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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37
votes
7answers
168k 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 ...
27
votes
5answers
331k 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
4k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
3k 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
3k 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
4answers
14k 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
1answer
65k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
74k 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
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
3answers
589 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
1answer
127 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
10k 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
2k 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
1k 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
5k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
2k 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
642 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
117 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
312 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
1k 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
284 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
185 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
225 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
5answers
139 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
288 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
12k 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
3k 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
167 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
767 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
1answer
502 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
890 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
146 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
131 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
621 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
2answers
109 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
1answer
423 views

Single Neutral for Several Smart Switches

I have some (seemingly common, but specifically unanswered) concerns about providing a neutral wire to smart switches that are in a single multi-gang box (4-6 switches on different circuits). I am ...
3
votes
2answers
11k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
14k views

Low voltage on circuit after breaker turned off - induced or backfed voltage?

I was planning on installing a programmable timer on one of the 4 single-pole switches on a circuit. All of the 4 switches control various lights towards the front of the house, one of which is a pair ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Electric Dryer Leg A drops to 0V Leg B spikes at 240V when start pushed

I am in the military and came back from a month overseas and my 3 prong electric dryer would not start. I am an electronics technician (radios) so I am quite experiences with electronics and theory (...
3
votes
1answer
478 views

Possible neutral problem - Utility side vs. Load Side?

PLEASE NOTE: UPDATED CIRCUIT NUMBERING FROM 12 & 14 to 14 & 16 I would greatly appreciate your help with trying to diagnose a problem that appears to be an open neutral. In my kitchen I have ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Kitchen Wiring 14 to 12 Neutral

I have a 20 amp circuit going directly from the panel to the kitchen with 20 amp receptacles and subsequent 12 gauge wire. There are only 4 outlets on that circuit (one being a GFI). I am installing ...
2
votes
2answers
747 views

Wifi light switch needs neutral wire. Why? AND Can that wire be a skinny one?

What does the neutral wire do on a light switch that responds to wifi? My suspicion is that when the switch is in the off position, the electronics in the switch need to still be powered, so the ...
2
votes
1answer
595 views

How to wire programmable switch to only a single set of white-black-ground wires

I have a switched outlet that I want to control using a programmable switch. I have done this before with other lights around the house but they all have 2 sets of wires: one from the source and one ...
2
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
92 views

Ground to neutral bus/connector on receptacle

I'm replacing an old/aged receptacle. Incoming hot wired to hot on receptacle. Neutral had been previously connected but snipped off and wire is loose in box (copper end more or less insulated). ...
2
votes
2answers
578 views

How should I secure an unused wire in my breaker panel?

I accidentally pulled 6-4 wiring to a machine that only needs 240 and no neutral. What to do with the white wire? I read here that at the machine, I just cap the white wire. When I go to connect the ...
2
votes
1answer
288 views

How can I be sure a wire is truly neutral?

Most sites I find tell me how to distinguish the neutral wire from the live wire. Basically, you find the one that has current and the other one is neutral. That's all fine and dandy when you only ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I add a neutral bar to a sub panel?

I am adding a neutral bar to an existing sub panel and need to insulate the mounting screws so I don't ground my neutral bar, any suggestions on what to use?
2
votes
2answers
83 views

Odd Problem Testing Series Outlets

I recently purchased a new outlet tester and was randomly going around the house happy that all outlets were showing GREEN (correct). Then I came to one of the outlets in my kitchen. I have three ...