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Old 07-07-2009, 02:27 PM   #1
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bus bar in breaker box


I am putting a new circuit in and I am ready to connect it into the breaker box. I am not all that knowledgable about electrical work and so maybe I just don't understand what I am seeing in my breaker box.

I am adding a 120 volt circuit, 20 amps. There are three of them in the box already. The hot wire attaches to the circuit breaker, no surprise there, and the neutral wire attaches to a bus bar. There are less ground wires than there are circuits, making it difficut to know which circuit has a ground wire. The thing that perplexes me is that they are attached to the same bus bar as the neutral wires.

There is a heavy (about 1/4") copper rod attaching the only other bus bar in the box to the one in question. So, two bus bars connected by the copper rod one has all of the neutral and ground wires in it, the other is not being used at all. All of the neutral wires are below the copper rod, the neutral wires are above it. is this coincidence or is the rod some kind of divider?

I can't see how the rod would divide the bus bar. Can someone out there shed some light on this?

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Old 07-07-2009, 02:36 PM   #2
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bus bar in breaker box


The neutral and ground are bonded at the first overcurrent device.
So if there is no breaker at the meter, then that would be at the panel.

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Old 07-07-2009, 02:37 PM   #3
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bus bar in breaker box


I don't know what you are talking about "the rod would divide the bus bar" could you post a pic.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:40 PM   #4
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bus bar in breaker box


It would be called neutral bar and ground bar. Don't think in you're case it's considered a bus?
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:48 PM   #5
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Could you please define overcurrent device for me?
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:51 PM   #6
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bus bar in breaker box


breaker
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:58 PM   #7
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bus bar in breaker box


I used the term bus bar becasue I went to a site that used that term to describe the strip(s) that the wires attach to as a bus bar. Maybe they got it wrong as well.

In my case the breaker attaches to a plate in the center of the box that is made to recieve the spring loaded end of the breaker, the other end of the breaker slip undr a plastic tab. The hot wire goes into the breaker.

The parts I am referring to are metal strips with threaded holes in them. You slip the wire in behind and fasten it in with a screw that goes through the threaded hole.

There are two of these strips: one on the left side of the box and one on the right. All of the wires, both neutral and groud attach to the strip on the right. There is nothing in the strip on the left. This work was done by a licensed contracter and has worked properly for 3 or 4 years so I think it was done correctly, I just don't understand it.

Last edited by ogcoco; 07-07-2009 at 03:04 PM. Reason: mispell
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Old 07-07-2009, 03:00 PM   #8
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sorry, I don't have a way to send a picture at the moment.
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Old 07-07-2009, 03:17 PM   #9
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bus bar in breaker box


To jbberns: I didn't see the post "breaker" until after I wrote that long reply. I get it now, sorry for the extra verbiage.
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Old 07-07-2009, 07:56 PM   #10
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bus bar in breaker box


It's kinda hard to explain to a newbie.

If the original installation was done properly and is less than 30 years old, you can replicate what they did (ground and neutrals on the same bus) and probably be compliant.

I suspect that, with the presence of a ground rod, that this is your service and neutrals/grounds are together.

The way to know for sure is to determine if there is a breaker or fuse between the panel and your meter.

If not, neutral and ground are all the same.

If so, neutrals are supposed to be isolated from the grounds (and the metal enclosure)
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Old 07-07-2009, 08:15 PM   #11
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bus bar in breaker box


The entire service was put in three or four years ago right from the pole. There are only three electricians on this whole island and I went to the one that everybody says is the best so I feel confident that I know what I have now.

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