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Short and simple. What would happen if you accidentally switched the live and neutral wires when wiring your home electricity into the distribution board?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nothing, death, or something in between. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phil Frost
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ A quick Google search can be boiled down to: "Bad things, do not do this." \$\endgroup\$
    – ev3670
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Where do you live? Are your sockets polarized? Does your country use split-phase power? Etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – marcelm
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Simple answer: it creates a shock hazard/unsafe condition. If you do it, and know you did it, and don't fix it, and someone gets hurt, it may also create a liability situation for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – user57037
    Aug 29, 2016 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also: electronics.stackexchange.com/q/15228/2028 \$\endgroup\$
    – JYelton
    Aug 29, 2016 at 16:48

3 Answers 3

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There would be a shock hazard, and some devices might not work correctly. Depending on where exactly the wires are flipped, ground fault detecting circuit breakers may become ineffective. All around, this is a bad idea.

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not a good idea. A short circuit with a poor contact becomes a fire hazard.

But if just connecting an appliance temporarily with a 2 pin plug , possibly nothing.

In my previous home I found installers had used Neutral to box ground for a stairway switch, when I converted it to a 2way switch. Neutral is grounded in or outside the home at the distribution transformer and ground is a safety wire that also carries Line filter cap currents up to 0.5 mA each.

Old TV sets once used 2 prong plugs polarized and a neutral grounded chassis.

The potential (no pun) for hazards is great but in theory it might not matter under very limited circumstances.

2 prong plug for outlets are polarized in America for a reason for some products which rely on neutral being near 0V for winding insulation proximity to metal case.

Such as; the metallic Edison socket being neutral with the centre contact being switched line. If your reversed L-N and switched off the lamp, the metal collar would become unswitched Line.

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Continuity is there but the flow direction has been changed. This will cause all devices actively engaged even if they are switched off for the active will be terminated with the earth wire. This is highly risky for lifes and appliances. Shocks will be felt on metallic objects and sparks will be observed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ the flow direction has been changed We're talking about AC, here: the flow direction changes every 8 or 10 ms. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 29, 2022 at 22:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – Community Bot
    Dec 29, 2022 at 22:46

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