Can a single ground wire ground 2 outlets? I don't want to run another wire through the wall, if I can run a wire to that other ground wire (and have 2 outlets being grounded by one wire). In other words,

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I also have concerns about equipment protection. Will adding a ground wire be worse for my electronic equipment in any way? If I am having problems with equipment taking damage, will this help?

  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. You mean, run a separate ground wire to an already-powered outlet? I'm guessing this would violate code. – Daniel Griscom Jun 28 '16 at 1:11
  • Where are you? There was a code change relevant to this with the 2014 NEC, but your jurisdiction might not have caught up with the times yet. – ThreePhaseEel Jun 28 '16 at 1:17
  • Our top floor is UN grounded. i have run a separate ground wire from one outlet in the same room along the baseboard down the outside of my house onto a copper pipe. Cant i just tap into that wire? – Oliver Maki Jun 28 '16 at 1:17
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    To the grounding bar in the box which serves that circuit. Grabbing any random pipe is illegal and not a good idea. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 28 '16 at 1:45
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    @ThreePhaseEel Maybe. Deciding factor would be if 250.52a1's "underground water pipes" really means branch pipes extending deep inside your house. I don't like it because there would be nothing whatsoever to indicate to a plumber that this was a ground path to be respected. Maybe if you painted the pipes green or green/yellow LOL – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 28 '16 at 2:17

With the 2014 NEC addendum, your idea looks to be legal. Here's the relevant 2011 code for ground retrofits with 2014 addendum courtesy ThreePhaseEel.

250.130 Equipment Grounding Conductor Connections. Equipment grounding conductor connections at the source of separately derived systems shall be made in accordance with 250.30(A)(1). Equipment grounding conductor con- nections at service equipment shall be made as indicated in 250.130(A) or (B). For replacement of non-grounding-type receptacles with grounding-type receptacles and for branch- circuit extensions only in existing installations that do not have an equipment grounding conductor in the branch circuit, connections shall be permitted as indicated in 250.130(C).


(C) Nongrounding Receptacle Replacement or Branch Circuit Extensions. The equipment grounding conductor of a grounding-type receptacle or a branch-circuit extension shall be permitted to be connected to any of the following:

(1) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode system as described in 250.50

(2) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode conductor

(3) The equipment grounding terminal bar within the enclosure where the branch circuit for the receptacle or branch circuit originates

(4) For grounded systems, the grounded service conductor within the service equipment enclosure

(5) For ungrounded systems, the grounding terminal bar within the service equipment enclosure

ThreePhaseEel reports NEC 2014 adds the following between 3 and 4: (4) An equipment grounding conductor that is part of another branch circuit that originates from the enclosure where the branch circuit for the receptacle or branch circuit originates

Thank you ThreePhaseEel. The 2014 addendum specifically allows grabbing a ground from any circuit fed by the same sub-panel. Interestingly, nothing about conductor size, but keep in mind the context is ground retrofits only.

If you are going to another outlet on the same circuit (i.e. also turns off when you flip off the breaker) it's already allowed - daisy-chaining like that is the normal way to wire outlet strings.

Where to attach this ground wire? If you're wiring it to an adjacent outlet, just use wire-nut (commonly a yellow one) to tie it in with the ground wires already there.

If you're going into a service panel, tie it into the bus-bar which has all the other ground wires. Here's a picture of a panel with two bus-bars. Sometimes there is one bus bar. Sometimes they carefully separate grounds from neutrals. Other times they don't, depending on the rules. Just Do what you see in your panel.

enter image description here

Those are all single breakers, you might have a tandem aka duplex, which crams 2 breakers into one space.

Generally, adding a ground wire is always better for electronic equipment. It helps surge suppressors do their job by providing a ground reference. It provides real chassis grounding which among other things gives a solid route for static electricity to go to ground instead of getting inside equipment. It also provides a fault path if any hot wires short to ground, which assures you get a breaker trip. And it makes sure equipment chassis is not energized so it electrocutes someone. I'm glad you're doing it - it will help.

That said, grounds will not cause cheap electronics with poor components to suddenly become quality. Grounds will not themselves "clean up" dirty, noisy AC power, although they will help surge suppressors do that. Dirty power is often caused by your own equipment - for instance the air conditioner in your drawing. You may want to protect the PC from the air conditioner.

Grounds also don't fix potential overloads, and you might have one here. Fancy PC's aren't necessarily power hogs (the Mac Pro is only 2.5 amps) but "850 watt" PC power supplies are popular and they can draw 10 amps full bore (the difference being inefficiency). A typical window air conditioner is 5-8 amps. Loads which are continuous should only run at 80% of circuit capacity, that's 12A on a 15A breaker and 16A on a 20A breaker. I would encourage you to investigate further to make sure those loads (and the other loads on that circuit) aren't too much. To measure a device's actual current draw, gadgets like the Kill-A-Watt do nicely.

  • Thats exactly how my outlets are, both are turned on and off from the same breaker. – Oliver Maki Jun 28 '16 at 2:12
  • Thats exactly how my outlets are, both are turned on and off from the same breaker. @Harper – Oliver Maki Jun 28 '16 at 2:14
  • P.S. 2014 adds another point to 250.130(C): "4) An· equipment grounding conductor that is part of an- other branch circuit that originates from the enclosure where the branch circuit for the receptacle or branch circuit originates" (the old points 4 and 5 become 5 and 6 in 2014) – ThreePhaseEel Jun 28 '16 at 2:17
  • @ThreePhaseEel So can i just connect my ground to the metal bar with all the other copper wires? – Oliver Maki Jun 28 '16 at 2:24
  • Or even a nearby outlet fed from that same panel. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 28 '16 at 2:31

This doesn't look like the same question that I originally answered. 1 ground wire to the panel is totally legal. Usually the breaker size sets the maximum number of outlets a 15 amp breaker with 14 AWG wire 10 outlets are acceptable. Having a ground may help the RFI filters on the computer. The ground wire can only help. Putting a heavy motor load like the AC on the same circuit as the computer is not a wise idea without installing a UPS to power the computer to protect from the large power swings when the AC turns on and the inductive spikes when it shuts off.

  • So, how do i know which grounding bar is with my outlet? – Oliver Maki Jun 28 '16 at 2:09
  • Nothing wrong with neutral being a different voltage than ground. On a loaded circuit, the neutral will have some voltage drop, the ground will not. The only place they are the same is the main panel because it is pegged to neutral there. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 29 '16 at 1:13
  • @Harper Here is what we are talking about in image form. imgur.com/uCWO10D – Oliver Maki Jun 29 '16 at 1:19
  • The NEC 2014 amendment seems to allow that IMO. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 29 '16 at 1:55
  • So its safe for my electronics? – Oliver Maki Jun 29 '16 at 2:07

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