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Thread: Split neutral

  1. #1
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    Default Split neutral

    Hey everyone. This is a photo of the neutral conductor in the main panel. I know every neutral requires its own terminal but wasn't sure if this is allowed. There is no terminal big enough for this wire. Is there a code against this? Thanks!

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert W View Post
    Hey everyone. This is a photo of the neutral conductor in the main panel. I know every neutral requires its own terminal but wasn't sure if this is allowed. There is no terminal big enough for this wire. Is there a code against this? Thanks!
    Hi Robert W.:

    Boy, you are vague with your name and location, aren't you? Would be more friendly if you completed your info. Thanks.

    Well, I have a document that talks about UL 67: “An individual terminal shall be provided for the connection of each branch-circuit neutral conductor.” I don't actually have UL 67.
    As far as the NEC. 408.41 Grounded Conductor Terminations. Each grounded conductor shall terminate within the panelboard in an individual terminal that is not also used for another conductor.

    It would also be good to check the panel manufacturer's installation instructions to see if this is allowed. I suspect not.

    Generally, the code and manufacturer's instructions are permissive. If they say you can do it, you can. If it is not addressed, it is not allowed.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Gunner , He is in California

    I can honestly say , I have never seen this one before , I am not sure I have ever seen this addressed in a code book either

    I will give it an A for creativity and neatness

    My preference would be a lug big enough and they sell them and have for some time (like 60 + years) so that's not an excuse and would have been the proper way to connect it.

    From a Engineering view point it will handle just a little less power - not enough that it is an issue

    I would suggest that your client hire an electrician to evaluate the electrical system if you saw anything else like this - I might say - Due to unconventional wiring practices it would be advisable to have an electrician evaluate the entire electrical system. If you looked at the rest of the system in depth (deeper than you might normally and feel this is the only thing , I would make a minor remark about being unconventional but nothing else was discovered. Also it appears the box has some corrosion - Age or wet location - I might also suggest that the new owners consider replacing the box at some time in the future


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Looks like a splitter trough and not a panel.

    Last edited by Raymond Wand; 05-11-2015 at 04:03 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Looks like a splitter trough and not a panel.
    A wider angle photo would help as that does look like a wire gutter, with what possibly may be a meter or service equipment below it.

    A conductor must be terminated into one terminal only and only one conductor per terminal.

    Additionally, there are neutrals and grounds in that terminal bar, and they should only be connected together (neutral bonded to ground) at the service equipment - which may be below the wire gutter, but which is not the wire gutter.

    Yes, that is wrong - almost everything in there.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Looks like a splitter trough and not a panel.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    A wider angle photo would help as that does look like a wire gutter, with what possibly may be a meter or service equipment below it.
    Raymond & Jerry,

    You may well be right. I assumed it was a sideways pic of the service entrance side a combination service panel. Like this one:

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Raymond & Jerry,

    You may well be right. I assumed it was a sideways pic of the service entrance side a combination service panel. Like this one:
    Gunnar,

    I went back and looked at the photo again - I think you are the one who is correct ... look at the lap of the cover from the left - it is lapped over the cover on the right, indicating that the left is "up" and the right is "down" (so the lap sheds rain water).

    But, if that is the service side of a combination enclosure ... it still isn't right ... and if it is the panel side of a combination enclosure ... it still isn't right and ... where is the panel?

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    I had intended to post this same question because I recently saw the same thing. It was of interest because I recently had to replace the feeder cable to the panel for my office. It was later Sunday afternoon when I realized that there was not an available terminal large enough for the neutral conductor. I trimmed the end, which I know is wrong, just to get power back, but was thinking about doing the same thing as in the photo.

    Why did I know that Jerry would rain on my parade?


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ... But, if that is the service side of a combination enclosure ... it still isn't right ... and if it is the panel side of a combination enclosure ... it still isn't right and ... where is the panel?
    Jerry,

    As you said, a wider angle would be helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    ... Why did I know that Jerry would rain on my parade?
    Mark,

    Are you implying Jerry is the rain man? Definitely not. No. Definitely not.

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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Sorry I'll get on the info. The picture is sideways, I was in a hurry when I posted it I appreciate all the info I knew you guys would help.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Here is the panel.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    I thought it might be that type of box. I can't remember the manufacturer, but I have seen them in my area in AZ about 60 or so times. All were in homes built in the late 70's to early 80's. And almost all of them (panels) had problems. Loose breakers, hot (temp) breakers, burnt breakers, etc. In one panel I saw the hot buss bar scorched/melted where breakers had been removed and relocated. After that I always check carefully for hot or loose breakers in this panel. If the home is vacant I might pull loose breakers and almost always find damaged/scorched bus bars.

    I've also noted that these panels seem to rust more than any other, like the one in your last photo.

    Love the comment suggestion by Dwight: Due to unconventional wiring practices it would be advisable to have an electrician evaluate the entire electrical system. If you looked at the rest of the system in depth (deeper than you might normally and feel this is the only thing , I would make a minor remark about being unconventional but nothing else was discovered.

    I have very similar comments, but have had situations where the 'unconventional' wording would have been ideal. Thanks, Dwight.


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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    This is a far better alternative than shaving the wire. Very common standard operating procedure. There are mechanical reducers available for wire with set screw fasteners, but In terms of actual contact area in the terminal bar I think this method may actually be superior.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Locurcio View Post
    This is a far better alternative than shaving the wire.
    Not really ... what is one terminal was slightly loose or had a bad connection? Now you've lost HALF of the conductor.

    Very common standard operating procedure.
    Should NEVER be "common standard operating procedure" FOR ANYONE or used ANYWHERE and should NEVER be accepted.

    There are terminals which are made by the manufacturer of the panelboard which are designed to be mounted to the terminal bar to accept conductors of the sizes approved.

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    I agree with Jerry , this practice should not be accepted, we are talking chump change for the right buss bar maybe $10.00 or $20.00 which tells me the electrician was not paying attention to details so most likely something else will not be right.
    Jerry your argument that if one half loosens up you only have half tbe capacity sounds more like an argument for this practice (better to have half the capacity than none - gotcha)


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Split neutral

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Doane View Post
    Jerry your argument that if one half loosens up you only have half tbe capacity sounds more like an argument for this practice (better to have half the capacity than none - gotcha)
    Except that if you do it right and it gets loose and you have no capacity ... the lights go out and you start looking for a problem - the real gotcha.

    To properly apply the splitting philosophy ... EACH strand should be in its OWN terminal, that way you only lose one strand if a terminal is not properly made up - gotcha back.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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