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A question on grounding

  1. Jul 12, 2011 #1
    I have a system with an electrical source in the centre. the circuit branches off to two sides, one side is grounded, the other is not, if I were to touch the not grounded side of this wire, would I receive a shock? Or would I be perfectly fine because it's grounded at the other end?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2011 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF.

    Could you please show us a sketch of what you mean? What is the electrical source? What voltage, DC or AC, if AC, what frequency?
  4. Jul 13, 2011 #3
    Thanks very much, and here's how i see it.


    I was thinking - in the most simplistic way possible using something similar to that. Let's say the source is AC, high voltage say.... 100V? the source, I'm not sure it was just a hypothetical "what if" question that I couldn't really make my mind up on the outcome.

    Would it be the same essentially as holding a vandergraph generator and then touching someone? ie. that the there would be no shock felt until there was contact made? Or am i completely wrong here?
  5. Jul 13, 2011 #4
    All points on a wire are essentially connected if you look at the big picture of circuit analysis.

    What happens if you grab the open wire is that the current flowing from the source has two paths to ground. One path is a wire directly to ground and the other path is through you. The path directly to ground will be lower impedance so most of the current will flow through that wire instead of through you to ground so you would not get shocked.

    This is the same reason there are safety grounds on metal chassis of electrical devices. If there ever was a short where power was put on the chassis, the current would flow through the safety ground and not through a person who touched the chassis.
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