# Hot vs Neutral

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### Jeff Root

Dec 1, 2001, 1:05:43 AM12/1/01
to
What is the difference between "hot" and "neutral" ?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

.

### Randy Barrow

Dec 1, 2001, 1:44:09 AM12/1/01
to
Jeff Root wrote:
>
> What is the difference between "hot" and "neutral" ?
>
> -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Hi Jeff-

Generally about 120V. Could be as high as 220V around appliances.
If you touch both, hot always wins. =%^o

Seriously, Hot is measured with respect to ground or neutral. There
should be zero difference between neutral and ground, and 120 or 220
between hot and neutral or hot and ground. Anything else is a problem.
Understand?

Try here also ----> http://www.howstuffworks.com/question110.htm

Later,

Randy Barrow
--

==============================================
==============================================

### Jeff Root

Dec 1, 2001, 10:19:41 AM12/1/01
to
JR> What is the difference between "hot" and "neutral" ?

RB> Generally about 120V. Could be as high as 220V around appliances.
RB> If you touch both, hot always wins. =%^o

I knew I'd get answers like that. No problem, Randy!

RB> Seriously, Hot is measured with respect to ground or neutral. There
RB> should be zero difference between neutral and ground, and 120 or 220
RB> between hot and neutral or hot and ground. Anything else is a problem.
RB> Understand?

Nope, sorry. That much I already knew.

RB> Try here also ----> http://www.howstuffworks.com/question110.htm

Would you believe that I read that a couple of weeks ago after
the URL was posted in reply to someone else's question (possibly
by you?)? And the inadequacy of that explanation was part of
what prompted me to ask my question now.

Perhaps I could change the question to "What is the difference
between 'neutral' and 'ground'?" But I really want an explanation
of what those two (in some cases) or three (in other cases) wires
are connected to that run from the house out to a transformer.

Without better info, I must naively assume that at a given
instant, current is moving toward the house in one wire and
away from the house in another. That conception of how it
works doesn't seem to allow for any difference between "hot"
and "neutral". But I know they *are* different.

### Michael A. Terrell

Dec 1, 2001, 10:56:17 AM12/1/01
to

Neutral is the return path for the electric circuit, while ground is for
safety. Both are grounded, but Neutral carries current, and Ground only
carries current when the "hot" or supply line is accidentally grounded.
If a cord is damaged, and the Neutral opens, the circuit won't work, and
the case of a device could become "hot" With it grounded, the circuit
goes straight to ground, blowing a fuse, or tripping a breaker. Or, if
its just a small current leak, and you have a GFCI, it will trip to
prevent electrocution.

### Peter Bennett

Dec 1, 2001, 1:11:46 PM12/1/01
to
On 1 Dec 2001 07:19:41 -0800, je...@freemars.org (Jeff Root) wrote:

>Perhaps I could change the question to "What is the difference
>between 'neutral' and 'ground'?" But I really want an explanation
>of what those two (in some cases) or three (in other cases) wires
>are connected to that run from the house out to a transformer.

In North American house wiring, the green ground wire is a safety
ground - it should not carry any current unless there is a wiring
fault somewhere.

The Hot and Neutral conductors are both current-carrying conductors.

For safety purposes, to ensure that both current carrying conductors
are somewhere near ground potential, and not at 12KV or something, one
of the current-carying conductors (the neutral) is grounded at the
pole transformer and at the service entrance to your house. The
safety ground is also grounded (and connected to neutral) at the
service entrance.

>
>Without better info, I must naively assume that at a given
>instant, current is moving toward the house in one wire and
>away from the house in another.

Yup - that's correct.

--
Peter Bennett, VE7CEI
new newsgroup users info : http://vancouver-webpages.com/nnq
GPS and NMEA info: http://vancouver-webpages.com/peter

### Foobar T. Clown

Dec 1, 2001, 5:56:15 PM12/1/01
to
Jeff Root wrote:
>
> Perhaps I could change the question to "What is the difference
> between 'neutral' and 'ground'?"

Close, but the question actually is "what is the difference between
'neutral' and 'protective earth.'"

The protective earth wire is connected to ground (literally, to a stake
driven into the ground or, to your copper water pipes) somewhere near
the electrical panel. It is not supposed to carry any current unless
a fault exists in your wiring or in some appliance that is plugged into

The neutral wire is also connected to ground at the panel, but it
carries all of the return current (could be fifteen or twenty amps
on a heavily loaded circuit) for the corresponding 'hot' wire.

