What’s the Difference Between Grounded Conductors vs. Ungrounded Conductors?

Electrical work is serious business. It’s like baking; if the process isn’t followed exactly down to the letter, chances are, something’s going to go wrong. Homeowners who like to DIY need to know the difference between grounded and ungrounded conductors. Wires shouldn’t just be connected any which way without thought to what kind of wires are even being connected. Just because something seems to “work”, doesn’t mean it’s correct—or safe.

Electrical circuits are made up of two parts or wires: a hot wire and a grounded wire (also called the neutral wire). Grounded wires carry electrical current. These wires would usually come in white or gray colors and don’t have insulation. Grounded conductors are meant to keep people from getting shocked when using electrical devices or appliances. You’ll usually find them in outlets. They keep the metal of the outlet from getting hot and causing electrical shocks.

Ungrounded conductors are also called the hot wire. Although both the grounded and ungrounded conductors connect to the earth, if an accident occurs, like an appliance breaking, you can get electrocuted if you come into contact with an ungrounded conductor. A break on the hot wire would cause power to be conducted to the user should you be unlucky enough to touch it and in that way get shocked. You can tell that the conductor is ungrounded if the wire color is black.

If you currently have an ungrounded conductor system in your home and would like to switch in favour of a grounded one, then you would need change the wiring and outlets. It is best to change the conductor system of your home to a grounded one as this is the safest option. However, it’s not necessary that you get all the wirings and outlets in your home changed all at once. It’s okay to take it one room at a time. Just remember that for this kind of task, you will need to hire a reliable electrician to change your outlets and wires. This is not a job that an untrained person can perform safely and correctly.

The contrast between having a grounded conductor versus an ungrounded conductor can have a tremendous effect on the security of your home. Having a trusty electrician assess your outlets to ensure all the wiring is right will take off a lot of burden off your shoulders.