Is A Neutral Wire Safe To Touch? Can It Have Voltage?

Is A Neutral Wire Safe To Touch? Can It Have Voltage? |

Have you ever questioned the safety of touching a neutral wire in your electric machine or wiring? 

It’s not safe to touch a neutral wire. Under normal conditions, the neutral wire has approximately the same ability as the earth or ground, which is considered to be at 0 voltage. But it also depends on the appliances you are using. Current returns through neutral wires and have a voltage-equal input current.

An experiment showed that the neutral wire connected to one heater showed the same voltage as the main load wire. But as the quantity of heater increased, the current in the neutral wire decreased to negligible. 

There could be some faults in the wiring that could lead to a current in the neutral wire. In a few instances, the neutral wire can turn out to be disconnected or compromised because of defective electrical installations or damaged wiring. 

It can bring about a voltage imbalance between the neutral wires and the ground, causing the neutral wire to carry voltage. In such conditions, touching the neutral wire may shock you.

If a ground fault takes place in an electrical circuit in which a hot wire comes into contact with a grounded ground or conductor, the neutral wire can bring current and expand voltage. It occurs while the fault cutting-edge travels through the ground connection, growing a voltage gradient in the neutral cord. Consequently, touching the neutral wire all the way through a ground fault may be risky.

Is A Neutral Wire Safe To Touch? Can It Have Voltage? |

How To Safely Touch and Operate Neutral Wires?

Touching a neutral wire may cause an electric shock, so you must follow some safety precautions. Before operating a neutral wire, ensure that you turn off your electricity, wear suitable safety equipment, use insulated gear and tools, and avoid wearing steel or metallic jewelry. 

Turn off the Electricity

Ensure that the power to the circuit or piece of equipment has been turned off at the primary electric panel before beginning any operation involving electrical additives. Use a voltage tester to verify that no electricity flows via the wires.

Is A Neutral Wire Safe To Touch? Can It Have Voltage? |

Wear Suitable Safety Equipment

Put on a private shielding system (PPE) together with insulated gloves, safety goggles, and non-conductive footwear. These items provide an extra layer of protection against electrical risks. Tools and equipment are the most crucial things that come in handy while you are dealing with electrical wiring. 

Tools are made of strong steel or iron, making them reliable. But the tools can get current whenever they touch a live current, as metals are conductors. Manufacturers coat these tools with different insulating materials. 

But if this material is broken or damaged from any side, you may get an electric shock. That is why you should always inspect your tools before starting work and use reliable tools. 

Use Insulated Gears

When managing or running neutral wires, use insulated tools, particularly those designed for electric painting. Insulated screwdrivers, pliers, and cord strippers provide a barrier between your body and the electrical cutting edge, decreasing the electrical shock hazard.

Electricity travels towards the ground, so you feel a shock in your feet if you accidentally touch any live wire. Safety gear and suits are manufactured to protect your body parts from electric shock and free current. These body suits include protective gloves, shoes, and a current-resistant coat.

Is A Neutral Wire Safe To Touch? Can It Have Voltage? |

Avoid Wearing Steel Jewelry

Remove earrings, watches, or metal accessories before using electrical tools and gadgets. These gadgets can inadvertently create a conductive field, increasing the probability of shock. These steel jewelry act as conductors. So, when working around electrical appliances or wiring, avoid wearing steel bracelets and chains. 

How To Identify Neutral Wires In a Circuit?

You can identify neutral wires using a multimeter based on color and size. Neutral wires are usually white or gray, even though local electric codes vary. However, not all white or gray wires are always neutral, as they can be used for other purposes. 

Therefore, additional methods are required for accurate identification. Neutral wires are normally the same gauge or thickness as hot wires. They are frequently larger than ground wires (normally green or naked), which might be for protection.

Sometimes the multimeter gives the same readings for the live and neutral wires. Therefore, this method is not so suitable. You can use a multimeter, and if it indicates that one of the wires has a low current, then that could be a neutral wire.

Is A Neutral Wire Safe To Touch? Can It Have Voltage? |

Do We Need To Connect Neutral Wire To The Ground?

Neutral wires are not the same as ground wires. Neutral wires contain the current that goes back to the power source. On the other hand, the purpose of the ground wires is to ensure the system’s safety by diverting the current in the event of an electric shock or a short circuit.

The neutral wire and the ground twine are interconnected at the main electrical panel, where the neutral and ground bars are bonded collectively. However, they serve extraordinary functions and need not be burdened or interconnected to another place within the device.

The neutral wire is grounded at the primary electrical panel to establish a reference voltage point and offer a go-back path for unbalanced current. This form of grounding is referred to as machine grounding and is a trendy exercise in electric installations.


Touching a neutral wire is generally not safe, as it could carry voltage under certain circumstances. Under ordinary circumstances, the neutral wire is considered at zero voltage. However, there are situations where faults within the wiring or electrical installations can lead to the neutral wire carrying voltage, developing a potential threat of electrical shock.

It is important to notice that the neutral wire’s primary characteristic is to carry the current back to the power supply, while the ground wire’s purpose is to ensure safety by diverting the present in case of a fault. 

The neutral and ground wires are interconnected at the main electric panel, but they serve one-of-a-kind purposes and should not be connected or bonded to another place in the system.

Turning off power at the principal electric panel before working with any electric components is crucial. Wearing appropriate protective equipment, such as insulated gloves, protection goggles, and non-conductive footwear, offers an extra layer of safety in opposition to electrical hazards. 

Using insulated gear designed for electric work, along with screwdrivers, pliers, and wire strippers, reduces the chance of an electrical shock. It is also important to avoid sporting steel or metallic rings, as these can create a conductive path and increase the chance of shock.

Scroll to Top