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What is the difference between grounding and grounded electrical conductors?
Sunday, July 22, 2018
These are terms used in the NEC (National Electrical Code) and technical manuals. The “grounding” conductor is a wire that provides a safe route for electricity that has left its intended route through an appliance and has energized a component that could potentially cause an electrical shock. It is commonly called a ground wire, and is either a bare wire or has green insulation. The “grounded” conductor is the white wire that provides a return route to complete a 120-volt circuit, and it is commonly called the neutral wire.
They are both secured to the same bus bars in a main service panel, but are not interchangeable. A grounded/neutral wire is intended to carry electricity whenever a 120-volt circuit is in use, but a grounding/ground wire should only conduct electricity when a component has become energized and is unsafe. The ground wire will then complete a circuit and trip a breaker to warn you of a problem.
In any subpanels past the main service panel, the grounded/neutral wires must be on a separate bus bar from the grounding/ground wires, and the grounded/neutral bus bar must be isolated from ground.
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