Help with Wall Switches and no Neutral Wire ... Sometimes

Hello all

I have 4-6 wall switches I would like to replace. When I checked the junction boxes all of the switches have only two wires. One junction box does have white wires bunched into the back, however are not used. One switch even used a red and black wire combo. I think the electrician was just lazy and used a three way wire instead of a standard wire.

I have one legacy GE switch in my garage. It’s been running for about seven years. I have heard the new models do have issues. I’m not opposed to going with GE switches.

My google skills may be lacking, however I’m having issues finding on off wall switches that support only two wires.

I have two Caseta dinners and love them. I’m not sure I need the added features of the pico remote in these locations.

My switch features are Noncomplex.
Zwave plus
Paddle switch
Color white
No multi tap functions
No bright LEDs

Attached are pics for my current switches.

image image image

there are very few binary on/off switches that don’t require a neutral; the physics are different. But there are quite a few dimmers these days if that would work for you.

See the FAQ for the list. :sunglasses:

FAQ: SmartThings-Compatible Switches that Don’t Require Neutral (US, 2019)

(Post edited to reflect @ogiewon ‘s correction below.)

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If this is in a box for switches, those are most likely neutrals. Current wiring practices are to bunch the neutrals for the circuit in the back of the box.

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How about this Lutron Caseta Switch? No neutral required. :wink:

Good point, although it requires an additional bypass device to control LEDs.

But yeah: Lutron is often the exception. I still suspect their story is a “man who fell to earth“ scenario. :alien:

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Have you check out the Inovelli Switches as you can install with out neutral.

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$75+ … ouch

The odd thing is when I search for Caseta switches the prices are around the $50 range. Is this a different switch?

I’ve not found these before. I’m checking them out now. The price looks darn good.

That’s because the vast majority of no neutral smart switches are dimmers rather than on/off. Unlike a dumb switch, a smart switch needs power for the radio, which is difficult to source without a neutral. Most no neutral switches don’t turn the circuit completely off, but rather dim it to very low levels where there’s no light coming from the bulbs and use the small amount of current bleeding through to power the radio. Do you really need on/off, or would dimmers work for you? If dimmers would work, it opens up a lot more options.

Even if you don’t need the extra features, the Caseta dimmers might still be a great option for you.

Pretty much all smart switches come in white paddle form. A lot of the no neutral options will have multi-tap functions, but you don’t need to use or enable those features. Most smart switches will have an indicator light of some kind, but pretty much all of them can be configured to either be on when the light is on, on when the light is off, or always off. And the one switch with the neutral bundle in the back can use any smart switch since there’s neutrals available.

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They’re great switches with tons of features and fair pricing, but only the dimmers can be used without a neutral, the on/off require a neutral. Be aware that the dimmers require either a minimum load of 25w or a bypass device. Same things goes for most no neutral smart dimmers though.

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Yes, this is a special ‘no neutral required’ Caseta switch. As @JDRoberts pointed out earlier, these are a bit of a ‘white whale’ in the home automation world.

As for the price, yes it is a bit steep. I didn’t ‘shop around’ when I posted the link. Perhaps you could find it slightly less elsewhere?

For me, Z-Wave has never been 100% reliable or blazing fast. OTOH, Lutron’s Clear Connect RF devices have been simply amazing - fast and reliable. They are simple to pair with the Lutron bridge, integrate well with many systems, and ‘just work.’ For me, it was worth the price to finally be able to rely on devices for true home automation. Previously, the WAF was fairly low. Post Lutron, it is extremely high and she has asked me to automate more of the house. Can’t put a price on a happy spouse! :wink:

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I could use dimmers. I would just to make sure the bulbs I have support the function. Its looking like this may be my best path forward. Maybe do a little mix/match. I could use on/off switches for the one box that has a neutral and dimmers for the rest.

I didn’t know there was a min load. All the lights in my house are LEDs. The lights I’m looking at controlling are either single or double LED lights. Do I need to be concerned with a dimmer on a single LED light bulb (60w equivalencies )

Yes. Most 60 W equivalent LED‘s are between seven and nine W. Almost all of the dimmers require a minimum load of 25 W or you will get flickers and buzzing. To get around that, you add a “bypass” device, which most of the manufacturers offer. But then that adds more cost.

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Lutron again is the exception. :alien: Their switches are a unique form of two momentary buttons. And pretty much all of the models are available in white, off-white, almond, or black. But you may have to special order some of the other colors.

Westside wholesale usually carries a wider range of colors. They’ll also give you a small discount, typically 3%, if you are buying three at a time.

https://www.westsidewholesale.com/lutron-pd-5ws-dv-bl.html

image

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I have an old house build during the 40’s or 50’s anyway no neutral and I use the dimmer with no problem I’m sure that if you don’t use a neutral it act as an of/on switch as I think that I read that somewhere but anyhow I have had no problems using them as an on/off switch. If there is an issue with the amp you can use an bypass which I believe aerotec make. I recommend these Inovelli switches (dimmer) for a house without a neutral.