If you want to know how to ground your laptop, you must be tired of feeling tingly or even getting small shocks when using it.
There always seems to be a new problem with electricity and electronic devices, but this is your lucky day because grounding your laptop isn’t challenging, and it can quickly solve your problem.
Continue reading to find out what grounding is and how you can ground your laptop.
You’ll also learn how to ground yourself for when you need to repair your laptop.
How To Ground A Laptop
Some laptops have some strong current going through them, and when you touch the exterior, the current goes through your body, which can’t be healthy.
Some old laptops even leak electricity to their external metal parts, like the USB ports, so they end up giving you a tiny shock whenever you touch them.
Sometimes, cheap laptop chargers leak some current to the chassis of your laptop.
Many laptops are grounded via their three-prong chargers, but even those could end up electrocuting you when you don’t plug them in.
You could solve these problems by grounding your laptop using these three methods:
Method 1: Soil
This method is for those who only have access to simple tools.
It could also be helpful for those living in houses without three-prong outlets with grounding wires.
You’ll need a simple wire and an aluminum or copper pole/plate.
First, strip out both ends of the wire for a couple of inches.
Then, tie one end of the wire around your laptop’s charger pin, where it goes into your laptop.
Tie the other end around the aluminum pole or plate.
If you live on the first floor, you can use a wire long enough to get the pole out of a window and into the ground.
If not, use a plant pot filled with soil and insert the pole in there.
Once you plug the charger pin into your laptop, it’ll be grounded.
Method 2: Grounded Adapters
If the outlets in your house have the third grounding prong, you can use grounded adapters that transform a two-prong laptop charger into a three-prong one.
This way, your laptop will be grounded.
Here are two of the best grounded adapters you can purchase:
1. OREI 3 Prong M8+ Grounded Adapter
Safest World Travel Adapter Grounded by Orei 3 Prong Plug for Laptop, Chargers, USB Device, Cell Phones - M8 Plus
The M8+ can accept grounded or ungrounded plugs with two or three prongs.
It can work with dual voltage devices like laptops, digital cameras, camcorders, shavers, and so on.
It has two USB ports that can charge phones, tablets, iPads, and other similar devices.
You can use this adapter in the USA, UK, Europe, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Dubai.
It’s a great companion for traveling.
2. Kensington Grounded 3 Prong Adapter
Kensington International Grounded 3 Prong Travel Adapter with Dual 2.4A USB Ports, Black (K38238WW)
This piece is an international 3-pole grounded adapter that’s compatible with both grounded and ungrounded plugs.
You can use this adapter in more than 200 countries.
It has a high power output plus two USB ports.
It can also protect your laptop from unexpected power surges with its internal fuse.
Method 3: Grounding Cords
Then again, if you have access to three-prong grounded outlets, you can use one of the three commercially made cords to ground your laptop.
They have three prongs that plug into an outlet, and the other end connects to your laptop, computer, or other devices and ground them.
You might ask yourself, why are there three prongs if you only need the grounding prong?
The other two aren’t connected to the wire.
They’re just there, so the plug sits firmly in the outlet while providing support.
Here are three types of grounding cords you can use:
1. USB Port
The end of the cord that connects to your laptop is a USB.
This USB Cord from the Intuition Physician website can solve your problem.
Moreover, if you don’t want to sacrifice one of your USB ports, you can use the ElectraHealth USB Grounding Adapter.
It has a male USB port on one end that goes into your computer and a female 3.0 USB terminal on the other end you can use to transfer data.
2. Ring Terminal
This type of cord has a ring terminal on the other end.
You can fit it in the upper portion of the USB port, the charger port, or any other place where it touches some metal on your laptop.
The FilterEMF 6-foot long, 3-prong plug to ring terminal is a good product.
3. Alligator Clip-on
The alligator clip-on might be a little hard to connect to your laptop, but you should make sure the clip touches a metal part.
If your laptop has a metal chassis, clip it on there.
The FilterEMF 12-foot long, 3-prong gator with clip-on will work great.
How to Ground Yourself When Working with a Laptop
Suppose you’re repairing or upgrading your laptop and dealing with sensitive pieces like microprocessors, memory chips, hard drives, or graphics cards.
In that case, you should ground yourself to prevent electrostatic discharge, which could damage them.
1. Grounded Metal Objects
Many technicians believe that if you touch a grounded metal object every couple of minutes or before handling the delicate electronics, you’ll be grounded and safe.
For instance, if you have made your computer grounded with the methods mentioned in the previous section, you can touch the metal casing to ground yourself.
Remember, if you use the computer’s three-prong charger to ground it, you should either switch off the PSU or the surge protector, so there’s no power in the system when you work on it.
Another example of a grounded metal object is a radiator.
You can also wrap a copper wire around your finger or toe and connect it to the metal object for constant grounding.
Note: The metal object shouldn’t have any paint on it.
2. Anti-Static Wrist Band
Anti-static wrist bands are useful and inexpensive gadgets.
You wrap them around your wrist with the metal part touching your skin and clip the other end onto an unpainted metal object.
You could clip them onto the grounding pins in outlets.
However, you first need to make sure they’re grounding pins without electricity going through them, or else you could get electrocuted.
