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Balancing phases & checking for saftey at the breaker panel in USA

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  • Balancing phases & checking for saftey at the breaker panel in USA

    bare with me i want to use least amount of technical terms as possible that way we dont have differing opinions on what a term means

    im not even totally sure what phase means but as i watch this youtube video
    the man has a red, black and white neutral wire connected

    NOT SURE IF IM CORRECT ITS HARD TO SEE but he starts out with having a red and black wire connected to a circuit breaker switch , this circuit breaker switch has I THINK two switches on it, and it DOESNOT have a bar across to trip them at the same time. So i guess you call this a 2 pole switch WITHOUT A BAR

    so when he does the test he notices the neutral wire carries an excess of 22 amps wich is bad for the wire , since each wire in the sleeve of jacket can only hold 20 amps maximum per wire he then decides to split the two loads (the hair dryer and vacuum) into two seperate phases, wich he calls phase A and phase b or TWO single switch one pole circuit breaker switches???

    this seems to resolve the issue

    the 2 parts in bold are what i think i am seeing in the video please let me know if i am correct

    Im guessing everyone should do this test for electrical saftey in every home just to be sure. i like to know 100 percent everything is good. Would you say after doing this test that this is a sufficient checking for residential phase balancing

    if not what other steps can i take to further check phase balancing in simple non technical terms. like i said i barely understand what phase means, but by the video i think each circuit breaker is a phase

    thanks electrical champions [VIDEO]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgzlT1b4-P4[/VIDEO]

  • #2
    this video seems good , would this vid get the nod from the electrical champions here or no, is it missing something or not throrough enough?
    [VIDEO]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jGbse7wa30[/VIDEO]

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Johnny,

      I am afraid to give you any more advice because you might take that advice and do something wrong and burn your house down. You really need to ask your friends and neighbors or relatives or someone you trust to recommend a good electrician.

      I am not at your home and so can't be sure of what is going on, but from what you have said and shown you MAY have a floating neutral which is very dangerous if that is what you have.

      The two videos you posted have nothing to do with a floating neutral. Those videos are about balancing the current load between phases. A floating or disconnected neutral can cause a severe voltage imbalance between phases and can also let the neutral wire as well as the hot wires all rise to several hundred volts above ground. I have seen this with my own eyes. The effect is real and dangerous. The fact that you confuse load balancing with a floating neutral is clear evidence you should get a qualified electrician to check out your wiring. I am not trying to put you down at all but something like this is not like working with some 12 volt batteries. I worked in industry as an industrial maintenance electrician and had to go back to school regularly to keep up with code changes and new safety rules.

      Please, Please get some professional help with this problem.

      Respectfully,
      Carroll
      Just because someone disagrees with you does NOT make them your enemy. We can disagree without attacking someone. This means YOU especially BroMikey.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by citfta View Post
        Hi Johnny,

        I am afraid to give you any more advice because you might take that advice and do something wrong and burn your house down. You really need to ask your friends and neighbors or relatives or someone you trust to recommend a good electrician.

        I am not at your home and so can't be sure of what is going on, but from what you have said and shown you MAY have a floating neutral which is very dangerous if that is what you have.

        The two videos you posted have nothing to do with a floating neutral. Those videos are about balancing the current load between phases. A floating or disconnected neutral can cause a severe voltage imbalance between phases and can also let the neutral wire as well as the hot wires all rise to several hundred volts above ground. I have seen this with my own eyes. The effect is real and dangerous. The fact that you confuse load balancing with a floating neutral is clear evidence you should get a qualified electrician to check out your wiring. I am not trying to put you down at all but something like this is not like working with some 12 volt batteries. I worked in industry as an industrial maintenance electrician and had to go back to school regularly to keep up with code changes and new safety rules.

        Please, Please get some professional help with this problem.

