Originally Posted by ezsail
Okay then riddle me this. In my two wire system (black - hot, white - netrual ) all the white wires are connected to to a bus that is also connected to the netrual wire from the transformer and also to connected to a wire connected to rebar driven in the earth ouside the house next to the breaker box. Now other systems in my area (Houston, Texas) that have 3 wires (black, white copper ground) both the white and copper ground wires are connected to the same bus configured as the 2 wire system above. Since electrons travel at the speed of light are you trying to tell me that there is a difference in how an outlet works wether the white or copper wire are connected to the ground when both of them are connected at the breaker panel?
Now if you have a two wire system and the white wire only goes back to the transformer and not to ground at the breaker box then connecting the white wire to ground on an outlet would be a problem.
Also if you chose to connect the white wire to netural and ground, you must first make sure that the black wire at the outlet is hot and someone didn't cross wires at some point...
This thread is three years old; it's not an ongoing discussion. Start a new one if you have a question.
But to address your "riddle": your understanding is correct, for normal operating conditions. Lots of crazy installations will work as long as nothing goes wrong. Many of the rules and wiring practices are intended to prevent and control the consequences of failures. Consider what happens if the conductor returning current to the panel (neutral, or ground in the improper installation you contemplate) is interrupted. What happens to the "grounded" metal objects on that circuit if the grounding conductor is used as the current return conductor?
But don't answer that question here in this 3-year-old thread.