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Old 08-06-2019, 03:20 PM   #1
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Default Another wire color question

First post here, thanks for the info!

I’ve googled the heck outta this question – no closer than before I started.

It’s really related to NFPA79 and industrial panels, but I have to start somewhere, and there’s no “panel builder” forum I can find.

What color is the Grounded Conductor (in this case, Neutral) after you switch it?

Now – I know many of you will say – NEVER SWITCH NEUTRAL. But exceptions are permitted if you switch the hot and neutral simultaneously, and there is no way to switch neutral alone. (Don’t get
caught up in the silliness of switching it – it happens – this is just about the wire colors.)

So – a two pole breaker – white is grounded conductor going in…what color coming out? After it comes out, it is not – my opinion – a grounded conductor. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not.

I’ve seen many references to RED with white tracer on panel blogs, but no real standard to reference it.

Any ideas?
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Old 08-06-2019, 03:24 PM   #2
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http://forums.mrplc.com/index.php?/f...anel-building/


Control Panel Building

Use this forum to ask questions about building control panels, NEC codes, NFPA 79 code questions etc.
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Old 08-06-2019, 03:26 PM   #3
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Switching the neutral happens all the time in Division I situations.

I don't see any purpose for changing away from white or grey for such a switch-leg.

If you're fussy -- go with white with a pin-stripe in some odd color.

If and where this is done, it must be well noted by labelling, as it's not common.
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Old 08-06-2019, 04:29 PM   #4
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Thanks - both of you - there's actually a question on Mr. Plc about this very thing - a month ago - (not posted by me -just dumb luck) but no real answer.


I agree changing from white is not needed, maybe, but I'm really looking for a standard to declare the downstream leg of a switched grounded conductor is, in fact, NOT a grounded conductor. Or is it?
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Old 08-06-2019, 04:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shipcamein View Post
I agree changing from white is not needed, maybe, but I'm really looking for a standard to declare the downstream leg of a switched grounded conductor is, in fact, NOT a grounded conductor. Or is it?
Well technically, when the conductor is in the circuit, it is, in fact a grounded conductor and must be color coded/marked accordingly. No? The switching has no bearing on the intended use of that conductor.
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Old 08-06-2019, 09:09 PM   #6
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Well technically, when the conductor is in the circuit, it is, in fact a grounded conductor and must be color coded/marked accordingly. No? The switching has no bearing on the intended use of that conductor.

Absolutely!
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Old 08-06-2019, 09:38 PM   #7
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If it is open, it isn't grounded, true, but it also isn't being used if it's open. So white.
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Old 08-07-2019, 03:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shipcamein View Post
Thanks - both of you - there's actually a question on Mr. Plc about this very thing - a month ago - (not posted by me -just dumb luck) but no real answer.


I agree changing from white is not needed, maybe, but I'm really looking for a standard to declare the downstream leg of a switched grounded conductor is, in fact, NOT a grounded conductor. Or is it?
Technically, you're right, until it's switched into the circuit, it's not a grounded conductor. it's a switch leg. But, it's purpose is as a grounded conductor so it must be white (or grey) but it should be distinguished from a grounded conductor by a tracer, since it isn't grounded.
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Old 08-07-2019, 08:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shipcamein View Post
Thanks - both of you - there's actually a question on Mr. Plc about this very thing - a month ago - (not posted by me -just dumb luck) but no real answer.


I agree changing from white is not needed, maybe, but I'm really looking for a standard to declare the downstream leg of a switched grounded conductor is, in fact, NOT a grounded conductor. Or is it?

It would depend on the definitions, the NEC may be a little unclear.



Quote:


Ground.The earth.


Grounded (Grounding).Connected (connecting) to ground or to a conductive body that extends the ground connection.



Grounded, Solidly.Connected to ground without inserting any resistor or impedance device.


Grounded Conductor. A system or circuit conductor that is intentionally grounded.

I could see reading this so that if it isn't intentionally grounded at all times, it's not a grounded conductor. But



IMO, it's MUCH more important that the color coding has to do with voltage, anyone working on this would probably prefer white or gray to show that in circuit it's equipotential to ground. It would be helpful to put a stripe on the white or gray so that you know something's different if it's on the switched portion. But I'd say anything on the grounded side of the load is grounded.
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Old 08-07-2019, 10:12 AM   #10
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Thanks, Everyone, for the input...


Unofficially, I agree with nearly all of you, but officially, I have to follow the standard –

The White Wire indicates to the maintenance man that it’s grounded, and should never – ever – have a voltage on it, relative to ground. This is commonly (but not always) the neutral.

