I am working on remodeling an addition on our house (attached) that has a sub panel for a dryer outlet. This sub panel looks to only be fed by two hot and a neutral. I've searched google and this site and it sounds like if this is considered a legacy install where the neutral is bonded to ground at the sub panel (instead of just the main)? The panel does not appear to be that old but there is not even a ground bar inside it.
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Judging by the pictures is that what is happening here? (Green wire in picture is going to a GFCI outlet not on this sub panel but using the "ground" bar). Can I bring this up to code by running a bare, separate ground wire under the sub floor back to the main panel and getting a new sub panel with a ground bar?


  • You should be able to just buy a grounding bar for the panel (which probably came with one, but was installed by someone that didn't know what they were doing.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 20:05
  • Where does that green wire come from? Is it from the main panel or is it just to ground the box? Looks like it heads up alongside the feeder.
    – KMJ
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 20:07
  • @KMJ the answer is in the text at the bottom of the question...;^)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 20:09
  • Thank you @Ecnerwal, somehow totally missed it because of the question asking about adding one. I think you're on to the right answer here, add a ground bar and move the two ground wires, add a ground back to the main panel, done.
    – KMJ
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


I see a black-white-red feeder cable that is cloth covered. Either the ground was maliciously cut off inside that cable (a bizarre thing to do), or the cable was never manufactured with a ground in the first place.

If the ground was cut off, move the panel up a few inches or use a taller panel, and get that ground wire into the panel and landed on something like a bushing or a lug screwed into the panel steel with a screw of -32 or finer thread pitch.

You can also retrofit a #10 or larger ground back to the serving panel.

The 2-space "subpanel" (more: disconnect) is much more contemporary than the feeder cable. So some monkey-shines was going on here. Possibly someone installed this as a way to cheat a ground out of a former ungrounded dryer circuit.

Assuming this panel was installed prior to 2000, it's probably legal with neutral-ground combined, but not a good idea for safety.

So someone had a circuit fed from another panel and decided to retrofit its ground to here. That's entirely improper - read the retrofit ground rules carefully and they say you have to go back to the panel that serves the circuit, not another one and this is why.

The panel doesn't come with a ground bar because Square D's HOMeline is cheap, and a 2-space panel is less a subpanel and more a disconnect. Most only serve as a disconnect for 240V loads that don't have neutral, and for those that do, neutral can simply be wire-nutted around the bar and leave the bar for ground. But they'll sell you an accessory ground bar for a few bucks if you want to do it full and proper.


It might well have been a retrofit of a previous sub-panel from when a 3-wire feed was still legal, looking at the apparent age of the cable.

Yes, you can run a separate ground wire back to the panel (or to another grounding conductor of that size (10AWG copper, given a 30A feeder) or larger leading to the panel, if closer) and install a grounding bar (should not need to replace the whole panel to do that.)

  • 1
    If you're adding a ground bar I believe the correct part for this panel is PK4GTA.
    – KMJ
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 20:09
  • Thank you, to be clear running the new ground can be bare wire and stapled in place to the floor joists?
    – BobDere87
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 2:57
  • Bare or green or green with yellow stripe. Yes, you should be able to staple it to the joists.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 14:18

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