The neutral wire, like any wire, has a certain amount of electrical
resistance. Ohm's law says that it must drop some voltage when you pull
current from it. That means that if the panel end of the neutral wire
is grounded (0 volts) there must be some non-zero voltage at the other
end. It isn't much, but it'd be enough to pull some current from any
grounded metal object that it might touch. That means it has to be
insulated, and THAT means it can't be used as protective earth.

There is also another little reason for having an extra wire --
redundancy. If a neutral wire somehow came disconnected at the panel,
then the wire could potentially have a full 120 volts on it with respect
to ground somewhere else, and be just as dangerous as the hot wire.

> But I really want an explanation of what those two (in some cases) or
> three (in other cases) wires are connected to that run from the house
> out to a transformer.

The secondary winding of the transformer out on (or above or under) the
street is 240 volts (in the U.S.A., anyways) with a center tap. All
three connections come into your electrical panel, where the center tap
is connected to ground and called "neutral." The two wires which are
not connected to ground are the "hot" wires. If you whip out your AC
volt meter, you should be able to measure 240 volts between the two hot
wires, and 120 volts between either hot wire and neutral. Since neutral
is grounded, you will also be able to measure 120 volts between either
"hot" wire and ground. That's what makes them hot.

Your breaker panel is wired so that half of your 120 volt circuits are
on one hot conductor, and the other half of them are on the other hot.
That insures that on average, your home will draw equal amounts of
current from the two halves of the transformer secondary.

If the load in your home is perfectly balanced, then the neutral wire
leading from your panel to the transformer will carry no current. All
of the current will be on the hot wires. The same thing is NOT true of
the neutral wires in your house though. Each neutral wire on a 120 V
circuit should be carrying exactly as much current as its companion
hot wire. If it isn't, then that means current is flowing through
something that isn't a wire. That usually is a Bad Thing.

-- Foo!

Homework: Explain what a GCFI circuit breaker does.

Extra credit: What does GCFI stand for?

Next week: Three phase service.

### Peter Bennett

Dec 1, 2001, 10:05:46 PM12/1/01
to
On Sat, 01 Dec 2001 22:56:15 GMT, "Foobar T. Clown" <fu...@gazonk.del>
wrote:

>
>Extra credit: What does GCFI stand for?

Dunno - but a GFCI is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter - it will
automatically shut off the power if the neutral current is not equal
to the hot wire current.

>
>Next week: Three phase service.

--

### Allodoxaphobia

Dec 1, 2001, 11:37:29 PM12/1/01
to
> On Sat, 01 Dec 2001 22:56:15 GMT, "Foobar T. Clown" <fu...@gazonk.del>
> wrote:
>>
>>Extra credit: What does GCFI stand for?

Ground Control Flight Indicator?

Jonesy

### Foobar T. Clown

Dec 1, 2001, 11:59:42 PM12/1/01
to
Peter Bennett wrote:
>
> On Sat, 01 Dec 2001 22:56:15 GMT, "Foobar T. Clown" <fu...@gazonk.del>
> wrote:
>
> >
> >Extra credit: What does GCFI stand for?
>
> Dunno - but a GFCI is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

Aaaauugh!

Now it is time... for sleep.

Nitey nite!

-- Foo!

### Richard Steven Walz

Dec 2, 2001, 1:19:19 PM12/2/01
to
In article <slrna0jc0...@animas.frontier.net>,
-------------------------------
It's not GCFI, it's GFCI, ground fault circuit interruptor.
-Steve
--
-Steve Walz rst...@armory.com ftp://ftp.armory.com:/pub/user/rstevew
-Electronics Site!! 1000 Files/50 Dirs!! http://www.armory.com/~rstevew
Europe Naples Italy: http://ftp.unina.it/pub/electronics/ftp.armory.com

### Jeff Root

Dec 2, 2001, 5:17:45 PM12/2/01
to
Michael A. Terrell wrote:

> Neutral is the return path for the electric circuit, while ground is for
> safety. Both are grounded, but Neutral carries current, and Ground only
> carries current when the "hot" or supply line is accidentally grounded.
> If a cord is damaged, and the Neutral opens, the circuit won't work, and
> the case of a device could become "hot" With it grounded, the circuit
> goes straight to ground, blowing a fuse, or tripping a breaker. Or, if
> its just a small current leak, and you have a GFCI, it will trip to
> prevent electrocution.

