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Old 01-02-2012, 07:35 PM   #1
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


Ok, so I know very little about electrical other than what others have told me. I just installed electric in my barn. I wanted to pay others but just couldn't justify spending $3,000+ when I could do it myself for about $500.

So, I ran two 2 gauge and one 4 gauge wire from my house service panel to my barn. The two gauge wires are hooked up to a 100 amp two pole breaker. The 4 gauge wire is hooked to neutral.

In the barn, I hooked up the two 2 gauge wires to a 100 amp main breaker in the barn and the neutral wire to the neutral bar. I pounded in a ground bar in and hooked it up with a ground wire to the ground bar in the box.

This is where I'm confused. From the factory, the box was setup so the ground and the neutral bar was connected. I was told this was OK if this was your only panel in the house... but seeing it's a sub panel (actually it's a sub of a sub panel), the grounds and neutrals need to be separated.

I talked to one electrician that told me what I put above. My dad helped me wire my barn but he's not an electrician either. He just knows how to make it work. He talked to another "master electrician" and said because I only ran 2 hots and one neutral, the barn is considered a first source so the grounds and neutrals are supposed to be connected in the box.

But I'm also wondering if we did things wrong because when we first moved in the house, my dad wired a sub panel downstairs next to the main panel.

Actually I just took off my covers off all my panels and looked at the way everything is wired. From my meter outside my house to inside my house, there's a first “service box” in my basement. It has a huge one breaker, a neutral terminal and a ground terminal. (That was one thing I was a little confused... if I had neutral and ground from outside the house... or if neutral was ground.)

From there, all 4 wires go to my main service box where all the breakers are at. Right there, I'm not 100% sure why they did what they did, but the neutral and ground bars are connected and the neutrals and grounds are just randomly hooked to the same two bars in whatever order they felt like... (I am attaching pictures of all the subpanels.) I think from what I understand it was ok with electrical code to do this until the sub panel was added...

The main panel was the only panel when we moved into the house.

When we moved into the house, we wanted to have an electric stove and dryer. So, my dad came over and helped us wire two 220 outlets... one for our stove and one for our dryer. There wasn't room in our main service box to add two 2 pole breakers (I think that's what it is when it uses up two spots and has 220.) Looking at that sub panel though, it only has one spot to put the neutrals and grounds... they're not separated at all.

From that sub panel that has the dryer and stove on it, we added another 100 amp breaker to it and ran that to my barn. It has three wires... two hots and one neutral/ground wire.

In the barn, the panel out there has two separate bars, one for ground and one for neutral. From the factory, there was a metal strap that went behind the hot bar and connected the neutral and ground bars. Right now I have the strap removed so neutral and ground is separated and the ground bar is connected to the case. Also I drove a ground rod in outside the barn and connected that to the ground bar.

I think the more I look at things, I should have my main service box have all the grounds and neutrals separated and then the two sub service boxes after that should be separated. But, again, I'm not an electrician, so I really don't know for sure.


Here's a description of the attached pictures...


First picture is the first service box that's the electric comes directly from the meter outside our house.


Second through Fourth picture is our main service box.


Fifth picture is the sub panel that has the 3 breakers... one for the stove, one for the dryer and one to my barn. Wires coming in from the side is the power in. The wires going out the top is going to my barn.


Sixth picture is the subpanel in my barn. (I've made the one wire look a lot nicer since I took the picture. I skinned it back a few feet and wrapped the wires nicer.) But you'll see the green screw where I grounded the ground bar to the case. But there's no strap going to the neutral bar. I also switched the 20 amp breaker to a 15 amp breaker seeing the wire I'm using in the picture is not rated for 20 amps. (Don't know if anyone would catch that.)
Attached Thumbnails
Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right-img_0097.jpg   Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right-img_0497.jpg   Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right-img_0498.jpg   Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right-img_0499.jpg   Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right-img_0500.jpg  

Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right-img_0208.jpg  


Last edited by dorlow; 01-02-2012 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:42 PM   #2
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


The list of violations might be endless.

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Old 01-02-2012, 07:45 PM   #3
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


I'd love for you to point out whatever you can. One thing they told us when we bought the house was the breakers should be bigger... that they shouldn't have used those half breakers for every breaker in the main panel... but it passed inspections. They did recommend we replace our main panel to allow to have full sized breakers so everything wasn't so compact.

BTW, the top breaker on the right of our main panel is the breaker that we added to go to the sub panel. Everything else in the main panel was that way when we moved in. Everything else to the other panels (the last two pictures) are things we added.

Last edited by dorlow; 01-02-2012 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:49 PM   #4
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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The list of violations might be endless.
Or longer!

You really need that electrician!
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:52 PM   #5
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


1. Service disconnect grounding conductors should be terminated with the neutral.
2. Bushings required on terminal adapters.
3. ALL panels past the service disco must have separated neutrals.
4. More missing bushings.
5.Individual conductors must be in a raceway.
6. 4 wire feeds required to ALL panels beyond service disco. Your electrician misinformed you.

