I recently bought some nice track lighting to brighten a room who's only light source was buried in a corner. I removed the old fixture and found (to my horror) this:
Two wires, no ground, no box (and some alarming burn mark looking things).
I've done a bit of reading on this, and it seems that the boxes have three purposes:
- Provide structural support to help heavier fixtures hang
- Create a safety zone for sparks, preventing them from setting fire to your walls.
- (In the case of metal boxes) provide an easy ground
I'm not horribly worried about points 1 and 2. All of the connections for this light can actually be stashed inside of the fixture itself (see below) between a metal plate, and the exterior plastic box, and since these are track lights, there's not a lot of weight on the fixture point itself.
The ground, however, is a little more worrying. Peering up into the hole, the only bit of groundable metal I can find is a small conduit, about 8-10 inches above my ceiling.
I could get a small length of copper, wrap it around the conduit, and attach that to the ground, but I'd rather not cut a hole in my ceiling large enough to get two hands that far in.
So, my questions are:
- Given that I've been living without one, could I maybe just this once get away without a ground?
- Are my assumptions about not needing a box validated by the sort of exterior box I've rigged up here?
- Assuming your answer to (1) was "Of course not, what are you, crazy?" could I safely use the conduit as a ground?