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04-17-2011, 12:26 PM   #1
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## neutral and ground wires

a little help understanding this if the three feeder wires coming into home panel 2 hot 1 neautral why is it that it is said neutral is like ground wire because it is not hot. I thought the neutral was the wire the electricity returns on so that should be live i am confused can someone explain

. also why cant you bond neutral and ground at a subpanel?
Thanks

04-17-2011, 12:33 PM   #2
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The neutral is the return path for the electricity to flow. So when you check for voltage on a and b in a home you have 240 but when you got from a to neutral you have 120 and b to neutral you have 120. In a sub panel the neutral and grounds must be seperate because all grounding must be done back at the main panel ( this is a rule). If the neutral conductor in
the subpanel ever became disconnected, anything that was grounded would
become a shock hazard as the grounding conductor would now carry the neutral current.

 04-17-2011, 02:29 PM #3 Civil Engineer   Join Date: Mar 2009 Location: Boston Posts: 5,467 Rewards Points: 4,514 The neutral does carry current under most conditions, however the voltage potential of the neutral is the same as ground (generally assumed to be 0 volt potential) because the neutral is connected to the ground wire at the panel. In theory, since the neutral is at the same potential as ground, if you touch the neutral with your hand, and you are grounded, you would not get a shock because the neutral is at ground potential, you are at ground potential, hence no current flow through you (V/R = I) where V is the voltage potential difference in volts, R is the resistance in ohms, and I is the current flow in amps. However, it would be a VERY BAD IDEA to try this in practice, because the neutral may not be at ground potential, and the "ground" you are touching may be at a different potential than the neutral ground. Under those conditions, it would be entirely possible to get a shock by touching the neutral.
04-17-2011, 02:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman However, it would be a VERY BAD IDEA to try this in practice, because the neutral may not be at ground potential, and the "ground" you are touching may be at a different potential than the neutral ground. Under those conditions, it would be entirely possible to get a shock by touching the neutral.
It can be done using a voltmeter though.

 04-17-2011, 04:07 PM #5 Newbie   Join Date: Apr 2011 Posts: 12 Rewards Points: 10 Thanks guys good answers i believe i have a much better understanding now i appreciate it,
04-17-2011, 06:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chevyman30571 The neutral is the return path for the electricity to flow.
It isn't really the return path any more than the Hot side is the supply. It is just one connection to the secondary side of a transformer that just happens to be earth referenced. AC current flows both ways in the neutral just as it does in the hot connection.

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