Electrical Wiring in the Home/Neutral vs ground in main panel


Main Panel
Main Panel  
Hi Greg,
My home's main panel is a GE 200-amp newer model. There are two neutral bars connected together by a big metal bar. There is also a ground bar screwed directly into the panel. The neutral bars are connected by 6ga bare copper wire to the ground bar, the grounding rod, and the meter box.

The neutrals and ground wires from the various circuits are mixed together, mostly connected to the ground bar. Each of the neutrals is in its own "hole" in the bar, but there are neutrals and ground wires in the same bar, not to mention that all the bars are connected.

I feel pretty safe about his after reading many forums on the subject. Master Bob writes that neutral and ground in a main panel are one and the same. I've tried tripping a breaker by shorting and outlet (the breaker trips after a spark) so I assume my circuits are functioning normally. My GFCI's all work fine.

HOWEVER, my uncle saw this and got very concerned for my safety. He and his electrician are of the mind that neutral and ground should always be separate, main panel or otherwise. Their recommendation is that I disconnect the grounding rod and the jumper from the neutral bar, connect the ground wire to the ground bar only, and then connect only ground wires to the ground bar and only neutral wires to the neutral bar.

Is there any benefit to having the neutral bar in the main panel connected to neither a grounding rod nor the ground bar?

And shouldn't the meter box's bare grounding wire then be connected to the ground bar instead of the separate neutral bar?

Happy holidays and thanks in advance for your advice.


p.s. the attached image doesn't include the jumper from the neutral bar to the ground bar, which I attached after the photo was taken.

The neutral and ground in the main panel are one and the same. They are suppose to be bonded.

In a subpanel (a panel that is fed from the main) the ground and neutral are different and kept separate.

This is the way it has been for a long, long time.  
About Electrical Wiring in the Home
This site answers questions related to home electrical wiring, home wiring, general electrical help,and other electrical questions related to aleternating current (AC). You can find help on the National Electical Code, home electrical issues, wiring electrical outlets, installing lighting, electrical grounding, and general electrical help for do-it-yourself projects not require an electrician. If you do not see your home electrical wiring question answered in this area then please ask your electrical wiring question here

Electrical Wiring in the Home

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Greg Hughes


Troubleshooting electrical including appliances and HVAC.


34 years of experience.

Both college and tech schools in this field.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.