Earth wire on reptile enclosure lighting, is it needed?

Thread Starter


Joined Oct 27, 2017
I recently purchased a large enclosure for my snake however the lighting/heating system keeps failing. The thermostat is connected to three separate lights in which I am using infrared heat lamps.

The lamps keep failing and I believe this may be due to the fittings being cheap plastic and not suitable for the heat lamps.I intend to switch these out with ceramic fittings however the fittings I purchased only have two connections available.

If I simply seal off the earth wire with electrical tape and install the ceramic lights will this be a risk? I guess this will mean that the system is earthed up to and including the thermostat, and that if you were silly enough to stick your finger in the socket the breaker would still operate.

Any advice appreciated.

I think you need to post pictures.

IR lamps typically have end caps with ceramic. The IR lamps I used commercially were rated at 1000 W and had to have water cooled reflectors. The opening was around 3" x 1". This heated to very high temperatures.

The other IR heating system I designed used IR elements suspended in a U shaped holder where the ends of the U had oversized holes for the lamps to sit in. A series/parallel electrical holder was machined from stainless 1/4" square stock and ceramic spacers with set screws to attach the wires. This was to heat to 200 C max inside a vacuum chamber.

Thread Starter


Joined Oct 27, 2017
Hello KISS,

It is a simple lighting setup with a thermostat. I have included some pictures for context, but the question is simply whether it would be safe for me to exclude the earth wire when installing the ceramic fittings. The temperature is aiming for around 30 where the snake sleeps at the top of the enclosure, I think it gets a little hotter but that is fine. There are three lamp fittings connected to the thermostat.

Thank you for having a look.


ceramic fitting rear.jpg Ceramic fitting.jpg lamps.jpg thermostat.jpg ceramic fitting box.jpg snake.jpg



Joined Nov 30, 2010
There is nothing to attach a ground wire to, unless you mount the ceramic socket on a metal electrical box. Then you could ground the metal box. I think that is how this will end: Metal box with ground wire attached.

Thread Starter


Joined Oct 27, 2017
Thank you Expert, but why would I do that? It sounds like introducing a risk for no reason since there is no conductive material there at the moment..

If a metal box is the solution, what about the existing wire mesh cages that are in the picture, would attaching the earth to this be adequate? They will probably sit a few inches distance from the ceramic or I could make them connect.

Thanks again.
The rules are that you basically ground any metal enclosures. When you wire an outlet in a metal box, you have to run a ground to the box and to the third prong on the outlet.

The problem becomes much easier when you use a plastic box. Do your reptiles eat plastic?

Example: You put a duplex receptacle in an ungrounded metal box. The HOT screw accidentally touches the side of the box. The box becomes live. You touch the box -- Ouch! Because, around you is at ground.

In the old days (Say 1960's) copper, cast iron and galvanized were common pluming materials, so plumbing fixtures were inherently grounded
Ideally, you want your conductive surroundings the same potential as earth.

I don't want to get into grounding to heavey, BUT the wiring in your house (Ground and Neutral) are connected together at exactly one point.
This same point should be the reference for Cable TV too. Telephone surges should go there as well.


Joined Oct 24, 2017
Not necessarily you need a grounding wire to earth, as long as your ac hot/phase line is insulated properly against the metal
housing,to avoid direct contact to it.

Thread Starter


Joined Oct 27, 2017
The rules are that you basically ground any metal enclosures. When you wire an outlet in a metal box, you have to run a ground to the box and to the third prong on the ...the

I think this means i can get away without including a ground on these fittings, the wires will pass through the wood of the enclosure then into the connections of the ceramic fitting. The wire cage is a spacer to avoid the snake burning herself on the lamp (not the cleverest creatures in the world) and is not in contact with the ceramic. I guess i could earth the cages for the hell of it but probably not necessary.
This is basically what those fixtures want to attach too. This is the metal version. it's a 4" ceiling electrical box.

if say you had 1/2" plywood and you had the lamp on the wood. Well not exactly. The lamp would be mounted on the metal box attached to the wood.

So now drill an oversized hole in the middle and "knock out" the center knock out.

I'll pick this cord grip as an example, not real sure it's going to work, but ot show you by example. That part grips a round cord and the nut secures the cord (compresses it) and there is another nut holding it to the box.
In this way, we get the cord safely out of the wooden enclosure and snake doesn't make a meal of the power cord. We have to ground the box.

Cord grips can also be made of aluminum. When we do that, we don't get the nut and we have to add extra parts. The threads are NPT or National Pipe and they are tapered. Special nuts that you can basically turn with a screwdriver acting as a hammer turns the nuts that are perpendicular to you. Use channel locks to tighten what you might be doing.

Basically, drill the oversized hole. Thread the cord through the wood. The cord grip would have already been installed on the 4" box with the cord passing through it.

What I would probably do is use a fork terminal on the fixture to a pigtail and wire nut the pigtail. In any event, the ceramic fixture is installed last.

So, now you can yank on the cord and snake can't eat it and the wire don;t see combustible material, like wood. The outer jacket is very different than the insulation of the individual wires.

So will the IR damage the cord?

Back to the metal cord grip. There is a plastic bushing that's added so that wires can't be cut by the edges of the metal cord grip.