Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was not working with this circuit breaker box but I was interested to see what was going on with only 3 breakers for the entire apartment. I found a neutral from the apartment going into the neutral with the power meter. Is this safe and to code? What else is wrong with this picture?

Should a neutral wire ever be connected to the neutral for the power meter?

share|improve this question
    
Sorry I was not clear. What I meant is, the thick neutral wire for the meter and a neutral wire from one of the breakers are connected on the same screw circled in orange. Is it ok to leave two neutral wires on the same screw or should I connect the breaker neutral by the other two breaker neutrals at the bottom right? –  Frank Jul 21 at 2:01
1  
Yes, it's likely that this is not allowed. It depends on the specifications of the circuit breaker box. Perhaps it has a label that says if "double-taps" are allowed? What's the brand and model of the breaker box? But, the actual electrical continuity is fine. You don't need any breakers or disconnects to interrupt the neutral (except in situations with electrical generators and switches....) –  Pigrew Jul 21 at 3:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've labeled some things in your photo, that might help you understand what's going on.

Labeled Photo

The wires coming up into the panel are your service conductors, of which you have two "hot" and one "neutral". From there you have "hot" branch-circuit conductors, which are connected through circuit breakers. There's also a branch-circuit "neutral", for each branch circuit.


You seem to be concerned that one of the branch-circuit "neutral" conductors, is terminated under the same lug as the service "neutral". Which is a valid concern. You'd have to check the documentation or labeling on the panel, to determine how many conductors can be terminated at that terminal. National Electrical Code limits each terminal to one conductor, but allows device manufacturers to override that as long as there is documentation stating such.

It looks to me like that circuit predates the other two, and possibly even the panel itself. I'm guessing when they updated the panel, that conductor wouldn't physically reach the "neutral" bus. Instead of splicing the wire, they simply terminated it with the service "neutral".

share|improve this answer
    
Do I put a green ground wire on the grounded (neutral) branch-circuit bar too? –  Frank Jul 22 at 15:53
    
No. It doesn't look like this panel is grounded. If you want to add equipment grounding conductors for the branch-circuits, you'll have to make sure there's an adequate grounding electrode and that the panel is bonded to it. –  Tester101 Jul 22 at 16:20

I am not sure I understand the intent of your question. The neutral wire is not metered. It just passes through the meter box. Old electric meters don't have a connection to it at all.

Electric meters monitor both hot legs and add up the kilowatt hours based on current flow through those.

enter image description here photo source.

The only remarkable thing I see in your photo is the unusually small number of circuits. That makes sense if heating, air conditioning, hot water are provided by the landlord or commons and you don't have an electric range, laundry, etc. Nothing but some lights and electronics.

share|improve this answer

Remember that power runs from source, thru meter, to breaker box. That isn't power to meter, it's power FROM meter (two phases, red and black). It makes perfect sense to me that neutral too would be drawn from the main box thru the meter box to the apartment box.

I don't see anything questionable here.

share|improve this answer

To directly answer your question, yes, the neutral should be connected form the meter to the same bus as the individual circuits in the apartment for conventional breakers, which only switch the hot (black) wires. For GFCI or AFCI breakers, the neutral/white wire connects to the breaker, which has its own lead to connect to the neutral bus.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.