Live, neutral, and ground wirings are domestic wiring terms. Live and neutral carry sufficient voltages and currents to kill. Today, we will discuss whether you can connect live and neutral together or not.
A short circuit happens if the live wire connects with the neutral wire. Both wires will carry huge amounts of currents when combined. It further creates excessive heat, which is impossible for the circuit to handle. As a result, the fuse blows and shuts off.
This guide will help you understand whether live and neutral can be connected or not, the results of their connection, and some precautions to take while working with electrical wirings.
What are the different basic electrical wirings?
Before you understand whether or not to connect the live and neutral, it is important to understand what these wires are.
Though there are many wires, we will discuss the circuit’s three basic types of wires – hot or live wire, a neutral wire, and ground wire.
Hot or live wire
The hot wire is the initial power feed to the circuit.
It carries the current from the main power to the other outlets of your houses.
Since they are the first representative of the circuit, hot wires always carry current.
It means they are more dangerous than the other two wires.
So, they should not be touched bare, especially when the power source feeds them.
In most cases, the hot wires are black.
But now, they also come in red, blue, or yellow.
When the hot wire carries the current, the hot wire will need another wire to complete the circuit.
The neutral wire does this role.
Once the hot wire sends the current to the neutral wire, the neutral wire sends back the current to the original power source.
The process circulates the current and makes it fully utilized.
Besides, neutral wires also prevent faulty or excessive currents from flowing through the outlets.
Neutral wires are usually white.
Now, it is time for safety.
Ground wires do not have any currents.
But, when any short circuit occurs, the current takes an alternative path, i.e., the ground wire, and flows through this wire.
So, instead of the current flowing through your body, it gets flowed through the ground wire, thus saving you from severe electrical shocks.
Grounding wires were introduced much later.
In the old houses, there was no grounding.
The ground wires are green or bare copper wires.
Let’s see what happens when live and neutral are connected.
Also read: Can Ground And Neutral Be Connected Together?
Can I connect live wire and neutral wire?
The black wire is the live or hot wire that carries the current from the main power source.
It is the positive one.
The white wire is the neutral wire. It is the return path of the current, where the current is taken back to the original power source.
It is the negative one.
Both wire carries currents.
Since the wires carry a lot of currents, you should not connect them.
However, you might see that the black and white wires are sometimes connected.
The whites are not always neutral.
Some white wires can be hot wires, for example, in light or fan switches.
It is mostly seen in cases of the wired-switch loop.
That is why they are connected.
What happens if I connect the neutral wire with the live wire?
If the neutral and live wires connect, a huge amount of current will be carried by both wires together.
It can further heat the circuit so much that it will become unable to handle such heat and currents.
Since there is no resistance, there will be a short circuit in the end.
Since they are wires with different roles, they should not be connected.
Neutral wires are white.
But you will find that sometimes white wires are connected to the live wires.
It is because all white wires are not neutral.
Some can be hot wires connected to make a wired-switch loop.
However, if the neutral and hot wires are not connected to any power sources, then connecting the two won’t do any damage.
The short circuit will occur once the power is on and the wires get activated.
When this happens, you will see a large spark, a fuse blow, and breaker tripping.
Either you connect the wires actively or activate them after connecting them, the results will be the same.
There is one condition where you might not see any short circuit while connecting live and neutral.
If you connect a live wire with a neutral wire through some applications, the current will pass from the live wire to the load and from the load to the neutral wire.
In such a condition, the load will have some resistance for which the voltage will drop.
So this will further reduce the power flow and prevent short circuits.
Can I use neutral wire as an alternative to live wire?
Some thoughts come to mind when people run out of wires.
They think of using the neutral wire as an alternative to the live wire.
Since both the wires carry currents, they think they can use neutral instead of black.
The steps are mostly expected from people who have half-ideas about the wire roles and want to do the job themselves.
Remove this thought from your mind, and never approach such dangerous thoughts.
If you use neutral wire as an alternative to the hot wire, you will end up causing a fire hazard.
Do not ever mess up with electrical wirings if you are naive and do not have any concepts about their workings.
But sometimes, a neutral wire is turned into a live wire or connected to hotwire to create a switch loop.
But, it would be best to use it after you know how it works.
A loop is used to create one or multiple switches to operate for only one particular appliance, for example, a light or fan.
But, since using one wire as an alternative to another can be quite dangerous, there are several other ways to create a switch loop.
Can I connect 1 neutral wire to many live wires?
