaker that trips when detecting high heat.

Resource
How to wire safety switch
Buy:
Pullout Disconnect at Amazon
Fusable pullout disconnect
2-pole 30 amp fusable safety switch/ power cut-off
2-pole 60 amp non-fusable safety switch
Additional links
Electricity leaves power plant What is 3-phase electric: power plant to end user

Basic household wiring
Basic water heater circuit

Figure volts amps watts for electric water heater
Test elements
Replace elements
How to wire tankless electric
How to change water heater temperature using timer
Change water heater from 240Volt to 120Volt
Replace thermostats
How to wire thermostats
How to wire water heater for off peak operation

How to twist wire
How to wire Cooper 277 pilot light switch
How to wire combo switch-outlet
How to replace 3-speed fan switch
 

How to wire dimmer
How to wire 3-way dimmer
How to wire occupancy switch
How to wire motion detector
How to wire TM811 and TM8111 switches
How to wire wall timers
How to wire box timers
How to wire off-delay timer
Wire off-delay timer
How to wire pin timers

How to wire and troubleshoot photo eyes
Reverse photoeye so it turns on in day
24 Volt photoeye
24 volt programmable timer

How to wire switches
How to add switch
How to add 3-way switch


Timer for 3-way switch
Timer for 4-way switch

How to add outlet 
How to wire 3-way switches
How to wire 4-way switches


Troubleshoot Malibu outdoor lights
Terminals 
Select and install wire connectors
Select wire size

Electrical formulas
Electricians forum
 

Electrical pages


How to wire arc fault breaker
How to wire GFCI
How to wire GFCI combo

Basic water heater circuit
How to wire water heater for 120Volt
Install old work box

How to drop wire from attic
Wire connector

How to wire 240volt outlets
How to install 3-phase timer
How to wire 3-phase outlets
How to wire 3-phase surge protector
What is 3-phase

How to wire whole house surge protector
How to wire under-counter water heater
 

See inside main breaker box
Replace breaker
Install subpanel

Fuseholder
Contactors
How to solder wires
Whole house surge protector
3-phase surge protection
Circuit breakers

Difference between 120 volt and 240 Volt
Difference between 50Hz and 60Hz
How to install electric meter on water heater
How to wire water heater thermostat
How to wire water heater with switches and timers

6x6x4 Enclosures
Intermatic timer enclosures

Read how to convert AC water heater to DC/ high voltage
Convert AC water heater to DC/ low voltage

How to wire DC solar water heater
DC relays for solar water heater
How to add another thermostat to water heater

How many Kwh to heat water
Chart for figuring heating time for electric heater


Do it yourself
Do it yourself water heater

Electricity from pole to breaker box

Compare all water heater timers

Terminals

How to wire Dayton OFF-delay timer

How to wire off-peak water heater

240 V Intermatic water heater timer
Compare box timers
Compare box timers

Gas and electric water heaters Support the economy:
Buy water heaters  from my associate links:

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40 gallon electric water heaters at Amazon
Hybrid / heat pump/ water heaters at Amazon

Resources:
How to install gas water heater
How to install electric water heater
Troubleshoot gas water heater
Troubleshoot electric water heater
Point of use water heaters
Gas and electric water heaters Buy
Industrial electric


Industrial supplies

Tools and home improvement

Lab and scientific

Intermatic control centers Resource:
Control centers:
+ manuals and parts


All control centers and parts

Including Z-wave
box timers Resource:
Compare box timers
DPDT timers
Intermatic
Control water heater w/ Z-wave


Compare ways to control Gas and Electric heaters
programmable timer Resource:
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Delay timers
Modules

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