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Thread: EGC Used as Neutral

  1. #1
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    EGC Used as Neutral

    I was asked to install a 120V receptacle on a parking lot light pole. I asked what the voltage was for the light but they didn't know. I took the handhole cover off and checked and it was 240V with no neutral. I told them there was no neutral and I couldn't legally/safely install the receptacle. They said there was already one installed on another pole, so I went to check it out. I found what I expected, EGC used as neutral. Apparently these lights either belong to the POCO or the POCO just maintains them. That was another giant reason to not install the recep, especially without their permission.

    I think these are fed straight from the POCO's transformer. The feed is underground and I didn't see any disconnect anywhere. My question is if this is fed straight from POCO they probably just tied the EGC to the neutral/grounded conductor at the transformer. Is this really unsafe as far as using the EGC for the neutral? I know what happens in a branch circuit, but this is a straight feed. I checked continuity from the pole to the EGC and found none.
    I also know it would be unsafe since it doesn't have OCP for 20A, but wonder about the EGC being the neutral in this case.



    If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!

  2. #2
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    If this circuit is owned/maintained by the utiity, then you normally just have hot and neutral...i.e. the neutral and ground are one and the same in the utility world.

  3. #3
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    POCOs/utilities do a lot of weird stuff. I have worked on a few of their pole lights and they were never NEC compliant.
    "Electricity is really just organized lightning." George Carlin


    Derék

  4. #4
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    So other than non NEC compliant and no proper OCPD (15 0r 20A) this is probably safe if on a GFCI receptacle?
    If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Bill View Post
    So other than non NEC compliant and no proper OCPD (15 0r 20A) this is probably safe if on a GFCI receptacle?
    Bill, it still depends by what standards. Is it it safe? IDK, not IMHO.

    Yes, a GFCI works fine without a EGC, but a neutral from a EGC is bad IMO.

    Would I install a receptacle on that POCO pole? Nope. But NESC has its own rules.

    .
    Last edited by jumper; 06-22-12 at 12:09 AM.
    "Electricity is really just organized lightning." George Carlin


    Derék

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jumper View Post
    Bill, it still depends by what standards. Is it it safe? IDK, not IMHO.

    Yes, a GFCI works fine without a EGC, but a neutral from a EGC is bad IMO.

    Would I install a receptacle on that POCO pole? Nope. But NESC has its own rules.

    .
    I know a GFCI works without a ground. My concern is if the bare EGC comes in contact with the metal pole while someone was using or plugging something in and they were grounded, they might receive a shock. I know the GFCI should trip, but they would feel it for a second and might cause them to fall, hit their head, or something similar.

    It ain't the NESC or POCO that wants this receptacle, it's the owners of the parking lot.
    If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Bill View Post

    It ain't the NESC or POCO that wants this receptacle, it's the owners of the parking lot.
    Then since its is 240V without a neutral and no proper OCPD- I would say no.

    I am sure some handyman will come behind you and install it, but you do not need that liability.

    I despise turning down any work, but sometimes I just gotta.
    "Electricity is really just organized lightning." George Carlin


    Derék

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jumper View Post
    Then since its is 240V without a neutral and no proper OCPD- I would say no.

    I am sure some handyman will come behind you and install it, but you do not need that liability.

    I despise turning down any work, but sometimes I just gotta.
    I'm pretty sure it was a handyman that installed the recep on the other pole.
    If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!

  9. #9
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    Okay, we are running in circles here.

    Your OP asked this:
    Is this really unsafe as far as using the EGC for the neutral?
    By the NEC, yes-but you know that.

    By NESC- probably not.

    In reality-maybe, might never be a problem or somebody gets hurt tomorrow.

    There is no 100% answer.
    "Electricity is really just organized lightning." George Carlin


    Derék

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Bill View Post
    I'm pretty sure it was a handyman that installed the recep on the other pole.
    it doesn't have to be a handyman, i have seen my share of "licensed electricians" that do bad installations.

    On second note, if the GFCI gets over loaded with equipment that draw more than 20Amp which OCPD will protect the circuit conductors?
    Edward
    Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance.

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