How to Ground a Porcelain Light Fixture to a Plastic Work Box

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Porcelain light fixtures are manufactured with a light socket, a light socket with a pull chain and a light socket with a pull chain and grounded outlet. The first two fixtures do not require grounding, but the fixture with a grounded outlet does. When you install your fixture in a plastic work box, the box is nonconductive and does not need grounding, but your fixture could still need to be grounded. Always err on the side of safety and ground your fixture to the box.

Things You'll Need

  • Multimeter tester
  • 12-gauge THHN solid green electrical wire
  • Wire cutter/stripper
  • Orange wire connector
  • Phillips or slotted screwdriver
  • Turn off the electrical power to the porcelain light fixture box. Set the dial on a multimeter tester to "250 AC" to test for electrical current. Touch one needle probe from the tester to the black wire inside the plastic work box and touch the remaining needle probe to a screw on the box. The multimeter tester needle will not move if you turned off the correct circuit.

  • Cut two 6- to 8-inch pieces of 12-gauge THHN solid green electrical wire with a wire cutter/stripper. Remove 1/2- to 3/4-inch of insulation from both ends of the wire to create ground pigtails.

  • Connect the two ground pigtails to the bare copper ground wire inside the plastic work box. Twist an orange wire connector clockwise onto the three wires to connect them.

  • Wrap one pigtail around the grounding lug located inside the plastic work box next to the fixture screw mount, and tighten the lug to secure the pigtail. Wrap the remaining pigtail around the green ground screw located on the back of the porcelain light fixture, and tighten the green screw.

  • Wrap the black wire from the plastic work box around the brass screw on the back of the porcelain light fixture. Wrap the white wire around the silver screw on the back of the fixture. Tighten both the silver and brass screws to secure the electrical wires.

  • Attach the porcelain light fixture to the plastic work box, using the screws provided with the porcelain fixture. Turn on the electrical power to the fixture.

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