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How Do You Identify Grounded Conductors?

The answer depends on the size of those conductors.

If 6AWG or smaller:
The NEC, Section 200.6, permits eight methods:

  1. A continuous white outer finish.
  2. A continuous gray outer finish.
  3. If the insulation isn’t green, three continuous white stripes along its length.
  4. White or gray outer covering with colored tracer threads in the braid identifying the source of manufacture.
  5. For mineral-insulated, metal-sheathed cable, distinctive marking at the terminations.
  6. In photovoltaic systems, as permitted in 690.31, distinctive white marking at all terminations.
  7. Fixture wire conforming to 402.8.
  8. Aerial cable complying with the other seven methods, or by means of a ridge on its exterior.

If 4AWG or larger, you can use any of the first four methods listed above.

There’s a third category, flexible cord. A grounded conductor contained within this cord must have a white or gray outer finish or be identified by methods permitted by 400.22.

Note that this requirement is for identifying the grounded conductor, not the ground conductor or grounding conductor. Article 100 differentiates between these. And it tells us that the grounded conductor is any conductor that’s intentionally grounded. Typically, this means the neutral. But not always.

Not all wiring systems are grounded, so it is possible to have a neutral that isn’t a grounded conductor. Be careful you don’t use “grounded conductor” to mean “neutral” or vice versa. That could be a fatal mistake.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection