Installing grounded light fixture on box with no ground conductor


Answer for USA, Canada and countries running a 60 Hz power supply service. . By asking this question you are probably not quite ready to take on this particular task. . The correct answer to your question will depend on the exact location of the light fixture, its voltage and its power rating.. . Whatever is going on, your present wiring situation is not just confusing, it is dangerous. The bare wires are not meant to carry current. They are not coated, and thus have no insulation to protect surrounding material from the heat created by electrical current passing through the wire. You need to cut the whole circuit off at the breaker box until you can get the situation sorted out. Otherwise, you could have an electrical fire.. This is what is wrong. At some point in your circuit, some numbskull (probably not a professional electrician) connected something wrong. The thing about electrical circuits is, the current doesn't know what color wire it is travelling through. It travels...

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How to install a ceiling light fixture:

In this article we use an "old work" electrical box to replace the damaged box, secure the new box and re-mount the light fixture safely.

We discuss the requirement for secure mounting of ceiling electrical boxes for fans and lights and we give step by step details for installing a replacement electrical box, insulating around it, connecting the ceiling light wires, and then testing and completing the installation.

The electrical box repair or replacement procedures described in this article series describes step by step repairs for both metal and plastic electrical boxes used in building electrical wiring systems.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.


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Installing a new pendant light can often be just a matter of taking down an old fixture and hanging your new one, and there are two things which help make this project less of a burden: First of all, with the exception of larger chandeliers, which can sometimes be heavy, most pendant lights weigh little enough to be hung from a standard ceiling box. That also means that they aren't difficult to lift and that they can be balanced on top of your stepladder, or temporarily supported from the ceiling box with a home-made wire hook.

Second, with the exception of most track lights, pendant lights are hung from a canopy. That gives you the advantage of being able to support the actual fixture "off to the side," on your ladder or on a temporary hook, and have both hands free to make the electrical and mechanical connections.

Before you start removing the old fixture, turn the power to it off at your electrical panel by flipping the circuit breaker or removing the fuse. Yes,...

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Read these tips and instructions on how to save both time and effort while generating superior results for your outdoor light installation project.

Basics of Outdoor Lighting Installations

Check your local zoning requirements for outdoor lighting and follow them carefully. For underground wiring, always use type UF cable. There must always be a breaker box inside the from which the underground wiring begins.

When selecting the rest of the materials for your project, always select products which carry the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) seal of approval. In order to meet UL requirements, the the cable must be equipped with a grounding conductor, and all of the fixtures must be grounded.

You must apply a conduit in areas where cables rises above ground, as well as in areas where it bends. Some municipalities mandate that the entire cable be covered by the conduit.

Ground Fault Interrupters (GFI) are another important component. Local zoning offices...

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OK, first the obligatory warning - if you don't know what you're doing with electrical wiring you can get hurt or killed.

Don't try this project if you are uncertain about basic electrical wiring!

Still here? Good!

1. Decide where you'll want to mount the finished dimmer switch box and cut the extension cord to suitable lengths - the plug section from nearby outlet to the dimmer box location, the other section from the dimmer box to the track mounting location.

In my case I started with a 15' cord. The distance from where I wanted the box to mount to the nearest electrical outlet is about 3 feet. This would then leave me with about 12 feet of cord from the dimmer to the light track.

I added a couple of feet and cut the cord at 5 feet on the plug end and 10 feet on the light track end. 10 feet would allow plenty of room for moving the box around if I wanted to do so later. You may need different dimensions for your needs.

2. Cut the socket...

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Most light fixtures have a layer of insulation on the upper side, against the ceiling. Try not to disturb this insulation; it is there to keep the heat from the light fixture from going up into the wiring box.

Tuck the wires into the ceiling box as much as possible and attach the light fixture to the box, using either the two screws or the long tube and nut that fits in the mounting bracket. Your new light fixture will have instructions and diagrams on exactly how to attach your particular fixture.

Tighten the screws or nut firmly, but do not deform the light fixture. Few fixtures fit tight against the ceiling at all points and it is possible to deform it badly by turning screws and nuts too far.

Install light bulbs as necessary and attach any light globes that are needed. Most globes are attached with small thumbscrews; again do not overtighten these screws as it will break the glass globe. Tighten just enough to hold the globe in place. Choose light bulbs...

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I'm not sure exactly what the question means, but this is one plausible interpretation:

The popular receptacle testers with the 3 lights are designed to detect only single faults. If the outlet is ungrounded, the ground terminal (or electrical box) is shorted to hot, and the hot and neutral are reversed, the tester won't detect this condition--the lights will indicate that the outlet is wired correctly. (I've actually seen this happen.)

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AndrewBuck

This happens because of the way the tester works. The yellow lights are connected from hot to neutral and hot to ground, and the red light is connected between neutral and ground. In this 3-fault situation, the red light does not come on because both the neutral and ground are at the same voltage, and the yellow lights come on because the neutral and hot/ground are at different voltages, just like in a properly wired receptacle. The difference is that the neutral and ground are both...

