Difference Between Neutral And Ground

Comparisons, Knowledgebase

Last Updated on November 25, 2022 by mdmtool

Neutral and ground are two terms that are often used in electrical wiring. Though they may seem similar, there is an important distinction between the two. The neutral wire is an integral part of the electrical circuit, while the ground is for safety.

Without a neutral wire, the circuit will not be able to complete, and the electricity will not flow. Ground wires provide an extra measure of safety in case of problems with the hot or neutral wires.

What Is Neutral?


The term “neutral” refers to the middle wire in an electrical circuit—the point in an electrical circuit where the current returns to the power source. A conductor connected to the earth or another conducting body establishes and maintains that body’s potential at zero.

What Is Ground?


A safety measure that provides a path for electricity to flow in the event of a short circuit. A conductor is used to connect an electrical circuit to the earth or to some other point having a known lower potential to establish and maintain the required safety level. The term “ground” may also refer to the earth itself.

Difference Between Neutral And Ground

what is neutral

Function: The three-wire system (active, neutral, and ground) is the most common method used to supply electricity. The primary purpose of the neutral wire is to complete the circuit. It provides a return path for electricity back to the power source. The ground wire helps to dissipate static electricity and provides a path for current in the event of a short circuit.

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Location: The neutral wire is typically between the other cables (active and ground). On the other hand, the ground wire is usually found at the end of the chain or attached to a metal plate.

Color: The color of the wires can vary depending on the country. The neutral wire is usually white in the US, while the ground wire is green.

Potential: The difference between neutral and ground is that the former is at 0 V while the latter is at earth potential (usually around 4-5 V).

Current: The current flowing through the neutral wire is known as the line current, while the current through the ground wire is known as the earth current.

Conversion: It is impossible to convert a neutral wire into a ground wire. However, it is possible to convert a ground wire into a neutral wire using a grounding adapter.

Connection: Neutral wires are connected to the distribution panel’s phase conductor (hot wire). Ground wires are usually related to the earth or some other conducting body with a known lower potential.

Type: Neutral wires are made of copper or aluminum. Ground wires are usually made of copper or galvanized steel.

Size: Neutral wires are typically 14 or 12 gauge, while ground wires are usually 16 or 14 gauge.

Applications: Neutral wires are used in various applications, such as lighting, home appliances, and office equipment. Ground wires are typically found in electrical outlets and circuit breakers.

Electricity Distribution: Neutral wires are used to distribute electricity from the power source to the load. Ground wires provide a safe path for current in a short circuit or another electrical fault.

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Key Difference Between Neutral And Ground

  • Neutral is the return path for current in an AC circuit.
  • The ground is the reference point for voltage in all courses.
  • Neutral is always connected to the ground at the main service panel.
  • The ground wire is not always connected to the ground.


What Is Grounding?

Grounding is connecting an electrical circuit to the earth or some other point with a known lower potential. The purpose of grounding is to establish and maintain the required safety level.

Is There Any Voltage Difference Between Neutral And Earth Wire Or Not?

There is no voltage difference between the neutral and earth wire. Both wires have the same potential.

Why Is The Ground Wire Connected To A Metal Plate?

The ground wire is connected to a metal plate to provide a path for current in the event of a short circuit.

Can I Use A Ground Wire As A Neutral Wire?

No, you cannot use a ground wire as a neutral wire. Ground wires and neutral wires have different functions and must be used accordingly.


Both neutral and ground wires are essential parts of an electrical circuit. Knowing the difference between these two types of wires is important to be used correctly in any given application.


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