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This is just something I have been obsessing with today. I work in the commercial/industrial electrical field and often involved in training apprentices. Several places in the curriculum the texts have various mentionings of "referencing" the neutral conductor to ground. Yet, nowhere can I find a definition of reference that fits this context other than the generic from Wikipedia: "Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object." So, fine of course I know we bond (connect) the neutral to the ground via a bonding strip or something similar at our service equipment or a separately derived system. Great. I actually do understand quite a bit of the physics behind grounding, ground faults, why you don't repeat the ground-neutral bond in the same electrical system, and I have no known misunderstandings in the general area.

My issue is with the usage of this term. Why use the term "referenced" ...I feel there must be some concept being expressed that is going over my head. And I have seen many articles that mention "ground referenced" this or that. And from what I gather the things mentioned are connected to ground. So what is this reference thing. If anybody can help me out with a definition I would be very appreciative. Like in the form of "reference, verb: the action of..." that kind of definition. Thanks!

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You’re reading too much into this. Referenced to ground simply means the neutral conductor is at ground potential. That’s why the proper term for the neutral conductor in the NFPA National Electrical Code (NEC) is the grounded circuit conductor, to differentiate it from the equipment grounding conductor (protection against electric shock) to which it is bonded at the service panel.

Hope this helps.

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There is nothing technical here; just customery English usage. "Referenced to ground" means the difference in the voltage at the point of interest to that of "ground." The ground voltage is defined to be the zero reference point. All Voltages are differences. In principle "ground" means that of a fat rod dug deep into the soil of the planet Earth. More often it is the arbitrary point labelled with the gound symbol (https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/technical-articles/an-introduction-to-ground/) that the author of whatever you are reading has in his/her mind.

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