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Hooking up the power cord for my new GE stove (4-wire hookup). This is the electrical diagram on the back panel: enter image description here Curious, what might be meant by "Cut Ground Link"? Does it want me to hook it up and then actually cut it for some reason?!

Also, why would it say "Black or Red Wire"? Could they really be interchangeable? Thanks for any help here!


Update

Here is my wiring before I put the panel back on, please let me know if anything looks wrong or off! enter image description here

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    With four wire setup the neutral and ground mush be separated from each other. I do not think they mean to actually cut the link but maybe break the link or to move the ground to the steel frame. A picture of the actual connections will help. On 240 volt circuits there are two hot wires, sometimes red and black, sometimes two black. It does not matter which side they go on, as long as they do not touch other wires/metal except their connection.
    – crip659
    Sep 10, 2023 at 15:06
  • When the connection block comes fitted with the flat link between Neutral and Ground, one can actually cut the copper link. Either cut it in two places and remove the middle or cut it in one place and curl up the remaining ends so they are out of the way. Sep 11, 2023 at 15:22
  • Just to be clear, you do realize that the "ground link" in these instructions is not the same as the ground (green) wire, right? (Apparently it's instead some kind of a metal tab that links the ground screw to the neutral terminal for use with a 3-wire hookup. As the answers below note, you may be able to remove it even without cutting.) Sep 11, 2023 at 18:42
  • It appears the three-wire hookup may be meant for connections without an actual earth-ground? Which seems sketchy. (OTOH, the green wire may join with neutral at the panel, anyway, so...) As for "cut", I wonder if it's meant to be an adjective, not a verb; as in, "this arrow points to the ground link which has been separated from neutral".
    – Matthew
    Sep 11, 2023 at 21:23

3 Answers 3

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Yes, black and red are 100% interchangeable in a 4-wire alternating current connection. Black and red are the standard colors for the hot wires. Each is 120V from neutral and they are 240V from each other. There is no functional difference between them - the appliance can't tell the difference!

These standard colors (US/Canada specific) only apply with cables (e.g., Romex) and cordage (which is this specific situation). If you have individual wires in conduit then almost anything goes:

  • Neutral = White or gray
  • Ground = Green or bare
  • Hot = black, red, blue, yellow, etc.

There are some specific colors for certain situations (I believe certain types of 3-phase connections) but for ordinary residential 120V (one hot) and 240V (two hot) connections, pretty much anything goes for hot, except no white/gray/green/bare. There can also be local rules (yes, really) limiting additional colors. But as Harper has pointed out numerous times, if you are running two 240V circuits through one conduit, it is easier to use two blacks for one and two reds for the other than to use black/red for each.

This is different from a direct current connection. With direct current, one hot wire is positive and the other is negative. There may be other names for them, but the bottom line is that each of those two wires carries the full current but they are functionally different and the appliance will (usually) only work if the wires are connected in a particular way. With alternating current, which wire is positive vs. negative changes 120 times a second.

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  • Thanks @manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact (+1) please see my 2nd photo and let me know if anything looks wrong to you! Appreciate your input here! Sep 10, 2023 at 15:16
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    Looks good to me. But if you are not 100% sure as far as neutral/ground, with the appliance unplugged check for continuity between each prong on the plug and each connection on the appliance. Each prong should have continuity with exactly one connection on the appliance. And, to be really sure, make sure no continuity between neutral and ground connections on the appliance. Sep 10, 2023 at 15:22
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    Just sent it, flipped the breaker on and it fired right up. No smoke so far, thanks! Sep 10, 2023 at 15:31
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    If not dealing with cable or cordage, (where black/white/green-or-bare becomes black/white/red/green-or-bare becomes black/white/red/blue/green-or-bare (and after that I'm not sure) Hots are any color other than white or gray or green (or yellow with green stripe). And then there's old fashioned switch loops on cables where white is hot, and 240V appliances on cables with no neutral where white is hot (it should be marked with a hot color, typically black or red, but often is not.) In conduit, it's perfectly normal to have 2 blacks as your 240V feed.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 10, 2023 at 15:36
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    @hotmeatballsoup If there is a link remaining, out of sight in that picture, it would not cause smoke to be released, and would not be detected if not on a GFCI breaker (unusual for stoves/ranges.) It will, however, increase the risk of shock.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 10, 2023 at 15:44
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If the ground link can simply be unscrewed, do that, and consider "cut" poor word choice, (GE Appliances division having been sold off to a company with a need to translate from Chinese) or an overbearing attempt at limiting future installation in a 3-wire location.

If the thing is riveted in place, you might have to cut it (that would be unusual, in my experience.)

Neutral and ground from OP question

If there isn't a piece of metal left connecting those two (or the Neutral terminal to the metal case) (which would be out of sight in this picture) you are good to go. If there is, you might need to actually cut. If you have an ohmmeter, you can, with the plug unplugged, check for no continuity (infinite resistance) between neutral and ground.

In the USA/Canada, black or red wire (for 240V applications) is interchangeable. That does not apply where red is indicating something else, such as switched hot .vs. hot, but for 240V appliance connections, they are the same.

Odd that in the present era the label says "all screw connections must be tight" but does NOT include a torque value.

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  • Thanks @Ecnerwal (+1) please see my latest update which includes the wiring I've started to move forward with, please let me know if anything jumps out at you as glaringly scary/wrong. Thanks again! Sep 10, 2023 at 15:13
  • @hotmeatballsoup The piece of copper/metal under the white/neutral wire seems to have a break away tab, where the small groove line is. These are usually to make it easy to bend that piece and break it off. With the power off.
    – crip659
    Sep 10, 2023 at 15:39
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Curious, what might be meant by "Cut Ground Link"? Does it want me to hook it up and then actually cut it for some reason?!

They mean "remove it". They are not particular as to how.

That strap needs to be there for a 3-wire dryer connection, because of the (problematic) requirement to ground the dryer chassis to neutral.

Also, why would it say "Black or Red Wire"? Could they really be interchangeable?

Yes, they're interchangeable. They are equal and opposite of one another. In 120/240V split-phase service, there is never a need to distinguish phases from each other.

So then, why are the wires black and red? Because how are you connecting it? Multi-conductor cable. The cable manufacturer doesn't know what you're using it for. Maybe you're taping the white wire blue and using it to run a 3-phase motor, one of the cases where wires are not interchangeable (doing so reverses the motor). Therefore they color each wire differently as a matter of good design, so the user has options if it matters.

Anyway, because of that, the 2 hot wires being black and red became a "meme" and now everybody thinks you have to care about that. You don't.

If I was wiring that circuit with THHN wire, I'd use 2 blacks. If I had a water heater next to it, that would get 2 blues. Distinguishing those circuits from each other is much more important than knowing which phase a particular hot came from.

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