Difference between Ground and Neutral

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  #1  
Old 02-02-06, 11:52 AM
jdgradywhite
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Difference between Ground and Neutral

I have a quick question about the main panel. I was running a new line for my sump pump. My question is what is the difference between the ground side bus and the neutral side bus. Looking into the panel I see white wires as well as bare copper wires connected to the ground bus and I see mainly white wires on the neutral side. I had an electrician run a new wire a couple of months ago for me and I noticed he connected both the white and bare ground wires to the ground side bus. Another thing that confused me is once I shut off the panel main to run my new line, I took my meter and checked continuity between the ground bus and neutral bus and it did have continuity. I thought the ground and neutral bus should be separate. This main panel was updated to 200amp service in 98 by the previous owner.
 
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Old 02-02-06, 12:01 PM
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In a main panel (and only in a main panel) neutral and ground should be electrically bonded by connecting to the same bus or otherwise interconnected buses. In a sub panel, the grounds and neutrals would be connected to seperate buses that are electrically isolated from each other. It is very important that ground and neutral are only connected together at one point in the electrical system, and that point is the main panel.
 
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Old 02-02-06, 12:25 PM
jdgradywhite
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Hi,Ben....thanks for your quick reply. So based on what you said. The next time I am running a new line, I can connect the bare copper ground wire and the white wire to the neutral side bus with no problems since they are interconnected anyways inside the main panel. The reason why I am asking is the ground bus terminal is pretty full with not many openings left unless I double up some wires in the holes but the neutral side bus is pretty much open with only a handful of wires on that bus. Hope that makes sense and thanks again!!!!
 
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Old 02-02-06, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by jdgradywhite
I can connect the bare copper ground wire and the white wire to the neutral side bus with no problems since they are interconnected anyways inside the main panel.
Actually, it is the service panel - the first panel after the meter.


the ground bus terminal is pretty full with not many openings left unless I double up some wires in the holes
Doubling up ground wires is permitted if they are the same gauge.
Doubling "neutral" (white) wires is prohibited.

Usually boxes provide places to install additional ground bars.
 
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Old 02-02-06, 02:15 PM
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You may not connect them together anywhere else other than the box housing your main disconnect. Your use of the word "anyways" scared me. Just because these wires are connected anyways in the main panel does not mean that you can connect them anywhere else.
 
  #6  
Old 02-02-06, 05:39 PM
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Doubling up grounds is permitted only if the panel has a note that says the ground buss is listed for 2 wires.

Most residential panels are marketed as "main" and/or "sub" panels, or at least refered to that way in common use. Don't see any real reason to muddy things by using a term usually reseserved for industrial/commercial work and a floor to ceiling high by several foot wide panel to describe a residential "main" panel. These are DIYers whose dealings with other folks will be with the common terms.


UNK
 
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Old 02-03-06, 07:11 AM
jdgradywhite
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Everything I have asked questions about has been with the main panel (service panel). Back to my question about running additional lines in the future since the neutral and ground bus are electrically bonded. Would it be ok when running new lines to put the ground and neutral wire on the neutral bus since the ground bus is crowded?

Thanks Guys!!
 
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Old 02-03-06, 07:12 AM
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If this is your main panel, then you don't have a neutral bus. You have a combined ground/neutral bus. Using the terms "gound bus" and "neutral bus" is technically not correct for your setup.
 
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Old 02-03-06, 07:20 AM
jdgradywhite
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Hi, Bob so based on your reply when I need to run another line in the future it should be ok to attach the ground and neutral wires to the other bus(the one I am calling the neutral bus)?
 
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Old 02-03-06, 07:47 AM
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Hi, Bob so based on your reply when I need to run another line in the future it should be ok to attach the ground and neutral wires to the other bus(the one I am calling the neutral bus)?
Yes, at this panel and at this panel only, you may connect ground and neutral wires to either bus bar. Wherever there is space...

Doug M.
 
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Old 02-03-06, 07:50 AM
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Yes, connect your ground and neutral wires to either bus.
 
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