Neutral & Ground on same bar?

Reply

  #1  
Old 06-21-05, 06:02 AM
Bob53's Avatar
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Derry, New Hampshire
Posts: 291
Neutral & Ground on same bar?

Good Morning, After updating some receptacles in my bedroom and installing an arc fault breaker for the bedroom I am always a bit confused . Inside my box when I notice that the neutrals and grounds are on the same bar. I admit, I have not looked inside many boxes in my life. Is this normal? It is an older General Switch brand box. Thanks. Also, on that bar there are 20 screws, I have 20 breakers, which makes for a combination of 40 neutrals & grounds, so many are doubled up. Normal?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 06-21-05, 06:14 AM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 973
If this is the MAIN panel box, it is perfectly normal and correct for both neutrals and grounds to connect to the same bar. In a SUB panel box in the house, they must NOT connect to the same bar.

It is my understanding that neutral wires must have their own screw on the bar. Grounding wires, however, can generally be doubled up.

If you have excessive doubling up, neutrals being doubled up, etc, you should probably add an additional bar and clean it up. Be EXTREMELY careful doing so. Personally, I would shut off the main breaker while doing this (and remember that there is still power coming into the box).
 
  #3  
Old 06-21-05, 06:15 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
At one point in your electrical system the ground and neutrals are connected together. This is usually the main panel. You should not be surprised to see neutrals and ground wires going to the same buss bar.

However, you may still have a problem. If allowed by the manufacturer, there can be two ground wires under one screw. Hwoever, there can only be one neutral wire per screw, and it must be alone. In other words, each screw connection can have one ground wire OR two ground wires OR one neutral wire.

If you have 20 neutral wires and 20 ground wires then you need a minimum of 30 positions for connecting these wires.
 
  #4  
Old 06-21-05, 06:34 AM
Bob53's Avatar
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Derry, New Hampshire
Posts: 291
Thanks so much, It is the MAIN panel box, however, there are only 20 screws on the single bar that is there. so I guess I need another bar or a new box. Considering the age of this one,(25yrs) would you recommend a new box? Thanks.
 
  #5  
Old 06-21-05, 06:57 AM
ElectricalMan's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Harrisonburg
Posts: 744
Bob53,

The age is not as much a problem if the equipment looks fine and is not physcially looking like it needs replacing. The addition of a bussbar is not a problem as long as you have the room for it without over crowding the panel.

One thing to keep in mind.....and may be obvious...even if you double up the grounds...make sure you keep the sizes the SAME....do not mix wire sizes when terminating on the bars.

Also most panels that ALLOW doubling up of grounds will list this in the panel, I doubt your 25 year old panel will list this so I think the additional bar is the best option for you and is easy to do...just use caution because the panel is LIVE.....a safer thing would be to shut off the main before you add it but remember the top terminals are STILL live....
 
  #6  
Old 06-21-05, 07:01 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
I wouldn't simply replace a box for this reason. If you have other reasons to replace the box then by all means do so, but I wouldn't replace it for this reason alone. I also wouldn't rush right out and correct this problem right away. Soon, yrs, but it's not a life threatening problem. I would simply add a ground bar. They are sold for a few dollars at most home stores.

Plan this for a time when you have some time to do this. Take your time and you should be fine. Turn off your main breaker before proceeding. Remember, even with your main breaker off there are voltages present in the panel that can kill you.

If you have doubts as to whether you can do this yourself, call an electrician.
 
  #7  
Old 06-21-05, 08:41 AM
Bob53's Avatar
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Derry, New Hampshire
Posts: 291
Thanks Guys, To add a bar for the grounding wires sounds like the right solution for me. I am comfortable and respectful when working with the electricity. I do notice however that the existing bar that takes the neutrals & the grounds is all the way to the left of the box between the edge of the breakers on the left and the edge of the box. Should I be able to locate & install another grounding bar on the right side? Thanks. And thank you about the different gauge wire sizes being doubled up (which I did not know) I'll make sure the 15's are with the 15's and the 20's are with the 20's and the one 30amp for the dryer is alone. Thank You.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes