What is a High Leg in Electrical Systems?

Understanding the high leg in electrical systems can be challenging. Learn how one phase is split and grounded, creating a higher voltage to neutral.

What is a High Leg in Electrical Systems?
Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

If you've been researching electrical systems, you may have come across the term 'high leg.' This aspect of electrical systems can be perplexing, but we're here to shed some light on the subject.

What is the High Leg?

The high leg, also known as the wild leg or the stinger leg, refers to a specific type of electrical power configuration often found in three-phase systems.

It involves a split-phase system with one of the phases intentionally grounded at the center to create a neutral connection.

The voltage from this grounded phase to the other phases is usually higher, hence the term 'high leg.' This configuration is commonly used in older electrical systems and can pose unique challenges if not handled properly.

The Dangers of the High Leg

Due to the higher voltage to neutral in the high leg, it can create hazards if not handled with care.

Connecting single-phase 120V loads to the high leg can lead to equipment damage or, more critically, create safety risks for individuals interacting with the system.

It's crucial for those working with electrical systems to be aware of the presence of a high leg and take appropriate precautions.

Understanding the Neutral

In the high leg configuration, the neutral wire carries the imbalance of current between the phases.

This is important to note as an overloaded or damaged neutral connection can cause substantial issues within the electrical system, potentially resulting in equipment failure or safety hazards.

Addressing the High Leg

When dealing with electrical systems, particularly those with a high leg, it's essential to follow standard safety protocols and code requirements.

Proper labeling and isolation of the high leg are necessary to prevent accidental misuse or unsafe connection of equipment.


The high leg in electrical systems presents a unique consideration for those working with three-phase power configurations.

Its potential to cause damage to equipment and create safety hazards necessitates a thorough understanding and diligent adherence to safety protocols.

Understanding and properly addressing the high leg is vital for maintaining the safety and integrity of electrical systems.