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I'm wanting to install a critical loads panel connected to an EG4 6000xp.

This is my main panel and I see the two hots and a neutral but do not see the ground.

Is the main panel grounded?

PanelPic1

Top of panel... PanelPic2

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    well, that bare copper wire looks suspiciously like a ground wire.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 1 at 15:10
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    Will need the experts, but I think neutral is suppose to be the same(or very close) size as the hots. Ground usually does not come in with the hots. Usually is connected to ground/neutral bus and out to the ground rods.
    – crip659
    Commented Jul 1 at 15:21
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    Indeed, the lack of a nice big wire on the large central lug is concerning. But that bare copper wire is the ground, just not tied to neutral...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 1 at 15:26
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    The very first thing I would do is shut down the 50 amp curcuit. That splice with the blue nuts looks like a fire waiting to happen. Commented Jul 1 at 23:46
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    @JonCuster You cannot declare that the bare wire is ground. Bare should be ground but given the obvious issues with this panel (like lacking an insulated neutral wire) you simply cannot make such statements without seeing the other end of the wire. Obviously either the bare wire or the metal conduit is acting as neutral, given the lack of complaints about wild voltage fluctuations from the OP.
    – nobody
    Commented Jul 2 at 2:18

1 Answer 1

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DANGER!

You appear to have a typical size bare copper ground wire coming in with the main feed, connected to the panel and then to the neutral lug. So you have ground, though we can't tell whether it is connected to ground rod(s) or copper water pipe.

But what you don't appear to have is a proper neutral wire. Normally a residential service feed has three big wires coming in - two hots and neutral. Almost always those will be multi-strand aluminum wires. The hots are always insulated (except in some cases where they are fixed bars in a meter main rather than wires). The neutral may be insulated or may be bare.

YOU DON'T APPEAR TO HAVE A PROPER NEUTRAL WIRE!!!

My hunch is that your neutral is at the meter but for some reason not in this panel, and that simply by virtue of:

  • Metal conduit
  • Bare ground wire
  • Bare neutral at the meter touching the meter box and/or ground wire and/or conduit, it is making a connection

So the end result is everything works. But that is not at all safe. If you have a 200A service, in theory you could have 200A on one hot and 200A on the neutral. In reality your actual usage will be far lower and generally balanced because large loads (water heater, HVAC, oven, etc.) will be 240V loads. But it is quite possible to have an imbalance of 20A to 50A which will then be flowing on the neutral wire, but in your case flowing over the ground wire instead!

Access to the meter box is normally restricted to the utility and emergency workers, but many utilities will allow a licensed electrician to work on it with advance notice ("I need to pull the meter and open the meter box at 123 Main Street because their neutral isn't connected to the main panel", "OK, let us know when you're done so we can put on a new seal").

I don't usually recommend jumping straight to "call an electrician" but this is one of those cases where it is a very good idea.

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    The fact that a wire is bare does not make it ground. Given these pictures, all we can say for sure is that this panel lacks a properly-sized neutral. Given the presence of metal conduit coming from upstream, a separate ground wire should be unnecessary and if the bare wire is bonding to ground rods (or equivalent) having a splice in it is a code violation. We really need to see what's upstream of this panel (i.e. whether there is an outdoor disconnect that is actually the "main") to make further diagnosis.
    – nobody
    Commented Jul 2 at 2:13
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    Yes, there can be a bare neutral. But generally speaking a small bare copper wire is ground, not neutral. This one is far too small to be anything but ground. As far as a splice, my understanding is that the grounding rod ground wire has to go to the main panel. Does it have to go to ground bar or neutral bar or just "anywhere"? Not clear to me. But the way it is currently set up, it could be: ground wire to grounding rod and, right next to it, ground wire to neutral lug as neutral/ground bond. Not the usual setup exactly but close enough. But the "real" neutral is missing. Commented Jul 2 at 2:18
  • I spoke with a local electrician that did work on my house a couple years ago. He said that bare copper wire is the neutral and it is bonded to a water pipe on it's way from the meter to this panel. My meter is actually at the road on a telephone (electrical) pole. He also said I have 200 amp service.
    – Aaron D
    Commented Jul 2 at 16:12

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