I'm installing a wall lamp purchased recently that has a ground wire that should be connected. It has two modes of installation, 1) either wired directly into the wall to a switch, i guess, or 2) by just plugging into a wall socket. The plug is only 2 pronged, no grounding pin. The instructions for both modes indicate that the ground wire should be connected.

I have two questions:

  1. How would I ground something like this? I'm just hanging it on the wall, the plug goes into a socket nearby, but do I need a proper earth coming from the circuit box to connect the ground wire to? If I simply connect the ground wire to the hanging plate that gets drilled into the wall to hold it up, would that work?

  2. If this lamp is not properly grounded, then would you know based on its specifications whether it can be a danger to myself or home? I mean if something goes wrong, is the risk only that the lamp itself might get damaged or could this give me a shock or cause a house fire?

For context, I'm installing this in an apartment building in the United States. The wall is (i think) plaster, it's got metal studs but this lamp's hanging plate will be drilled into the wall using anchors, not into a stud. I actually have one of these lights installed already and have been using it with no problems so far, but I've been concerned about this grounding question.

I've attached pictures of the light's 'box' showing the yellow ground wire and the driver with its electrical rating.

I'll also list the rating information here.

INPUT: 100-240V~50/60HZ

OUTPUT: 27-45V, 0.27A P rated: 12.2W

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

  • Most light fixtures are not grounded unless they have metal surfaces that can touch the wires. Main danger with most lights is if you remove the bulb and put your tongue in the socket. Grounding probably will not save you. Do not recommend.
    – crip659
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 11:11
  • The power supply brick provides safety isolation, no ground connection should be required. I guess with a ground you get protection if the dodgy looking line cord fails inside the metal box.
    – Jasen
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 11:57
  • @mkeith thanks for the direction to DIY. Replacing the cord sounds like a good idea. I could ask a local electrician to do it.
    – aalat
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 22:14

4 Answers 4


Fixtures with exposed metal parts should be grounded for safety, not to make them work.

They may have to be grounded to meet local building codes.

They do need to be installed according to instructions and by a competent person for insurance purposes. Insurance companies have been known to reject a claim even on an entirely unrelated part of the building if parts of the electrical installation are not up to code. Don't invalidate your insurance for the sake of a few dollar light.

On the face of it, the LED driver itself does not need grounding. The 'box in a box' pictogram means 'double insulated', which means it does not need an additional ground wire for safety. But that part of the light construction appears to have no exposed metal parts.

The box and metal cover could become live and so an electrocution hazard through chafing to the incoming wire or some other internal accident.

  • Insurance in the US is different, they generally pay out even for negligence and incompetence. That being said everyone should read their policy to understand all the terms and conditions of the policy. Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 13:44
  • 1
    So, it isn't clear in the photo but the metal box encasing the LED driver is exposed from the sides and is connected to a metal plate on the front side (visible in the instructions diagrams). The LEDs themselves are in the glass part between the two metal parts. I think what you said about the metal cover potentially becoming live is what the grounding is for. It's just odd and confusing to have a plug-in option while requiring wired grounding at the same time. This light is a bestseller on Amazon, it worries me.
    – aalat
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 22:25

The details of my answer are somewhat US-specific (e.g., reference to NEC, UL) but generally speaking hold for Europe and most other places with reasonably strict electrical codes.

TL;DR This is cheap Chinese uncertified junk, which is why it has confusing/conflicting directions and also why you should NOT use it.

There are two ways to install a device, plug-in and hardwired. Plug-in should be literally "plug and play". With very rare exceptions, you should not have to add any extra wires for grounding or any other purpose. So if a device requires grounding and comes with a two-pin plug, it is trash. You simply can't say "requires grounding" and "two-pin plug" together for a properly designed device. There are devices that are plug-in that legitimately use only two pins. These are designed in such a way that a dangerous failure would be extremely rare in normal usage. This includes both small devices (typically chargers (for phones and other relatively small devices) and other small appliances) as well as power tools that are designed and listed as "double insulated". So that's strike one.

A hardwired device won't normally come with a simple cord attached, though there are exceptions. But more importantly, a device that is hardwired must be properly listed (e.g., UL, ETL) to show that it has been designed and tested to meet safety standards. This device has no indication of proper certification. Without proper certification, a device can't be legally installed without an exception from the Authority Having Jurisdiction (e.g., building department, permitting department, etc.) Since in most (not all) areas:

  • Work beyond the most basic is supposed to have permits
  • Often, particularly with rentals, work requiring permits requires an electrician who is trained to follow the rules
  • Installing unlisted equipment is breaking the rules

any future problem (e.g., fire) involving this device will likely be shown to have violated the permitting process (and in a dangerous way) and that leads to big problems.

That's strike two.

And I just saw "apartment building in the United States". That terminology normally means "rental" (in the US if you own that is commonly referred to as Condominium or Co-op or similar), which means anything beyond the most basic work requires an electrician, so strike three, you're out.

Note that while getting an electrician to examine the product and fix the obvious problem (e.g., replace a two-wire cord with a proper three-wire grounded cord) that leaves open the question of what else dangerous might be lurking inside the product. Plus, paying the electrician for an extra 15 minutes working on the product will typically be enough to pay for the difference between an off-brand unlisted product and a name-brand UL/ETL-listed product.

  • Thank you for the informative answer. I also found the requirement of a wired grounding when there is a plug-in option to be odd and confusing. I added to the main post another picture at the end showing a label under the metal case which has CE and FCC logos. Not sure what FCC has to do with this product, but the CE looks like the real logo, not Chinese Export logo to me. Does this give more assurance about its safety? I'm considering having a local electrician look at this and maybe switch out the cord with a 3 cord/pin plug to include the ground wire.
    – aalat
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 1:23
  • FCC is for radio interference. Whether it is legitimate or not is an open question, but even if it is 100% real (i.e., properly submitted, tested, documented) it is irrelevant to electrical safety. CE, except possibly in Europe, has no legal standing and therefore is irrelevant. These items do not normally have UL, ETL or similar logos because they would get sued by the relevant organizations. But they include anything they can get away with. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 2:05

if what it says on the white box is true no ground connection is required.

If the label is lying you probably shouldn't be using it at all.

As the importer of this of this device it is your reponsibility to claify this with the supplier.

seeing as youre planning to install this in an appartment you'll need an electricians licence.

  • Good catch of the apartment needing a electrician to do the work.
    – crip659
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 14:48
  • I'm planning on having an electrician look at this and maybe replace the wiring with a three cord/pin plug to be on the safe side. Is the reason you say it needs an electricians license because it requires some wiring work as opposed to something entirely plug-in?
    – aalat
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 22:30

If you do not have ground in receptacle or junction box, GFI protected circuit has to be used.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.