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  1. #1
    Richard Hedrick's Avatar
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    Question GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    I have a running conversation regarding the proper termination of the white pigtail for a GFCI breaker in the panel. I have the understanding that this pigtail terminates to the neutral bus bar where you would normally find the white wire in a 2 wire circuit. Others insist that the white pigtail terminates on the ground lug. I think that in many installations it would not matter because white and ground are bonded but certainly not in all installation. A definitive answer appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    White wire goes to the neutral bar.

    www.eaton.com/ecm/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&dID=134517

    Try this link for a wiring diagram.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  3. #3
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Have you ever experienced an electric shock? If you did, the shock probably happened because your hand or some other part of your body contacted a source of electrical current and your body provided a path for the electrical current to go to the ground, so that you received a shock.

    An unintentional electric path between a source of current and a grounded surface is referred to as a "ground-fault." Ground faults occur when current is leaking somewhere, in effect, electricity is escaping to the ground. How it leaks is very important. If your body provides a path to the ground for this leakage, you could be electrocuted.

    In essence your become the leak. If you hook the white wire directly to the ground bar then (if it worked) the breaker would not detect a leak and you would have the full 120 to you as in becoming the ground, not the ground fault. The breaker would probably pop but not until you got a much larger and possibly fatal shock.

    No I am not smart I just read that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  4. #4
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Richard,

    Think of it this way. The "hot" wire to the bathroom/hydromassage/whatever is connected to the load terminal on the GFCI circuit breaker. The neutral wire from the bathroom/hydromassage/whatever is connected to the neutral terminal on the same circuit breaker. Now, to complete the circuit, the neutral wire that is permanently attached to the circuit breaker should be attached to the neutral terminal bar.

    Attaching it to the grounding terminal bar would send a neutral current through the grounding conductor back to the service equipment panel. Not good.

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  5. #5
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Why would this make a difference if the GFCI breaker is installed at the service equipment?

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Michael,

    Neutral and ground are (or should be) bonded together at the service equipment (JP will be sooo proud of you for calling it SE!). Around here, only one neutral/ground terminal bar is generally provided in the service equipment panel. So, there would likely be no choice.

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  7. #7
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Well, what i read in the article I got my answer from told me that in fact the main panel is still nothing but a big receptacle. Same applies to the main panel as the the receptacle.

    When we find two prong receptacles in our inspections we have to write it up as in need of repair.

    By hooking the white wire up to ground in the main panel you are turning it into a dedicated ground not just completing a circuit looping it around in alternating current.

    When you put a GFCI on a two wire system with no dedicated ground the only way the GFCI works is by pushing the button, not with a little 10.00 5 miliamp tester. Not to mention you will also test it as an open ground.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Ted,

    You are throwing unnecessary and confusing words into there which do not belong. Michael said it right.

    It is not a "main panel" (that can mean several things, with different wiring methods), Michael correctly stated "if ... service equipment".

    One needs to know if it is "service equipment" or "not service equipment" to correctly answer the question.

    This is because, in "service equipment", the neutral and ground terminal bars are one and the same. Thus, the white goes to the neutral terminal bar, which is also the ground terminal bar.

    HOWEVER ... in "not service equipment" ... the neutral and ground terminal bars are isolated from one another, and that does make a big difference - the white wire from the GFCI still needs to go the the neutral terminal bar, it's just that the ground terminal bar is now a different bar.

    Besides, it has white identification color insulation for a reason, it goes to the neutral terminal bar. If they had wanted it to go to the ground terminal bar it would have a green identification color insulation.

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    So.

    Report a pig-tail to ground in service equipment as contra manufacturer's instructions?

    Or not, as it's functionally adequate"?

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Report a pig-tail to ground in service equipment as contra manufacturer's instructions?

    Define "to ground" in "pig-tail to ground".

