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Author Topic: Is my electric service mis-wired?  (Read 1553 times)
TexasBorderDude
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« on: August 28, 2013, 08:56:19 AM »



I'm setting up a home base for the Eagle.  Had electric service put in and had a well drilled.  The well driller ran a temporary service to the pump (20amp 220 and ran 3 wires... 2 hots and a neutral)

Here's the service panel wired by the electric company.  They bonded the neutral to the ground wire (bare copper buried along side the pole).

Should I separate the ground and neutral for my bus service?
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2013, 09:27:12 AM »

If that is a metered panel fed directly from the power company, the neutral SHOULD be grounded there.  If it a sub panel fed from another panel, then the neutral should not be grounded there.
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TexasBorderDude
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2013, 09:39:37 AM »

Thanks!  Yes, it is the metered panel direct from the power line.  At the bottom right was 4 wires which I was going to have a 50 amp service for the bus, this pole is too far from where I want to park, so I'm running a 100 amp service to the well house (that's 2-2-4 alum coiled on the ground)

I'm running these 3 wires to the well house and will drive a 3/4" 10 foot grounding rod for the ground for the sub-panel.  At that point the ground and neutral should be kept separate, correct?

Thanks for the help.
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2013, 09:42:37 AM »

( In response to your initial question) The service itself appears to be OK.

The ground wire for your pump appears to be connected to the neutral bar. It is supposed to be connected to the ground bar.

When you add additional breakers for more branch circuits, the ground and neutral MUST be separate. The white wires will return to the neutral bar, and the ground wires ( normally bare) will connect to the ground bar.

Usually the 'hot' wires are some other colour ( red or black are most common ). On the pump wiring, the black tape added on the wire is a visual indicator that those wires are the hot leads.

At any point past this first neutral/ground connection, the neutral and ground should be kept separate.

« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 09:46:18 AM by Stormcloud » Logged

Mark Morgan    near Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2013, 10:03:05 AM »

I thought on 220 wiring the white neutral becomes a hot wire ? his pump is wired exactly like mine
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 10:06:56 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 10:06:20 AM »

If you are going to feed a sub panel at the well house, you should run 4 wires from this panel, including a ground.

Here is a nice sketch.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.diychatroom.com/attachments/f18/18118d1267131309-wiring-garage-220-4-wire-feeder-same-building.jpg&imgrefurl=http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wiring/msg0418454929467.html&h=500&w=600&sz=86&tbnid=v6XwQdLHWGnESM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=108&zoom=1&usg=__senZZeqA4ZQp5Z-mU3O5b61qYbQ=&docid=rZQXJwVZtecLDM&sa=X&ei=8TEeUuCDM4jH2QWo2YDQAQ&ved=0CDQQ9QEwAg&dur=464
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 10:10:22 AM by Len Silva » Logged


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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2013, 10:06:52 AM »

( In response to your initial question) The service itself appears to be OK.

The ground wire for your pump appears to be connected to the neutral bar. It is supposed to be connected to the ground bar.

....


Thanks for the info.  The pump ground wire is under the red stripped hot wire and is indeed is connected the neutral bar (as is the bare copper ground wire)  Nothing is attached to the 2 "ground" bars at the top left and right.


Since the neutral bar and ground wire are connected, what is the difference in connecting the pump circuit to the ground vs the neutral?  Thanks for your patience Wink
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2013, 10:12:37 AM »

You need to pull a permit for this work, get a qualified electrician that knows the electrical code requirements for this installation in your area.  Code requirements for out-buildings can vary.  I see a couple of things first off.

That panel might not bond neutral to ground, so the installer connected ground to neutral.  That is wrong, and non-compliant as far as I know.  If the panel does not bond ground to neutral you should have had a bond installed between the ground buses and the neutral bus, and grounding connection should be connected to the ground bus bar.

The panel and the breakers must be compliant with aluminium wiring if you are going to use aluminium for the extension to the second building.

The second building should have a separate ground stake and a grounding connection to it.  If there is no other grounding conducting path between the buildings you must re-bond neutral in the second panel.  If there is some other conduction path (metallic pipe for water, gas, etc) then you must run a separate grounding conductor (four wires instead of just three) and NOT rebond neutral in the out-building.  It still needs the separate ground stake.  This can be very confusing so you need to have a qualified electrician advise you, and have it inspected to make sure the qualified guy actually knew what he was doing.

The days of allowing a white wire to carry a hot path have gone away, as have using tape to identify a white wire as hot.  Now, it you use a permanent marker you might get a pass from an inspector, but probably you will need to buy the right wire.  That temporary connection is not legal in the first place, so what colour the wires are is kind of moot.

The difference between connecting the grounding conductor ( the bare copper wire going to the stake) to the neutral bus instead of the ground bus is simple - it's just wrong.  It accomplishes the same thing electrically, but electrical wiring is all about doing things the same way every single time.  That way the next guy in can be sure that things were done in a particular way and has a better chance of not hurting himself or causing a problem.  There's one right way, usually, and lots of wrong ways to do a thing, and with electrical wiring it's important to do it the right way.

