I've got a newly-built house (well, actually, it's 2/3 new, 1/3 existing)
with new wiring from the panel in. It's got a 200 amp rating at the panel.
But whenever the air conditioning comes on, the lights dim and power dips
much more than I've ever seen in another house, even ones with lower amps
and older wiring. Sometimes it's enough to shut down my computer or TV.
The wire coming in from the pole is what was here when only the existing
house was here. How likely is it that a problem like this is on the city's
side of the breaker panel?
If your house or at least your kitchen was built in the last thirty years or
so, the electrical code required at least two 20 amp circuits for the
outlets and dedicated circuits for a standard refrigerator were not
required, which is to say; your fridge may already be on the same circuit as
your toaster so plugging them into the same outlet should be fine
If the refrigerator cycles on while the toaster is running, you'll probably
trip the breaker (or blow the fuse, as the case may be). It's better to plug
the toaster in to an outlet on a different circuit, if you can.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt.
And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
I have a quick question, if someone would be so kind to answer.
When you install a light fixture on the ceiling or similar there are two
wires, black (hot) / white (neutral)
If the white (neutral) wire is not connected to the fixture, would the
fixture still work when turned on?
I know nothing about electricity etc. so please excuse my seemingly foolish
yet curious question.
The white should not be connected to the fixture. If there is a wire
connected to the fixture it should be bare or green. There need not be a
wire connected to the fixture. The light fixture should come with a black
and white wire. Hook like colors to like colors and you're good to go.
Think of it like water flow. Water comes in and it needs to go out. If
you have no out, your water has nowhere to go. Black wire is power in,
white wire is power out ( like a drain.) Oversimplified, but it should
give you an idea.
Power must flow through the lamp to light it. Black (or red) is one
side of the issue and white is the usual other side. However it is possible
for the light to function if the white is not connected if there is a fault
and the current if finding a ground (ground wire [white or bare] or even a
grounded metal pipe) This is not safe and should be checked out by someone
who knows what they are doing if it is happening.
While replacing an old outdoor single outlet receptacle ( with a GFI
protected), this is what I found. There are two cables, power coming in
and the other going out to a switch to power an outdoor light. These
are the two wire type with no ground wire. The two black wires were
spliced together with a copper crimp with a pigtail going to the one
outlet terminal. The white wires were crimped together and a pigtail
was attached to the other outlet terminal. There is also another
pigtail from the white wire crimp that goes to a ground screw in the
metal box. That is my question. Is this the old way to ground an outlet
box or am I about to be fried? I have since replaced it with a GFI
outlet without the ground wire in place.
The two white wires are neutrals and the pigtail to the outlet is fine, but
remove the pigtail to the box, which is wrong. If the cable is metal, the
sheath serves as the ground. If the cable is nonmetallic and has no ground,
the GFCI should be marked as ungrounded, or better yet, replace the cable
with a grounded type. hth
customary in your area for copper wire the presence of crimp connections
in the wiring would suggest the presence of Aluminum wiring. Crimp
splices are the most reliable remedial measure for aluminum wirings
early problems. That does not effect the work you have described so far
but be aware of the possibility that your wiring is the old alloy
aluminum type. If it is then be very sure that you use only devices
listed for aluminum wiring where ever aluminum wiring terminates
directly on the device. If the pigtails from the crimp splices are
copper than terminating the copper pig tails on CU only devices is just
fine. When working on your wiring you must only use listed CO/ALR
devices to terminate the aluminum wiring. Do not try to apply ordinary
crimp connectors to aluminum wire! They are not suitable for the
application and will develop arcing faults and high resistance glowing
connections that can lead to a fire of electrical origin. The only
crimp connector that is listed for use in joining aluminum wiring to
copper wiring is a high pressure crimp that must be applied be
specifically certified electricians using only a particular crimping tool.
I have a fundamental electrical question. I have several years old
Siemens 150 A main panel that has single neutral/ground terminal. All
ground and neutral wires are attached to it. There are also only three
incoming wires into the panel: two 220V hot wires and one ground wire.
So what I see there is no difference between ground and neutral wire so
the questions is why wiring is done with three wires instead of two? Is
it possible (legal) to connect ground and neutral wire together in a
switch box? As far as I understand from books I read most panels have
only single neutral/ground terminal.
explanation, but my understanding is that most residential main panels have
the service entrance come with the two hot wires, one ground, and the
neutral / ground bar is shared. Note: to meet code, the main panel should
be grounded to the water pipe and to a grounding rod as I understand it.
You might have missed them as they are smaller (than the service 00 or
larger gauge) bare 4-6 gauge wires that should exit the panel to the
locations I just stated.
I do not think it is legal or safe to combine the ground and neutral
together in a switch box, but I am not an electrician.
There are times when the ground and neutral bars are separated, such as the
installation of a subpanel, the ground and neutral are separated in this
Hope this helps, and I am sure more will respond.
The ground wire and neutral wire in a residential electrical
system should be connected together at one -- and only one --
point in the system: where the service enters the house. Thus,
if you have a 220V service, your service entry panel will have
two hot wires and a neutral coming from the utility company.
The panel will be grounded to earth. At that point, the
neutral is connected to ground.
Connecting the neutral and ground together anywhere else but
the entry service could result in a potential difference across the
ground wires throughout the system in case of a short -- a
Could you explain to me why connecting ground and neutral wire
"anywhere else but the entry service could result in a potential
difference across the ground wires throughout the system in case of a
short -- a dangerous situation"? They are connected in main panel? What
"dangerous situation" can it be if neutral and ground wires are
connected somewhere up in circuits? Also I checked my service which is
three years old and was done by license electrician has only three
incoming wires - there are no separate ground and neutral wire, just
one thick white wire connected to neutral/ground terminal.
The neutral wire carries current, in normal operation. The ground wire does
Having these two connected anywhere except the service entrance panel results
in current being present on the ground wire as well as the neutral - which in
turn electrifies *every* metal fixture box, *every* metal appliance chassis,
*every* plumbing fixture, etc. throughout the house.
Yes, and at the main panel, they are *also* connected to a grounding electrode
to ensure that both are at true ground potential _at_the_panel_.
Three wires coming in from the power company, yes. There should also be a
fairly heavy gauge bare (or green insulated) wire connected to the
neutral/ground bus bar in the panel, that is connected at its other end to a
grounding rod sunk into the earth outside the house and very close to the
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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