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What is the difference between neutral and ground wires?
Saturday, March 14, 2020
The main difference between neutral and ground wires is that a neutral is intended to carry current in a circuit when the circuit is functioning correctly, connecting back to the transformer for 120-volt circuits; while a ground wire only becomes energized when current has escaped from its designated route and may be hazardous. While “neutral” and “ground” their common names, the neutral is referred to as the “grounded conductor” and the ground as “grounding conductor” in the electrical codes.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines a grounded conductor (neutral) as “a system or circuit conductor that is intentionally grounded,” while a grounding conductor (ground) is “the conductive path(s) a ground-fault current path and connects normally non-current-carrying metal parts of equipment together and to the system grounded conductor or to the grounding electrode conductor, or both.” A grounding electrode can be a number of different things, but is typically a ground rod near the main service panel.
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