Questions tagged [neutral]

For questions relating to the neutral wire, or "grounded conductor" as it's sometimes called. The neutral, or "grounded conductor" in NEC, is the normal return path for electricity in a household AC circuit.

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38
votes
7answers
211k views

Why does this receptacle have the ground tied to the neutral?

I was replacing some outlets in my house with tamper-resistant ones, and came across one where the white and ground were wired together, as seen in this picture. Why? Is that okay or appropriate ...
28
votes
5answers
400k views

Is it ok to have mixed grounds and neutrals on bars in a breaker box?

So to continue my line of electrical questioning (and perhaps narrow down my flickering light problem), I took a look through the two panels in this house. There is a 200amp main service in the ...
13
votes
7answers
5k views

Why does my old table saw power switch cut both hot and neutral?

I am refurbishing an old Craftsman 10" table saw that has been collecting dust in the back of my shop for years. I don't remember exactly how I acquired it, but to my recollection the one time I ...
13
votes
4answers
21k views

Why is this shared-neutral wiring bad?

Summary: I have this wiring situation in my home. I gather it's not up to modern code, and I experienced why it's bad (got shocked), but I don't understand why (physics/electricity) it happened. In ...
12
votes
3answers
4k views

Can ground attached to neutral fool a receptacle tester?

I'm using a basic outlet tester like the one from picture below. Let's say someone wired the ground to the neutral in some outlet, to provide a fake ground. What would the tester report? Would it be "...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Can I use a neutral wire from another outlet to repair a broken neutral?

Recently one wall of outlets quit working. Testing shows the hots are all good and the grounds are all good but the neutrals are all dead. They are all connected to each other but somewhere have lost ...
12
votes
1answer
67k views

How can I install this programmable switch where a neutral is not present?

I'm trying install this programmable switch but the instructions do not match reality. The instructions refer to the existence of a black (load) cable and a white (neutral) cable supposedly coming out ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Are the grounds and neutrals in this electrical subpanel reversed?

I would appreciate your feed back to help me understand the logic behind Bonding the Neutral and Isolating Ground as shown in the attached pics. Subject sub panel is dedicated to one of four ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

How to differentiate neutral or ground bar?

This is the main panel, the green neutral bonding screw is there. How to differentiate the neutral and ground bars? In this case, does it matter which one I use as ground or neutral for the interlock ...
7
votes
4answers
118k views

I'm replacing my outlets and I have too many hot/neutral wires, what do I do?

I'm going through my new home and replacing my outlets. This was mostly fine, as the first outlet was very easy to replace. But, I ran into outlets that have multiple hot/neutral wires. For the most ...
6
votes
4answers
35k views

What happens if ground and neutral are swapped in a light switch?

I’m replacing a light switch in an old house with lots of uncolored wiring. I removed the switch plate to find two black wires (connected to the switch) and a capped up white wire (see photo below). ...
6
votes
1answer
442 views

Using 10/2 and/or 8/2 for a 240 only 3-prong

I have 2 dedicated circuits: 40 amp water heater 30 amp electric range Both have 2 hots and a neutral grounded at the panel. One runs through a junction box where the wires are connected and ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Leaving lost neutral wire

I am in the process of clearing out old random wires from my 100 year old house (think multiple layers, modern, knob and tube and everything in between). In the process of doing this, I tried to ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

240 Volts - No Neutral Required - How does Power Return to Earth?

I think this question is appropriate here in order to help DIYers (me) to understand why a neutral isn't needed on a 240 volt outlet. I understand that two 120 volt power sources that are 180 degrees ...
5
votes
2answers
327 views

Two opposite phase circuits in one conduit… do i need 2 neutrals or an oversized neutral?

Im running two individual single pole 20A circuits though a single 1/2" EMT conduit and hanging a duplex outlet every 6'. They will alternate which circuit (phase) is feeding them (im running ...
5
votes
1answer
468 views

Can I connect the neutral wire ends via a single switch terminal (without a pigtail)?

I installed a smart dimmer switch that requires a neutral wire. It was in the junction box with the two ends wire-capped together. My switch didn't come with pigtail wires and I didn't have any extra ...
5
votes
1answer
7k views

Why would a 120v circuit work without a neutral?

