I've got a breaker panel in my detached garage (it is not a sub-panel, but is a primary forked off just past the meter). The panel seems to be wired correctly- the neutral and ground bars are tied together, and a (6ga?) ground wire was run through a hole in the wall about 6" below the panel, down through some conduit outside, and is attached to a grounding rod. However, between where it leaves the panel and passes through the wall to the outdoor conduit, it is just bare wire. I am in the process of insulating the garage, and putting up drywall, and this didn't seem right. Thoughts?

Just to clarify- the wire IS in conduit outside, but for the 6" or so it runs inside the walls, it is just bare wire.

5 Answers 5


Exposed ground wires are normal. In the last year I've seen a main panel and 2 subpanels approved with exposed ground wires. They were 6ga stranded.


(I am not an electrician)

The purpose of the ground wire is to provide a clear path of least resistance for electricity to follow in the event of a short, so that instead of going through your body, it goes to the ground.

Strictly speaking, exposed ground within a wall isn't wrong - for instance if you use armored cable, often the armor not only acts as protection, but as the ground, so where a/c is used (as in my own house) there are long stretches of "exposed ground" in the walls.

The only time a ground is dangerous is if it's wired incorrectly and not actually grounding, and becomes energized. One questionable side benefit of an exposed ground is that if another hot line becomes damaged the odds of it touching the ground before anything else are increased (sometimes).

That given, I'm not a fan of ANY exposed wires - but in your circumstances I don't see the exposed ground within the wall as a serious risk.


No idea of how up-to your local code it is, but where I live I see exposed grounding wires quite often.

One major concern is they must be protected from corrosion and damage - otherwise grounding may not function when you most need it. This is why it may be a good idea to protect them with some kind of cover.


My power company requires it be in non-metallic conduit, yours may as well.

All grounding conductor above grade shall be installed in nonmetallic conduit."
City of Ames (Iowa), "Commercial Service Single Phase 600 Amp & Blow Direct Metered Note #4

  • Your link went dead.
    – user4302
    Apr 10, 2017 at 20:43
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    Can you provide a quote from the document, in case the link poofs again? Apr 11, 2017 at 1:11

"Just to clarify- the wire IS in conduit outside, but for the 6" or so it runs inside the walls, it is just bare wire."

Bare naked ground conductor is perfect fine in certain space. The reason the CODE requires the ground conductor to be inside the conduit is for protecting the conductor from being damaged by any mechanical means e.g., gardener weed whacker. In fact, you can use PVC to house the ground conductor. If one chooses to use ferrous metal conduit to house the ground wire, then the conduit must be grounded at its both ends to avoid the high frequency high current by lightning causing the conduit/conductor to act as an inductor which has higher impedance than a bare conductor alone. (Non-ferrous metal conduit, such as rigid aluminum, does not have this problem and does not require the grounding electrode conductor to be bonded at each end of the conduit.)

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    Just to clarify, if PVC is used for physical protection it must be Sch80. Sch40 affords no more protection than the wire itself in the eyes of the code. Apr 21, 2016 at 0:39

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