        Respectfully,
        Carroll
        no i was not talking about a floating neutral in this post. im inquiring about balancing phases
        dont always assume i wont lecture u if u dont lecture me

        i seek truth and want to check all my wiring for phase balance this way i can help teach others if u help teach me. i would like to bother friends family and neighbors and check their wiring too. i like knowing more than i like money. money doesnt buy me happyness what so ever . what makes the world good is knowing things
        i certainly dont do something unless im absofreakingloootly know what im doing
        thanks

        Comment


        • #5
          if you need more current than just one circuit offers (assuming where you live has 120V power that enters your house at 240V 2 phase), you can use 2 circuits to get higher current 120V,
          but you have to make sure they are the same phase, if you connect 2 together that are out of phase it will do bad things.
          to test this measure the voltage between your 2 circuits before connecting them together, it should be zero volts between the 2 hot lines you test, and 120V from each hot line to neutral or ground.
          you want to make sure that the wires on the 2 circuits are the same size and somewhat close on length so that they share the current well.
          (if your power comes from 208V 3 phase, each line will be 120V, but between any 2 you will get 208V (if my memory is correct), but you can likely still find 2 circuits that are the same phase)

          now if you are looking to get 240V at the same current, you want to find 2 circuits that are out of phase, you will take the 2 hot wires and use them, neutral is not used at all. to test to see if you got it correct, you test the voltage from one hot to another and should get 240V, and each hot to ground should be 120V

          the way you tell with most breaker boxes what phase a wire is,
          many of them have 2 rows, the ones on the left side are one phase and the ones on the right side are the other phase, but this does not always apply, sometimes they are every other breaker and not split right to left, so be careful

          Comment


          • #6
            Hello, as before, please take photos of your situation and post them.

            A video of the different situations would also help.

            Start with the area where the A/C goes into your home.

            Next, the breaker box. Turn off the breaker switches and use only one to find out where it goes and what it runs.
            Turn it off and proceed to the next one.
            When you have done every service breaker by itself and where the power goes, then you have a map.
            Of course you must draw this on paper to make a completed assessment.

            With each step, take pictures and/or a video.

            When you finish, you will help us see with you exactly what you have and the different problems you experience.

            Do this and learn from each step, or call the electrician and learn nothing about your house wiring and what your hazards might be.

            BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, MAKE IT THE SAFE CHOICE!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm not an electrician but this is what I've learned from experience. I donít know what you know or donít know so donít be offended if this is too simplistic. I always ask people to watch the following video when working on power systems. It shows what a momentís inattention can cost you. Be careful.
              A moment's in attention

              Start at the beginning Ė where the electricity comes into the house. Thatís known as the service panel. All service panels for single phase 120/240 volt systems will have the same components. Different manufacturers use somewhat different configurations but they all accomplish the same thing Ė distribute electricity to the breakers and their attached branch circuits and carry the common and ground wires to a ground rod in the soil.

              Go to the following link and look at the picture. Donít zoom in yet.
              Service Panel

              The black piece in the center is an insulator on which the other current carrying components are mounted. The two copper strips in the middle are ďbus barsĒ and the hot wires coming from the service providerís transformer attach to them. This is what supplies the current to the circuit breakers. Notice the tabs or fingers that project from the bus bars. Weíll come back to them. The aluminum strips at the edges of the insulator are attachment points for the common wires in the circuits. The aluminum strips mounted directly on the metal enclosure are for attaching ground wires from the circuits.

              Now hover your mouse over the image on the left to see a larger image to the right and position to the top of the enclosure. Youíll see two toggles marked ď100Ē. This is not a breaker. It is the panel disconnect and it disconnects the bus bars from the incoming wires which will be attached to the connections on either side of the disconnect switch where the flat head set screws are. The 100 on the toggles identifies this service panel as having a maximum rating of 100 amps. If you need more amperage than the panel rating youíll need to replace the entire service panel.

              The common from the transformer attaches to the green screw to the right of the disconnect switch. Notice the black wire that runs from the right hand aluminum bar on the right edge of the insulator to the aluminum bar on the left edge of the insulator. This just ties those two common wire connector bars together. Youíll also notice that the green screw is connected to the common wire bar on the right with a strap. Thus all of the common wires will be connected to common wire coming from the transformer.

