How To Look At A House
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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.
Also, see our articles Why is it unsafe to bond neutral and ground wiring at subpanels? and Can multiple neutral or ground wires be secured under the same terminal in an electric panel?
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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRICAL WIRING:
• Which house appliances need a dedicated electrical circuit?
• Can a short circuit cause a high electric bill?
• What is the maximum spacing requirement for securing NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable)?
• Is it alright to just put wire nuts on the end of unused or abandoned NM-cable or wiring?
• What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?
• What are typical aluminum service entrance wire/cable sizes for the electrical service to a house?
• Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house?
• Why is a strain relief clamp necessary for the cord connection to some electric appliances?
• Does a wire nut connection need to be wrapped with electrical tape?
• What is the minimum clearance of overhead electric service drop wires above a house roof?
• What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?
• What is the color code for NM cable (Romex®) sheathing?
• Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?
• How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?
• Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall?
• What is an open electrical splice?
• What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection?
• What is the life expectancy of electrical wiring in a house?
• What is an "open junction box"?
• How dangerous is old electrical wiring?
• I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. How do you check for aluminum wiring?
• What is "knob and tube" wiring?
• What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet?
Visit our ELECTRICAL page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.
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