[ale] OT: Running computers in an older home (read oldercircuitry)

Dan Lambert danlambert at bellsouth.net
Thu Feb 19 13:35:11 EST 2004

If you do this, Greg, you can create a current loop that can create all
kinds of grief for sensitive electronics. Truly enough, the ground and
neutral are tied together at the service entrance or at the main circuit
breaker panel, but this is the only place they should be common. In fact to
do otherwise violates the NEC, and if a fire were to occur, the insurance
company could void their coverage and refuse to pay the claim.

Dan Lambert

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ale-bounces at ale.org [mailto:ale-bounces at ale.org]On Behalf Of Greg
> Freemyer
> Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2004 12:29 PM
> To: ale at ale.org
> Subject: Re: [ale] OT: Running computers in an older home (read
> oldercircuitry)
> On Thu, 2004-02-19 at 11:36, John Wells wrote:
> > Guys,
> >
> > My wife and I have found a house here in Greensboro we really
> like, but I have a few concerns.  The house is approx. 54 years
> old, with an addition on the back that's approx. 15-20 years old.
>  The addition has grounded, three prong outlets, but the front
> portion of the house, where my "office" would be, have the older
> two pronged, non-grounded outlets.
> >
> > On a given day, I run a 120 mhz firewall/router, a 900 mhz
> Athlon, a 2200XP+ Athlon (1800mhz) with a lot of components, and
> a 2.0 Ghz laptop pretty much 24/7.
> >
> > What are the concerns with going into a house like this with my
> power usage?  I do know that it's on a circuit breaker
> system...not fuse box.  And I plan on having an electrician come
> in a replace one outlet with a grounded, dedicated circuit so my
> computers will all plug into this outlet.
> >
> > Anything I'm missing or not considering?  I've never purchased
> a home with old wiring so I'm a little wary, but we're probably
> putting an offer in today.  I know that grounding all outlets in
> the house will probably be pretty darned expensive, so if I don't
> have to, I don't want to!
> >
> > Let me know asap if you have any comments/suggestions.  Thanks guys!
> >
> > John
> > _______________________________________________
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> I don't know how much you know about electrical outlets, but it should
> not be that bad.
> On a normal 3-prong outlet you have hot, neutral, and ground.
> Believe it or not, neutral and ground are normally tied together at the
> circuit panel box, So they are really the same thing, although they may
> vary by a couple of volts in a new house.
> ie. If you have current flowing thru the neutral conductor, the
> resistence of the wire itself will give it a little voltage.  Since the
> ground conductor does not have any current flowing, it will be at true
> ground voltage.
> I would replace all of your 2-prong outlets with 3-prong throughout the
> house..  Then connect your neutral wire (should be white) to both the
> neutral and the ground prongs.
> I have forgotten which prong is hot, and which is nuetral.  You can
> google for it.  I think it is also on the outlet instructions.
> The most important thing is to buy a $10 outlet tester from Radio
> Shack.  It will tell you if you (or the electrician) have screwed up.
> You simply plug it into the outlet and it lights up if you have things
> wrong.
> Also, do that testing yourself before the electrician leaves.
> Electricians often reverse the hot and neutral lines because they don't
> realize how important it is for electronics to get it right.  And in
> this case reversing them will put 120V on what you think is the ground
> prong.
> Greg
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