Michael,

Okay, but that still doesn't tell me the difference between
hot and neutral. The direction of the current flow reverses
60 times per second. What makes one wire the "return path"
and the other wire something else?

It seems to me that the usefulness of a ground as a safety
mechanism is very limited. With ground but without GFCI:

Condition Result
------------------------------------------ ---------------------
Break in hot, bridged by human Ouch!
Break in neutral, bridged by human Ouch!
Hot contacts neutral Breaker should trip
Hot contacts case Breaker should trip *
Neutral contacts case Should be no effect
Break in neutral, contacts case Current via ground!
Human contacts hot and case Ouch! **
Human contacts neutral and case Should be no effect
Human contacts hot and neutral Ouch!
Break in hot, bridged to neutral by human Ouch!
Break in hot, bridged to case by human Ouch! **
Break in neutral, bridged to case by human Ouch! **

* Human may possibly be protected by ground in this situation.
** Human is hurt by current via ground in these three situations.

I once heard a neighbor using an electric hedge trimmer say,
"I can't get electrocuted -- it's grounded!"

### William J. Beaty

Dec 2, 2001, 6:27:11 PM12/2/01
to
je...@freemars.org (Jeff Root) wrote in message news:<f0b30c00.01113...@posting.google.com>...

> What is the difference between "hot" and "neutral" ?

Try this one:

WHY THREE PRONGS?
http://amasci.com/amateur/whygnd.html

(((((((((((((((((( ( ( ( ( (O) ) ) ) ) )))))))))))))))))))
William J. Beaty SCIENCE HOBBYIST website
bi...@eskimo.com http://amasci.com
EE/programmer/sci-exhibits science projects, tesla, weird science
Seattle, WA 206-789-0775 sciclub-list freenrg-L vortex-L webhead-L

### Michael A. Terrell

Dec 2, 2001, 6:59:27 PM12/2/01
to
Jeff Root wrote:
>
> Michael A. Terrell wrote:
>
> > Neutral is the return path for the electric circuit, while ground is for
> > safety. Both are grounded, but Neutral carries current, and Ground only
> > carries current when the "hot" or supply line is accidentally grounded.
> > If a cord is damaged, and the Neutral opens, the circuit won't work, and
> > the case of a device could become "hot" With it grounded, the circuit
> > goes straight to ground, blowing a fuse, or tripping a breaker. Or, if
> > its just a small current leak, and you have a GFCI, it will trip to
> > prevent electrocution.
>
> Michael,
>
> Okay, but that still doesn't tell me the difference between
> hot and neutral. The direction of the current flow reverses
> 60 times per second. What makes one wire the "return path"
> and the other wire something else?
>
> It seems to me that the usefulness of a ground as a safety
> mechanism is very limited. With ground but without GFCI:
>
> Condition Result
> ------------------------------------------ ---------------------
> Break in hot Dead circuit
> Break in hot, bridged by human Ouch! Could be FATAL

> Break in neutral Dead circuit
> Break in neutral, bridged by human Ouch! Could be FATAL

> Hot contacts neutral Breaker should trip
> Hot contacts case Breaker should trip *
> Neutral contacts case Should be no effect
> Break in neutral, contacts case Current via ground! Will trip GFCI
> Human contacts hot and case Ouch! ** Could be FATAL

> Human contacts neutral and case Should be no effect
> Human contacts hot and neutral Ouch! Could be FATAL
> Break in hot, bridged to neutral by human Ouch! Could be FATAL
> Break in hot, bridged to case by human Ouch! ** Could be FATAL
> Break in neutral, bridged to case by human Ouch! ** Could be FATAL

>
> * Human may possibly be protected by ground in this situation.
> ** Human is hurt by current via ground in these three situations.
>
> I once heard a neighbor using an electric hedge trimmer say,
> "I can't get electrocuted -- it's grounded!"
>
> -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
>
> .

