no neutral

Old 12-03-05, 09:08 AM
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no neutral

I was looking inside my panel (200 amp)...and noticed a 30 amp breaker that supply's my air ccondition unit...connected to the breaker was a hot and a neutral taped black...doesn't this circuit need a neutral? is supplying the disconnect outside to the airconditioner...Thanks (I thought all circuits need a return (neutral))
Old 12-03-05, 09:14 AM
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Straight 240 volt circuits like an air conditioner, water heater or baseboard heat do not need a neutral.
Old 12-03-05, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by ThomasB
doesn't this circuit need a neutral?
2 hots and a ground is all it needs.
Sometimes 220 volt circuits will have a neutral (not always) for lights and clocks and the like.
Old 12-03-05, 09:16 AM
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No, all circuits do not need a neutral wire. All circuits do need a return wire, but they all do not need a neutral.

The term neutral is used because the wire is electrically neutral to the two incoming 120 volt wires of your service. The term is return is also used for this wire on 120 volt circuits because it is the return path for the current.

240 volt circuits in the US are different. The voltage between the two hot lines entering your house is 240 volts. Devices that use only 240 volts do not need a neutral. The return path for the current on each wire is the other wire. No current flows on the neutral wire.

Devices like air conditioners, baseboard heaters, water heaters and such are only 240 volts and don;t need a neutral.

Other devices are actually both 240 and 120 volts. These include electric dryers and ranges. The 120 volts is needed to power light bulbs, the dryer tumbler motor and electronic controls. The 240 volts is needed for the heating element.

So your air conditioner is a 240 volt device. It gets its power on the two wires you have identified, the black wire and the white wire. The white wire is properly re-identified as a hot wire. This is allowed since the wire is part of a cable assembly. You should not refer to the white wire as a neutral, since it is not. In fact, you should not refer to any white wire as a neutral, unless it is acting as a neutral.

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