Neutral line

Figure 1. A labelled three-pronged outlet.[1]

The neutral line refers to the part of the distribution grid that returns the power that left the transmission lines through a hot line or phase line to do work on an electrical load. Neutral lines are at zero potential relative to the ground, meaning that ideally, they do not pose a shock hazard (but good safety practice is always a good idea).[2] This is because neutral lines are wires connected deep in the ground. That means that the neutral side of the outlet would carry most of the electric energy directly into the ground and very little current would go through a person touching the device. The neutral lines used in distribution systems terminate at a distinct slot in electrical outlets (see figure 1).[3]

For a more in depth discussion, including circuit diagrams please see All about circuits.

For Further Reading


  1. This picture contributed by someone on the team.
  2. J. Andrews, A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining and Troubleshooting, 5th ed. Cengage Learning, 2009, pp.48-49
  3. D. Lowe. Alternating Current in Electronics: Hot, Neutral, and Ground Wires [Online]. Available: