Layman's Guide to Understanding Electrical Earthing or Grounding

Electrical earthing or grounding is simply the connection made to the earth and uses the earth as a conductor of electricity. With a huge size, the earth with rocks and water is able to absorb the excess current. Without earthing, you may be the one absorbing the current and potentially be dangerous.

Live Wire, Neutral Wire and Earth Wire – Electrical Grounding

Current from the hot or live wire to your electrical appliance and returns through the neutral wire. If the live wire is out of position or becomes loose and it comes into contact with the outer metal casing of the appliance, the current will travel to the casing. If you touch the casing, the current will go through you and you will get a shock and may be electrocuted.

When there is electrical earthing or grounding (i.e. connection to Earth Wire), the currents are directed via a systematic path to the ground so that the current does not pass through people or sensitive object. In this way, a grounded electrical appliance is safe to use.

Therefore, you should ensure that an electrical appliance is grounded for safety reason. For example, non-grounded oven or washing machine can easily shock or electrocute you because of its metal casing. If the live wire comes in contact with any metallic parts of the appliance, you will definitely get a shock when you touch the casing.

2-Pin Plug which is not Grounded

Some electrical appliances only come with 2-pins plug which means they are not grounded or earthed. However, the manufacturer uses plastic or rubber (non-conductor) casing to double insulate them for safety reason. Hair dryer and radio are commonly double insulated electrical appliances you seen at home.

Though the appliances are double insulated, it can still be dangerous if they are handled by wet hands or in wet environment because water is a good conductor of electricity. If water is to reach the live wire or any components of the live wire in the casing, it may conduct the electricity current via water. As such, if you are holding a hair dryer with wet hand, you may receive an electrical shock when this situation occurs. The electric current when flow to you may also electrocute you. When you understand the danger of handling non-grounded electrical appliance, you would make sure that your hands are dry when you handle them and you should avoid handling them in wet or steamy environment.

It is important that you replace the electrical appliances if you experience electric shock from them. Alternatively, you may approach an electrician to repair the electrical appliances so that you can use them safely.