Almost any kind of electronic equipment has to contend with electromagnetic interference, or “static.” This poses no problem for your toaster or lamp, but it’s an important issue for hospitals, science labs and data centers that need an isolated ground receptacle for sensitive equipment.
You rarely see an IG receptacle (the orange kind) in homes, but some audio purists want them installed to gain every bit of sound quality possible. If you hear background static on your headphones or in your home theater room, you may want to ask an electrician to install a hospital-grade isolated ground receptacle.
How Do Isolated Ground Receptacles Work?
For more than 50 years, the National Electrical Code has required grounded outlets. However, your standard wall receptacle uses a simple grounding method—a wire from the ground screw to a nearby metal surface. This grounds the connection safely, but leaves the door open for interference (there’s usually some electrical noise flowing through the metal).
An isolated ground receptacle uses a higher level of protection for the cabling and connects to the ground bus on a panel or other insulated grounding conductor. In other words, it’s isolated from outside interference that can affect electronics performance.
Where Do You Need to Install an Isolated Ground Receptacle?
Hospitals, dental practices, outpatient clinics, and other medical facilities need to use an IG receptacle in all patient care rooms. Regular outlets can be used in places like offices and waiting rooms. Essentially, any location where you might plug in diagnostics tools or patient monitoring devices should have an isolated ground receptacle.
Electrical designs may specify an isolated ground receptacle in a variety of IT operations, such as server rooms and data centers. While not strictly required by the NEC, you should go ahead and install these orange outlets when recommended by your industry’s guidelines.
Isolated Ground Receptacle for Home Use
At home, many people find that an isolated ground receptacle improves the performance of stereo systems, theater rooms, and home music studios.
In some cases, computers and networks can be affected by excessive electrical noise. Your computer freezes up, or your internet connection gets dropped frequently. If you use a home office or have multiple computers plugged into one circuit at home, you might think about using an isolated ground receptacle as part of your network wiring.
Alternatives to Isolated Ground Receptacles
For home use, you can ask a professional with commercial electrical experience to install an isolated ground receptacle wherever you want. However, another option is the dedicated circuit. This simply means that the circuit only serves one wall outlet. It’s what you have for large appliances like laundry and HVAC.
Humming and buzzing static on your audio and issues with computers might also be a sign that you have old wiring that needs repair or replacement. Before deciding on what to do, get an electrical inspection to find out if you have ground fault issues, frayed wiring, or perhaps old aluminum wiring that needs to go.
Installation of Hospital-Grade Outlets and Other Electrical Upgrades
In the Sonoma County area, Spyrka Electric can take care of your wiring upgrades and isolated ground receptacle installation. We serve home and commercial clients, including clinics and other medical facilities that need hospital-grade receptacles.
Contact us to request an estimate or schedule service for isolated ground receptacle installation or to get an inspection to make sure you’re safe and up to code.