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Three wires from the clothes dryer – ground or neutral?

Mike Lamb

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There are three wires running from an electric dryer to a condo subpanel. Would it make sense that the green wire is a neutral for 120 V from the dryer or would that need 4 wires? Or is this a ground that should be isolated from the neutral bar on the panel?


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Assuming that this is a pre-1996 installation, when 3-wire dryer circuits were still allowed, then my best guess is that the green wire is the neutral and is best terminated on the neutral bar because it carries current and you want to keep that current off the equipment grounding terminal bar. (Of course, it's not supposed to be green - that's probably the error here.) 

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One of my more commonly used boilerplates:  If your electrician says you don't need it because the house is old, fire him and find someone else.  Electricity doesn't know how old the house is and doesn't care.  It'll shock folks and start fires just as easily on an old house as it will on a new one.

If the wireway is metallic, then that green neutral should be replaced with a white one.  If it's not metallic, that dryer needs four wire service.

Edited by Marc
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