Its a return, because it "returns" to ground potential. Also, in
general, people are down right stupid around electricity. I watched one
of my grade school teachers jerk a plug out of an outlet by the cord.
It left a broken blade in the socket. The idiot pulled an old pair of
pliers out of her desk and reached to remove it. I told her it was
dangerous. She yelled at me, and the rest of the class that we were all
stupid little kids, then turned back to the outlet, put her left hand on
the steel conduit, and nearly killed herself when she grabbed a live 120
Volt blade. After she was back in class she still denied what she did
was dangerous, but "Don't you little idiots try it, I'm an adult!" I've
went to a job site to repair equipment to find the power cord sheared
off and burnt, and some dumb ass smiles and tells me "It was easier than
unplugging it. Ruined my dykes, though." If you ever work around 3,000
to 10,000 volt high current circuits, you'll either develop a deep
respect for electrical safety, or you'll be dead. In those places there
are old techs, and a very few fool techs, but not one old fool tech.
LIke having to work inside a high power transmitter while it's
operating, doors removed, and standing on the high voltage transformer.
It can be done safely, because the transformer core is grounded with
four heavy bolts to the steel frame, witch is well grounded. BUT you do
not try to climb in or out with it on. You do not wear any metal. You
only use plastic, bakelite or nylon tools insulated and tested well past
any voltage in the equipment.

Also, you missed another fault condition on your list. The neutral
opens at the breaker or fuse box, has a bad ground on the safety
grounds, and you have an unbalance between the legs. One side will go
down ,a nd the other will go up, possibly all the way to 220 volts,
damaging the equipment, starting a fire, or just shorting to the now
ungrounded frame, and electrocuting you. It can happen, because most
people ignore electrical problems till they become a safety hazard.

A CAble TV company I worked for had added a lot of equipment, and the
main breaker box was running hot. The idiot system manager ignored it,
till I removed the panel cover to show him the burning wires. The main
wires running to the meter base in the shopping center's electrical room
was hot, and the insulation was crumbling, all because someone didn't
take the time to check the torque on the lugs. If I hadn't caught it,
the whole place could have burnt down, including a dozen other
businesses. I recently bought an older home and while I was doing a
full inspection I found TWO 220 Volt air conditioners wired with 120
Volt outlets. The original owner had simply twisted the one blade of
the 220 volt plug to fit a 120 Volt outlet, then used the cheapest 15
amp outlets available. They were both connected to 20 Amp breakers.
The mechanical strain on the plugs was causing them to heat, so it was a
good thing I hadn't tried to use them.

### Richard Steven Walz

Dec 2, 2001, 7:03:37 PM12/2/01
to

Jeff Root <je...@freemars.org> wrote:
>Michael A. Terrell wrote:
>
>> Neutral is the return path for the electric circuit, while ground is for
>> safety. Both are grounded, but Neutral carries current, and Ground only
>> carries current when the "hot" or supply line is accidentally grounded.
>> If a cord is damaged, and the Neutral opens, the circuit won't work, and
>> the case of a device could become "hot" With it grounded, the circuit
>> goes straight to ground, blowing a fuse, or tripping a breaker. Or, if
>> its just a small current leak, and you have a GFCI, it will trip to
>> prevent electrocution.
>
>Michael,
>
>Okay, but that still doesn't tell me the difference between
>hot and neutral. The direction of the current flow reverses
>60 times per second. What makes one wire the "return path"
>and the other wire something else?
-----------------------------
Either of the two ends of the coil down at the power generation station
that has a magnet rotating in it could be the hot as long as the other was
ground. It's just that you have to pick one, and use the other for the
return path to complete the circuit. Hot is just called that because it's
the one which will kill you because if you're standing on the earth you're
already standing on the other!! They had to reference one of the two to the
earth by grounding it!! If they didn't then HUGE voltage differences
between the power system and the earth could develop!

### Spehro Pefhany

Dec 2, 2001, 7:10:06 PM12/2/01
to
The renowned Richard Steven Walz <rst...@deeptht.armory.com> wrote:

> Either of the two ends of the coil down at the power generation station
> that has a magnet rotating in it could be the hot as long as the other was
> ground. It's just that you have to pick one, and use the other for the
> return path to complete the circuit. Hot is just called that because it's
> the one which will kill you because if you're standing on the earth you're
> already standing on the other!! They had to reference one of the two to the
> earth by grounding it!! If they didn't then HUGE voltage differences
> between the power system and the earth could develop!

