Is one method better than the other? How so?

In the possible event that one has both options at their disposal, which one should they choose?

An example where you would have both options at your disposal would be wiring a ceiling light fixture, where your feeder cable contains a ground wire, and there is also a ground clip on the fixture itself. You then have the choice of attaching the next light fixture's ground wire directly to the ground clip on the previous fixture, or you can pigtail off of the previous fixture's ground wire.

When I write ground wire, I am referring to the bare or green-insulated wire.

  • Do you have a specific fixture that you want to install or is this a general question which you are asking to better understand the principles of grounding? – Jim Stewart Jul 5 '17 at 12:21
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    I may be misunderstanding your question, but they are not interchangeable methods; you don't use one or the other. If you ground something to a fixture which is itself not grounded, you haven't done anything. – mmathis Jul 5 '17 at 14:55
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    I agree the wording here is confusing. In your example the ground wire in the feeder cable would connect to the ground clip on the fixture. – Tyson Jul 5 '17 at 15:22
  • @JimStewart I want to better understand the principles of grounding. I plan on installing multiple light fixtures in the future. – Fil Jul 5 '17 at 21:29
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    @Fil see my answer below. It doesn't matter because they're all connected. – mmathis Jul 6 '17 at 0:43

It makes no difference as to method of attaching the safety ground as long as the connection is:

a) Done so that the electrical wiring code is followed

b) The connection is reliable and will remain reliable

c) The reliability of the connection continues years into its service life

In any case most switches, outlets, light fixtures these days have separate safety ground screws or wire pigtails that are meant to be connected with the bare ground wire of the feeder cable in the electrical box.

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    FYI - Because the question actually uses the word ground and grounding let's review some definitions. A grounded wire (the neutral or identified wire) normally carries current and is part of the circuit, a grounding wire (green or bare) normally does not carry current and is a safety return for a short. I only say this because sometimes there is confusion about what conductor we are talking about when the term ground is thrown about loosely. – Retired Master Electrician Jul 5 '17 at 14:45

The standard way of doing things, in a given junction box, is to connect all the grounding wires from the supply and load cables together with a pigtail that connects to the fixture. In your example, the first fixture in your circuit would have three ground wires in one wire nut: the ground from the supply, the ground from the branch (going to the next fixture), and the pigtail to the fixture itself.

The principle is that all grounding wires are tied to each other at some point in your branch circuit - and all the branch circuit grounds are tied together at the grounding bus bar in your main panel. So, when deciding where to connect a new grounding wire, it's not a matter of which method to use; there's only one method: tie all grounds together so there is a complete grounding circuit back to to the panel. Within the fixture itself, be sure to observe all limits on numbers of wires under screws, wire nuts, and such.

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