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I need to install two breakers into my panel. My buddy already ran the two wires into the panel, but has kind of left me hanging. I've attached a picture of my panel and was going to copy what the builder did (home is 2 years old). It looks like I can use the same bar for both neutral & ground? Why do some breakers have 2 whites and that's it? Did they use a white as the hot? Why do some breakers just have 1 black? I'll be installing two Eaton All In One. These have the white pigtail. I'm assuming I just tie the ground in with another ground on the bar, use a new space for the neutral, run the hot/neutral to the breaker followed by the pigtail to the bar in a new space as well. Suggestions? Sound right? enter image description here

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  • Where are you seeing breakers that "have two whites and that's it"? Every breaker I see in there has at least one black wire. – Nate S. Mar 3 at 0:43
  • This is your main panel we're seeing in your photo, right? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 3 at 0:44
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    Also, while you're in there, check on that black aluminum wire going to the 40A breaker -- from the picture, it looks like it's pulled out a bit. If that's true, that's dangerous, and needs correction. – Nate S. Mar 3 at 0:44
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    I disagree: AFCI or GFCI breakers would REQUIRE 2 white wires...one back from the circuit and the other to the neutral buss bar. That's the only way it could detect a ground fault or an arc fault, by measure the outgoing and returning current in the case of GFCI and signals for AFCI. It's common...that's what the curly pig tails are for on these breakers these days. PON (Plug on Neutral) panels eliminate the need for the 2nd white on a AFCI and/or GFCI breaker but that's not what you have there. Still it's a nice clean panel and you should have no problems installing the breakers. – George Anderson Mar 3 at 1:58
  • @NateS. On the other hand, getting screw torques right is particularly important on aluminum, so maybe the novice who lacks a torque screwdriver should leave that be. (by the way OP, do not interpret "right" as "gorilla tight". Too much is just as bad as too little.) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 3 at 19:10
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I couldn't identify any breaker with only two white wires, but the 10 breakers at the bottom each have two white wires plus one black. This is because they're arc fault (AFCI), ground fault (GFCI), or combination of the two functions. Those kinds of breakers have to monitor the current through both the neutral and the hot lines. The white jumper from the neutral bar to the breaker makes this possible.

The breakers that have only one black wire connected to them are conventional breakers. The neutral wires corresponding to these are attached directly to the neutral bus bar.

The connection of the new all-in-one breakers is just as you said. The white pigtail should connect to the neutral/ground bus bar, and the ground conductor from your new circuits goes there too. If the pigtails aren't long enough you can extend them with a piece of same-gauge white-colored wire joined with a twist-on connector (aka wire nut). Then the black and white wires from the new circuits go to the line and neutral terminals on the breakers. Position matters; the breaker will be marked in some way to indicate which terminal is which.

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  • I am a bit confused with the top 3 conventional breakers - considering one is for the garage outlets, shouldn't those be AFCI/GFCI at either the breaker or the outlet? – EGrant23 Mar 3 at 1:48
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    @EGrant23 An answer there indicates that bathrooms, unfinished basements, garages, and outdoors do not require AFCI (these all do require GFCI, and it could be provided at an outlet). That information is probably based on 2014 NEC; your house was probably built to 2017 NEC and I'm not certain whether there are changes in this respect. – Greg Hill Mar 3 at 5:43

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