I've heard that in the UK they use 110V with the centre (as they spell it
there) tap grounded, so that you only have 55V wrt ground on either side,
on construction sites where there is likely to be a lot of water etc.
present. It should be much safer than our 120VAC in North America

We didn't have that flexibility in N. Am. because we wanted to have the
240V center-tapped with grounded neutral arrangement.

Best regards,
--
Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
sp...@interlog.com Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
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(( * ))
\\\ http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/US/Emergency_Information/
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/// \\\
\/ \/

### Bob Myers

Dec 3, 2001, 3:28:18 PM12/3/01
to

"Jeff Root" <je...@freemars.org> wrote in message

> Okay, but that still doesn't tell me the difference between
> hot and neutral. The direction of the current flow reverses
> 60 times per second. What makes one wire the "return path"
> and the other wire something else?

Perhaps an analogy might help here.

Suppose you are holding one end of a rope which loops
around a pulley or wheel, and then connects to a spring
whose other end is firmly attached to a tree or some other
solid, fixed object. You can pull your end of the rope back
and forth, and one could get energy out of the system by
connecting to the pulley and using its back-and-forth
motion to drive something. And if, from the pulley, you
can't see the other ends of the ropes, all you can see is that
you have two ropes, both of which are moving back and forth.

But only one side - the one that the person is pulling on - is
actually connected to a source of energy. That's the "hot"
side in this analogy. The system doesn't work without the
other side hooked up to the spring (since that's what's going
to pull the rope back to the starting position), but the spring
isn't really where the energy is coming from. Actually, a
better analogy would be one using stiff wires or rods rather
than rope, since in AC power the source (the "hot" side)
both "pulls" AND "pushes" (depending on which half of
the cycle you're in), but I find that a little harder to visualize as
any meaningful real system.

Did that help?

Bob M.

### Mike Mccarty Sr

Dec 3, 2001, 3:41:54 PM12/3/01
to
)JR> What is the difference between "hot" and "neutral" ?
)
)RB> Generally about 120V. Could be as high as 220V around appliances.
)RB> If you touch both, hot always wins. =%^o
)
)I knew I'd get answers like that. No problem, Randy!
)
)RB> Seriously, Hot is measured with respect to ground or neutral. There
)RB> should be zero difference between neutral and ground, and 120 or 220
)RB> between hot and neutral or hot and ground. Anything else is a problem.
)RB> Understand?
)
)Nope, sorry. That much I already knew.
)
)RB> Try here also ----> http://www.howstuffworks.com/question110.htm
)
)Would you believe that I read that a couple of weeks ago after
)the URL was posted in reply to someone else's question (possibly
)by you?)? And the inadequacy of that explanation was part of
)what prompted me to ask my question now.
)
)Perhaps I could change the question to "What is the difference
)between 'neutral' and 'ground'?" But I really want an explanation
)of what those two (in some cases) or three (in other cases) wires
)are connected to that run from the house out to a transformer.
)
)Without better info, I must naively assume that at a given
)instant, current is moving toward the house in one wire and
)away from the house in another. That conception of how it
)works doesn't seem to allow for any difference between "hot"
)and "neutral". But I know they *are* different.

Assuming you are the OP, and that you still do not have an adequate
answer, here is one I hope.

In the USA, at least, general distribution is at around 15KV. The
transformer has a center tapped 240V output winding. The center tap is
connected to the ground connection at the house. There is, thus, one
phase supplied, which is split into two legs. Across the legs one gets
240VAC, between one leg and ground one gets 120VAC. To each 120VAC
outlet go three wires. One is the neutral wire, which is connected to
ground, one is the hot wire, which is connected to one of the legs, and
the other is the ground wire, which is connected to ground.

So, what is the difference between neutral and ground?

Well, the differences are rather subtle, but they are also profound.
The neutral wire carries line current. As such, it may have several
volts on it, due to the voltage drop across its resistance. So it does
not provide a true ground reference. The ground wire is not supposed to
carry current, so it provides a true ground reference.

To see one consequence of this, consider whether to connect the neutral
wire to the case, versus connecting the ground wire to the case of a
piece of equipment, say an electric drill. If the neutral wire breaks
inside the device, between the place where it is connected to the case
and where the wire emerges from the device, then if the device is
turned on, the case is at line potential, and poses a shock hazard. If
the ground wire is connected to the case, there is never a shock
hazard, as it is only ever connected to ground.

