Positive Ground Confusion

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Positive Ground Confusion

Postby lazyuniondriver » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:52 am

Growing up in a negative ground world with only a couple of tractors being positive ground on the farm, I found it hard to communicate clear instructions when giving trouble shooting advice on positive ground equipment.

I think we've all been there... Is that the positive, the negative or the ground? Does the owner on the other end of the phone even know what grounding system he has when seeking advice? Some people don't know.

I have learned to refer to the battery connections as POWER and GROUND, no matter what type of grounding system is utilized.

Try and eliminate the words or phrase "the positive" and "the negative" from your vocabulary always think POWER and GROUND.

The power terminal is the one not connected to the equipment frame. The Ground terminal obviously the one connected to the frame.

When using these terms to instruct someone with a "how to" it totally eliminates the confusion presented with positive ground systems.

Power is power and ground is ground no matter what the markings are on the battery and no matter if it is a positive or negative ground system.

An example would be if someone instructed you to "see if you have power by hooking a jumper wire to the positive battery terminal and the other end to the screw on the back of the light to check the bulb".

If you have a positive ground system, you would have to convert the instructions adapting to the positive ground application, hooking up to the negative battery terminal.

By using the terms "power" and "ground", instructions are universal with either grounding system. Make sense?

By eliminating the confusion, you eliminate the possibility of shorting something out or ruining a component like a voltage regulator by touching a jumper wire of the wrong polarity to it, or condemning a component or system you tested with the wrong polarity.

I fought in my head for years for a better way to communicate positive grounding technical advice with the fear of cooking someone's equipment if I erred in the conversion or they mis understood my directions because they grew up in a negative ground world as well.

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Re: Positive Ground Confusion

Postby elkshead » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:22 pm

I have the same problem. Power and Ground makes sense to me. Thanks

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Re: Positive Ground Confusion

Postby HART » Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:50 pm

I confess not knowing which way my Cub SHOULD be grounded but just left it the same for 43 years. Also the "HOT"
'[ or, power] terminal is always larger and has the " + " sign on it so I've not had much trouble, and all the mechanic's who have worked on it left it the same. I do understand the confusion though.

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Re: Positive Ground Confusion

Postby beaconlight » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:48 pm

You guys are just not old enough. At a point in time most everything was positive ground.

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Re: Positive Ground Confusion

Postby Rudi » Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:06 pm


You are right as usual. For a lot of us older guys (I don't believe I just said that :shock: :roll: ), we grew up with positive ground vehicles .. first negative ground vehicle I owned was a 67 poncho, before that they were all positive ground.
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