How to Run a Ground Wire to an Electrical Panel Box

Your service panel's ground wire prevents a line fault from becoming a shocking experience. By shunting excess line voltage back to the panel's neutral pole, the ground current forces the circuit breaker to trip. The tripped breaker shuts off the circuit's current, preventing a potentially dangerous situation. Installing a ground wire to your electrical service panel can be done easily with a few hand tools.
The codes of some localities differ from NEC (National Electric Code) standards. Be sure to check local codes before performing any wiring job.

Things You'll Need
  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Ground wire
  • Wire clamp for pole
  • Ground pole
  • Hammer

Installing a Ground Rod

  • Place the tapered tip of a ground rod at the desired location. Hold vertically.

  • Drive into ground with the hammer. It is important to drive the rod as straight down as possible to give it the maximum depth.

  • When only 3 to 4 inches remain above the surface, attach the grounding wire with the clamp and tighten with the wrench.

  • Thread loose end of the wire through the wall next to the service panel.

Attach Ground Wire to Panel

  • Turn off the main breaker.

  • Remove faceplate from the service panel.

  • Thread the ground wire through the knockout hole in the appropriate location (usually on the bottom or the side) on the service panel.

  • Locate grounding bar and attach the ground wire. If your service panel does not have a separate grounding bar, attach the ground wire to the neutral bar.

  • Replace the service panel faceplate. Turn on the main breaker.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check local codes for appropriate size and type of grounding wire (usually #4 bare copper).
  • Some localities require installation of two grounding rods. Connect these by running the wire through the clamp on the rod nearest the service panel to the furthest. Do not cut the wire.
  • Local electrical supply houses will be able to advise you of codes in your area. Ask them for guidance if you have questions when purchasing material.
  • Driving a ground rod can be difficult if you have rocky soil. It may be necessary to try several spots or a larger hammer in order to bury the full 8 feet of rod.
  • Never work on wiring without first shutting off the electricity.
  • After shutting off the main breaker, the service feed (three wires leading from the meter to the main breaker) will still be hot. Use extreme caution working around these leads.
  • Some areas require all electrical work to be done by a licensed professional. Check with your local code enforcement agency for necessary permits and regulations.
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