Just for starters.

Last edited by brric; 01-02-2012 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:54 PM   #6
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


It's good to know this work was all permitted and inspected.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:57 PM   #7
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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Originally Posted by brric View Post
1. Service disconnect grounding conductors should be terminated with the neutral.
2. Bushings required on terminal adapters.
3. ALL panels past the service disco must have separated neutrals.
4. More missing bushings.
5.Individual conductors must be in a raceway.
6. 4 wire feeds required to ALL panels beyond service disco. Your electrician misinformed you.

Just for starters.
7. Line and load conductors might be reversed at service disco.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:58 PM   #8
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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Originally Posted by brric View Post
1. Service disconnect grounding conductors should be terminated with the neutral.
2. Bushings required on terminal adapters.
3. ALL panels past the service disco must have separated neutrals.
4. More missing bushings.
5.Individual conductors must be in a raceway.
6. 4 wire feeds required to ALL panels beyond service disco. Your electrician misinformed you.

Just for starters.

About number 6... We were looking at that when we ran it. We bought the wire from Menards that came with two 2 gauge wires and one 4 gauge wire. It didn't include another wire. So, we were told too that because we didn't have 4 wires to the barn... only 2 hots and one neutral, that it's considered as a main service entrance and not a out building. So, one electrician my dad talked to said that I'm supposed to have the neutral and grounds connected in my barn for that reason.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:00 PM   #9
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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About number 6... We were looking at that when we ran it. We bought the wire from Menards that came with two 2 gauge wires and one 4 gauge wire. It didn't include another wire. So, we were told too that because we didn't have 4 wires to the barn... only 2 hots and one neutral, that it's considered as a main service entrance and not a out building. So, one electrician my dad talked to said that I'm supposed to have the neutral and grounds connected in my barn for that reason.
Total crap.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:01 PM   #10
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


If I'm reading this right, you only ran 2 hots and a neutral out the to sub? No ground? Disconnect the feed. Do not use. If something develops a ground fault in the barn the way it is now, it won't trip a breaker, it'll just raise all the "grounded" metal parts of your electrical system and appliances/tools to 120V.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:05 PM   #11
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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7. Line and load conductors might be reversed at service disco.
Ok, not to sound like a complete idiot... although I'm sure I am at this moment, I'm not sure what line and load are... I know hot, neutral and ground. Which of line and load is hot and neutral? I'm also not 100% sure what service disconnect means.

To be honest, before I started this project, I thought the electrical company owned the electrical meter outside my house. At my previous house, when I knew absolutely nothing about electrical, my meter died and I called my electric company. They came out and replaced it for free. So I assumed since then they owned that.

My dad informed me that is not correct. I own the meter and the wire out the top. There's a point above there that the electric company connects to my house. When he first came out and was starting to discuss my options to get electric out to my barn, he was suggesting we'd possibly branch off before the meter and add another meter at the barn and that's when he informed me that it's my equipment there... but then after a little bit of digging into it, it seemed more correct to just run a new breaker off the sub panel.

But when you say the lines might be reversed at the service disconnect, I'm thinking of where the electric company terminates their responsibility and I take on responsibility, which is above the meter on top of my house... I don't know how those would get reversed.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:05 PM   #12
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


Good grief! I don't know where to begin?

First of all before doing anything, run your plan by the people in a forum like this. Then if there are any errors in what you plan to do, then changes can be made before you go out an purchase things and install them. Then you don't need to "re-do" anything.

To start, learn about subpanels as opposed to main panels. You run 4 wires from a main panel to a sub panel. 2 hots, a neutral, and a ground.

At the subpanel there is a separate neutral bar which is isolated from the metal case and ground bar. The bonding jumper is disconnected at the subpanel. Etc.

Then what state are you located in? Different states go by different versions of the National Electrical Code.

I would recommend that you go over your entire electrical installation starting with your service wires and main panel. One thing at a time. It may take months, but best to get things right.

Was a higher amperage main panel ever installed without contacting the electric company?
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:07 PM   #13
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


You are SO out of your league. I agree the list of violations is close to endless. It's amazing that someone can post these photos and think the only thing that might be wrong is the ground connections.

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Old 01-02-2012, 08:08 PM   #14
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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If I'm reading this right, you only ran 2 hots and a neutral out the to sub? No ground? Disconnect the feed. Do not use. If something develops a ground fault in the barn the way it is now, it won't trip a breaker, it'll just raise all the "grounded" metal parts of your electrical system and appliances/tools to 120V.
Even though I do have a ground rod at the barn?
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:10 PM   #15
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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Was a higher amperage main panel ever installed without contacting the electric company?
No, the main panel wasn't switched out. Only thing changed to the main panel was the 100 amp breaker added.

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