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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an outlet wired and it shows 120V but cannot power anything plugged into it? Any suggestions please?



 

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How are you measuring the voltage to know you have 120 volts present?
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm trying desperately to get pics up for you all to see, I am struggling with the website interface.



 

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Check from line to line in the panel (black to red) to make sure you have both phases. Verify the neutral is tight while you're at it.

It looks like that panel is in a shed so probably fed from your house main panel. If you don't get full 240 from red to black in that sub-panel, check in your house panel at the breaker feeding it. If full voltage there, you'll know what to do.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes, in a shed. I have 240V across RED and BLACK "main" input.

Outlet is wired BLACK to BRASS and WHITE to SILVER, COPPER GND to GREEN.

Breaker is loose and may need replaced, but I'm getting 120V at the outlet so I'm kinda lost. I'm a noob.

I was told to isolate the ground from the neutral terminal block so I bought a new terminal block and screwed it directly to the back of the panel and wired the copper ground to it. Same electrical connection as before, I guess maybe it is just safer?
 

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Leave the meter connected and plug something in and see what happens to the voltage reading.

If it goes to zero, go to the panel and measure the voltage at the breaker. Then measure it at the mains again. All the while with the load plugged in and the receptacle not getting power.

Report those results.
 
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Leave the meter connected and plug something in and see what happens to the voltage reading.

If it goes to zero, go to the panel and measure the voltage at the breaker. Then measure it at the mains again. All the while with the load plugged in and the receptacle not getting power.

Report those results.
If it goes to zero when something is plugged in measure hot to ground and see what voltage you get. If you get voltage to ground then you have a neutral problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
When a heat gun is plugged in and turned on the voltage goes to zero. If I put the heat gun on low the voltage drops to about 100V. With the heat gun off I return to 120V.

This voltage drop happens at the breaker as well. I measured the main but I forget the result.

Can someone please explain how they know it is a neutral problem? Does this mean I likely have a break in the neutral back to the main panel? Is the white wire on my 220V outlet neutral or ground (it has red, black, white)?

Thanks so much for the help.
 

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I measured the main but I forget the result.
We can't be sure the neutral is the problem until we see that reading. That's why I included it in the mix.

If it is significantly less than 240 volts, the problem is not the neutral but somewhere on the phase leg.

If it's 240 volts, the neutral is the suspect although the breaker could still be in the mix.

Measuring from breaker to ground would tell the full tale in most cases when the neutral is suspect. That's not always true since grounds can't be taken for granted either.
 

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We don't know it is s neutral problem. That is why I asked for a measure to ground as well. In fact since it drops at the breaker as well it is likely not a neutral problem.
You could try swapping the hot wire with another breaker of the same value.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
We don't know it is s neutral problem. That is why I asked for a measure to ground as well. In fact since it drops at the breaker as well it is likely not a neutral problem.
You could try swapping the hot wire with another breaker of the same value.
I replaced the breaker and the receptacle last night, and tried the breaker in all available slots. Same result. I have not tried already used breaker slots.
 

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In fact since it drops at the breaker as well it is likely not a neutral problem.
This is a sub-panel and the feeder neutral will still be in the suspects we are rounding up.

When it acts like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's sometimes not a duck. And sometimes it's not the neutral. We need more data.

Those who think this is a sure case and a textbook example of something will someday learn not to be too sure of themselves when it come to something as dangerous as electricity. They may turn out to be correct but it won't change my assessment of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I will get more data and apologize for not doing a better job last night. I took all sorts of measurements and pictures, I just cannot remember what the main-main and main-neutral were exactly.

I am so confused why there is no ground here. I'm lost in 'neutral wire' world.
 

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All I can say is I've seen it dozens of times, it's a neutral problem. Check hot to ground.You will have 120 vollt. Usually I find neutral back stabbed in the circuit somewhere.
 
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