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I'm getting two conflicting reports and was wondering if anyone can help me. I was told that on the distribution panel, grounded conductors (neutral) and ground wires need to be separated in the distribution panel. The point of disconnect is at the meter and the neutral and ground wires, apparently, have to be separated downstream of the point of disconnect for proper grounding system. Is this true? I got a second opinion and was told that on a 3 wire service to panel, neutral and ground wires are allowed to be terminated on the same bar. Any help would be really appreciated. Thank you all!!

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possible duplicate of Is it ok to have mixed grounds and neutrals on bars in a breaker box? –  TomG Apr 18 '14 at 20:58
Peachtree City, welcome to the site. Several other similar questions are already answered, please take a look at them, and upvote if they're helpful to you. –  TomG Apr 18 '14 at 21:00

2 Answers 2

Whoever told you the meter was the point of disconnect was dead wrong. The main panel or disconnect is the first means of overcurrent or disconnect. THIS is where your neutral bond must happen.

2011 NEC

Article 250 Grounding and Bonding

II. System Grounding

250.24 Grounding Service-Supplied Alternating-Current Systems

(B) Main Bonding Jumper.

For a grounded system, an unspliced main bonding jumper shall be used to connect the equipment grounding conductor(s) and the service-disconnect enclosure to the grounded conductor within the enclosure for each service disconnect in accordance with 250.28.*

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The grounded (neutral) conductor is bonded to ground in one location.

It's common to bond the grounded (neutral) bus and the grounding bus in the panel, but it's not a requirement. The grounded (neutral) conductor can be bonded before the panel, but you'd then be required to keep the grounding and grounded (neutral) conductors separate after that point. So if you bond the grounded (neutral) conductor before the panel, you'll have to pull a separate grounding conductor along with the grounded (neutral) and two ungrounded (hot) conductors.

In most cases the main breaker in the panel is used as the main disconnect, which is why the grounded (neutral) conductor is typically bonded there. If, however, there is a disconnect before the panel. It's likely that, that will be the location where the grounded (neutral) conductor will be bonded. If this is the case, the grounded (neutral) and grounding conductors must be kept separate after this point in the system.

So if the grounded (neutral) conductor is bonded before the panel, you'll have to have 4 conductors from the point of bonding to the panel.

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Just a note - Most utilities prohibit the neutral bond inside the meter pan as this is considered utility company territory and not considered "accessible" due to the prohibition of cutting off the meter seal/tag. –  Speedy Petey Apr 16 '14 at 23:12
Also, pretty much every residential meter enclosure I have ever used has had the neutral inherently bonded to the enclosure. The neutral is not isolated in meter pans. –  Speedy Petey Apr 16 '14 at 23:21

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