What to do When No Ground Wire on Light Fixture

No Electrical Ground Wire on Light Fixture to Connect to Ground Wire in Electrical Box

By Mark J. Donovan




If you’re wiring a light fixture, or similar electrical appliance that has no ground wire on it, in an electrical box that does have a grounding wire in it you have a couple of choices. You can either wrap the ground wire in the electrical box with tape and let it float in the electrical box, or you can attach the ground wire in the electrical box to the light fixture, or appliance, itself.

In many cases the light fixture, or appliance, may have a nut or lug on the chassis frame that is specifically meant for tying the ground wire to. 

So make sure you look at the directions that came with the light fixture or appliance carefully when installing it.

Make sure to read this article on how to prevent electrical shock when working on electrical wiring around your home.

It is important to keep in mind the purpose of the ground wire in an electrical box and on an electrical light fixture. The ground wire provides a backup path for current to flow through in the event a short circuit occurs in the light fixture, or in the electrical wiring itself. Normally current should only be flowing on the hot (black/red wire) and the return (white wire). Watch this video to learn more on how to wire an electrical light socket.



In the normal operation of a light fixture current should never flow over the ground wire. Consequently it is important to never tie ground and neutral (return) wires together in an electrical box or anywhere else, except back at the bus bar in the main electrical circuit panel. If a short circuit were ever to occur, which often involves current flowing from the hot wire or return wire onto the light fixture chassis itself, the current will immediately begin to flow over the ground wire as well.

When this happens, the circuit breaker associated with the short circuited light fixture will trip at the main electrical circuit panel. Learn how a circuit breaker saves lives.

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When it trips, the circuit breaker will immediately shut off the flow of electricity to the circuit and the light fixture, and as a result prevent a potential fatal electrical shock or fire from occurring.

If by chance you are installing an electrical light fixture that has no ground wire into an electrical box with no ground wire as well, then simply connect together the hot wire from the electrical box to the hot (black or red) wire on the light fixture. Then connect together the corresponding white wires (neutral/return wire) associated with the light fixture and electrical box. Make sure to use wire nuts to attach the wires together. Also, I recommend putting electrical tape over the wire nuts after you’ve twisted them onto the wires.

Still feeling uncomfortable doing your own electrical wiring? Find a local electrical contractor here.


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