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What is the Difference Between Neutral, Ground and Earth?

The Main difference between Neutral, Ground and Earth?

To understand the difference between Neutral, Ground and Earth, we must understand the need of these things first.

What is the Difference Between Neutral, Ground and Earth


Neutral is the return path for electric current in an electric 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 sometimes because of 3rd and 5th harmonics.

There may be other reasons too but the magnitude of this current is in fraction of phase current and in few cases it can be even double of phase current. So Neutral wire is always assumed to be charged (in active circuit). This neutral wire is connected to the ground (by grounding as in a domestic power supply the Ground is bonded to Neutral, to provide a return path to the transformer at the sub-station) 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 the main power wiring, earth may be connected to the 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 (Line or Hot) wire, but is from secondary links which were not in touch with the live system in normal condition. This current is usually much lesser than the main Line current or Phase current and mostly is in order of mA. But this leakage current is good enough to kill someone (electrocution) or may risk fire with serious damages. Such current is being provided a low resistance path and sent to earth via earth wire.

Because of the difference in application we never mix the grounding of Neutral and Earth. However both are 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 difference between Earthing and Grounding but these are the same terms used for Earthing or Grounding.

Grounding (also known as Bonding) is the common 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 similar 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 says:

    Good page lets support it.

    1. OSHORO MICHAEL says:


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

    1. Ramrao Khose, 9769518896 says:

      Difference between Domestic wiring and Industrial wiring, Domestic wiring is done either inside the conduit, under the roof, which is having closed/ limited air circulations, whereas industrial wiring is having enough Air circulation, because it installs in open atmosphere OR air changes which are keeping the wire temperature in control. If you are moving outside no need of fan is required, but as soon as entered in car/house, we needs to start fan/AC to keep the body temperature in limits.

      Raise in continuous temperature, of wire effects directly to its life, and hence domestic wires are Class 2, having less conductor resistance, and higher current carrying capacity.

      Whereas class 5 (Max no of strands, less Dia), is having high resistance than class 5, and limited cirrent carrying capacity than class 2.

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

  6. shahzaib umer says:

    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.

    1. ABDUL GHAFFAR says:


  8. tank u very much 4 all

  9. Ali akbor patwary says:

    I like this

  10. Milivoj Zec says:

    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 says:

    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. Sarath ks says:

    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

  17. Gajendiran Arumugam says:

    Thanks very much.Its very helpful…

  18. Alemu desalegn says:

    wow!this is very nice&helpfull pages
    THANK YOU ….

  19. ALEMU DESALEGN says:

    this is nice & helpfull pages

    1. sobersh singh says:

      Dear sir,
      i want to know about the solar panel 25 kw,sir if are solar supply fail than,i ant that it automatically to cames to main supply and in the same way if main supply is failed than its come to generator supply.all are working on single phase.
      sir came you explore how do are interlock tham.

  20. distribution of load 3phase ; if load is not evenly distributed whats the effect w r t consumption etc.

  21. hie gud people can u help with diagrams of electric motor i.e direct on line

  22. G Battens says:

    Good. Basic diagram of star wound generator and distribution system. Here in Bulgaria it seems the generators are delta wound
    The villages generally have no earth. Some electricians tie one phase (they call this phase null). The three phase supply cable does have four wires. The earth contacts in the sockets in our house is wired to the “phase null”. I have not found an electrician who can demonstrate how to identify the “phase null’at the sockets
    I suspect the power generators here are delta wound. Could this be the case?

  23. Why in single phase 220 volts and why in 3 phase 440 volts

  24. Vinod Kumar Mandowara says:

    Electronic technician

  25. I have 190kv. Breaker burned. Any suggestions?

  26. Oh wow! Your articles are very nice

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