Grounding is important. Consider section 406.4 of the Texas Electrical Code from 2020, which explains a consumer’s grounding requirements and obligations in extensive detail. But what does that say about LEDs without grounding? The following considerations will tell you what you need to know:
Why Do You Need Grounding?
The National Fire Protection Association describes grounding as a connection to the ground. The NEC (Article 100) expects contractors to connect their electrical systems to earth to defend against electrical surges.
A short circuit or malfunction can cause a current to escape its intended path. For instance, instead of flowing through a live wire in a toaster, the current may run to the toaster’s metal casing. Touching that metal casing will either kill or injure you.
But if you have a ground, it will direct that rogue current away from the metal casing. Electrical codes will vary from country to country.
Within a country like the United States, each state can impose any rules and regulations it wants. People associate the U.S. with the National Electric Code. However, the NEC is a list of guidelines.
The individual states are not obligated to enforce those guidelines. Although many states choose to do so. However, even when electrical codes change, you will be hard-pressed to find a local or international code that doesn’t enforce the use of grounding technology to protect consumers and their property.
Why Some Homes Don’t Have Grounding?
If you just moved into a new home, and the LED lights are not grounded, check the home’s age. When was it constructed? The rules governing electrical grounding did not always exist. And the rules countries like the United States enacted do not obligate homeowners to add grounding to old homes.
For instance, if you built your house in the 1950s, the government doesn’t expect you to install grounding wires to meet the code’s electrical requirements.
You can tell that most homes from that era don’t have grounding because they have two-prong outlets. Look at the picture Hit Lights has published. It shows a plug with a neutral, hot, and ground prong.
The hot and neutral prongs are flat. The ground connection is a rod. This is a grounded plug that only works with grounded outlets in homes with a grounding system. Two-prong plugs have two prongs, namely the neutral and the hot.
They enter the two-prong non-grounded receptacles you find in older homes. If your house is not grounded, the absence of proper grounding for the LED lights shouldn’t surprise you.
Do LED Lights Require Grounding?
If you can’t see the ground wire behind your LED lights, you might be tempted to add one. However, is that even necessary? Can you make do without a ground? Consider the following:
- Will The LED Work?
Yes, the LED light will work. When you ask an expert whether or not an LED light requires a ground connection, they will tell you no because the ground is a safety tool. Most electronic devices require a live wire that brings the current and a neutral line that returns it.
You cannot complete a circuit without the neutral and hot wires, which makes them vital to an LED’s operations. The ground is not vital.
If you still have doubts, consider this. Stouch Lighting credits Nick Holonyak Jr. with inventing LED technology back in the 1960s. LEDs slowly gained prominence in the following years at a time when many countries hadn’t yet mandated the use of grounding technology.
Regions with proper regulations governing grounding systems hadn’t started enforcing them as strictly as they do today. And yet, LED lights worked just fine during that period.
There’s a big difference between ‘NEED’ and ‘WANT.’ You want to ground your LED lights to avoid hefty penalties from your local authorities and to eliminate electrocution hazards. However, technically, LED lights don’t need grounding.
- Does The Lack of Grounding Affect An LED Light’s Performance?
It shouldn’t. Select Safety disagrees. They think LEDs without a ground will deliver a lower light output. That might be true for some LEDs. In fact, some LEDs won’t work at all because their design requires a ground. But those are the exceptions. Most LEDs will work just fine without a ground.
- Does The Design Matter?
Yes, the design matters. The ground is essential because a surge or short circuit can energize an appliance’s metal casing, shocking you when you touch it. The ground will lead that excess current away.
This is why ask-the-electrician has argued that a ground wire only matters if you attach the LEDs to a metal fixture. In other words, grounding doesn’t matter as much to plastic light fixtures.
The voltage is equally important. Grounding keeps you safe when you connect an LED to a 120V AC circuit. However, low-voltage 3 – 12V systems can survive without a separate ground.
If your house doesn’t have a ground, the factors above give you the option of buying LEDs that don’t require a ground.
What To Do About An LED Light Without A Ground?
It depends on the light. Some contractors are strict about this issue. They think every electronic device requires a ground, regardless of the type of light fixture. You should keep two factors in mind before you proceed:
- While you don’t lose anything by adding a ground wire, double-insulated devices don’t require a ground.
- Some LEDs won’t even provide a ground connection. In other words, grounding them using conventional means isn’t an option.
If the previous light had a ground wire, but the new LED doesn’t require earthing, cap the ground wire and tuck it away. You can consult a professional to confirm that your LED can work without a ground. Otherwise, move on.
If the LED light requires a ground, and you already have a grounding wire, strip the line and wrap the conductor around the relevant terminal. Home Additional Plus encourages consumers to scrutinize their LEDs beforehand, especially if the new LED light doesn’t require a ground.
Check the manual. Maybe the LED has a ground connection, but you haven’t seen it. The manual won’t steer you wrong. Again, don’t ignore the light fixture. Inspect the chassis frame for a nut or lug that looks like it can accommodate a ground wire.
Your insurer will ignore your claim if a fire starts because you failed to find the ground screw and, thus, left the ground wire unconnected.
What If Your Home Doesn’t Have A Ground?
If you can’t find a ground behind your LED because your home doesn’t have one, you have a bigger problem on your hands. People solve such issues in outlets by following Angi’s recommendation and installing GFCIs.
You can apply the same solution to a light switch. Otherwise, ask an electrician to install a ground wire. The cost of the procedure will vary. You’re looking at roughly $8 per linear foot. Don’t forget that labor fees range between $40 and $120 per hour.
How big is your home? How long will it take to finish the task? How many walls and ceilings must the contractors go through? The bigger the property and the longer this project takes, the more you will pay.