Mike
--
char *p="char *p=%c%s%c;main(){printf(p,34,p,34);}";main(){printf(p,34,p,34);}
This message made from 100% recycled bits.
I can explain it for you, but I can't understand it for you.
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### Felix Holems

Dec 4, 2001, 11:09:24 AM12/4/01
to

> It seems to me that the usefulness of a ground as a safety
> mechanism is very limited. With ground but without GFCI:
>

I know that if my house was grounded properly about two years ago I would
still have the same old crap in my house. Since it was not grounded
properly and we had a surge of some sort. No telling what caused the surge,
but my TV blew up right beside me. Every device plugged into the wall
outlet fried. From TV to Microwave to Refrigerators. Light bulbs that were
on blew out (not up as in explosion). Some pretty crazy stuff.

I read somewhere that Tesla had invented a pole you stick into the ground
and it supplies all of your electricity from the earth. What I do not
understand is if electricity flows from Negative to Positive, and negative
is ground basically, then why do we have to get the electricity from the
Light company. How do you pull the charge out of the ground is the real
question? Are the electric companies really pulling the energy out of the
ground with the big generators they have? So are they really stealing it
from me (or the earth really)? More like they devised a way to trick us
into believing that we have to send and receive the electricity from their
plants. (By destroying Telsa's laboratory in a fire)

Sorry, more lunatic ravings from someone who knows nothing about
electricity.

Fred

### ns

Dec 4, 2001, 1:29:43 PM12/4/01
to
Sounds like Perpetual Motion to me.

There is no such thing as electricity from the ground, and no, the power
company is NOT stealing anything from you.

What the power company is providing is energy, which they buy (oil, coal,
natural gas, enriched Uranium, you name it) and convert (burn it, heat
water, generate steam, drive a steam turbine) and then deliver to your door
step. None of this is supposed to end up in the ground, under normal
conditions.
It is only under FAULT conditions that there will be any current into the
ground electrode.

And, if we are talking commercially available power from the power company,
it is AC (Alternate Current) so there is no positive or negative, just hot
and neutral.

And, your TV (or whatever appliance) may have been blown by a surge indeed,
but it may not have any relation to a faulty ground. If there is a surge, it
can be between hot & neutral which may compromise the insulation or any
other component.

"Felix Holems" <dro...@houston.rr.com> wrote in message
news:Uy6P7.1273\$f75.1...@typhoon.austin.rr.com...

### Bob Myers

Dec 4, 2001, 2:44:30 PM12/4/01
to

"Felix Holems" <dro...@houston.rr.com> wrote in message
news:Uy6P7.1273\$f75.1...@typhoon.austin.rr.com...
> I read somewhere that Tesla had invented a pole you stick into the ground
> and it supplies all of your electricity from the earth.

Sorry, no such animal. For one thing, "electricity" isn't
exactly like, say, a tank of gas - you can't just stick a tap
in something that contains electrons, and get energy out.

Electrical energy is driven by potential *differences* - i.e,
you have to have a net "electromotive force", which is sort
of the equivalent of electrical "pressure", DIFFERENTIAL
between TWO point to get current to flow and so to extract
energy. You can draw an analogy to a tank of water in this
case....water flows only because the pressure on THIS side
of the pipe is higher than the pressure on THAT side; if
I were to connect two identically-sized tanks, each containing
the same amount of water, with a pipe from the bottom of one
to the bottom of the other - no water flows in that pipe (at
least once the pipe is full). The reason is that, despite having
an ample supply of water, there is no pressure difference to
drive any movement of that supply. The same thing applies
in electrical systems - simply having a source of electrons
isn't enough - you have to have a "pressure" difference to
drive them through the conductors, and so to obtain useful
work.

> What I do not
> understand is if electricity flows from Negative to Positive, and negative
> is ground basically, then why do we have to get the electricity from the
> Light company.

Two mistakes here. First, "electricity" doesn't flow from negative
to positive. Electrons flow from negative to positive, but the
convention for current flow is that it goes from positive to negative.
The real thing you should gain from that is that it really doesn't
matter - you can get energy out of a river whether it's flowing from
north to south or south to north, and the convention for current
flow only affects a sign in the equations. It doesn't change the
bottom line at all.