Brian

« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 10:29:30 AM by bevans6 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2013, 10:42:04 AM »

Brian,

I appreciate your time, patience and expertise and that's what I sought.  If I understand correctly, the "rules" for electric apply a single standard for installation to assure safety, etc.  Regardless if a method is "safe" and "effective" it is therefore non-standard and wrong.  I am trying to understand the "why" involved.  Can you please tell me if I am correct in stating that the first occurrence of service requires bonding of neutral and ground and that subsequent sub-panels should maintain the neutral and ground separately. A 220 branch circuit requires 4 (properly sized wires- 2 hots, a neutral and a ground), AND a grounding rod and that the grounds be separate from the neutral.  Absent a separate ground wire to a sub-panel, the ground and neutral must be bonded again.

Please be assured my purpose to to gain knowledge and I appreciate your help.
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2013, 11:11:28 AM »

This is where you need to get an electrician to advise you, I think.  I'm not an electrician, I've just paid attention for a long time, and took a lot of this in school.  Engineering/Electrical Technology is not the same as being an electrician even if we learn the same stuff.  We learn the theory, they specialize in the practice, is one way to look at it.  The terms we use to discuss this are all defined, and we don't always use the terms correctly, even though we mostly know what is meant.  You are correct, the only place a bond between neutral and ground is allowed is in the service entrance.  Here is where some definitions come into play, for me at least.  "Ground" is a specific term that means electrically connected to the earth with a stake or other device.  "Neutral" is a term that is almost always used to refer to what the NEC calls the "grounded" conductor.  It's the conductor that carries current back from a branch circuit to the neutral point in the service entrance, and the neutral point is connected to the grounding point.  PITA to keep straight.  The bare (usually, sometimes it's green insulated) conductor in a branch circuit is called the grounding conductor.  The grounded conductor is white or grey and carries the load current back to the neutral point.  The grounding conductor is the safety path for a failure.

A branch circuit is what you call an electrical outlet, or a string of outlets or lamps or a stove outlet or whatever.  A 220 volt branch circuit would normally have three conductors - two ungrounded black and red hot conductors and a grounding (not grounded) bare or green conductor for protection.  That would run a hot water heater or a welder that needed only 240VAC and not 120 VAC.  A 240 VAC outlet for a stove or a dryer would have four conductors - two hots in red and black, a white or gray grounded (commonly and possibly incorrectly called neutral) and a bare or green grounding protection conductor.  Adding the grounded neutral lets you derive 120 VAC from one of the pair of hot conductors inside the device you plug in to the outlet.

A sub-panel is not the same as a branch circuit.  Separate sub-panels in the same building should always keep neutral and grounding buses separate, yes indeed.  The question comes when the sub-panel is in a separate building from the service entrance (main) panel.  There, in some cases you have options.  You can feed four wires (two ungrounded hot wires, one grounded wire and a grounding wire) and use the grounding wire to bond grounds between the two buildings.  You also should add a separate grounding stake and bond the grounding bus in the sub panel to the ground stake, and you would keep the neutral bus separate from the ground bus in the sub panel.  You might also install three wires between the buildings, two ungrounded hots and one grounded conductor, and in that case you may be required to bond the neutral point in the sub-panel to the ground bus, with a separate ground stake, and basically treat this sub-panel as a new service entrance.

It depends to some extent on where you are.  In Ontario, where I learned much of this trivia, I had a house that was fed as a sub-panel from the main service entrance in my garage.  I had 200 amps in the garage and fed 100 amps to the house.  The house was treated as a separate service entrance, had two hot wires and one neutral wire, and neutral was bonded to ground in the service panel.  Done by an experienced electrician and inspected several times in all by the building inspector.  Here in Nova Scotia I have an outbuilding with a main service entrance, and a second building fed by a sub-panel treated in exactly the same way - neutral bonded to ground in the second building.

Edit - looking a little more I find that NEC is now using neutral conductor in place of grounded conductor in recent documentation.  Thank heavens, it was and is confusing as heck.  Here in Canada I believe the code uses hot, neutral and bond, with the bonding conductor being the tie back to ground.

Brian
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 11:40:31 AM by bevans6 » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2013, 11:30:06 AM »

Thanks to all for the help and info Smiley Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2013, 12:21:25 PM »

This article may point you in a more confident direction...I hope Smiley

http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/elect/panel/sub_panel/01/new.htm
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 12:27:54 PM »

The thing about that article is it assumes the sub-panel is in the same building as the main panel.  All I am trying to point out is that sometimes when the panel is in a different, completely separate building, the sub- panel has to be treated as a separate service entrance.  As I said, that is very common in Canada, for example.

Brian
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2013, 07:54:00 PM »

The thing about that article is it assumes the sub-panel is in the same building as the main panel.  All I am trying to point out is that sometimes when the panel is in a different, completely separate building, the sub- panel has to be treated as a separate service entrance.  As I said, that is very common in Canada, for example.

Brian

Good thing someone read slowly and carefully, I did not, you are correct. The article does illustrate the bonding issue kinda well tho...
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2013, 06:39:38 AM »

Doyle
Wouldn t it be better to use a holding tank in your bus rather than a well pump Seems like an awfully long hose would need to be used? :-)

Dave5Cs from Galaxy S III
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