I recently moved into a home with a 3 prong outlet for my 4 prong Kenmore dryer. I went to Home Depot to replace the 4 prong plug with a 3 to match the outlet. I was ready to install the new plug when I noticed this white wire (2nd picture) and I'm not sure where it should be connected to. Originally on the 4 prong plug this white wire was connected to the middle screw (1st picture) but from the videos I've been able to see this seems to go to the ground (green screw). So my question is where should this white wire be connected to, the green screw or should I connect it once again to the middle bracket?

Original set up with 4 prong cord
Original 4-wire cord

New grey cord with White wire
New 3-wire cord

  • If there's not a wiring diagram on the back of the unit, there should be one in the manufacturer's installation instructions.
    – Tester101
    May 9, 2016 at 2:00
  • Wow this is simple two much opinion in some of the answers. The photo clearly shows 2 brass connections and 1 silver. The 2 brass are the hot's the silver is the white neutral and a green goes to the frame or green screw.
    – Ed Beal
    May 9, 2016 at 9:55
  • @EdBeal The OP is converting from a 4-wire, to a 3-wire cord. There's not a grounding conductor in the 3-wire cord.
    – Tester101
    May 9, 2016 at 15:05
  • If no green the neutral white still goes in the same place
    – Ed Beal
    May 9, 2016 at 18:07
  • What's the model number?
    – Tester101
    May 10, 2016 at 2:01

3 Answers 3


Getting power to the machine is the easy part. The neutral goes to the silver screw in the center, and the two hots go to the brass screws on either side. Now the machine is powered.

Safety ground is the hard part. You really want that.

enter image description here

If you have a 4-wire cable with NEMA 14-30, you're all set.

If you have a 3-wire cable with NEMA 10-30, you have several options, and the rest of this post is about that.

  • For dryers and stoves specifically, Code allows you to "cheat": bond ground to the neutral wire. The rationale is there are a lot of old NEMA 10-30's out there, and trouble is unlikely since dryers and stoves are rarely moved and plugs are rarely unplugged. The hazard is, if the neutral fails, it will energize the chassis of the dryer at 120V and will electrocute users, and has. Sometimes fatally.

  • Install a 4-wire cable to a 14-30. For a dryer circuit, Romex 10/3 is the right stuff, it sells for less than $1/foot. Follow the old wire and replace if feasible. If you're not comfortable going inside the service panel, leave about 4 feet of excess length and call an electrician to make the connections. If you prefer, you could run metallic or non-metallic conduit and use single-wire THWN wire (preferably stranded for easy pulling). Ground is optional in metallic conduit, the conduit is a legit ground path.

  • Replace the NEMA 10-30 outlet with a 14-30 by running a separate ground wire. It must be at least 10 AWG - single wire will do, but the wire must be bare, green or greeen/yellow, and re-marking another color is not allowed. Route however you can, to either the service panel inside on a ground lug, or to a ground screw inside a box in all-metal conduit that is continuous back to the service panel. This is covered under NEC 250.130(c). Don't connect anywhere else, e.g. not to 120V outlets, those have 12 or 14 gauge ground wires - too thin. You might be able to bond to a water heater's ground, but ask a code expert before you do that.

  • You cannot buy or hack a 240V-only dryer (which takes NEMA 6-30) and replace your plug and re-designate the white wire to be ground instead. Electrical code does not allow that. You can remove the insulation, but you must remove all of it - hard to do in jacketed Romex.

If you install any wire or grounds, get a book on wiring installation and learn how to do it properly and legally, so the wire is not damaged and any electrician who touches it won't want to tear it out and redo.


On a 4-wire cord , the middle screw is presumably where the neutral wire is connected.

On a 3 wire (and the whole reason 3 was replaced with 4) neutral and ground are the same. So white and green are connected, at least until you get around to running a 4-wire outlet. Normally detailed instructions are in the owners manual for your dryer - not infrequently they are also printed on the access plate for the wire connection, or a label nearby. If the "all gray" thing is your new cord, you probably need a jumper from the green screw to the center connection (and the white would go there as well.)

  • 2
    I'm having a lot of trouble liking this answer. OP specifically asked where the white wire goes (and hinted that he wants to know why it goes to the center screw with a 4-wire cord). You seem to be guessing, which has got to be a really bad idea when it comes to the safety features of a 240 volt appliance. The need for such a jumper might be exactly what the dryer designer was trying to avoid with the white wire. --downvote May 9, 2016 at 1:21
  • 1
    The unlabeled and in the backwards time sequence pictures clearly show the white wire connected to the center pin, along with the white wire to the cord. Since the white wire is connected to the neutral in the 4 wire case, it CANNOT be connected to the green, separate terminal separate wire in that case. I am not guessing, but feel free to write an answer you like better, rather than snarking.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 9, 2016 at 1:29
  • If you jump green to center, it does not matter what the white wire was intended to do, the connection will be correct for a 3-wire cord. If the white wire is the "ground neutral jumper", then it could be connected to the green screw, and the wiring result would be the same. using a green jumper from the center to the ground screw works REGARDLESS of what the white floating wire does, since we don't have "what model is this" info to be sure. Guessing that it's the ground jumper is exactly what I'm not doing.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 9, 2016 at 13:32
  • With everything disconnected, You could test continuity from the white wire to the middle screw. That ought to confirm that the white wire is intended for use as a jumper for grounding through neutral - no? May 10, 2016 at 16:34

If you're going to a 3-wire cord (not recommended), you'll connect the white neutral/ground wire to the green ground screw.

The on the terminal block you'll have L1, neutral, and L2.

Here's a diagram from a random Kenmore electric dryer installation manual.

Kenmore dryer manufacturer's installation instructions 3-wire cord

Here's another diagram from a random Kenmore electric dryer installation manual, this time showing a white bonding wire.

enter image description here

  • 1
    If you include your dryers model number, I can look up the documentation for your specific dryer.
    – Tester101
    May 9, 2016 at 2:12
  • Note that the wire in the question's case is not a "green/yellow neutral grounding wire" as this black and white diagram notes. It is a white neutral wire, which is connected to neutral in the 4-wire case. If you connect the white wire to the green screw, and the gray neutral wire from the cable to the center connection, the case will not be grounded (even via neutral).
    – Ecnerwal
    May 9, 2016 at 3:27
  • @Ecnerwal I'm pretty sure you're wrong about that, but without knowing the exact model number I can't say for sure.
    – Tester101
    May 9, 2016 at 3:45
  • @Ecnerwal see my update.
    – Tester101
    May 9, 2016 at 4:04

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