Does Ground Wire Need To Be In Conduit? (Pros, Size, NEC)

ground wire conduit

The ground wire is a vital component of every circuit. It responds to malfunctions and overloads by providing an alternate path for the excess current. If you consulted a professional, they probably encouraged you to add the cost of the conduit to your budgetary considerations.

Does Ground Wire Need To Be In Conduit?

If you have a choice, you should include a conduit. A conduit is a protective layer that keeps electrical wiring safe from corrosion and damage. Some wires have a protective sheath. But you can still enhance their durability and lifespan by pulling them through a conduit. However, you can get by without a conduit.

You find conduits indoors and outdoors. Don’t assume that you can only use these items for outdoor wiring.

Why Conduit Is Necessary For Ground Wire?

1). Code

In some cases, you don’t have a choice. The NEC has a lot to say about conduits, and many regions use the NEC’s regulations to create their electrical codes. But these bodies do not have to adopt the NEC’s rulings. For all intent and purpose, they can draft whatever electrical regulations and directives suit them.

Therefore, if your area’s code expects consumers to pull ground wires through conduits, you have to obey, regardless of your personal or professional opposition.

If you want to install the ground wire in a commercial setting, you may incur severe penalties if you ignore your local code.

2). Prevents Mechanical Damage

Electrical wires are frail. A careless contractor can easily sever a line with a lawnmower or clippers, especially if the wire is poorly placed.

The last thing you want is to use a circuit with a damaged ground wire that you cannot trust to protect you during emergencies.

A metallic conduit will keep the grounding wire safe from mechanical damage, especially if the wire is exposed above ground.

3). Safety

Grounding wires can conduct electricity. This comes as a surprise to laypeople who think that the current can only flow through the hot wire. But if something goes wrong, the current will flow through the ground wire.

You cannot compare the volume of current flowing through the ground line to the electricity in the hot wire. But it can still do significant harm, especially if your electrician wired the circuit poorly.

Conduits permit wires to carry electricity safely. If you hire a competent contractor, you don’t have to worry about the current flowing through the pipe.

4). Organization

Conduits will make your wiring tidy. People rarely consider this issue. But it matters. You can pull multiple wires through a single conduit, eliminating or, at the very least, reducing the tripping hazard that cables typically introduce. This makes conduits a simple, cost-effective wiring option.

5). Style

This is another factor that people rarely consider. Bare wires are not attractive. They can ruin your interior and exterior décor. If your ground wire is an eyesore, you can improve the aesthetic value of the cable by installing a conduit.

6). Protect From Extreme Weather Conditions

Conduits will protect your lines from extreme weather conditions. That includes scorching sunlight and freezing temperatures. If you have caustic chemicals and solvents in the area, the wire ways will repel these elements.

If the cable is buried in damp locations, you can use plastic conduits to prevent catastrophic occurrences because plastic conduits are poor conductors. You can trust these items to respond effectively to any component that wants to harm the fragile wires.

7).  Grounding

If you have a metal raceway, you can use it for grounding. But you need an experienced professional to integrate the conduit into the grounding system. A loose connection can break the ground path.

But if you have a competent contractor working on your circuit, you don’t need a ground wire when you can use the electrical conduit.

To be clear, you don’t have to hide grounding wires inside conduits. But they will last longer if you give them additional protection.

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What Conduits Are Best For Ground Wire?

Where grounding wires are concerned, most people typically choose between metal and PVC tubing. PVC is the most popular option because it is cheap and light. You can trust it to withstand extreme weather conditions and corrosive elements.

I suggest using RMCs (Rigid Metal Conduits) in locations with harsh conditions, even though their weight tends to complicate the installation process.

Let’s check the 3 most used conduits!

1). Flexible Metal Conduit

Flexible metallic conduits have a spiral construction that makes them flexible, allowing consumers to fit the tubes in tight spaces. People use FMCs to protect exposed wires in dry locations.

2). Plastic Conduit

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) conduits look like ordinary plastic plumbing pipes. People use them because you can bend them with ease. They are perfect for large areas because you can cut and glue them together to meet a unique need.

3). EMT

Electrical metal tubing uses steel and aluminum in its construction. Even though they are thin and lightweight, the conduits are rigid. You cannot handle them without a conduit bender. People love the tubes because they can conduct electricity.

EMT is also easier to damage. You should avoid it if your wires have to pass underground.

Each conduit type has advantages and disadvantages. For instance, exposing PVC to fire will generate toxic fumes, which you don’t want. Compare the attributes of each conduit until you find an option that fits your needs.

Don’t expect one conduit type to apply to every situation and setting. If you don’t know enough about conduits to choose a suitable option, talk to a professional and ask them to make a recommendation.

Ground Wire Conduit Size

For instance, a ½-inch EMT conduit can accommodate three 8AWG cables. However, you can pull as many as five 10AWG lines through it.

El-Pro-Cus has a table showing the different conduit types and sizes and the number of wires they can hold depending on the gauge. Once you determine the gauge and the number of wires you need, you can use tables like the one El-Pro-Cus has published to identify the appropriate conduit size.


I suggest you use the same size for the hot, ground, and neutral wires. Though, you can use a larger or smaller ground wire where necessary.

How To Attach Ground Wire To Conduit?

  • Tie a pull string to the wire of the conduit mouse
  • The conduit mouse is smaller than the conduit. Push the mouse into one end of the conduit
  • Attach a shop vac hose to the other end
  • Turn the vacuum on to suck the mouse through the conduit.
  • Pull the mouse out of the conduit. Disconnect the pull string from the mouse and bind it to the electrical wires you want to protect with the tube.
  • Lubricate the electrical wires where necessary
  • As you feed the electrical wires into the conduit, someone else should pull the string on the other end.

You can achieve similar results with fisher tape. The Spruce has diagrams that explain this process.

Can Ground Wire Be Run Without A Conduit?

A conduit is a superior option because it protects the cables. But you don’t have to use it. You can run the ground wire without one. But you should check your local code before proceeding. If it expects you to use a conduit, act accordingly. Otherwise, you may incur penalties.

Can Ground Wire Be Exposed?

Grounding wires are relatively safe because they do not transmit electricity unless a surge or malfunction occurs. In that regard, they are less dangerous than hot wires.

Unless your local code says otherwise, you can leave them bare. That being said, your electrician will encourage you to keep the ground wire in a conduit. If it suffers mechanical damage, the cable could compromise your grounding system.

Do not act without first consulting a professional. They will analyze your situation to determine whether or not you can afford to expose the ground wire.

If you don’t want to use conduits, get armored cable. You don’t have to pull armored cable through a tube. It has an additional layer of protection.

What Does NEC Say About It?

  • The NEC doesn’t obligate consumers to run ground wires in conduit. Your local code may say otherwise. Additionally, the NEC’s opinion on this issue may change down the line.
  • The NEC permits consumers to use metallic conduits as grounding conductors.
  • The NEC has guidelines that govern the size of the conduits depending on the gauge. It also regulates the conduit fill, a term that refers to the number of wires you can run through a pipe. Essentra Components have tables that explain some of the NEC’s regulations on these issues.

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