I'm adding two double pole 20A 12-3 wire circuits to my breaker box for
my basement. Each of the two 12-3 runs is split into two 110v circuits
(alternating circuits between outlets along the run) with the neutral
for each run being shared between the two alternating circuits.
Because I have two of these runs, I have to connect two white neutral
wires to the neutral bar in my breaker box. Unfortulately, I only have
one open connection on my neutral bar left.
This is my main panel for my house I'm working in (not a sub-panel).
What do I have to do so I can get the extra neutral connection I need?
Can I pigtail them (the two neutrals) together?
And before anyone asks, no my panel is not overloaded.
screw a neutral bussbar neatly to the inside of your main breaker
cabinet and add a heavy copper wire from the main neutral to the new
bussbar, the neutral must be bonded to the existing one and to the
I'll look into adding the bar. Are those available at HD or Lowes?
Since this is my main panel, can I just use one of the ground terminals
(I have several free) for the additional neutral connection I need?
In my panel, all the white wires are connected to a bus on the left
side of the panel. I'm calling the terminals on that bus the neutral
terminals. On the right side, all the bare copper wires are connected
to a bus which I'm calling the ground terminals.
IIRC, the two busses are connected so I think it would be OK to use one
of the ground terminals for the connection of a neutral wire. But, I
just wanted to double check here..
On all the main panels I have seen, neutrals and grounds have been randomly
mixed. Other than possibly being confusing, I can't see what would be wrong
I looked it up in the two electrical books I have. One does not mention it!
The other refers to the "neutral/ground bus" and shows both the ground and
neutral going to the same hole. I have seen move than one wire in hole
frequently, but I thought they had to be on different circuits to discourage
losing both your ground and neutral. Hmm.
Because I'm in the main panel, I'll be substituting one of the open
connection spots on my gound bus for a neutral connection. If anybody
has any strong objections or warnings about doing that, please speak
You may be able to double up some of the ground wires to make additional
slots available for the new neutrals. Check the panel label to see what is
permitted. Do not splice them together and put under one slot.
I have extra terminals available on my ground bar (IIRC it has more
connections on it) so doubling up grounds won't be required to make
room for the neutral wire I need to find a home for.
So you are saying it's OK to put a neutral wire on the ground bar?
That's what I'd like to do if it's permitted (rather than splicing
together two neutrals or putting to wires under one screw).
Because this is your main panel, you don't isolate neutrals and grounds, so
feel free to install neutrals on the buss where all the grounds are. The NEC
permits doubling up on ground wires as John Grabowski pointed out, so you
may be able to free up some lugs there
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