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I was just wondering if somebody could please explain to me the importance of a ground wire in a house panel.

My neighbour was having really high electrical bills and was told his ground wire (going from his grounding plate outside, to his main panel in the garage) was cut. So he got a new grounding plate and wire and connected them to that panel (and buried the plate). They also got him to instal a ground plate outside by his sub panel in his house which is 50 ft from his main panel.

My question is

  1. Could the two ground plates be causing a grounding loop? I am not to sure about what ground loops are.

  2. Could the ground the plates were buried in maybe be to dry causing a high electrical bill?

  3. And I think just something I always wondered was, What would happen if there were no ground plates (it's hard to imagine these imaginary electrons - that might not even be on that wire...).

Thanks for helping to sort me out.

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I second Kris's answer and also: (1) Grounding actively provides protection from electrocution in the case of large appliances, motors and other items with metal enclosures that must ensure exposed metal does not become energized due to a fault; and (2) Grounding is required with many electronics to achieve acceptably low radio noise emissions. A metal box does not shield surroundings from emissions generated within the box unless the box is well grounded (ever notice that the installation directions for microwave ovens and some computers require a ground be added by an electrician if one is not available).

Grounding loops can occur whenever two different grounds are electrically connected. They describe the phenomenon where electrical current unexpectedly flows between the two. For example, two separate grounds might have an electrical potential that differs by 0.2 volts. If a wire connecting them has a resistance of 0.01 ohms, then a 20 AMP current will flow between those two grounds. There is very little power in the flow due to the very small voltage difference, but the high current can cause unexpected corrosion and also problems with electronics. Current that flows through a ground loop originates from local effects and not from power measured by an electric meter. It is not included in an electric bill.

If there were no system ground for your home, you would have a greater risk of electrocution in certain situations and you could experience mysterious problems like this fellow who’s GFCIs keep tripping:

GFI trips everyday

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  • Interesting GFI post. And thanks both of you for through answers. Sep 30 '15 at 16:49
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The purpose of a grounding system is to create a common reference of 0 volts within the system.

If this reference did not exist it would be much harder to detect faults in the system, and potentially allow shock hazards to go undetected.

There are some that say a well grounded house is less prone to damages from surges or indirect lightning strikes, but at the same time some say an overly grounded house could potentially attract more lightning.

There is nothing though that would cause the utility bill to increase because of a missing grounding system.

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