My home has a relatively typical (in America) 100 amp 240v feed accomplished via three conductors - two 120v "hot" wires and one neutral. This gives me my 240v circuits (the two hots) and my 120v ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Mystery current on neutral wires coming into outlet box

In reworking outlets and switches in our 1960's California home to use AlumiConn connectors + copper pigtails where needed (instead of older wire nuts + Noalox), I came across a duplex wall box in the ...
5
votes
2answers
8k views

Why am I measuring 60v at some outlets?

The house I bought a couple years ago had a couple outlets in a small room in the basement that didn't work. Now I'm troubleshooting them. It's a finished basement so I can't tear down walls. There's ...
5
votes
1answer
136 views

Is a grounded/neutral wire (not grounding wire) required to be run to a subpanel that will supply only 240V (2-pole) devices?

I'm installing a subpanel that will supply only 240V 2-pole devices. I'm positive I never will need the capability to run 120V (1-pole) devices. Am I required to run a neutral wire to the subpanel? ...
4
votes
2answers
12k views

Dangers of connecting ground to neutral?

In my living situation, there is no ground wire at the building. There is a ground AND neutral bus in the breaker box, but it doesn't extend to this separate building, which I'm living in. I've got ...
4
votes
6answers
7k views

Why is the neutral tied to ground in my home's electrical panel? [duplicate]

What keeps the Electric from shorting to ground? On my electric panel the Neutral is tied to the ground. The ground is a bare copper wire run back to my water main. a. Electricity chooses the path ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Multi gang switch boxes - Is it okay to keep the same branch neutrals separated for the different lighting/switching circuits?

I recently learned from this community about the importance of keeping currents balanced in each cable. In other words, current in one direction should be canceled by the same amount of current ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Sharing neutral between branches

Legal? Safe? I don't see a problem with this as long as neutral uses a gauge high enough to support both branches. Am I missing something here? EDIT: Here's an illustration:
4
votes
1answer
852 views

making sense of a confusing light switch box

I'm trying to install a GE Z-Wave 12724 Smart Dimmer and my light switch box looks nothing like I imagine it's supposed to with wires properly identified. This wouldn't be the first improperly ...
4
votes
2answers
17k views

How do I determine if I have an open neutral?

I live in VA. My bath and bedroom lights were working fine and suddenly it was as though I threw the circuit breaker. Everything on the bedroom/bathroom circuit breaker went dead. I checked the ...
4
votes
3answers
570 views

Why does my light box have 2 cables for this one switch?

Took down a ceiling fixture and discovered what looks like a possible switch loop, except I don’t understand how the connection gets completed with the current set up. Basically, 2 lines coming into ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Neutral wire is tied to my electric metal box, why is it so?

I have this old Depard switch box in my patio. Originally, I wanted to 'add' a receptacle in my old Despard switch 'array' stack. Now I am puzzled and afraid of doing that because I found out that ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

How to test voltage between neutral and ground

I'm not an electrician. Per, https://www.apc.com/us/en/faqs/FA158817/, I want to test the outlets in a room for the following: Overloaded neutral wire (>5 Volts AC measured between Neutral and ...
3
votes
2answers
677 views

Can I combine ground and neutral wires before they connect to their bus bars?

I finally did my 50 AMP 15-40 Nema wiring. Couple of questions on it. I don't have enough ground and neutral wire to reach the ground bar of the electric panel. Is it ok to join both neutral and ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Neutral and ground connected to one bus bar in subpanel; should I change?

At my house, there is a subpanel that serves a pool area, served by one 30 amp 240v circuit. The panel, which I think was installed about 30 years ago, has just one bus bar that the neutrals and ...
3
votes
1answer
107 views

Should I have current running through my neutral wire in breaker box?

There's 146v on one hot pole, 106v on the other and the neutral wire has 36v on it. My tester at some of the outlets in this trailer (made in the 80's) says hot/ground reverse and hot/neutral reverse. ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

What to do with the neutral in a 240V 2-pole hot tub disconnect?

I'm planning a hot tub installation (nothing built yet). The current plan is: 50A 240V 2 pole GFCI breaker indoors (added to existing 100A subpanel) 4-wire from subpanel to exterior disconnect (2 ...
3
votes
5answers
578 views

How do I know if this switch box has a neutral wire?

