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Electrical Wiring in the Home/Hight Electric Bill and Breaker Box Wiring


Robert: We had a sunroom built onto the back of our house and the contractor installed a 240 volt, 2000 watt, 8.3 amp electric basboard heating element in it. Since then our electric bill has gone up by $70 to $75 a month. I can do novice electrical work up to installing a circuit breaker. I just finished changing out a 150 watt H.P.S. yard light for a 38 watt LED yard light and I put it on its own 20 amp circuit. When installing the circuit breaker I noticed that the wiring in our 200 amp Square D braker box didn't look right. I know the Neutral (white) wire goes to the front connectors and the ground wire to the back connectors with the black wire going to the circuit breaker. The contractor wired the circuits going to the sunroom with both the white and ground wire going together to the front connectors in the box. Also other contractors have done the same. Could be nothing in the sunroom is grounded? There is also one white wire going to the ground connector on the right side of the box. I think the reason the contractors wired it this way is because there is a thick aluminum wire beside the ground connectors on the right side of the box making the ground connectors harder to get to. Do you think this shabby wiring could cause an electrical leak? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. If I have to get an electrician to check out the wiring I'll just have to bear the expense as I don't have the experience to be messing around all the wiring in the breaker box and it would be better than getting electricuted and I may save some money on our electrical bill. Thank you, Bill

Panel Neutral Bar
Panel Neutral Bar  
Robert Wilber
Philadelphia Licensed Electrician
Philadelphia License # 3516 - 16765
Electricity is dangerous!
You can be injured or killed!
Improper installations can cause fire, injury and death!
Are you qualified to do this work?
National Electrical Code definition, NFPA 70 2008 Article 100: Qualified Person. "One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved."
Electricity is fire in a box! Death on a leash!
Always check with the local “Authority Having Jurisdiction” for an official interpretation before making installation decisions.
In Philadelphia, it is unlawful for anyone except an individual licensed by the City of Philadelphia to install electrical equipment and wiring.
Homeowners are not allowed to install wiring.
The owner of any property wherein any such installation is discovered shall be issued a violation by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
The limited exceptions include replacing devices and fixtures at existing outlets.
Contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections for more information.
You are more likely to be killed by 120 volts than any other voltage [120 volts creates the PERFECT fatal current through the human body's electrical resistance!]
This information is provided for the use of parties as they see fit!
I am not responsible for the application of this information by any party, including those lacking sufficient skill or knowledge to perform these steps safely and any hazard created is the SOLE responsibility of the user.
I suppose the first question is when was the sunroom built? If it was this fall then I would ask what you pay per kilowatthour of electricity. A 2000 watt heater would use 2 kilowatthours an hour, so if you pay 25 cent a kwh that would cost 50 cents an hour to run, so 140 hours of operation would cost $70. Since a week has 168 hours that would mean the heater was drawing power 20% of the time. Lower kwh rate, the longer it ran, but you get the idea...
If it killed your bill during the summer, it may be that the thermostat wasn't shutting the heater off and you were paying to air condition the heat out of the place and heat the air conditioned air, if you get my drift. I had a commercial customer that had this situation and they cut their bill to 35% of what they had been paying after I discovered and corrected the issue.
As to the wiring in the panel, unless you are in a subpanel the neutral and ground wires go to the same location, as the neutral is bonded and grounded at the main service panel. Front or back doesn't matter, if I understand what you are saying. It used to be common practice to insert the ground and neutral conductors under the same terminal screw to facilitate identification. Recent changes to the NEC and Underwriters Lab [UL] requirements have led to the installation of only one neutral conductor under any terminal screw, whereas it is still allowed to combine multiple grounding conductors under one terminal screw. In older panels there are often not enough terminal points to allow the practice now required.
Since it sounds like you are comfortable taking the panel cover off, even if not interfering with the wiring, send me a couple of photos of the wiring that concerns you. It is probably normal, if sloppy or not up to your expectations.
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Robert Wilber


Licensed Philadelphia electrician serving Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania. I install and repair residential, commercial and industrial wiring and lighting. Troubleshooting and repair of problems that stump other people is my favorite. I am willing to help people figure out why things don`t work. I understand motor controls, transformers and machine wiring. I do not teach basics to novices or do free design work.


Experience in the area I have 44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair, 480 volts and below. This is not to be confused with one week repeated two thousand times.

44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair

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