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  1. #1
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    Default Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    I have always been told that neutrals and grounds are to be separated in a subpanel. In the last couple of days I have see two subs that were approved by Washington's Labor and Industry that have neutrals/ground tied together. The approved stickers were clearly placed and they were subpanels.

    Is there a case where its OK to have neutrals/grounds together in a sub?

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    Rick Bunzel
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  2. #2
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    Plano, Texas
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Not just separated but he neutrals should be floating and the grounds bonded.
    I think it's OK in Texas if the panel is located in a cell block on Death Row.
    These are generally wired by " a buddy that knows a lot about electricity" and in one inspection I did it was done by an Electrical Engineer.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Bunzel View Post
    I have always been told that neutrals and grounds are to be separated in a subpanel. In the last couple of days I have see two subs that were approved by Washington's Labor and Industry that have neutrals/ground tied together. The approved stickers were clearly placed and they were subpanels.

    Is there a case where its OK to have neutrals/grounds together in a sub?
    Downstream panels are to be wired with the neutrals floating and isolated and the grounds bonded to the panel.

    Did they also approve that double tap on the top lugs? I do not give much credence to code approval stickers on anything. About the only thing they are good for is obtaining the age or when the work was done.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  4. #4
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    Apr 2007
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    state of jefferson
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Downstream panels are to be wired with the neutrals floating and isolated and the grounds bonded to the panel.

    Did they also approve that double tap on the top lugs? I do not give much credence to code approval stickers on anything. About the only thing they are good for is obtaining the age or when the work was done.
    scott ,
    i can say the same thing about some hi approved stuff but i would be guilty of not showing too much class!


  5. #5
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
    Roger Frazee Guest

    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Bunzel View Post
    I have always been told that neutrals and grounds are to be separated in a subpanel. In the last couple of days I have see two subs that were approved by Washington's Labor and Industry that have neutrals/ground tied together. The approved stickers were clearly placed and they were subpanels.

    Is there a case where its OK to have neutrals/grounds together in a sub?
    Yes in the US Navy .....

    First photo I suspect is service equipment. There is a panel to the right of it .. what is that panel?

    Second photo might be a panel downstream of the Service Equipment. If these panels are in the State of Washington they are under state wide code and a 4 wire feeder to panels other than service equipment has been required I believe since 2002 whether the panel is in a detached building or not.

    If that second photo is of a panel in the same building that contains the service equipment then it is wired incorrectly as far as neutral and ground separation. It must have a 4 wire feeder.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    BRIAN

    why would you say that reply are you a city inspector???

    cvf


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by brian schmitt View Post
    scott ,
    i can say the same thing about some hi approved stuff but i would be guilty of not showing too much class!
    Brian, home inspectors do not approve or disapprove. We just report what we find. Big difference especially when you put a code approval sticker on an object.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  8. #8
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    Virginia Beach, VA
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    My electrical history is a tad weak, but I believe that secondary panelboards and the feeds to them only required a three wire feed prior to the 2008 cycle of code.

    2008 NEC required a four wire feed and isolation of ground and neutral.

    So if the panelboard was installed prior to the adoption of the 2008 NEC, the installation is fine and would not have to be updated unless the feed is being changed.


  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Farrell View Post
    My electrical history is a tad weak, but I believe that secondary panelboards and the feeds to them only required a three wire feed prior to the 2008 cycle of code.

    2008 NEC required a four wire feed and isolation of ground and neutral.

    So if the panelboard was installed prior to the adoption of the 2008 NEC, the installation is fine and would not have to be updated unless the feed is being changed.
    But the installation is not fine. Be careful what you say here, it can be misinterpreted. Just watch this one fly.
    To give the municipal inspector a break, I will propose that the original installation was added to AFTER the approval. If you've never seen that, you ain't seen nuttin yet.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  10. #10
    Robert Kulakowski's Avatar
    Robert Kulakowski Guest

    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Rick,

    I have problems with both panels. Do not quote code. Don't blame anyone. Just state what you see. Bonding, double taps, etc. Recommend that the electrical panels be inspected and repaired as necessary by a competent licensed electrical contractor. You do not know when these items were done or by who.

    Generally Neutrals and Grounds should not be bonded in sub-panel applications. Separate buildings should have a separate driven ground rod as well. Subs in the same building do not need a separate ground rod.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    John,

    Thanks for the quick turn-around but I am at a loss to understand your response.

    The question was, is this installation (regarding the mixing of Neutral and Ground conductors in a downstream panelboard) The answer is dependant on when this installation was completed and what code cycle was in force at that time.

    What did I miss state?

    Last edited by Donald Farrell; 06-21-2011 at 08:46 AM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    I'm sorry, but code has to be quoted because that is what makes the installation compliant! If it is not compliant, than you have no alternative but to write it up.

    John, yes, I have seen shoddy work, particularly from DIYers. However, if the downstream panelboard was correct at installation time, then I do not have a dog in that fight.

    If the work is dangerous, then it is incumbent on me to correct the errors. If the errors and significant enough, then it would be incumbent on me to redo the installation. In that event, I would be bound by the current level of code as adopted by the AHJ.

    In my case, that would be 2008 NEC, because that is the adopted code level here in Virginia.

    Last edited by Donald Farrell; 06-21-2011 at 08:17 AM. Reason: Left a word out

  13. #13
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    Apr 2007
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    state of jefferson
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    BRIAN

    why would you say that reply are you a city inspector???
    charlie, yes, ahj
    cvf
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Brian, home inspectors do not approve or disapprove. We just report what we find. Big difference especially when you put a code approval sticker on an object.
    scott,
    not about a 25 cent sticker. it is about levels of expertise and knowledge. code inspectors and hi's should know what the heil they are looking if they are making life affectiing decisions.


  14. #14
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    This is a Square D panel and with this brand you will find a label on the panel that will tell you exactly how it should be wired if it is a downstream panel. Square D even provides a diagram.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  15. #15
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    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Farrell View Post
    My electrical history is a tad weak, but I believe that secondary panelboards and the feeds to them only required a three wire feed prior to the 2008 cycle of code.

    2008 NEC required a four wire feed and isolation of ground and neutral.

    So if the panelboard was installed prior to the adoption of the 2008 NEC, the installation is fine and would not have to be updated unless the feed is being changed.
    Donald,

    The neutral has been required to be separated ("isolated" is a better and more accurate word) from ground at the load side of the service equipment on from back around the mid 1920's as I recall - I looked it up once and recall that the neutral was isolated from ground back to then, possibly even earlier.

    I believe what you are thinking of is the feeders from one building to another building, the neutral is required to be isolated from ground at the second building since the 2008 NEC and possibly the 2005 NEC (but I think it was new in the 2008 NEC - I *know* that someone will correct this and offer the correct answer, which is good, because then maybe I can remember it again ).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Maryland
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    Default Re: Neutral/Ground in Subpanel

    Correct Jerry, the 08 removed the 3 wire feeder option to an outbuilding.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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