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What Is A Neutral Wire? [The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide]

You’re going to work on your electrical system but stumbled upon the term, neutral wire. It isn’t something you’re familiar with. So, you want to know the basics of it.

What is a neutral wire?

A neutral wire is what completes the electrical circuit of your house. It redirects the current flow from your power outlet to your power source. This ensures electrical connectivity and safety. Without it, you won’t have any electricity in your home. 

That’s just the preview. We’ve detailed how the neutral wire works, why it is essential in this article.

Let’s dive into it! Shall we?

What Is A Neutral Wire?

The neutral wire is one of the three connections within the power outlet. It works as the conductor for electricity to flow through the circuit. 

The main purpose of it is to complete the circuit. It also keeps the flow of the current to the main source. This allows electricity to be fully utilized. Moreover, it works as a return path for live current from the appliance to the source. 

This neutral wire is the safety net that protects us from electrical accidents

What’s This Wire Made Of?

The neutral wire is made of the same material as all other electrical wires. That is copper. It is a very good conductor of electricity, which makes it good for electrical linings. 

However, be aware before you buy your neutral wires. Nowadays, there are many cheap products available in the market. There are ones made of iron and are of poor quality. Installing these might be dangerous for long-term usage.  

Hence installing a good wire might save you in the long run. To help you out with buying good quality electrical wires, we’ve recommended some products:

Product 1
Product 2

We can say with confidence, these are some of the best electric wires. Plus these are of superior quality!

Is The Neutral Wire Same As The Ground Wire?

The neutral wire isn’t the same thing as a ground wire. Even though they are both connected to each other, they have different functions. The neutral wire is a part of the electrical connection which completes the current flow. 

While the ground wire serves as a safety measure. It saves you from getting shocked by redirecting the current away from certain outlets. This helps to prevent a short circuit as well!

Why Neutral Wire Is Needed?

The neutral wire is essential because without it you won’t have any power. Hence, if you were planning to take a shower, you’ll be unlucky. Because you won’t have your gas water heater running

This wire establishes the circulation of electricity. Moreover, it keeps the current flow from overflowing.

Also, it keeps the electricity grounded. This is so that you don’t shock yourself whenever you touch any electrical appliances. 

How Does A Neutral Wire Work?

The hot wire and neutral wire are what make a circuit do its work. Here, the electricity flows through the hot wire and then, back through the neutral wire. 

In a circuit, the electrical current first flows through the hot wire. Then the hot wire flows a predetermined wattage of power to the outlets. 

Your electrical appliances will then use the required amount of power it needs. After that, the rest of the unused electricity flows through the neutral wire. Then again, it goes back to the power source.

Basically, the neutral wire lets the excess current flow through the circuit and onto the ground. This is where the electricity flows to the source through a panel or busbar. Thus, completing the circulation of the circuit.

The electrical panel always has to be grounded for safety. Therefore, you should make sure your electrical panel is grounded

How Do I Know Which Wire Is Neutral?

Neutral wire can be identified easily through its black casing. This identification is a universal standard. 

However, sometimes these wires are colored white and gray. It’s only the case with some manufacturers. But you can detect one by checking whether any electricity is flowing through. 

Does The Neutral Wire Carry Any Voltage?

No, these wires don’t carry any voltage. While the electricity is running the neutral and ground wire stays neutral.

But in case the wire is broken, the neutral wire will carry voltage. This is because it’ll become a live wire. Hence, you need to change it immediately!

Why Should You Know About Neutral Wire?

It’s quite essential for you to know about your home’s electrical system. This is because if you face any problem with the neutral wire, you’ll lose electricity!

Also, in case you’re having any electrical work done, it’s better to know what’s going on! Also, knowing about your electrical system will help to pick the right wire gauge and ampacity

How Much Does It Cost To Run A Neutral Wire?

Running a neutral wire won’t cost you much. Generally, it costs from $50-100 depending on the work. 

However, if you’re new to these works, you should call an electrician. They might charge you a service charge along with the cost. But in the end, the result will be worth it!

Well, that’s everything you need to know about neutral wires!


Question: Will a plug work without a neutral?

Answer: An outlet plug will work without a neutral wire. But it won’t power your electrical appliances. Because the circuit isn’t connected. Rather, it will damage your appliance and create a short circuit.

Question: Can the neutral wire shock you?

Answer: Yes, it can. The neutral wire carries an unbalanced load of voltage. Thus it’ll shock you if you are in contact with it. It’s best to work on the neutral wire while the power source is shut down.

Question: Is ribbed wire hot or neutral?

Answer: The wire with the ribbed or stripe casing always is a neutral wire. In some cases, the neutral wire is identified with red and white striped ribbon casings. But if you’re unsure, you can always check if the electricity is running.


Well, that’s the basics of what a neutral wire is. We hope we’ve given some clarity about the purpose and workings of a neutral wire. This will help in your electrical work, ensure safety, and faster working time for you. 

Have a great day!