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Electrical Wire and Cable

Why Do I Have Lower Voltage Readings?

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Why is there only 48volts between the neutral and ground on an electric outlet? How to Identify the Cause of a Low Voltage Condition of an Outlet.

Low Voltage on an Outlet

Electrical Question: Why is there 48volts between the neutral and ground on an electric outlet?

Additional Comments: Good job!
Background: Ed, a Homeowner from Prairie Village, Kansas.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your Electrical Repair Question Ed.

Low Voltage Readings at an Electrical Outlet

Application: Troubleshooting a Low Volt Problem with an Outlet Circuit.
Skill Level: Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester or Volt Ohm Meter.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and age of the electrical wiring and the access to the circuits and wiring to be evaluated.
Precaution: This is a project that should be performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor and typically requires specific tests of the electrical circuits.
Notice: Repairs to Home Electrical Wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes and installing new or replacement electrical parts or equipment may require a permit and inspections.

How to Identify the Cause of a Low Voltage Condition of an Outlet

Check the Circuit Ground Wire Bond at the Panel

A low voltage condition such as this is typically an indication that the circuit ground wire may not be properly bonded at the panel, or the ground wire may not be attached or properly spliced at a connection point within the circuit.

Check the Ground Wire within the Circuit

If the ground wire is properly bonded at the panel location then additional tests should be performed.

NOTE: A low voltage condition such as this is may be caused by a fault with the neutral wire. The process explained below will help to identify the location of the faulty wire or a connection is causing the low voltage condition. Voltage tests are made at each outlet that is on the same circuit as the affected outlet.

The following is an example of a method used to identify a low voltage problem on an outlet:

Electrical Tests and Observations

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