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Unread 04-23-2019, 03:35 PM   #16
HooKooDoo Ku
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PC7060
John - while you are correct that ac flows both ways only the black wire carries the source power. In most houses of that age the neutral and ground are tied together in the panel.
Power is simply the rate at which energy is transferred. To that end, the black (hot) and white (neutral) are both a part of the circuit that that transfers that energy.

The only thing "special" about the white (neutral) wire is that one end of it is tied to the local ground so that the voltage in the white wire is nearly zero compared to the local ground. What the power company supplies to you is simply a voltage difference. That power is delivered through a transformer that has no electrical connection between the input from the power company and the and the output delivered to your house.

But to help keep you save, what is done is that one of the outputs from the transformer is connected to the local ground. This is accomplished by driving a large copper bar about 10' into the local soil near your breaker box. So this copper bar, one of the transformer outputs, and all your white (neutral) wires are all connected together to the ground bar in your circuit panel.

I said the white (neutral) wire is "nearly" zero because even large copper wire has resistance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jadnashua
Voltage and current can get confusing. There's current on the neutral, but referenced to ground, it should be zero volts if everything is working right. You won't get current flow without voltage, so between neutral and ground, there shouldn't be any, as they are ultimately, tied together at some point.

Subpanels, from what I understand, have the neutral and ground separated, but in the main panel, they're connected. Has that changed?
When current flows through something with resistance, there is a voltage drop across that resistor. This is why there should never be current on the ground wire. With no current flowing, there is no voltage drop and the voltage potential is the same for everything touching the ground wire. So if you plug in a heater that's drawing 10 amps of current into an electrical outlet that is about 50' (wire length) away from the circuit breakers and then measure the voltage between ground and neutral, you should get a reading of about 1 to 2 volts.

This also explains why the ground and neutral are separated in a sub-panel. If they were connected together like they are in the main panel, the ground and neutral would share the current flowing between the two panels and would have a voltage drop between the two panels. By separating the ground and neutral, the ground wire will not carry any current and the voltage potential of the ground bar in the sub-panel will be the same voltage potential as the ground bar in the main panel. By contrast, there should be a minor voltage difference between the ground bar and the neutral bar in the sub-panel because of the resistance of the wire between the two panels. If the panels are close together, there will be practically no voltage drop because of the distance and likely the large size of the wire between the two panels. But if the panels are some distance apart and the sub-panel has a lot of current running through it, there will be a measurable about of voltage between the neutral bar and ground bar in the sub-panel.
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Unread 04-23-2019, 08:16 PM   #17
cx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph
That power is delivered through a transformer that has no electrical connection between the input from the power company and the and the output delivered to your house.
If you want to say there is no mechanical connection there, Joseph, I'll go with you, but if there were no electrical connection, there would be no transfer of power at all. In this case the electrical connection would be inductive, but it's still an electrical connection.

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Unread 04-23-2019, 10:52 PM   #18
HooKooDoo Ku
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Originally Posted by cx
If you want to say there is no mechanical connection there, Joseph, I'll go with you, but if there were no electrical connection, there would be no transfer of power at all. In this case the electrical connection would be inductive, but it's still an electrical connection.
Yes, it's an inductive connection.

I wasn't sure how to simply say the input conductors and output conductors do not touch each other. After all, the electrons flowing through the input conductors do not flow to the output conductors. Instead, the input electrons "push" the output electrons via magnetism.
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