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 '16 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ A quick Google search can be boiled down to: "Bad things, do not do this." \$\endgroup\$ – ev3670 Aug 29 '16 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Where do you live? Are your sockets polarized? Does your country use split-phase power? Etc. \$\endgroup\$ – marcelm Aug 29 '16 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\$ – mkeith Aug 29 '16 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also: electronics.stackexchange.com/q/15228/2028 \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Aug 29 '16 at 16:48

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.


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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