But the more serious error is the notion that "negative is ground".
Not so - "ground" is whatever we ARBITRARILY decide to be the
reference point for the system. Often, it is very convenient to
declare "ground" to be the actual earth, but it's not necessary.
And you still can't declare any single point to have a certain
electric potential - it only has a potential RELATIVE TO some other
point. If I have a 12V battery, and I connect one end to the ground,
the other end might be 12V positive with respect to the ground, or
it might be 12V negative with respect to the ground - it all depends
on which side I decided to hook up.

How do you pull the charge out of the ground is the real
> question? Are the electric companies really pulling the energy out of the
> ground with the big generators they have?

Nope. The ground (or any other object) doesn't have any energy.
All it is is a supply (or sink) of electrons. The energy comes from the
input to the generator - for instance, the energy of running water,
in a hydroelectric system, which turns the turbines and so turns the
generator shaft. A generator is not a machine for extracting energy
- it is a machine which converts energy from one form (mechanical,
usually) to another (electrical).

> So are they really stealing it
> from me (or the earth really)? More like they devised a way to trick us
> into believing that we have to send and receive the electricity from their
> plants. (By destroying Telsa's laboratory in a fire)

Urban legend. Tesla, as brilliant as he was, didn't have any
magic to offer; he was constrained by the same laws of physics
as the rest of us. You really, really DO have to have at least two
wires, running back to a generator of some sort, to make
electricity work for you.

You'll get a lot further if you can stop thinking of "electricity"
as some sort of physical thing that you could, say, accumulate
a pile of. Think of electricity instead as a flowing river; the water
itself isn't the source of the energy, it's the MOTION of the water
that's important. The water is the medium through which the
energy is carried, but it is not the energy itself. So it is with
electrons and electricity.

Bob M.

### Felix Holems

Dec 4, 2001, 3:00:45 PM12/4/01
to

"ns" <n...@ieee.org> wrote in message news:sC8P7.3\$8z6...@news.on.tac.net...

> Sounds like Perpetual Motion to me.
>
> There is no such thing as electricity from the ground, and no, the power
> company is NOT stealing anything from you.
>
> What the power company is providing is energy, which they buy (oil, coal,
> natural gas, enriched Uranium, you name it) and convert (burn it, heat
> water, generate steam, drive a steam turbine) and then deliver to your
door
> step. None of this is supposed to end up in the ground, under normal
> conditions.
> It is only under FAULT conditions that there will be any current into the
> ground electrode.
>
> And, if we are talking commercially available power from the power
company,
> it is AC (Alternate Current) so there is no positive or negative, just hot
> and neutral.
>
> And, your TV (or whatever appliance) may have been blown by a surge
indeed,
> but it may not have any relation to a faulty ground. If there is a surge,
it
> can be between hot & neutral which may compromise the insulation or any
> other component.
>

Thank you for that clarification. As I have been reading further in the ng
I have found and never really understood the difference between direct
current and alternating current. I am just thinking of - and +. I know
that you subtract the electrons from the - side and add them to + side.

I don't think the surge was caused by the ground not being connected,
(which the lawnmower man had ran over the ground wire so many times that it
had severed the wire from the pole in the ground) it just caused everything
in the house to die basically. Oh well. Thanks again,.

Fred

### Joey

Dec 5, 2001, 1:32:53 AM12/5/01
to
They're stealing from you if you live in Calfornia.

Bastards!!!!

### Michael A. Terrell

Dec 6, 2001, 10:06:25 AM12/6/01
to
Joey wrote:
>
> They're stealing from you if you live in Calfornia.

Gee! someone from a state that wants to bring its electric and water
from other states is complaining about overcharges? The same state that
for years. Well, I , for one don't care if the lights gop out in an
area where the people can't be bothered with thinking, planning, or a
little inconvenience, like seeing a few power plants within fifty miles
of their overpriced homes. Its time to learn to live within your
available resources. Turn off the extra lights, turn off your computer
and TV when not in use. Learn to conserve, and the demand will go down,
along with the prices.

### Richard Steven Walz

Dec 7, 2001, 12:53:24 AM12/7/01
to
In article <3C0F8929...@netscape.net>,

Michael A. Terrell <michael...@netscape.net> wrote:
>Joey wrote:
>>
>> They're stealing from you if you live in Calfornia.
>
>
>Gee! someone from a state that wants to bring its electric and water
>from other states is complaining about overcharges? The same state that