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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Re: electrical question

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Author  [Modern View]

07-24-2013 08:37:48

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Until recently, as in 2005 or 2008 code, (I don't remember which) pulling two hots and a neutral to a sub panel, bonding the subpanel and installing a grounding electrode was an accepted and code compliant installation as long as the sub panel was in a separate building from the main panel. It has just been in the last few years that code updates have required a separate grounding conductor be pulled and terminated to the main panel. I am not exactly sure why this change was made, but I am sure the code making panel had a reason behind it. I too have several outbuildings fed just like yours on overhead feeds. As I convert to underground feeds, I am adding the grounding conductor to make things compliant with current code.

Hope this helps clear some confusion.


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dr sportster

07-24-2013 13:53:33

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 Re: electrical question in reply to Samuels68, 07-24-2013 08:37:48  
Because a rod driven into soil, in a fault situation ,with no path for the fault to travel back to the panel the feed is from ,can't always operate the breaker. Now the circuit dumps amerage into the soil in the out building area. This can possibly kill a child playing on the soil or a dog laying there. I can't say I can remember an NEC where it was okay to only have a ground rod . The soil is not a grounding path and a ground rod is only supplemental according to the code. There is an article number which states soil can't be the only path and it is quite an older article [ although I don't have the article number].

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07-24-2013 15:18:32

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 Re: electrical question in reply to dr sportster, 07-24-2013 13:53:33  
Quoting Removed, click Modern View to see

Your recollection made me curious of my own recollection, or possible lack thereof, so when I got home I dug out my old 2002 NEC...

Here is what I came up with in Article250.32(B)2 Covering "Two or more buildings or structures supplied from a common service"

(2)Grounded Conductor. Where (1) an equipment grounding conductor is not run with the supply to the building or strucrue, (2) there are no continuous metallic paths bonded to the grounding system in both buildings or structures involved, and (3) ground-fault procetion of equipment has no been installed on the common ac service, the grounded circuit conductor run with the supply to the building or structure disconnecting means and to the grounding electrode(s) and shall be used for grounding or bonding of equipment, structures, or frames required to be grounded or bonded. The size fo the grounded conductor shall not be smaller than the larger of (1) That required by 220.00 (2)That required by 250.122

I couldn't find my 2005 code book to see if that paragraph was still worded that way then, but in the 2008 NEC that same paragraph was reworded and highlighted indicating a change had been made in that code cycle.

Also in 2002 NEC in 250.4(A)5 is the statement that "The earth shall not be used as the sole equipment grounding conductor or ground-fault current path (exactly as you remember per your post)

Clear as River-bottom mud right? lol :D
Thanks for stimulating my brain for the day!

Work safe!


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John T

07-25-2013 06:13:03

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 Re: electrical question in reply to Samuels68, 07-24-2013 15:18:32  
Thats how it was done prior to NEC changes when you only ran 3 wires, 2 Hots and the Neutral, similar to the twisted triplex from the utility to the home. Of course, now you run 4, 2 Hots, Neutral, Ground for 120/240.

John T

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dr sportster

07-24-2013 18:43:43

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 Re: electrical question in reply to Samuels68, 07-24-2013 15:18:32  
250.4 [A] [5] Electrical raceways,cables,enclosures equipment and other conductive material likely to become energized must be installed in a manner that creates a low -impedance path to facilitate the operation of the circuit overcurrent device or ground detector for high impedance systems Earth not an effective ground path Danger earth does not clear a ground fault. Grounding metal parts to earth does not assist in removing dangerous voltage from ground faults. Bonding electrically conductive materials to each other and to the SUPPLY SOURCE establishes an effective ground fault path.To quickly remove fault current ground path must have low impedence. NOTE comments not in NEC are by Joseph McPartland . I was taught all grounding is to be "targeted: to the main panel. myself.No rods at other buildings. Sorry for any typos too tired to proof read.

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John T

07-25-2013 05:44:14

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 Re: electrical question in reply to dr sportster, 07-24-2013 18:43:43  
Way back years ago I had the HONOR AND PLEASURE to attend an NEC Seminar taught by Joe McPartland. He and Mike Holt are about as good there was.

PS dont forget every buildings electrical service still requires grounding as I best recall, but its been too long for me grrrrrrrrr

As always, fun sparky chat

John T Toooo long retired EE

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Dusty MI

07-24-2013 17:34:59

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 Re: electrical question in reply to Samuels68, 07-24-2013 15:18:32  
It seems to me that one or the reasons for the change was the problem with "stray currents".


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John T

07-25-2013 06:15:54

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 Re: electrical question in reply to Dusty MI, 07-24-2013 17:34:59  
Yep, stray currents, ground loops and the fact its best if the Equipment GroundING Conductor is dedicated ONLY for fault return current so the Neutral (intended for normal return current) doesnt have to carry it

Hope to see you again this winter in Florida???????

John T

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John T

07-24-2013 11:10:44

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 Re: electrical question in reply to Samuels68, 07-24-2013 08:37:48  
Samuels, as to your statement:

"I am not exactly sure why this change was made, but I am sure the code making panel had a reason behind it"

My response is EXACTLY. When I was a design engineer we were required to attend NEC seminars, and some of the gentlemen who taught them were on the NEC panels and explained the process. The group that makes up the NEC is NOT just one man but a panel of the finest experts in the business and believe me when a change is made its ONLY AFTER numerous experts and evidence and study and thorough review have proven its absolutely necessary. Many changes have come about because someone was killed or a building was destroyed and there was a thorough investigation.

The reasons for single point Grounding and NOT mixing and matching and substituting Grounds for Neutrals and Vice Versa and NOT rebonding Neutral to ground at sub panels has to do with the fact the equipment GroundING Conductor is to carry ONLY fault current while the Neutral is intended ONLY for carrying normal return current. Once you start paralelling them they can carry each others current and the outer metal shells of appliances (given the right set of wrong circumstances such as shorts or opens or other faults etc.) which is designed for connection to the Ground Buss can be compromised......

See my answer to JD below for a bit more, but this is too much to cover here what can take books to fully comprehend, and Ive learned enough to trust the NEC experts over the untrained Billy Bobs of the world if it means my life may be at risk

As always yall are free to do as you please, dont take my word for anything, its your life at risk not mine.

John T

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