Hi, I'm planning a remote control lighting system. There are two parts
of this system: 1) the low-voltage 24VAC signalling side and 2) the
120VAC power side. Each side runs in its own separate thickwall
I understand that conduit can be used as the grounding (green)
conductor in many cases, but my question concerns NEUTRAL (white) in a
low voltage system.
Can I use the conduit as NEUTRAL (white) on my 24VAC low-voltage side?
If not why not?
thing? No idea what code says, but it seems a pretty silly way to save ten
bucks worth of wire. And if that conduit is bonded to the house ground and
therefore the other conduit, I forsee lotsa problems with GFCIs and misc.
electronics in the house.
But I'm no EE or licensed electrician, so I'll step aside now and let them
This is a good question. If the transformer secondary and its load is
a closed circuit, why would having it connected to ground cause a
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
Grounding the transformer or the conduit is not the problem. The problem is
using the conduit as a current carrying conductor.
There are many more currents flowing through conductive surfaces than just
the circuits that are intentionally made. Electrical currents happens from
chemistry, thermopile, magnetics, RF, and transient voltages that are
induced when AC current flows through wires enclosed or passing over ferrous
metal pipes, conduits and metal sheets.
When these currents are induced they either build up as in a
capacitor.......or they flow to ground where the free electrons can do
whatever free electrons do. Anyway there are thousands of these little
circuits that come an go. With electronic devices everywhere, transient
voltages often work against the purposes of the intentional electronics.
Sometimes they cause momentary failure..........sometimes blowouts.
Everybody knows blowouts happen........they just don't know why.
So we understand enough about electricity and electronics to make things
work, but we really don't understand everything that is happening. We adopt
certain rules and standards as we discover problems. Our standards change
as we learn or think we learn more.
One of the standards we have adopted is that we don't intentionally use
conduits as current carrying conductors. Yes, it will work........but it
can cause some of the other problems that I have written about and some that
I have not.....and most likely many that we don't even know exist.
Randy R. Cox
Randy Cox ( email@example.com) said...
I agree with this, however Randy's text goes into a pretty complicated
line of reasoning. I don't disagree with it, but let me offer a simpler
It is the same reason why the neutrals and grounds are only tied (bonded)
together at the service entrance. Neutrals are groundED conductors and
grounds are groundING conductors.
Grounded conductors (neutrals) are bonded to ground but are designed to
carry current. Grounding conductors (grounds) are not designed to carry
currents under normal load conditions, only in exception cases for safety
purposes. Think of a grounding conductor as a reserved lane for emergency
vehicles only on a highway! ;-)
Under normal load conditions, neutrals carry current and since we don't
live in the theoretical world of high school electricity in science class
where conductors have ZERO resistance, the tiny resistance in the neutral
causes a voltage drop to occur (voltage = current * resistance). This means
that other than the spot where the neutral is bonded to ground, all other
neutral points are not truly ground.
If you used a conduit to carry a neutral current, it would not be at
true ground potential, depending on the actual load current. If you touched
such a conduit at the same time as touching a nearby metal water pipe,
you could be alerted to the fact pretty quickly! :-O
In the case of a LOW voltage system, the problem is actuall worse since
higher currents are needed for the same power! A 50 watt lamp only draws
about 0.42 amps if it is designed for 120 volts, but a 50 watt lamp for
a 24 volt system draws 2.1 amps! Any voltage drop on the conduit would
be FIVE times worse.
Now, the original poster did say that the 24 VAC wiring was for signalling,
so there is less likely a problem with voltage drops, but a signalling
system may be very susceptable to noise if the conduit were to be used
for a neutral conductor.
"I really think Canada should get over to Iraq as quickly as possible"
This is probably a matter of local code. For instance, some low voltage
systems have lights that hang from 2 exposed wires. Sometimes those
wires have to be insulated, sometimes they do not.
Im going to bet though that the answer is NO since no electrician would
expect the conduit itself to be energized. It could be dangerous for
folks doing work. Plus other reasons I can think of.
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor
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