Does The Neutral Wire Carry Current? Answered & Explained!

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One of the most exciting things in your home is the electrical systems and how each wire performs its function without interrupting others, and you may be curious to know more about your home’s electrical system. 

This curiosity will most likely raise a lot of questions in your mind, and one of them is:

Does The Neutral Wire Carry Current?

Yes, the neutral wire carries current. The neutral wire is a return path for any circuit. The neutral wire completes the electrical circuit and is an automatic return path for the hot wire. It serves as a balance for the current flowing in the circuit. 

If there are 30 amps of current entering into an electrical circuit, the neutral wire must receive the same 30amps of current for the circuit to function. The electrical circuit will most likely not work without a neutral wire.

In this article, I have highlighted everything you need to know about the current flow in the neutral wire and the different wires in a circuit, but before then, let’s see if current flows through a neutral wire.

Does Current Flow Through A Neutral Wire?

The neutral wire is the return path for current in a three-wire electrical circuit. The common misconception about the neutral wire is that it carries zero current. This is not true and requires that we look at the arrangement of conductors in an electrical power system. 

Most circuits are wired with one hot wire, ground wire, and a neutral wire. This is standard practice to prevent electric shock when working on the circuit. Current flows through a neutral wire just like current flows through a hot wire.

In an electrical malfunction, the ground wire discharges electricity to prevent electric shock and damage to appliances.

How Much Current Does A Neutral Wire Carry?

The amount of current that a neutral wire carries is determined by the current in the live or hot wire. If a hot wire carries 45 amps of current, the neutral wire will also send out 45 amps. This creates a balance and makes the current outflow equal to the current inflow.

Does Neutral Carry Current In Single-Phase?

Yes, neutral wire carries current in a single phase. The single-phase power distribution consists of the phase and neutral wire for proper electricity distribution. While the phase wire carries the load, the neutral wire provides the path to return the current from the phase wire.

Related Readings:

How To Identify Neutral Wire With Multimeter?

How to Identify Line and Load Wires? – 4 Ways

Does Neutral Wire Carry Voltage?

The neutral wire carries voltage. Electricity in homes comes with three wires. One is the live wire which has the positive charge, and the other is the neutral wire which carries the negative charge. The third wire (called a ground wire) serves as a discharge wire.

If there is a problem on one side of your house’s wiring system, a short circuit, or when your appliances are faulty, the third wire helps control the effects of current discharge on other parts of your home. It also provides a safe place for you to connect grounding equipment.

Can The Neutral Wire Be Hot?

Just like the live wire, the neutral wire can become hot. This is usually a result of some anomalies in your home’s electrical system. If you observe that the neutral wire in your electrical circuit is hot, then the problem could be any of the following:

  • Wrong Connection
  • Having a wrong connection in your circuit can cause heating up of the neutral wire. It can be a case of broken wire, or it might be that the wire is connected to where it shouldn’t. If you observe that the neutral wire in your home electricals is heating up, you need to contact an engineer or experienced electrician.
  • High Voltage
  • Very high voltages beyond the standard home voltage limit of 240v-250v can cause heating up of the neutral wire. High voltage can also be a case of the short circuit where an enormous amount of voltage is forced out of the passage. This will cause the neutral wire to heat up.
  • Lightning
  • Lightning strikes come with an incredible amount of energy. When there is a lightning strike directly on an electric cable or the roof of your house, it will send an enormous amount of energy into the electric circuit, thereby heating the wires in the circuit.

Can You Get Shocked From The Neutral Wire?

The neutral wire will shock you if you contact it while it is naked and with current flow. The neutral wire serves as a path for returning the current flowing through the circuit. If you attempt to interrupt this current by touching this path, you will experience an electric shock.


Can A Black Wire Be Neutral?

A black wire can be used as a neutral wire in normal electrical phases. In some other electrical components, the blue wire also serves the purpose of the neutral wire. Generally, the neutral wire is always labeled with blue or black color depending on the electrical standards of each country.

The colors of electrical wire are dependent on each country. There are three colors: red and brown, black and blue, and lastly, the yellow/green color wire.

In most countries, the red or brown wire represents the live wire, the black or blue wire represents the neutral wire, and the yellow/green wire is for the earth or ground.

Is The Neutral Wire The Same As The Ground Wire?

Electrical wires in a circuit are classified into three, and none of them serves the same purpose. A neutral wire is different from a ground wire, and they are both responsible for different roles in passing electric current. A complete electric circuit has the live, neutral, and earth or ground wire.

The live wire is responsible for bringing current into the circuit and serves as the positive charge. The neutral wire, which carries the negative charge, is responsible for completing the circuit and a return path for the current. The ground wire, also known as the earth wire, has a major role in conducting excess electric current to the ground.

Where Does Neutral Current Go?

The neutral current is the used current that comes out of your device. This current is usually grounded or sent to the earth. The neutral current flows to the ground wire through a “neutral return” The neutral return path is essential in home electrical systems.

Conclusively, the neutral wire does carry current. When you put ON your circuit, the current runs through your device and then needs an outlet path where the neutral wire is required.

The neutral wire serves as a return path for the circuit, and it helps to complete the circuit. It is a misconception that the neutral wire does not carry current, but this is not true. It carries current, and it can cause electrical shock.

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