The Arctic Eagle Anti-Static Wrist Strap has an adjustable strap, extendable long cord, and alligator clip.
The iFixit Anti-Static Wrist Strap is also a good option with a coiled six-foot-long cord and an elastic adjustable band.
3. Anti-Static Mat
This method is a bit extra for simple home projects.
However, if you want to be extra careful, purchase an antistatic mat and put the laptop on it while working.
When you ground the mat, it’ll protect the electronic pieces from ESD.
Some mats even have a place for you to clip your wrist strap.
The StarTech.com Anti-Static Mat is a top-rated product, big enough to fit a keyboard.
4. Other Pointers
- Avoid Carpets: Never put your computer components on a carpet. Working on a desk or another hard surface is necessary. Also, it’s best to put your bare feet on the hardwood floor while working. Avoid wearing socks on a carpet.
- Clear out Your Desk: Before you start, get rid of any source of static electricity around you. Plastic items, rolling desk chairs, and cats are some of the sources.
- Lose the Clothes: Take off any pieces of static-friendly clothes, including items made of wool. Wearing cotton clothing works the best.
- Use Anti-Static Bags: If you’re not working with any of the sensitive pieces, put them in an anti-static bag.
- Humidify: Since static electricity becomes more of an issue in dry environments, it’s a good idea to run a humidifier if you have one.
What Are Ground and Grounding?
For the term “ground” to make sense, you should first know the basics of voltage.
Working circuits and electronic devices have both currents and voltages.
While the current is the rate of charge flowing past a given point in an electric circuit, voltage is a relative measurement.
In other words, you need to measure the voltage of a certain point in a circuit compared to another reference point because, otherwise, it’ll be meaningless.
The current is always trying to find a path with the least resistance to get back to its zero-reference level.
This point is the base for all other voltage measurements, also known as the “ground.”
Therefore, the ground is where the electrical current flows to, and grounding is a connection between a circuit and the zero-volt reference point.
For instance, in a simple circuit with a battery and some wire, the negative terminal on the battery becomes the ground.
Another example is when lightning strikes the earth.
The cloud suddenly discharges a significant amount of negative charge to the earth to balance its charge.
In this case, the earth is the “ground.”
As you can see, various grounding types exist, but the most common is earth grounding, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
What Is Earth Ground?
The earth is electrically neutral, so it’s immune to electrical wavering.
That’s why we use earth as the ultimate grounding point.
The most common goal of earth grounding is to dump the excess power that could damage systems and devices into the ground.
We usually connect the electrically charged system directly to the ground using a conductive material such as copper or aluminum.
For an earth ground to meet the National Electrical Code’s standards, a conductive pipe or rod should be driven into the earth for at least eight feet.
That’s not something everyone can do for themselves, so it’s built into the electrical outlets.
If your house isn’t old, the outlets should have three holes in them.
The one on the top right is the hot slot.
The one on the top left is the neutral slot.
Electrical power flows through the hot slot, powers up the plugged-in device, and then flows through the neutral slot.
The third hole that sits on the bottom is a grounding prong.
If there’s some excess or misplaced current, it’ll flow through the grounding prong and into the grounding wire.
This wire could be connected to the earth outside your house in two ways:
- Copper Water Pipe: In some buildings, the grounding wire connects to the plumbing that feeds cold water to your water heater. These are copper pipes that eventually go into the ground.
- Grounding Rod: This is a long copper rod located far enough from your home placed into the soil and connected to the building’s electrical system without interfering with the foundation, piping, or drainage system.
Why Do Devices Need Grounding?
Most electronic devices require earth grounding for multiple reasons.
The exceptions are low-power devices and those with internal insulation.
These include small lamps, radios, coffee makers, and handyman tools.
The high-power electronics that need grounding are TVs, computers, dishwashers, and so on.
Here are the reasons most devices should be grounded:
When the chassis of a device accidentally gets connected to a live wire, electrical power flows through it.
Now, if you touch the chassis, the current flows through your body and into the ground.
That can cause an annoying buzz or a life-threatening shock!
If the chassis is connected to the ground with a low-resistance wire, the current chooses to flow through there instead of your body, preventing shock.
2. Electrostatic Discharge
Electronic devices aren’t always the ones causing the shocks.
There are rather sensitive electronic pieces that can get damaged by the current flowing through the human body.
These include internal circuits, hard drives, motherboards, and so on.
When you walk across the carpet with socks on or do similar activities, your body becomes statically charged.
If you touch sensitive devices, electrostatic discharge or ESD can happen, causing permanent damage to these systems.
Technicians ground themselves to prevent this problem.
3. EMI Control
Grounding is vital for controlling electromagnetic interference or EMI.
The EMI currents need a path to dissipate to the earth, or else they may cause damage.
4. Power Faults
During a power fault, if the insulated part of a device is damaged, old, or a contaminant has found its way inside it, a breakdown can happen, resulting in arcing and even fire.
That’s why it’s essential to ground the circuit to the earth to contain the dangerous voltage.
Lightning can cause severe damage to electronic equipment and cause big fires.
Grounding can drain powerful lightning currents and prevent accidents.
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