This outlet is two rocker switches. Left controls my bathroom light (4), right controls my bathroom fan (3). I am trying to install a timer switch so the fan is only on for ~30 min at a time. The ...
3
votes
2answers
429 views

about the saying “neutral does not carry current”

It came across to me quite frequently online that people state "neutral wire does not carry current." I thin this is a false statement. My reason is the following. For the electrical panel in my home,...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

neutral bar is burnt

The neutral bar is burnt in the breaker box of my mobile home. The kids hooked up a small window cooler and ran it a couple months ago, by morning we woke up smelling wires burning. We traced it to ...
3
votes
1answer
20k views

Neutral Wire is used to carry power to light switch - is this legal?

Forgive me for my crappy drawing :) to make a long story short I just moved into a home and I am taking a look at one of the lighting jobs. I noticed the light switch had no power feeding it and the "...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

How to determine which neutral to which power?

I have 20 Amp power run to part of my house. The conduit that carries it runs down one of the walls of my garage. I've cut the conduit, inserted a metal junction box, and intend on putting in a ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Could a neutral wire be black?

I have these two switches which the left one is for the bathroom fan and the right one for the light. Everything already works. Now I want to add a minuter switch to the fan and the minuter have all ...
3
votes
2answers
10k views

Acceptable voltage between earth, Line,Neutral - Single Phase

I have a 240V+-10V 2 Wire Single Phase (UK) supply with TT earth bonding (earth rod). The breakers are double pole. The issue is with a lighting radial circuit. This is a new electrical ...
3
votes
2answers
150 views

Is it possible to wire 2 GFCI receptacles on 2 circuits with 12/3 wire shared neutral?

I am planning to run a few needed 20amp outdoor receptacles (and therefore want GFCI). My plan was to run 12/3 wire from 2 separate circuits in the panel to a double gang weatherproof box with 2 gfci ...
3
votes
1answer
933 views

Baffled by 3-way switch wiring

I am the new owner of an old, WWII-era home. The previous owner rented the property out for many years, and upkeep seems to have always gone to the lowest bidder. Among other things this means we have ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Wiring help for a Switch with LED Guide Light

In my bathroom I have a dual switch box. The left side controls a light, the right side controls a bathroom fan. I'm trying to convert the light switch (left side) to a Switch with LED Guide Light. ...
3
votes
1answer
169 views

Understanding ground to earth and neutral, trying to make my home safe

I've been reading for hours and still confused in regards to my situation. I'm trying to improve electrical safety in my house, especially with a growing family. Any help would be great. I'm in ...
3
votes
3answers
212 views

Legal/safe? Neutral in box goes to different panel than the one that provides the hot

TL;DR: in summary: the load (light) is in the garage, it is fed by a hot that originates in the garage, and it sinks into a neutral in the garage. The odd thing is that a switch loop extends from ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Trying to install 2 smart switches but neutral wires in box are not connected

I'm trying to install 2 smart wifi switches to replace 2 dumb switches in a box. 1 switch powers a dining room light. The other switch powers two kitchen lights that turn on/off together. As ...
3
votes
1answer
128 views

1 generator + multiple ATSes: how can I install this to Code without unobtanium?

I want to supply standby power to both units in a separately metered duplex from a single permanently installed generator. The cheapest way to do this is a pair of bog-standard ATSes and a smallish ...
3
votes
2answers
197 views

120V measured between different outlet grounds

I'm experiencing some electrical issues with the apartment I'm subletting. While connecting up a projector/speaker setup using outlets from different sides of the room, we discovered (through means of ...
3
votes
2answers
81 views

Ground and neutral bus considerations when wiring a gfci breaker

Hello all, I am adding a gfci breaker to my main breaker panel. By the looks of my panel I think the ground bus and neutral bus are bonded but not certain of this. It looks like my right bus bar is ...
3
votes
2answers
108 views

Installing light switch that requires neutral wire - wire is continuous through box

I have a new switch that requires a neutral. There is a neutral wire in the box, in the back, but it's continuous -- comes in one side and goes out the other. Is the proper procedure to cut it, then ...

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