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Old 01-10-2012, 09:15 PM   #181
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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Originally Posted by junkcollector View Post
Objectionable current...

So far the discussion has been regarding the load side of the service disconnecting means. I think it is interesting that anything on the line side of a service (including meter sockets, troughs, cabinets, etc) is normally bonded to nuetral. I think it is odd that it is OK to have that objectionable current on a metal raceway that extends between a meter socket and a main service panel, when it is taboo to have it on feeder conduits.
Nothing is perfect and they call it objectionable current .. not deadly current .. though it can be under the correct circumstances.

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Old 01-10-2012, 10:24 PM   #182
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


Damn... the light bulb just came on That Mike Holt diagram was perfect! I've always struggled with bonding and code from an understanding perspective. Parallel neutral currents... Of course! This has got to be the best thread ever!
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:37 PM   #183
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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Nothing is perfect and they call it objectionable current .. not deadly current .. though it can be under the correct circumstances.
Hey!!!!!!!! What happened to the picture? That was an excellent response.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:59 PM   #184
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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Hey!!!!!!!! What happened to the picture? That was an excellent response.
I wasn't sure the administrator would appreciate it ... It also wasn't entirely correct as the conduit from the meter to the panel is not the responsibility of the utility lineman. They do work on stuff that is pretty scary and IMO need bigger

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Old 01-11-2012, 12:03 PM   #185
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


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Originally Posted by dorlow View Post
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.
I think my garage subpanel and feeder project ran in the neighborhood of $1500. You probably missed some parts.

I haven't read the whole thread, but I think that while some big things have been pointed out, there are some I wanted to cover in case they had not been pointed out.

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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.
Your neutral wire should be the same size as your hot wires, or I imagine you could use a hot wire that's bigger than your neutral if your circuit was sized for the smaller neutral wire.

Let's set that aside and say you're using 2 gage aluminum. There has been discussion here that the table in NEC that says you can use 2 gage aluminum for 100 amps applies to the service entrance, but for the table that you SHOULD be using 2 gage aluminum can only be used up to 90 amps. You'd need to step down to 4 gage, which I don't know off the top of my head you can get for amperage.

My garage subpanel is 100 amps and I'm using 2/0 for both hots and the neutral. I pulled 4 gage copper for my ground PLUS I used metal conduit which is also allowed to be used as your ground conductor if it is continuous between both panels, but that is much more difficult and costly to do.

As has been covered very well, you need the ground conductor.

You also mentioned it was inside condut for the risers. If your pictures are an indication, assuming you used PVC this conduit should have been schedule 80, schedule 40 is too thin for physical protection. Some inspectors might accept schedule 40, but the NEC can be read as requiring schedule 80. You would need to be buried 24 inches deep or more IIRC for direct burial.

Quote:
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.
You should have 2 ground rods pounded in at the barn, both connected to the panel. At the panel these connect to your ground bar, the ground screw that connects the ground bar to the neutral should be removed as has been covered here by the others.
Quote:
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.
From your pictures, it looks like that subpanel is connected by individual conductors which should have been inside conduit from one panel to the other.

Quote:
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.
Leave the main panel alone, it's fine to have neutral and ground on the same bar on the main panel and quite normal.

Quote:
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.
It sounds like this was done without a permit, and as I said the subpanel feeder would have had to have been done in conduit. I don't know the rules on whether a subpanel right next to a main requires seperate neutral, but I think that seperate neutral is required and as far as I know going that way is definitely allowed.

Regardless, the right thing to do would be that his gets permitted and inspected after the fact.

Quote:
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.
If you intend to use the wire you have, you should replace the breaker in your subpanel in the house with a 60 amp breaker, not a 100 amp breaker. The 100 amp breaker in the barn can stay as it's used as a shutoff, and an overcurrent condition would trip the breaker in the house.

If you intend to use 100 amps in the barn, you need to replace your wire.

Regardless, you should pull a permit. Your trench will need to be inspected before dirt is put back into it. You need to dig the trench anyway to put in the ground conductor even if you downsize circuit breakers to use the existing wires.

And don't even turn on your breaker in the house for this for testing or anything until you pass rough inspection.

Quote:
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.
This is the thing you've described that isn't broken, so don't try to fix it.


Quote:
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.)
Your panel is a main lug, i.e. doesn't have its own main breaker/shutoff. You must have a panel with a main breaker in your barn. And running that wire for your test outlet right across the hot bus!!! It looks as if the ground wire from your NM cable could just about be touching the hot! Run that along the outside of the box.
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Last edited by WillK; 01-17-2012 at 05:48 AM. Reason: fixed a missing quote tag
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:54 PM   #186
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Need to know if my grounds and neutrals are connected right


This thread has been an incridible read and I've been surfing all day on different aspects of house wiring. I find it so interesting and if I had to do it over again, I'd probably become an electrician.

Here is a link I found while looking at some other sites. It's not totally relevant to what's being discussed here. It's a PPT presentation on the importance of neutrals in a branched circuit and is an example of how voltage could be carried on the ground if the neutral and ground bus of a subpanel were bonded. This put on the light bulb over my head on the importance of neutrals

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