Neutral wires > than spots in main panel

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Old 03-11-06, 12:16 AM
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Question Neutral wires > than spots in main panel

In my main panel, the neutral and gounding bars have less spots than there are breakers. It is an old Zinsco box from the '70s. Can I use a twist nut to combine neutrals and run a pig tail to the bars? Is this a fire hazard? I'll probably ad a sub panel, just don't know when.
 
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Old 03-11-06, 01:51 AM
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While you can't put more than one neutral in a hole, you can put two grounds in a hole in most boxes. If you can with your box, would that free up enough holes for all the neutrals?
 
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Old 03-11-06, 05:56 AM
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You absolutely cannot combine neutral wires with a wire nut and run them to the buss bar.

What you must do is to combine ground wires (if allowed by the panel) to free up spots for neutral wires, or add another buss bar.
 
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Old 03-11-06, 10:53 AM
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Would it not be code compliant to twist two neutrals together as long as they were both single circuits and on different phases?
 
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Old 03-11-06, 12:14 PM
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Phase or leg is irrelevant.

Each neutral must be under a screw all by itself.
You can't twist them together and ask for an exception to the rule.

If necessary, you can add an additional ground bar to lands your EGCs there.
 
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Old 03-11-06, 12:53 PM
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If the two neutrals are from different circuits, and are on different phases, then you could splice these two neutrals together to a short pigtail, then connect that pigtail to one of the holes in the neutral bus. This would create a _very short_ multiwire branch circuit, which would be legal but confusing, and if for any reason one of these breakers were moved it could create a hazard. I would strongly recommend against this approach, since it could quickly and easily go wrong.

I third the recommendation of combining EGC conductors (ground conductors) either multiple wires per screw hole if the panel permits this, or by combining EGCs under a wirenut and running a pigtail to the ground/neutral bus.

-Jon
 
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Old 03-11-06, 01:48 PM
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Clarification please

I understand that the neutral is also grounded (typically.) Just to clarify though, it is ok to have ground wires and neutral wires connected to the same buss bars?! (In my box the neutral buss bar does not appear to go back to the source. Rather it appears to be grounded also.)
 
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Old 03-11-06, 01:58 PM
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In residential electrical systems, the _neutral_ system conductor is also _grounded_. Neutral and ground are 'bonded' in the panel that contains your main disconnect (main breaker), and are _never_ supposed to be connected anywhere else in your electrical system. In the panel that contains your main disconnect, the _same_ bus bar may be used for both 'equiment ground' and 'neutral' wires. In a subpanel, the neutral bus and the ground bus must be separate.

'Equipment ground' wires may share holes (if the panel is labeled for multiple wires per hole), and you can combine any number of equipment ground wires together, and then run a _single_ ground wire (sized for the largest protected circuit) to a hole on the neutral bus.

'Neutral' wires must always be in their own hole.

-Jon
 
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Old 03-11-06, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by renoir
(In my box the neutral bar does not appear to go back to the source. Rather it appears to be grounded also.)
If your box cannot be used as a subpanel, this is how it appears.

If you want to post a photo of your neutral bar, we can take a look.
Usually there is an insulated strap from the bar to the neutral connection.

Regardless, I guarantee you that it is connected back to the source (in addition to any connections to grounding electrodes).
 
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