How to Install a Light Switch Ground Wire

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A ground wire primarily prevents electrical shock and helps minimize outside electrical interference. Combined with a circuit breaker or fuse, ground wires are the standard safety devices used with residential electrical circuits. The ground wire provides an independent path, separate from the main electrical current path in residential wiring, and is connected to the electrical neutral at the main breaker panel to guarantee a low enough resistance path to trip the circuit breaker in the event of an electrical fault or “short.” Installing the ground wire correctly ensures continuity and safety in the circuit. The procedure is completed when the switch is installed.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire stripper or cutter
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire nuts
  • 12-gauge copper wire
  • Turn off the electrical circuit being worked on and make sure no current is present.

  • Cut a piece of 12-gauge copper wire approximately 6 inches long. Use needle-nose pliers to make a small loop at the end of the copper wire piece, then hook the loop around the green ground screw on the light switch and tighten to secure the wire.

  • Hold the switch next to the electrical box, so the ground wire attached to the switch can reach the ground wire screw inside the box. Use the needle-nose pliers to make a loop in the end of the ground wire and hook the end around the box’s green grounding screw. Use a screwdriver to tighten the grounding screw so that the grounding wire is secure.

  • Attach the circuit wires to the switch, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Push the wires and switch into the box and secure the switch to the box with the flange screws provided.

  • Install the switch cover plate.

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