Comparing Grounded and Ungrounded Electrical Outlets

At My Buddy the Electrician, there is no single theme more important to us when providing our quality electrical services than safety. From our residential electrical services to commercial solutions, we not only take a wide range of safety precautions during our electrical service appointments, but also provide numerous tips and expertise areas to home and building owners on daily electrical safety.

One basic area that everyone should be aware of when it comes to electrical safety is the difference between grounded and ungrounded electrical outlets, plus why the latter can present certain risks the former do not. Let’s go over how these outlet types differ, why grounded outlets are more commonly used today, and whether you could and should consider replacing ungrounded outlets in your space.

grounded ungrounded electrical outlets

Grounded Vs Ungrounded Outlets

For starters, let’s define these two outlet types. This is easy, as differentiating them is as simple as checking whether the outlet in question has two or three openings for electrical prongs – the first two will be longer openings running vertically, while the optional third creates a circle under the first two. Simply put, outlets that contain that third opening are grounded outlets, while those that do not are ungrounded.

So what do these holes actually mean? Well, that third hole is a place for what’s known as a grounding wire. If something goes wrong with the outlet, whether a transient charge or some kind of power surge, the appliance sends the charge “to ground,” where the outlet sends it away harmlessly and it presents no danger. Ungrounded outlets, however, have no such grounding wire, meaning unexpected current has nowhere to go except to the appliance, your hand or somewhere in your space.

Why Ungrounded Outlets Fell Out of Style

Until the 1960s, ungrounded outlets were the standard for electricity. But when grounded outlets hit the scene around this time, ungrounded formats quickly became unpopular – both for safety reasons and because they don’t handle larger electrical needs as well as grounded options. Today, ungrounded outlets are often considered code violations in many buildings.

Replacing Ungrounded Outlets

If you have ungrounded outlets in your home, the factor that determines the ease of replacing them with grounded outlets is the wiring. If your home’s wiring is robust and has not been damaged, this is a simple and affordable project our electricians will be happy to handle for you, both to bring your home or building up to code and to improve overall safety. Inquire today about an inspection of your wiring and a cost estimate.

For more on grounded versus ungrounded outlets, or to learn about any of the services offered by our electrical contractors, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Electrician today.