2-Wire Service - 2 Hots, No Neutral

The outbuilding had its own 200 amp service panel (underground feed wires) mounted at the exterior on a pole. I could peek at the meter feed wires through a crack in the panel gutter… there were only two 4/0 aluminum wires in the gutter. The service panel had its own ground rod. There were 120 volt breakers in both the service panel and the sub panel. It appears that the only path back to the transformer for the neutral current is through the earth. The lights and outlets at the outbuilding were operational.

I see the following issues:

-Missing Neural at service feed
-Abandoned wires at service panel
-Combined grounds and neutrals at sub-panel

Does anyone see anything else. I have never seen a missing neutral before.


That is a feed through meter main. The neutral is that bar along the right side. Just next to the vertical gutter.

The neutral connection is above in the meter section and the bar is the conductor down into the panel section.
That 200a breaker is for a feed out to another panel.
As you can see, there is only enough spaces for six single pole, or three double pole breakers so no single main is required.

This is a very common installation for new homes under construction. You can tap a few temp receptacle circuits off the panel and then just feed the full 200 amps out to the house when needed.

A real problem is the sub-panel.
Since a 4-wire feeder was run the neutral bar does NOT get bonded to the enclosure and a separate ground bar is required. The neutral bar remains isolated.

The service lateral wires come up from the ground through a 2" conduit and enter the panel gutter indicated by the arrows. I was able to look into the opening (circled) and confirm that there are only two service wires. There is no neutral wire coming from the transformer. Can the metal conduit be used as the neutral conductor? I am almost certain that it can’t. This does not look right to me.

Service Panel.JPG

Howdy Fella’s…

1.) If you are 100% certain that only (2) 4/0AL are entering into that combo unit then I would recommend a call to POCO for more clarrification on this as sometimes pictures just dont do something justice.

2.) Speedy is correct on the bonding issue at the "Remote Panel " as I believe you can see the green bonding screw within the enclosure on that image.

We do see alot of feed through panels here as well and not always for trailers…in some garage to house installations they are used as well.

My concern is…and maybe it is just way to early in the AM for me to be thinking as I had a rough night last night…If it is your belief they are using the conduit as the neutral to carry the unbalanced loads…that would be wrong…are you 100% sure their was no smaller wire behind the others because you know the neutral can be downsized per the NEC.

If you truly have 240V capacity their…and you KNOW this…and only (2) SE Conductors…Yes, I would say it is wrong but again you have to see REALLY into the gutter…

AS Speedy said…the bar on the right is the carry down for the Neutral…and THIS is where the bonding should take place…notice the GEC…so all in all based on the issue with the “Remote Panel” and the LACK of what you dont see…mark it to be evaluated furthur because it does not conform to the NORMAL standards.

The other thing that bothers me a little is the neutral is connected to the grounding bus, not the neutral lugs on the right. You are sending neutral current through the bonding jumper. Not a real big deal with this design but easy to fix.
I agree with Pete. The grounded conductor from the service probably terminates in the meter base and is connected to the neutral bus on the right.