Does Ground Wire Have To Be The Same Gauge? [Explained]

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There are always some misconceptions and confusion about the grounding wire. You’ll find yourself asking if the ground wire is the same as hot and neutral wire. Working with these wires requires proper knowledge about them.

Does ground wire have to be the same gauge?

The answer is yes. The ground wire, hotwire, and neutral wire should be of the same gauge. Because the gauge size is determined by the load current. Neutral wire returns the same load current in hotwires. For that reason, the wire size has to be the same. But for the ground wire, the size can be bigger and smaller sometimes.

If you’re interested to know more about ground wire sizing, keep on reading. We have more information stored for you. 

Let’s dive in!

Understanding The Ground Wire

Ground wire refers to the electrical connection with the earth. It works as a reservoir for the charge. What happens is that it opens a current conducting path to the ground. It acts independently unlike normal moving charge caring paths. 

Ground wire works as a defense system against unsteady electrical current. Normally under any circuit, the ground wire doesn’t carry any current. 

For accidents like short circuits, ground wire takes care of the unsteady current. It directs the current towards the ground, which can cause current shock. This way the electricians can be saved from the aftermath of electric shock.

The ground wire is always attached to the neutral port of the service panel. Some households don’t have grounding systems in their electrical service. Most old household’s electrical systems don’t consist of ground wire connections. 

A way to tell if your home has ground wire is to check the prolongs. If you’ve three prolongs in your electrical outlet, there’s a ground wire. If there are two, the ground wire has not been utilized. 

Now, adding a ground wire is mandatory nowadays. We suggest these grounding wires in your electrical system:

Product 1
Product 2

After buying them, make sure to handle them properly. Anyway, let’s move forward!

Can Ground Wire Size Be Same As Hot Neutral Wire?

Hotwires carry the current from the power source to the electric outlet. They’re identified by red, black, or any other color. 

The ground wire is symbolized by green color while the neutral wire is white. Sometimes you’ll find these black and white wires attached to the ground.

By rules, hot, neutral, and ground wire has to be the same gauge. But the gauge size is determined by the amount of load current. 

Hotwire and neutral wire must always be the same size. Because they return the same amount of current load. For ground wire, the size can either be smaller or bigger sometimes.

By gauge, we refer to the thickness of the wire. Gauge size is represented by various numbers. It goes from 1/0, 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16.  

The higher the gauge number is, the thicker is the wire. A high gauge number represents thinner wires.

To conclude, ground wire size can be the same as hot neutral wire. But it can also be smaller or bigger depending on its usage.

What Happens When Ground Wire Gauge Is Bigger?

The ground wire is not always the same size as hotwire or neutral wire. It can be a size bigger or smaller than other wires. 

The bigger ground wire doesn’t do any harm to the system. It’ll only cost more to use a bigger ground wire. You can consider using a junction box to extend the wire.

Using larger wire is safe. In fact, for larger wires, there’ll be less resistance resulting in less voltage drop-in. If you need more current for your system, a bigger grounding wire is a good decision.

What Happens When Ground Wire Gauge Is Smaller?

Using small ground wire can cause the failure of the breaker’s magnetic trip. This happens due to high resistance in the wire. Because smaller wires hold more resistance.

Sometimes smaller wires can’t hold the excessive current flow. This results in the burning and melting of the wire. 

For ground connection, it’s better to use an adequate size wire. In the case of normal wiring, you can use 100 amp service at 150 feet distance. For ground wire, the adequate size is 8 gauze for 100 amps. 

Hopefully, this answers your question regarding the ground wire gauge size. 

FAQs

Question: Can any type of wire be used for ground wire?

Answer: Yes, for grounding you can use any kind of wire. But it’s better to use oxygen-free multi-strand wires. It has fewer collisions and interference. It’s also more flexible and easier to deal with.

Question: What happens if the ground wire is not used?

Answer: Ground wire ensures safety for the electrical circuit. It also safeguards people from getting electrical shocks. The ground wire is added where there’s a chance of getting an electric shock. So, you should consider adding a ground wire to your electrical system.

Question: What causes ground wire failure?

Answer: Ground wires failure happens due to ground fault. It is the accidental current passed to the ground wire. It may happen due to old worn-out wire, loose connection, or miswiring.

Final Verdict

That was all from our side about whether ground wire has to be the same gauge. Hopefully, this clears out all your confusion about the ground wire gauze sizing.

Until next time stay happy and stay safe!

Melissa Hawkins
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