Electricity question. Is this worded correctly?

Hi all,
My name is Bob.
I am just now beginning my formal studies in home inspection.

I am working on “How to Perform Residential Electrical Inspections Course,” and I frequently refer to Black and Decker’s Complete Guide to Home Wiring for supplement and reference.

I am not yet 10% into the course and I came across some awkward wording (in the Black & Decker manual.)

It reads “After 1920, most American homes included receptacles that accepted polarized plugs. The two-slot polarized plug and receptacle was designed to keep hot current flowing along black or red wires and neutral current flowing along white or gray wires.”

As I said I am new at this but
I am confused about the idea of nuetrak current flowing.

It seems to me that
-all electrical current us “hot,”

  • there is no such thing as “nuetral current,” and
  • the phrase “keep nuetral current flowing” is utter nonsense.

I think:
as long as nothing connects the hot side to the cold side, no current flows through the cold side at all. Is that thinking incorrect?
I’ve got a second question also, but, one at a time. :grin:

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The grounded neutral conductor is considered a current - carrying conductor , but only under the conditions specified in 310.15(B)(4).

310.15 ( B)(4)( a) applies to neutral conductors that carry the unbalanced current from all of the ungrounded circuit conductors of the system that are common to that neutral.

Google is your friend… :smile:

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Sooo, am I correct in thinking, there is no such thing as nuetral current?

I’m thinking the black, (or red) is always “hot.” It’s carrying a bunch of (metaphorically) “frustrated & hyperactive” electrons. They “frustrated & hyperactive” because they want to go home, but they’ve run out of road.

The white side is much like your finger or a ground wire.

There is no such thing as a neutral flow and the white side, in it’s normal state, contains no flows of any type.

But, connect the white side, or the ground wire or your finger to the black side and then they too will become “hot” because then they too will contain a flow of electrons.

Is that about right?

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If the current is not the same, not balanced the neutral will then carry some current. :cowboy_hat_face:


… If the current is unbalanced, the. neutral will carry current.



Neutral Current is just that, it is the current that is flowing on the neutral. In a 2-wire circuit the current on the ungrounded (hot) conductor and the grounded (neutral) conductor is the same.

We use the term “hot” when referring to the ungrounded conductor because with relation to something that is grounded there is a potential for a shock. Since a grounded conductor is intentionally grounded it’s potential to ground is at or near zero so in a properly functioning system when touching the neutral there is a low risk of a shock if you were grounded.


Thanks, Rob, I knew you would be able to articulate it better…I enjoy learning from your posts. :smile:

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Thanks for the kind words Larry. :sunglasses:

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Current is current. in a 120v circuit the neutral or grounded conductor will carry the same amperage as the ungrounded conductor (assuming there is no ground-fault). In a 240v circuit the grounded conductor will carry the difference between the two ungrounded conductors.

I would not use the term “neutral current” but the use of the term does not invalidate the concept that they are conveying.

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So Chuck what would you call the current flowing in a neutral conductor?

Current… just like on the ungrounded conductor. But I certainly wouldn’t debate the topic with the likes of you!. Rather, I would defer to you knowledge as to whether it is a common term.

No debate, I was just curious because we have to call it something and I thought that maybe you had a better term for it. :sunglasses:

Robert is right on with the neutral current comment, but it should be pointed out that current in a series circuit is the same all along the circuit. There is a voltage drop across each of the loads in a series circuit. Conversely in a parallel circuit there is no voltage drop, but the current varies across each leg of the circuit. This is true of both AC and DC circuits. A good place for a beginner to start might be some basic electrical theory.

Very interesting post. A special thanks to Chuck and Robert M for some great replies. :smile:

Thank you gentlemen,
Joseph DePiero Robert (Bob) Kenney Robert Meier
Larry Kage and anyone I missed.

I went back and reviewed the vocabulary from the electrical course and THIS TIME I noticed something I had missed.

The vocab describes a “nuetral conductor” as a “grounded conductor.”. It makes sense to me THAT way.


Your concepts are close, though I do not know of anyone referring to the neutral as ‘cold’. It is good to remember what Robert said about a properly functioning circuit, they are not always that way, so care should be exercised for neutrals as well.

I agree forget using the word cold to describe a neutral conductor.