What Is A Self-Grounding Outlet? (Explained)

Since electricity is an integral part of every house, and we all use it daily, it would be good to know a little bit more about electrical outlets. Even if you didn’t get a chance to see a self-grounding outlet, because they are very rare, they have an important role.

In order to avoid being electrocuted by an electrical current, self-grounding outlets and GFCIs are used. If you want to know more about them and how they work, be sure to read this article. So, let’s start!

What Is A Self-Grounding Outlet? A self-grounding electrical outlet is designed to protect you from electrical shock. By building codes, all outlets require to be either self-grounded or ground-fault circuit interrupters. However, self-grounding outlets are not legal everywhere because of the requirements they have to fulfill.

Although many people already know what GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) is, there are fewer who know what a self-grounding outlet is and how it works. Even though their name suggests that they are grounded, there are still some things that you should know about self-grounding outlets. We’ll go through it in more detail below.

What Is The Purpose Of a Self-Grounding Outlet?

Purpose Of a Self-Grounding Outlet

Self-grounding outlets’ main purpose is to protect people or pets from electrical shock. As building codes require, all electric outlets must be self-grounded. However, if you use an electrical outlet in an improper way, it can lead to shock.

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For example, by pushing some metal object into the outlet (such as a fork), even a GFCI will not protect you from electrical shock.

Related article: Can You Put An Electrical Outlet Under A Sink?

How To Identify A Self-Grounding Outlet?

Self-grounding electrical outlet consists of two parallel vertical slits that are 1″ apart. Below vertical slits is a round hole opening that is used for ground. These are the main parts of the self-grounding outlet.

What Is The Function of A Self-Grounding Outlet?

A self-grounding outlet’s main function is to provide your home devices with electricity. This outlet is connected to an electrical box. Therefore, when you connect some device with this outlet, it will be supplied with electricity that is coming from the main electrical box.

This electrical outlet is not much different from standard outlets in your home, and they are also the most common ones.

Are Self-Grounding Outlets Safe?

Yes, self-grounding outlets are designed to be safe. Their main purpose is to protect the user from electrical shock, unlike non-grounded outlets that don’t have this kind of protection. Moreover, their grounding is an important part of keeping your home safe when dealing with electricity.

Can You Install Self-Grounding Outlets In Old Houses?

Yes, self-grounding outlets can be installed in old homes. However, it’s recommended that you contact a professional electrician first to check how the old outlets are installed in that house.

If you have a non-grounded outlet in an old home, it will be more complicated to add a self-grounding outlet.

This is because the outlets are designed so that they do not leave too much space when they need to be screwed. Be sure to check that first before doing anything.

Advantages Of Self-Grounding Outlets

Now that we’ve explained what self-grounding outlets are and their role, we’ll go over some of their advantages. So let’s get started:

Low Cost & Multifunction

Self-grounding outlets are more affordable compared to the GFCI outlets. Another great thing about them is that they are multifunctional, compared to normal electrical outlets.

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Therefore, by using a self-grounding outlet, you’ll get safety and reliability at the same time at a very affordable price. Because of that, more homes are opting for these outlets.

Less Work Is Needed

Self-grounding outlets do not need to be installed throughout the whole house. In order to avoid installing ground tails on almost every outlet in the house, you can install a self-grounding outlet where it’s needed.

That way, you’ll have less work to do. However, most professional electricians prefer to install ground tails when possible.

When NOT To Use Self-Grounding Outlets?

Although self-grounding outlets are used almost everywhere, there are some situations where their use should be avoided. Therefore, it is good to know what these situations are and explain why.

Their wide application is possible because they come with a ground terminal. Here are the two situations where you should not use a self-grounding outlet:

  • When Using Plastic Box: A self-grounding outlet will not function properly if it’s attached to the plastic box. It will simply not work. You’ll need a non-metallic cable that is attached to a ground wire.
  • When Using NM cable or Romex: A rubber sheeting cable will not create a ground path that is continuous from the outlet box to the panel. Whether you use a non-metallic cable with a metal box, the cable will not be grounded to the panel. In that case, you will have to use a ground wire with a connection within the Romex cable.

Are Self-Grounding Outlets Legal?

No, self-grounding outlets are not legal everywhere. Some states prohibit their use due to local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). Therefore, before you decide to install a self-grounding outlet in your home, be sure to contact a professional electrician to tell you if this is allowed in the place where you live. Most of them know what the laws are about self-grounding outlets.

For those who want to know more about home electricity, be sure to read Can I Share My Electricity With My Neighbor?

FAQ: People Also Ask

How do I know if my outlet is self-grounded?

Approach the 3-slot outlet that has power, take the probe from the neutral slot, and touch the center screw that is located on the cover plate. If the tester shows light, then the ground connection is working properly.

What if my outlet doesn’t have a ground?

If your electrical outlet doesn’t come with a ground wire, it’s unsafe to add a grounding electrical receptacle on that same electrical circuit. Before you do anything on your switch, make sure to turn off the power by switching the circuit breaker off.

Where can you buy self-grounding outlets?

Self-grounding outlets can be bought at any electrical store or big shop like Walmart. Also, you can purchase them from online stores such as Amazon, eBay, or Alibaba.

Final Thoughts

Self-grounding outlets are designed to protect people from electrical shock. Although you will not find these types of outlets in many households, they are very efficient and have a special role.

If you are unsure whether you have such a socket in your house, it would be best to contact an electrician to come and check. I hope that through this article, you are much more familiar with self-grounding outlets and their role. For any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment.

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