Electrical Wiring Tips: What is Hot, Neutral, and Ground
Before you perform any project or home improvement on your electrical system, you must have some understanding of how it works. Wiring is how electricity is distributed throughout your home, arguably making it the most crucial part of your electrical system. But how does wiring manage to transport electricity?
The answer becomes clearer when we look at the three roles wiring must fulfill: hot, neutral, and ground. These three components work in tandem to distribute power throughout your home, as well as help maintain electrical safety. It is recommended you understand each component’s capabilities.
For Milwaukee homeowners seeking electrical wiring tips, Roman Electric has assembled a guide on hot, neutral, and ground wire. Follow our guide below to better understand your electrical system!
Hot wire is used as the initial power feed to a circuit. It carries the current from the power source to the outlet. Acting as the first instance of a circuit, they are always carrying electricity, meaning it is dangerous to touch a hot wire while there is a power source feeding it.
Hot wire is identified by its black casing. This is the main color of hot wire for most homes. However, other hot wires can red, blue, or yellow, although these colors can indicate a different function besides powering an outlet. Regardless, all hot wire should be treated the same: do not touch hot wire unless there is no connected and operating power source.
Once hot wire has initialized the beginning of a circuit, there must be another wire to complete the circuit. This role is filled by neutral wire. Neutral wire carries the circuit back to the original power source. More specifically, neutral wire brings the circuit to a ground or busbar usually connected at the electrical panel. This gives currents circulation through your electrical system, which allows electricity to be fully utilized. Additionally, this prevents faulty or excess currents from residing in your outlet.
Neutral wires are identified by their white or gray casing. Although they may not always be circulating an electrical current, they should be handled with as much caution as hot wire.
So, with hot and neutral already being used to make a circuit, what role is left? The answer is safety of course! Ground wire acts as defense against unstable electrical currents. Under normal circuit conditions, ground wire isn’t carrying any current. But when an electrical accident such as a short circuit occurs, the ground wire takes the unstable current away from your electrical system and sends it toward the ground.
Ground wire is easily identified by its green casing. But not all homes may have it. Although it is a requirement by the NEC for newly-built homes, older homes don’t always have a ground wire. To tell if your home has ground wire, check your outlets. If your outlets have three prongs, then your home has ground wire. If there are only two prongs, then ground wire may not be utilized. If the latter is the case, we recommend consulting with Roman Electric to help determine if your home can be retrofitted with new ground wire.
Check back at Roman Electric for more electrical wiring tips! And contact us for affordable and quality wiring and rewiring services. Give us a call at 414-771-5400 for Milwaukee’s leading electrical experts.