This morning I opened up my main breaker box to replace the old doorbell transformer. I thought this would be a straightforward job but didn't account for confusing wiring of the old transformer setup.

The new transformer has the typical black, white and green (ground) wires. The old transformer has two blacks and a green (photos attached).

Even more confusing is the way those old wires are connected. One of the black wires and the green are connected together directly to the main box. The other black wire is connected to other black wires via a wire nut.

How can I know where to plug in my black and white wires? Should I just cap the new ground wire with a wire nut or attach it somewhere in the box? Thanks for your help!


1 Answer 1


The old transformer has identical wire colors for hot and neutral. The new one differentiates them.
To connect the new transformer, connect the black wire from the new one to the same black wire where your old transformer was connected with the wire nut. Connect both the green and white wires to the same spot where the black and green are connected together from your old transformer.
In your case, this is a main panel, which is why it is acceptable to connect the neutrals and grounds together (though it is not the best way to do it, but you might as well stay consistent with how your panel is wired). This question/answer should give you some more background on this.

Also note that if your new transformer looks similar to the old one, you should put the threaded part where the 120V wires come through through the knockout in the side of the panel, and use a nut to attach it there. The way the old transformer is attached is not how it should be, those wires should not be passing along the side of the panel and through an unprotected knockout like that.

  • Thanks for the answer! I was concerned about combining the neutral and ground but I understand better now. If I do spot a grounding bar in my breaker box (I'm not home now so I'm not looking directly at it), would I be ok to just wire the green to the grounding bar, the white to the neutral bus bar and the black to the wire nut? Otherwise I understand that I can connect both the green and the neutral to the neutral bus bar.
    – Tony Shea
    Dec 12, 2019 at 15:34
  • Also, I should have pointed out that I had already disconnected the threaded part on the old transformer before I took the picture. I will be sure to attach the new transformer through the knockout as well. Thanks again.
    – Tony Shea
    Dec 12, 2019 at 15:35
  • 2
    "The way the old transformer is attached is not how it should be, those wires should not be passing along the side of the panel and through an unprotected knockout like that." It looks like it was attached that way and he unfastened the nut and left it hanging for the photo. Dec 12, 2019 at 15:37
  • 1
    Yup, I didn't realize that at first since you can't really see the nut well in the picture. Dec 12, 2019 at 15:44
  • Just a quick note to let you know that thanks to your helpful answer, the job only took a few minutes to get it done right yesterday, so I now once again have a functioning doorbell.
    – Tony Shea
    Dec 13, 2019 at 17:50

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