If there is a chance that my two-pole switching device malfunctions – and opens only the “white” side – now the white wire is ungrounded, and HOT.

(The part where you use your common sense and your DMM doesn’t play a role in this question. It’s about the standards and wire colors.)

You’ve all pretty much hit on it – the NEC says “grounded” means GROUNDED, not “usually” grounded, or grounded whenever the switch is closed.

It also says white is for the grounded conductor. Thus the question.

I’ve seen the reference for “red with white tracer” on several other random blogs and posts – but no standard or reference for where that came from.
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Old 08-07-2019, 01:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shipcamein View Post
Thanks - both of you - there's actually a question on Mr. Plc about this very thing - a month ago - (not posted by me -just dumb luck) but no real answer.


I agree changing from white is not needed, maybe, but I'm really looking for a standard to declare the downstream leg of a switched grounded conductor is, in fact, NOT a grounded conductor. Or is it?
It is grounded when it is in service when the switch or CB is closed, otherwise, it is just a white conductor.

IMO this is a concern that has no basis for worry..
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:36 PM   #12
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Brian John – I don’t totally disagree with you – it’s functionally a non-issue. It matters exclusively to whoever (someday, not today) inspects my industrial panel.

re: my original post – this is about following NFPA79 (industrial panel builders) so I’m not really in the right spot, but you guys are about as wide and good of source as it gets.

Let’s make it extra irritating so you can share my aggravation:

What if the grounded conductor (it IS neutral, this case) goes to the normally open contacts of a contactor? Is the other side white? What if THAT wire leads to six parallel contactors, all n.o.? How about a 3rd set of contactors? What if it’s only
grounded 3% of the day?

At some point in this process – that wire cannot be considered the “grounded conductor” in the “standards” sense. And in that case – should not be white. Or should it?????
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Old 08-07-2019, 06:03 PM   #13
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Shipcamein. Sorry about the double PM.....
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Old 08-07-2019, 07:31 PM   #14
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A white wire is a white wire. In controls you don't change the wire color you change the wire numbers. I would be upset if I went to troubleshoot and found the white wire changed color due to switching reasons.
White with a orange tracer is used when it comes from a different source.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:18 PM   #15
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Agreed, stay with white -- and then specifically label it.

That's the play.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:29 AM   #16
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HI All
some useless commentary from far away:
Yes i agree with cowboy and Telsa the color stay the same and normally the number also stay the same, the switch in the circuit does not change the fact that this is no longer the grounded wire in the network even if it is not grounded if switched.

other explanation is the fact that it is insulated wire because if we have a solid grounded wire without switch it can be bare copper wire

the person working in the future on the panel would probably have the knowledge that it is possible that the grounded wire can be alive (hot) if switched - otherwise he/she will have the knowledge after they have played where they shouldn't have
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:54 AM   #17
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Quote:
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the color stay the same and normally the number also stay the same

Really, same wire number both sides of a switch?!? That would never work for me.
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:34 PM   #18
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Really, same wire number both sides of a switch?!? That would never work for me.
hi Splatz I don't know if you are joking or not

but Yes we use the same number right through the network (i am talking about transformer protection and breaker panels) if the trip coil wire is j11( red phase 110v dc +)and J51 (neutral dc -) it will stay J11 and J51 right through the circuit
it is possable that in the Panel wiring You do, it changes when it goes through a switch ( and i can understand why)but in my line we do it
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:38 PM   #19
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John Valdes – no worries on the double PM – will do so as soon as I’m in front of a PC instead of my not-so-smart-phone.

For the rest: Wow, great input.

Following NFPA79, you can use numbers to identify wires, and in that case, it would indeed change numbers after any switch, fuse, etc. I think (hope) this is
“normal” for most of us.

Also – if you choose NOT to use numbers, but INSTEAD use colors to identify conductors – this is permitted – and you should follow the standard for guidance on color selection.

There are two exceptions.

  • Grounding wires must be green (or green/yellow) whether it is numbered or not, and no other wires except those can be green. (some exceptions for cables…maybe)
  • The grounded conductor must be white – whether it is numbered or not.

So extrapolation and logic would say – if I change NUMBERS after a switch – and Point 2 is about identifying wires BY COLOR in ADDITION TO A NUMBER – then it stands to reason it would change color after a switch, too.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
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If it is open, it isn't grounded, true, but it also isn't being used if it's open. So white.
It’s not grounded or current carrying when the switch is open.


You need a Waite that changes colors like the coffee much I got for Father’s Day that Telly’s you if your coffee is hot or not b the colour..

Colour for our Canadian friends
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