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I've got a breaker panel in my detached garage (it is not a sub-panel, but is a primary forked off just past the meter). The panel seems to be wired correctly- the neutral and ground bars are tied together, and a (6ga?) ground wire was run through a hole in the wall about 6" below the panel, down through some conduit outside, and is attached to a grounding rod. However, between where it leaves the panel and passes through the wall to the outdoor conduit, it is just bare wire. I am in the process of insulating the garage, and putting up drywall, and this didn't seem right. Thoughts?

Just to clarify- the wire IS in conduit outside, but for the 6" or so it runs inside the walls, it is just bare wire.

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Exposed ground wires are normal. In the last year I've seen a main panel and 2 subpanels approved with exposed ground wires. They were 6ga stranded.

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(I am not an electrician)

The purpose of the ground wire is to provide a clear path of least resistance for electricity to follow in the event of a short, so that instead of going through your body, it goes to the ground.

Strictly speaking, exposed ground within a wall isn't wrong - for instance if you use armored cable, often the armor not only acts as protection, but as the ground, so where a/c is used (as in my own house) there are long stretches of "exposed ground" in the walls.

The only time a ground is dangerous is if it's wired incorrectly and not actually grounding, and becomes energized. One questionable side benefit of an exposed ground is that if another hot line becomes damaged the odds of it touching the ground before anything else are increased (sometimes).

That given, I'm not a fan of ANY exposed wires - but in your circumstances I don't see the exposed ground within the wall as a serious risk.

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No idea of how up-to your local code it is, but where I live I see exposed grounding wires quite often.

One major concern is they must be protected from corrosion and damage - otherwise grounding may not function when you most need it. This is why it may be a good idea to protect them with some kind of cover.

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