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-   -   Touching the service neutral (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/touching-service-neutral-17940/)

CowboyAndy 03-03-2008 08:07 AM

Touching the service neutral
 
Okay, so if there is something in the house drawing current, shouldn't there be voltage travelling through the neutral? Working in a live box saturday, I was awefully close to the bare service neutral. What would happen if I touched it with bare hands? with something metal? something grounded?

Silk 03-03-2008 08:50 AM

Your conception of voltage and current are wrong. Voltage isn't flowing through the neutral, current is. What would happen if you touched the neutral, nothing would happen if it was installed and bonded correctly. It would be the same as touching the cover of your panel, the sides of your panel, any grounded metal object in your house, taking a shower or washing your hands. The neutral is bonded to your grounding system making everything connected to it the same potential. Current can't flow without a difference in potential.

Assuming that your house is properly grounded and bonded.

Now that being said, don't just grap any neutral because if it isn't landed you could complete a path back to ground and get zapped. One of the worst shocks I ever had was off a switched neutral, homeowners work.

LawnGuyLandSparky 03-03-2008 04:36 PM

Excellent explaination, Silk.

220/221 03-03-2008 07:49 PM

The neutral is referred to as the "grounded conductor" because, although it is conducting current, it is grounded.

Like Silk said, as long as the grounded path back to the source is complete, the electrons will choose that path. If it gets interrupted, they will find another way and you do NOT want it to be through you. Human bodies DO conduct electricity, just not very efficiently.

NAIL 03-03-2008 08:58 PM

The only person I ever witnessed locked on an electrical shock was with a (so-called) harmless neutral.

The only way to safely separate the two is to knock the ladder out from under them.

InPhase277 03-03-2008 09:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NAIL (Post 104044)
The only person I ever witnessed locked on an electrical shock was with a (so-called) harmless neutral.

The only way to safely separate the two is to knock the ladder out from under them.

This would happen if he opened a neutral and placed himself between the line and load. At that point, one side ceases to be a neutral and becomes a hot.

InPhase277

NAIL 03-03-2008 09:30 PM

Yes, but the thought it was a harmless neutral.

handyman78 03-03-2008 09:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NAIL (Post 104058)
Yes, but the thought it was a harmless neutral.

As Silk stated earlier- don't just grap any neutral because if it isn't landed you could complete a path back to ground and get zapped. It wasn't landed and he was in the path back to ground.

CowboyAndy 03-04-2008 06:46 AM

So basiclly the moral of the story is never assume that a neutral doesn not have current flowing through it?


On a somewhat related note, when you have say a light on a switch that is gfi protected, with the cct live but the switch off, and you clip the neutral going to the light why does the gfi trip?

Silk 03-04-2008 08:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CowboyAndy (Post 104117)
So basiclly the moral of the story is never assume that a neutral doesn not have current flowing through it?


On a somewhat related note, when you have say a light on a switch that is gfi protected, with the cct live but the switch off, and you clip the neutral going to the light why does the gfi trip?


No, you shouldn't care if the neutral has current flowing through it or not. You should care if it is at the same potential (voltage) as earth and the rest of your groundng and bonding system, which should be zero.

In reality it should be the same potential as your grounding and bonding system, but earth is another matter, for another day.

CowboyAndy 03-04-2008 08:21 AM

Okay, I am confused by your statment that a person shouldn't care about current or vontage. If there is ever a potential, then shouldn't someone always be concerned about it?

RobertS 03-04-2008 08:28 AM

GFCI workings
 
CowboyAndy, check out this site. http://home.howstuffworks.com/question117.htm

Silk 03-04-2008 09:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CowboyAndy (Post 104149)
Okay, I am confused by your statment that a person shouldn't care about current or vontage. If there is ever a potential, then shouldn't someone always be concerned about it?


I never said you shouldn't be concerned about voltage, actually I said the exact opposite. You are confusing the terms voltage, current and potential. First thing is to learn what the difference between voltage and current is.

Silk 03-04-2008 09:21 AM

Just to clarify, in your original post when you talked about "almost touching a bare service neutral", you were talking about the neutral lug on you lighting panel, right? Was the neutral landed? I assumed this was an existing, working panel.

CowboyAndy 03-04-2008 09:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Silk (Post 104157)
I never said you shouldn't be concerned about voltage, actually I said the exact opposite. You are confusing the terms voltage, current and potential. First thing is to learn what the difference between voltage and current is.


Okay, i re read your post and it makes sense now.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Silk (Post 104158)
Just to clarify, in your original post when you talked about "almost touching a bare service neutral", you were talking about the neutral lug on you lighting panel, right? Was the neutral landed? I assumed this was an existing, working panel.

Yes, I was talking about where the neutral comes in from the POCO and attaches to the lug in the main panelboard.


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