What is a neutral wire?

Meet the unsung hero of electrical circuits—the mysterious neutral wire explained.

What is a Neutral WireIf you’ve ever been part of a home remodel or even a new build, you are probably familiar with the wiring that runs throughout the home. This wiring is usually protected by a thick white plastic and contains three lines: live, neutral, and ground.

In most cases, the live (or hot) wire is black, the neutral is white and the ground is either uncovered or green. Together, these wires create a circuit that brings power away from, and back to, the electrical panel safely. The ground wire prevents short circuits that could affect the wiring.

Why is the neutral wire important?

Outlet with screw labelsThink of a circuit as one big loop. If that loop is interrupted at any time, the flow of electricity is stopped. That means no power is being delivered anywhere along the line, no matter if the interruption is at the start of the line or at the very end.

While the live wire runs the power out from the source, the neutral wire is responsible for bringing the current back and completing the circuit. Of course, the wire needs to be cut to wire in lights, outlets, and light switches. While those may seem like interruptions, each fixture continues the loop.

In an outlet, for example, there are posts on each side for live and neutral wires. The inner workings of the outlet continue the loop, either down the line to other outlets or to start the current back to complete the circuit.

Have a remodeling job on the horizon and need help with the wiring? Contact Prairie Electric for more information. We’ve been serving the Vancouver area for more than 35 years and look forward to talking with you.

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