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Electrical Wire and Cable

The Shocking Truth About Neutral Wires

Why am I getting 120 volts from a neutral wire? Why There May be Voltage on a Neutral Wire. Some of the worst shocks I have ever received while working on live circuits was from neutral wires, here is why and How You Can Prevent Electrical Shock from a Neutral Wire.

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120 Volts on a Neutral Wire
Electrical Question: Why am I getting 120 volts from a neutral wire?

This electrical wiring question came from: Dan, a Homeowner from Kailua, Hawaii.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Dan.
Wow – This is a Loaded Question, so here goes!

Why There May be Voltage on a Neutral Wire

Now for the Shocking Truth about Neutral Wires

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

5 Responses to “The Shocking Truth About Neutral Wires”
  1. Lucy Evans says:

    Great answer to a question more common than some people think!
    We’re often getting similar questions from customers. We’ll point them to your detailed explanation 🙂

  2. Russell says:

    The home I bought was built in 1979. There are several flourescent light fixtures in the ceiling and none of them are working very well. Rather than buying lights, and ballasts, plus time involved to get them working correctly, I decided to replace the old fixtures (2 x 8′ lamps) with new T5 High Output Heavy Duty Strip ( 4 lamp T5HO) as I work in the garage a lot. I am 57, so the added light would be a welcome site.
    Problem: When I removed one of the old fixtures, I discovered the wiring supplied was 14-2 romex (white/black/ground) and the new fixture is set up for 14-3 (white/black/red/ground). Is it possible to use the existing wiring or must new wiring be run?

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Russell,
    I’d like to know a little more about the lights you want to install because if they are 120 volts then the power source should be the same as before. As for the original fluorescent light fixtures, make sure the ground wire is authentic and functional and bonded to the metal housing of the light fixture otherwise the lamps may be sluggish to start especially in cold temperatures. I too am experiencing the same thing in my shop where I have older 4 foot fixtures, the old shop light style, and I am having a pill of a time with lamps, they just do not last, and with the new increase in the cost for replacement lamps I am rethinking how I might upgrade, so I too would love more info about the fixtures you are planning to install.
    I look forward to your reply,

  4. Forrest Brown says:

    I’ve always found it more useful, particularly in 3-phase 4-wire situations if the “Neutral” was referred to as a grounded conductor. If you consider it as a conductor, just like the “hot” wire, you’ll treat it with more understanding and respect.

  5. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Forrest,
    You are absolutely correct – I totally agree!
    Thanks for your comment,