Thanks, Wuzzat?, you're the only guy to answer my question.
>That's because I am educated way beyond my intelligence. . .
I thought all current flowed from the higher voltage to lower voltage lines (red and black) as the voltage oscillates.
>If you have a 0.26 ohm resistance (about 100' of #14 copper) with 10A flowing eastward, the west end will be 2.6v higher, more positive, than the east end.
I thought the ground wire would draw any current that might not transfer to the lower voltage line. In that case, is the neutral wire unnecessary?
>With no fault present, the ground conductor may carry microamps, depending on what's plugged in at the distant end of the cable. The neutral carries the return current which is a much higher current.
>If the appliance fails and some of the current goes to the ground conductor which is probably connected to the appliance's metal case, this conductor will keep the voltage on the case of the appliance very low when measured with respect to earth ground.
If the current in the ground gets high enough the breaker will trip.
>You could run the appliance off the hot and ground wires but that's not the purpose of the ground lead.