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Old 09-13-2010, 07:32 PM   #16
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Just wondering- "common" or "neutral?"


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and what i mean by not using the term "grounded conductor," if you told a diyer to hook something up to the grounded conductor, there is a good chance they will hook up the grounding conductor.
Before learning that difference here after asking the original question, there's a good chance I would have made that mistake. We all know some things, and we all have things we don't know. This example reminds me of something an instructor once told me, "Stupid questions are easier to fix than stupid mistakes." So when it comes to me burning up my house, I don't mind asking stupid questions.

As I alluded to earlier, I learned a little of this maybe 40 years ago. Just enough to know how to replace a receptacle, light switch, etc. Black went to black and white went to white. So maybe all the white wires went back to one "common" bus. Remember, back then everything being grounded was not as big a deal. Maybe after the third grounding wire became more commonplace, the term "neutral" came about since the white white is not dedicated to carrying the hot circuit nor the ground circuit but is neutral in the sense of a pinch hitter, i.e. it can serve to carry current if you need it to or not.

A few years ago I saw the main panel open for the first time in my life. I needed a GFCI breaker replaced for my bathroom. That was the first time that I knew that the white and ground were bonded together. No, I didn't do it. I watched. From waaay back.!

Thanks for the great info!

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Old 09-13-2010, 08:54 PM   #17
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Just wondering- "common" or "neutral?"


Ah, yes, this is a DIY forum and the participants - the regulars, the licensed professionals, and the one looking in the main breaker panel for the first time - all have to communicate effectively. Some are reading "How to wire your house for Dummies" and others "The Complete Guide to Keeping the Inspector Happy." There are words that are in common use for electrical wiring but it doesn't hurt to learn some of the correct terms in the process so what is written in the books makes sense.
I too, grew up with common and neutral used interchangeably but in my former job I had to take an annual safety course. In this course, the terms grounded conductor and grounding conductor were brought out. It took a little to get use to and understand the two terms. Like a lot of stuff, after you think about it for awhile it all kind of makes sense.
So, as we write our postings, we have to be clear and precise without going overboard. We don't want posters to be confused but it they are confused, then we have to clear things up.
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:54 PM   #18
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Just wondering- "common" or "neutral?"


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Originally Posted by downunder View Post
. Maybe after the third grounding wire became more commonplace, the term "neutral" came about since the white white is not dedicated to carrying the hot circuit nor the ground circuit but is neutral in the sense of a pinch hitter, i.e. it can serve to carry current if you need it to or not.


Thanks for the great info!
The white is called neutral because it is bonded to ground and therefor has a neutral differential voltage when compared to ground. It is still a current carrying conductor and it is still hot, it is just referenced to ground.

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