    If, as with most service equipment, the neutral terminal bar and the ground terminal bar are one and the same (which was the point I was trying to make in my previous post), then there is "no difference" and the white pigtail is going to neutral (which is also ground).

    Now, however, if the pigtail is going to a different terminal, say a single terminal screwed to the enclosure (i.e., "ground" and not "neutral"), then I would write it up for two reason: 1) the terminal is most likely not properly attached to the enclosure "ground" with a proper screw; 2) it is going to "ground" and not to "neutral".

    If there are two connected terminal bars (like is typically seen, one on one side of the breakers and the other on the other side of the breakers), then "both" terminal bars are "neutral" ... and "bonded to ground", so it would still be on the neutral terminal bar regardless which side it was on. Many times one will see all of the "ground" wires connected to one side and all of the "neutral" wires connected to the other side, even though they are 'the same terminal bar', thus, both sides are "neutral", and both sides are "bonded to ground".

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

  11. #11
    Richard Hedrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Thank you Jerry. I am not an electrician and appreciate the clarification. There is obviously some good banter here about terminology so I would like to get educated.

    I find the following definition of "service equipment"
    Service Equipment - The necessary equipment, usually consisting of a circuit breaker or switch and fuses and their accessories, located near the point entrance of supply conductors to a building and intended to constitute the main control and cutoff means for the supply to the building.

    I don't find a definition of "non-service equipment" and am wondering what that would be? An example or two might just set me on the right track and I will attempt to use the term(s) correctly in the future


  12. #12
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Hedrick View Post
    I find the following definition of "service equipment"
    Service Equipment - The necessary equipment, usually consisting of a circuit breaker or switch and fuses and their accessories, located near the point entrance of supply conductors to a building and intended to constitute the main control and cutoff means for the supply to the building.

    I don't find a definition of "non-service equipment" and am wondering what that would be?

    Richard,

    Service equipment is defined as (by the NEC): (underlining is mine)

    Service Equipment. The necessary equipment, usually consisting of a circuit breaker(s) or switch(es) and fuse(s) and their accessories, connected to the load end of service conductors to a building or other structure, or an otherwise designated area, and intended to constitute the main control and cutoff of the supply.

    In other words, the service equipment is *the first* disconnect(s) - up to 6 are allowed and are required to be grouped at one location - *at the load end of the service entrance conductors* (the meter is at the other end of the service entrance conductors).

    "Not service equipment" is a generic term I use to define ... well ... panels which are not "service equipment".

    In other words, once you have the "service equipment" at the end of the service entrance conductors, feeder conductors feed other panels, and those other panels 'are not service equipment'.

    Referring to 'main panels' and 'sub panels' means nothing as a 'main panel' and a 'sub panel' are both wired the same - the neutral is isolated from ground at both of them.

    You can have 'a panel' as part of the "service equipment" (the main disconnect is located in that panel), in which case the neutral is bonded to ground *at the service equipment*, and, being as the panel is also in the "service equipment" enclosure, the neutrals are bonded to ground at that 'service equipment panel'. Though it is not a "main panel'.

    Some here still insist on calling things 'main panel' and expecting us to know whether or not that is also "service equipment" or not, those same people frequently used the term 'sub panel' and expect us to know whether or not that is also "service equipment" or not.

    To make it simple to remember where the neutral is bonded to ground, remember *at the "service equipment" enclosure*.

    To make it simple to remember where the neutral is *NOT* bonded to ground, i.e., the neutral is isolated from ground, remember *at the "not service equipment" enclosures*.

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

  13. #13
    Richard Hedrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Thank you Jerry.... that REALLY helps me understand the terminology - Rick


  14. #14
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    Default Re: GFCI White Pigtail Connection

    Jerry keep writing, your making sense. Lets just hope some the H.I. will
    stop youing slang words, when writing threads or posting.

    But some H.I. will slip up from time to time. Just be patient.

    Today it was a nice day, so I took my submarine out for spin.

    /S/ Robert


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