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What is the Difference Between Neutral, Ground and Earth?

The Main difference between Neutral, Ground and Earth?

What is the Difference Between Neutral, Ground and EarthTo understand the difference between Neutral, Ground and Earth, we must understand the need of these things first.


Neutral is return path for an AC circuit which is supposed to carry current in normal condition. This current may be because of many reasons, primarily because of phase current imbalance and some time because 3rd and 5th harmonics also.

There may be others reasons too but the magnitude of this current is in fraction of phase current and in few case it can be even double of phase current. So Neutral wire is always assumed to be charged (in active circuit). This neutral wire is given to ground (by grounding) to make the second terminal of neutral wire at zero potential.

Earth or Ground

Earth or Ground is for safety concerns against leakage or residual currents on the system via least resistance path. While phase and neutral is connected to main power wiring, earth may be connected to body of equipment or to any system which in normal condition doesn’t carry current but in case of some insulation failure, is supposed to carry some minor current.

This current is not directly coming from live or phase wire, but is from secondary links which was not in touch with live system in normal condition. This current is usually much lesser than main line current or phase current and mostly is in order of mA. But this leakage current is good enough to kill someone or may risk fire. Such current are being provided a low resistance path and sent to earth via earth wire.

Because of the difference in application we never mix grounding of neutral and earth. However both are made grounded (of-course the process may be different). If both will be mixed then the earth wire which is not supposed to carry any current in normal condition , may have some charges across and will become hazardous.

Good to Know:

Difference between Earthing and Grounding.

There is no different between Earthing and Grounding but these are the same terms used for Earthing or Grounding.

Grounding is the commonly word used for earthing in the North American standards like IEEE, NEC, ANSI and UL etc while, Earthing is used in European, Common wealth countries and Britain standards like IS and IEC etc.

In simple words, Earthing and Grounding are synonyms. Both are smiler words used for the same thing

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  1. when doing a c.o.c for domestic wiring what are the values and how to do all the tests especially the pssc ,earth loop impendance

  2. rennie
    08/11/2015 at 5:56 pmwhen doing a c.o.c for domestic wiring what are the values and how to do all the tests especially the pssc ,earth loop impendance

  3. Kezy mike wabwire

    Good page lets support it.

  4. I need to learn deep on domestic wiring and industrial wiring so help on notes and images

  5. good site…happy to find it. this will help s lot of young engineer.

  6. good page i like it

  7. Dear sir,
    How r u, sir i want to know that i used the generator 250 kva on three phase. The problem is, the nuetral side of the generator show ampere. So how would i free my generator nuetral from current. Means what i do that my nuetral show 0 amp.



  8. tank u very much 4 all

  9. Ali akbor patwary

    I like this

  10. Your graphic representation is very poor. There is no earthing /grounding shown of the transformer star point? Also the power supply to motor should show PE (Protective Earth conductor). Earthing of the motor frame is there only to avoid excessive touch voltages and not a positive return path for fault current. There is also no mention of PEN and N/PE conductors, 3 & 4 wire systems. Where Neutral and Protective conductors are combined into one or are separated.

  11. syed Ashfaque Hussain

    Neutral ground use for transformer Neutral but must be separate from Normal Ground Grid.

    Normal grounding grid for safety of Equipment & Humans Means Easy path to flow Electrones

  12. Dear,

    You are so many thanks to developed this website. This website is very helpful me. Again thanks to developer and other assistant.

  13. what can cause generator set to burnt my equpiment in one of phase often

  14. i have liked your page or site i have known more about wiring congrats

  15. I recall that the standards in America (like NEC) were almost going to change “ground” with “earth” just to avoid confusion with the IEC standards in Europe, but they figured out that was not so easy, because ground and earth are different concepts and cannot be interchanged. Unfortunately, I cannot find that article any-more. Anyway, IEEE makes an important distinction between ground and earth. As you can read for example in “The Electronics Handbook, Second Edition”, the earth refers to mother earth, while ground refers to equipment grounding system. So, I would not go sooo easy to say that they can be interchanged because, even though I understand that in day-talk is not a big problem, when you start to deal with standards, it’s not a good idea to think that they are synonymous. At least, this is what I have understood.

  16. ticco0 lejone

    great stuff

  17. I’m a technical student so i am sincerely searching for many things that helps me to study my subjects . Now i am found a good place that easily helps me, to learn about my subjects

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