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In electricity supply systems, an earthing (grounding) system defines the electrical potential of the conductors relative to that of the Earth's conductive surface. A functional earth connection serves a purpose other than providing protection against electrical shock. In contrast to a protective earth connection, a functional earth connection may carry a current during the normal operation of a device. Generally the protective earth is also used as a functional earth, though this requires care in some situations.

A typical earthing electrode Note the green and yellow marked earth wire.

Electrical circuits may be connected to ground (earth) for several reasons. In mains powered equipment, exposed metal parts are connected to ground to prevent contact with a dangerous voltage if electrical insulation fails. Connections to ground limit the build-up of static electricity when handling flammable products or when repairing electronic devices.

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