              Ground wires from the branch circuits connect to the outer aluminum connectors that are attached to the metal case and there will be a ground wire that runs out of the case to a ground rod driven into the ground on the outside of the house as near as possible to the service panel. The common and ground wires will be tied together at some point nside the enclosure.

              To understand load balancing in this system you just need to understand how the breakers connect to the tabs of the bus bars. A 240 volt breaker will be a double pole breaker and each pole attaches to one tab from each bus bar. Thus you get 120V from one bus bar on one pole of the breaker and you get 120V from the other bus bar going into the other pole of the double pole breaker. Thatís why you get 120V from either hot to common and 240V between the two hots. As you can see, a double pole breaker is self balancing since it pulls from both bus bars, given that the branch circuit is not damaged.

              A single pole breaker only attaches to one bus bar and has only one wire feeding the branch circuit. So you need to be sure that there is an equal load on each bus bar, or as close to equal as you can get it. For example, if you have eight 15 amp breakers you want 4 on each bus bar. So, generally, you just add up the amperage of all the single pole breakers and get as close as possible to an equal amount on each bus bar. Or say you have four 15 amp breakers and one 30 amp breaker. You want three 15 amp breakers on one bus bar and one 15 amp breaker plus the 30 amp breaker on the other bus bar so you would have 45 amps on each bus bar.

              Thatís the simple version of load balancing. Systems can also have a service panel and one or more sub-panels fed from the service panel and the same ideas apply.

              There is load balancing in the circuit design also but thatís something that is done when the house is designed and the circuitry is designed by electrical engineers. How many receptacles of what amperage capacity to put on a single branch circuit, how many light fixtures to include on a single branch circuit, the layout of the appliance branch circuits and how to separate interior and exterior circuits are considerations in design load balancing.

              Exterior receptacles typically have a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor) as do other electrical circuits in wet areas like kitchen counters near a sink or in bathrooms and/or laundry rooms. Note that a single branch circuit only needs on GFCI to shut down the entire circuit so you wonít see a GFCI in every receptacle. Search ďGFCI receptacleĒ to learn more about how they operate. They are essentially a circuit breaker that trips when it detects a problem in the cricuit.

              Note that wire colors are a standard but thereís nothing in the system that enforces the standard so there are exceptions (like the white to black you saw in the light switch wiring) and people do make mistakes. The service supply wires arenít always black and white. Sometimes the common wire from the transformer will be black also but it is typically smaller than the hot wires from the transformer. Typically, you only see red in single phase 240 volt branch circuits but sometimes both hots are black. The point is that if there is any question, test it.

              You can get a fairly good receptacle tester from Home Depot or Lowes for less than $20. They have the same plug as a power cord so you donít have to pull the cover plates to test the receptacle. Search ďelectrical receptacle testerĒ.

              Never, ever remove the breaker cover without opening the disconnect. If the panel doesnít have a disconnect built in, the only way to disconnect the hots from the transformer is to pull the meter which is illegal for anyone other than a service rep from the utility provider. If you canít disconnect the hots, donít remove the breaker cover.

              A word about breakers, or for that matter, fuses: the breaker protects the wire. Thatís all it protects. Never, ever replace a breaker with one of a larger amperage rating without replacing all of the wire in that circuit with wire capable of carrying the rated load of the breaker. Doing so would allow the circuit to carry more current than the wire can handle without tripping the breaker and can cause the insulation to melt, wires to short out and possibly cause a fire or worse. If a circuit is regularly tripping a breaker, that circuit is not capable of handling the loads that you have connected to it. Run another circuit and add another breaker for it. Do not simply install a larger breaker. You can find a chart of wire sizes and load carrying capacity on the web.

              Never, ever install two or more hot wires into one breaker.

              There are plenty of books available on the web with more detailed info.

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