As I said, you cannot connect any neutral wires to live wires or vice versa. It causes dangerous short circuits.
But, it is said that you can connect 1 neutral wire to 2 live wires if those 2 live wires have been taken from 2 different poles.
If the voltage of these two poles is 180 degrees out of the phase, the current the neutral wire gets will be the difference between the 2 currents in the live wires.
For example, if you connect 12 amp and 9 amp live wires with a neutral wire, the neutral wire will see 3 amp of current.
So, in that case, the neutral and live wires will not carry excessive amounts of currents.
As a result, there are fewer chances of short circuits, and the neutral wire will safely carry the current.
But, if the 2 live wires are taken from the same pole, the neutral wire will have to face the currents of both the live wires.
For example, if one live wire is 12 amps and another is 9 amps, the neutral wire will have to see 21 amps.
It is too much current for the neutral to carry and the circuit to handle.
As a result, the circuit will heat up and end up with a short circuit and probably a fire hazard.
Essential things to consider while working with wirings:
Every person doesn’t rely on electrical workers to fix small things in the house.
If you want to do the job yourself, there are certain things that you must maintain.
Working with electrical wirings is not a cup of tea for everyone.
It is not as easy as making a cup of coffee.
You must follow some guidelines given below to work properly without any risks:
- Do not ever touch any wirings in wet hands. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a hurry or just reckless. It would be best always to start working with dry hands. Always wear safety gloves if your hands take time to dry or you are in a hurry.
- Even if your hands are dry, wearing gloves is necessary. It can help from getting an electric shock. However, gloves can’t protect you from bigger shocks. But it will protect you to some extent.
- Please don’t mess up any wires at the circuits if you don’t know much about their roles and functions, especially if you are naive.
- While working with the wires, don’t work alone. Take help from someone and keep the person beside you as your assistant.
- Whenever you are working, always keep the main power switch off. Though some experts work with the switches on, you should not do it. The experts do it because they know how things work and which wires are dangerous and harmless when main switches are on.
These suggestions are helpful in all situations.
But, they are more helpful while attaching a 15 amp switch for a 20 amp circuit.
Another suggestion I would like to give is about gloves.
Consider wearing thick nitrile gloves, not random gloves, when you work with these electrical wirings and all on your own.
Here are some suggestions:
- Disposable Nitrile Gloves – Latex Free, Powder Free Medical Exam Gloves
- Heavy Duty gloves, Infi-Touch Strong and Tough
What to do if black wires are connected to white wires?
Black wires are the live wires, and white wires are the neutral wires.
Some white wires are hot wires.
That is why seeing the black and white wires connected is common.
First, if your white wire is the hot wire, mark it for identification.
Either mark it with a black marker or wrap it with black tape.
If the wires are connected, and you want to move a light fixture, do not move the wires.
Combine the new fixtures with the white and black wires connected to the existing fixtures.
If you replace a switched outlet and find the white and black wires are connected, wire out the outlet and shift to the tab with the black side and break it.
Don’t bother the tab on the white side.
The direction for working should start from the wire nut to the hot empty screw.
If you are clueless about these things, call an expert.
Doing things wrong can cause a short circuit and fire hazard. You can even receive a short circuit.
Connecting neutral wire with the live wire is a very bad idea.
Since both carry currents, joining them together creates a huge amount of currents which becomes impossible for the circuit to handle. It has excessive heating, short circuit, sparks, and fuse blow.
But, sometimes, the wires are connected with safety precautions to create switch loops. Sometimes, one neutral is connected to two lives, provided the lives are taken from different poles.
However, it is not recommended. It is better to stay connected with the same wires category, like live-live, neutral-neutral, and ground-ground.
Sometimes, white and black wires remain connected in the circuit. It is because some white wires are hot, which is why they remain connected with the black hot wires.
Can I connect the live wire or neutral wire to the ground wire?
It is the worst idea to connect live or neutral to the ground.
Ground doesn’t have currents like the live and neutral wires.
Connecting live or neutral with the ground wire will make the ground a live wire.
As a result, the ground won’t be able to save you from electrocution and short circuits.
Can I tie-swap live and neutral wires?
You can do it, and there won’t be a problem.
The error will exist, and your life can go on for months, but it can be very dangerous.
So, it would be best not to take such risky steps.
Swapping the two will reduce electrical safety and cause severe noise and interference issues.
Besides, there is no purpose behind doing such things.
Reference: BASICS OF HOME ELECTRICAL WIRING, Electrical wiring Wikipedia.