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ty for the reply, Derek. I have looked over the code sections you cited in the 08 NEC, 410.44 is 410.46. I did some digging, and 250.148(B) seems to stick out to me:

"Grounding Continuity: The arrangement of grounding connections shall be such that the disconnection or the removal of a receptacle, luminaire, or other device fed from the box does not interfere with or interrupt the grounding continuity"

So, if the grounds arent tied together (other than by the box), removing the luminaire and the tie bar would break continuity of grounds. Am I interpreting this correctly? It is possible to remove the luminaire w/o removing its tie bar.

Dont know if it matters, but none of these lights are in a location where they can be accidentally touched, so would 410.42(A): '...inaccessible to unqualified personnel..." have any bearing here?

In any event, I will be tying light ground to premise ground and to the box and tie bar (unless this is...

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Outdoor Lighting


Your first step should be to check local codes regarding outdoor lighting. Be sure to follow these code requirements carefully. Always use type UF cable for installations requiring underground wiring. The UF implies that there must be a fuse or breaker inside the house at the starting point of the underground wiring installation. For your outdoor lighting project, use only those materials that have an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approval. Cable used for underground installations must contain a grounding conductor. Outdoor fixtures must be grounded for complete safety. Use conduit to protect the cable where it is exposed above ground and where bends are made below ground (Fig. 1). Some local codes may require you to cover the entire cable with conduit. Many local codes now require outdoor circuits to be protected with GFIs, Ground Fault Interrupters. There are two basic...
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Ok, so here's what I've got:

On the back deck I've currently got a single switched outdoor light socket mounted on the side of the house. So it's a junction box then lampholder mounted on the brick wall.

I'd like to add an outlet by running conduit down to about outlet height (is there code here? will 12" above the deck or so do? it'll be like a 3-4' run total) Then mount another junction box and put the outlet in there. Straightforward enough -- the switch will turn on both the light (a par38 cfl flood) and the outlet

Here are my questions:
-Do I need a GFCI outlet? I assume absolutely since it's outside.
-What do I do for the ground on the outlet? Just ground it to the box that's mounted to the brick wall? Is there a better way to do this?
-I believe that there is no ground going to the flood box so do I just add a positive and neutral on and send that down the conduit? Dealing with the grounding in the other outlet jb?
-Any thing...

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When installing a new light fixture in an old house or an old metal light fixture in a new one, you may encounter a problem: there is no way to ground the fixture. The problem can be easily solved in either case. If the house has outdated, two-strand wiring, you can run a separate ground wire to a cold-water pipe or to an outside ground rod and connect it to the fixture ground wire. If the fixture does not have a ground wire, you can drill a hole on the casing, install a ground screw and attach the ground wire to that.

Run a length of 12-gauge ground wire through the attic space from the fixture to the nearest cold-water copper pipe.

Using a screwdriver, attach a grounding clamp to the pipe and connect the wire to the clamp.

Run the ground wire to a location outside the house where you can pound in a metal ground rod if the house has plastic water pipes. Pound the rod 8 feet into the ground and attach the ground wire to it with a grounding clamp.


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One of the easiest and most economical ways to give a room in your home a new look is by installing a new light fixture. Lighting affects not only how well you are able to see your way around a room but also the way the room appears. Different types of lighting and light fixtures offer a different “feel” to the spaces upon which they shed light.

Surface-mounted light fixtures are mounted directly to a housing box, either flush with the ceiling or wall or suspended from the ceiling box by a cord or chain. Most new fixtures come with their own mounting hardware and adapt easily to any standard fixture box.

Fixtures come in different weights and sizes, and these features determine the mounting method. Lightweight, small ceiling fixtures can generally be screwed directly into the fixture box’s mounting ears. However, heavier fixtures may need to be fastened to the box with a mounting bar, hickey, or stud. Fixtures weighing more than 50 pounds will need to be secured to a...

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There's a few options.

No grounding conductor

If there's no grounding conductor at all, there's a few things you can do.

Install a grounding conductor

Obviously, you could install a grounding conductor for the circuit.

Share a grounding conductor

Code allows you to share a grounding conductor from another circuit, as long as the grounding conductor is properly sized.

GFCI protected

If you're replacing a fixture, you don't need a ground if the outlet is GFCI protected.

Chapter 4 Equipment for General Use

Article 410 Luminaires, Lampholders, and Lamps

410.44 Methods of Grounding. Luminaires and equipment shall be mechanically connected to an equipment grounding conductor as specified in 250.118 and sized in accordance with 250.122.

Exception No. 3: Where no equipment grounding conductor exists at the outlet, replacement luminaires that are GFCI protected shall not be required to be...

