GE Retail Switches and included neutral

This may be a silly question. Prior to the release of the 127XX GE Retail switches I’d put in a bunch of the 45609 providing my own neutral cable. However the newer retail switches come an included neutral wire. I started using it thinking if shipped with the product it must be appropriate. However I later read about dangers of using standard wire nuts to splice aluminum and copper. Insert reprimand for doing electrical work without being an electrician and familiar with all codes here.

The exposed cable that comes with the retail switches certainly doesn’t look like standard copper wire. However in reading materials I haven’t found any confirmation what it is. Anyone confirm if I need to undo all the retail switches I’ve put in and replace their provided neutrals with standard store bought 14 AWG solid copper? If so out of curiosity anyone know why GE would ship with neutral that requires special connection? I assume at this point most wiring in the marketplace is copper…

There are purple wire nuts designed for copper / aluminum pigtails but would be more expensive than buying some short copper cable… With that aside the neutral only provides power to the switch, and not the load (light). As the switch uses very little power (.5 - 1w) the risk for fire is very low when using the included aluminum pigtails with standard wire nuts. Both ways will work well.

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Lutron switches come with the pre-installed aluminum wire and with regular wire nuts. I’m no electrician, but shouldn’t something like this be banned from retail if it was against code?

They are not aluminum wires. Most likely nickel-plated copper. They look similar outside until you take a closer look at the stranded cores. So you can consider it as copper wire even though there’s probably less than 5% copper in it.

Neutral white is actually negative return for the load. Just like of black line hot is your positive and white is your negative. Power comes in from black and return back from white.

If you have aluminum wiring in your house. The best bet is to use aluminum/copper wire nuts. This is for expansion and corrosion.


Sweet, thank you kindly for the clarification!


Neutral does NOT supply any power it is a return similar to the ground.

Not so, as long as it’s alternating current. Neutral is the second half of the load circuit. Current reverses regularly. The radio in the switch is powered off the neutral wire, that is why it stays powered to hear the next “on” command from the network.

The ground is different altogether. It does not normally carry current, but if required, carries it OFF the regular circuit down to earth.

This is basic electronics for alternating current homes.

If you live in a region which does not use alternating current, then everything may be very different. Most of the categories in this forum assume US wiring unless the topic specifically states otherwise. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) do still have some direct current systems, so if your experiences are from one of those, you may be unfamiliar with switches powered by neutrals.

If your primary electronics experience has been working with battery-operated devices, which are direct-current, the neutral serves a very different purpose there. And the terminology is different. You will hear the statement that the neutral is the same as the ground in a physics class discussing a DC battery. That just doesn’t apply to house wiring in the US.

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