Combined or separate Neutral / Ground


Old 03-05-05, 07:41 PM
Keith W
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Question Combined or separate Neutral / Ground

Why are some breaker boxes built with separate ground and neutrals and others with combined grounds and neutrals. I know that sub-panels should be isolated, but when are service panels combined versus isolated?


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Old 03-05-05, 10:14 PM
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in a main service panel, the neutral and ground are "combined" because they must be bonded together, which is why the neutral is called "grounded conductor. the n and g should be bonded at the main service which, in a typical residential service, is in the main panel. there are situations where one might have a main service without using the main panel for a dwelling unit as the point of distribution throughout the building (some multi-unit dwelling buildings and commercial buildings, for example).
the ground should never carry current under normal circumstances, which is why the neutral and ground are completely isolated from each other after the main service.
different manufacturers have different designs, but most have a relatively simple manner of either bonding or separating the neutral and ground in the panel - green bonding screw, bonding strap, etc. giving panels this option allows one panel type to serve potentially different needs.
so, a panel allows the n and g to be bonded together when that panel is used as the main service means, and allows one to separate them when it's not.
Old 03-06-05, 05:23 PM
Keith W
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Thumbs up Thanks!

This is the answer I expected / wanted to hear. My Dad called me and was telling me the opposite. Now that I am about 3/4 of the way done wiring it up with grounds and neutrals on the same bus bars.

Thanks for the info,

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