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Homes built prior to the 1960s did not require you to include a ground wire when installing electrical circuits. In fact, the ground wire is not necessary to complete the circuit; however, the ground wire acts as a safety net in the event of an electrical short. When a short occurs, the ground wire sends an almost instantaneous signal to turn off the breaker to stop the flow of electricity. You can add a ground wire to your electrical box in the ceiling for an extra measure of safety when replacing a ceiling light.

Disconnect your lighting circuit at the main service panel. Turn the circuit breaker to the "off" position or unscrew the fuse.

Hold a noncontact voltage sensor against the wall switch that powers the existing light. The sensor will not sound an alarm or flash if you have disconnected the power.

Remove the light shade cover from the existing ceiling light fixture. Depending on the fixture style, you may need to remove a finial from the center of the...

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Beieng a firm believer in following instructions (at least when they apply to electrical work) I recommend that you come up with an equipment ground.

You have several ways of approaching this.

Run a ground wire to any accessible point on the grounding electrode system

Run a ground wire to any accessible point on the grounding electrode conductor

Run a ground wire back to theequipment ground terminal bar in the panel that feeds this circuit.

Run a ground wire back to the neutral bar in the service disconnect enclosure (main panel in your house).

Under the 2005 NEC, you could skip running a ground wire if you provided ground fault protection for this fixture, but that still wouldn't help you with possible hard start problems.

Running a new cable with an equipment ground in it to the light fixture from your panel will probably be about the same amount of work as running a ground wire by itself, so now is a good chance to get rid of...

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THe light fixture will work perfectly fine without a ground (The old light fixture worked fine without a ground).

It is not mandatory to rewire that circuit let alone your entire house to install that light fixture.

To find out which wire is the hot wire (and should not be white), do this before installing the light fixture: Turn the power on, flip the switch on, and measure voltage between one loose end and the metal box (or between one loose end and a long wire you have strung from a known ground such as a radiator, across the floor, to where you are working. Repeat for the other wire end up in the ceiling. The one that reads 120 volts is the hot wire and the other is the neutral.

See if there is a bare wire accompanying the two taped wires into the box. If so, this is your ground wire. Connect it to the metal box and also to the ground wire or ground screw of your new fixture using extra short lengths (pigtails) of bare wire and a wire nut if...

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I just pulled out the Klien and tried making multiple crimps. 2 crimps, 1 on each side seems to work well, but getting to a third crimp just kind of wrecks it. This is the one I tried the 3rd crimp on just now and it is kind of a mess.

I can't put any more weight into my tool pouch It is already 20+ pounds. Guess I could replace my Kliens with the 4 way. The Klien crimps seem very sufficient for ground wires, which is almost the only thing I use them for. I used one once on some short CCC's in a box, I felt it was more secure than a wire nut, then I heat shrinked them. Now I use insulated butt splices if a wire in a box is too short. I had my dad mount many of the boxes, and he ends up leaving too little slack way too often. But he does a...

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Project overview

Installing a new light fixture is a great way to instantly change a drab room into a dazzling one. Lighting showrooms and catalogs have a wide variety of fixtures to tempt you. And even though the bag of parts included with some fixtures may look daunting, the electrical connections are simple enough for even a beginner.

But poor installation techniques can result in a potentially lethal shock or fire. In this article, we’ll help you choose a fixture that will mount safely on your electrical box and then show you the best techniques for testing a ground and connecting the wires. We’ve even included photos of the two most common mounting systems to help you make sense of all those little parts.

The temperature rating of your existing wires will affect which type of fixture you can install. Before you go shopping, read “Remove the old fixture and inspect the wiring,” below.

Remove the old fixture and inspect the wiring

Photo 1:...

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How to wire an electrical receptacle ("outlet" or "wall plug") when there are just two wires (hot and neutral) but no ground wire.

This article explains that when there is no safe grounding conductor or "ground wire" at an electrical receptacle location you need to choose the proper receptacle type and make the proper wire connections for safety.

This article series describes how to choose, locate, and wire an electrical receptacle in a home. Electrical receptacles (also called electrical outlets or "plugs" or "sockets") are simple devices that are easy to install, but there are details to get right if you want to be safe.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017...

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First, let’s make the distinction between Articles 410 and 411 of the 2011 NEC. Article 410 provides the requirements for installing luminaires, lampholders, lamps, and decorative lighting products on circuits greater than 30V. Article 411 addresses lighting systems operating at 30V or less.

Don’t let this Article’s length and degree of detail throw you. It’s nicely broken up into 16 parts (see SIDEBAR: Breaking Down Article 410), most of which won’t apply to a given application.

LEDs in closets

Only the following types of luminaires are permitted to be installed in a clothes closet [410.16(A)]:

Surface or recessed incandescent or LED luminaires with an enclosed light source. Surface or recessed fluorescent luminaires. Surface-mounted or recessed LED luminaires identified for use within the closet storage space.

Incandescent luminaires with open or partially open lamps and pendant-type luminaires must not be installed in a clothes...

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