I am trying to install GE Wireless lighting control switch 12727. I noticed I’m missing the neutral wire from the circuit. I do have a white wire that is normally the neutral wire, but this might be a case of incorrect color coding. I believe the white wire is the load wire. On the previous switch the white wire was connected to the top screw and the black wire was connected to the bottom screw and the ground wire was hanging without any connection. When I connect the white wire to the neutral wire hole the light starts flickering, but I can’t turn it off/on. It keeps flickering forever. If I connect it to the load hole, nothing happens when I change the switch position. I have attempted to remove the whole metal box that houses the switch in hopes that the neutral wire would be behind the box, but couldn’t remove it.
My question is:
Am I missing the neutral wire?
Is it possible to install a neutral wire on the circuit?
If it’s not possible are there any other zwave / ZigBee switches that don’t require a neutral wire?
P.S. I am not that saavy when it comes to electric work and going by what I have read online so far.
As the old switch passes through the load, one of those wires comes from the load source and the other goes to the load line of the light. So you are correct that there is no neutral in that box. There are some old Jasco switches that do not require a neutral but they don’t work with led lights. I had one switch like this in my house and ran a 3 wire line to bring a neutral from the light. Perhaps others in the forum can give more information.
Possibly, by an electrician. If you don’t know much about electrical wiring then you absolutely should not try to do that. It may also be possible to wire an in-wall relay within the fixture box (i.e. the ceiling where your light is). The neutral wire has to be up there if it’s not in your switch box. That can be done with a basic knowledge of electrical wiring. But again, if you’re not that good at this, safest to leave that to a professional too.
There are some older model switches by GE and Cooper that don’t require neutrals, but they’ll only work with incandescent bulbs.
@marktheknife has a very good post. He mentions that you can have a relay installed in the light box which should work. There is also the option of using smart lights. In either case you would lose the ability to use the switch itself. There are also some switch covers that can be placed on top of your existing switch if you still need that functionality.
Otherwise @JDRoberts post can direct you towards switches without neutral lines.
The relays and the smartbulbs are also mentioned in the FAQ I linked to. And just in the last five or six months a new device class has come on the market, a smart switch cover, which fits over the existing switch and then gives your buttons you can use with smart bulbs without actually cutting the current to them. This is a popular no wiring option.
So there are multiple options, just depending on what you want to do.
All I want is to utilize simple on/off option. This is a basic light switch, and there aren’t any other (2/3 way) switches in this scenario. I have a 4’ LED light that I like to be able to control from my phone, or turn it off through routines when I am about to sleep. I would prefer to keep the functionality of the physical button but don’t mind if I lose it. Where is the post that details the relay option?
It’s mentioned in the no neutral FAQ, but just in the sense of mentioning that that’s an option.
There are several listed on the official “works with SmartThings” list.
Both the Evolve LFM and the Aeotec micros are popular. The evolve is usually a bit cheaper but has fewer features, but should be fine for just on/off.
Monoprice has an even cheaper dual relay for about $30 which can control two separate switches on the same circuit. Some community members are using that one, although it will require custom code and is not on the official compatibility list.
So there are several brand choices, but they all basically work the same. There has to be a neutral on the circuit somewhere, and if it’s not at the switchbox it’s often at the light fixture. So you find a place where the neutral is and you install the micro inside the wall there. (Or maybe inside the fixture) you can still use the switch at the wall, although most people would replace that with a momentary button switch, more like a doorbell button (although they come in many different styles and sizes).
Option 2 in the UK lighting FAQ discusses relays in more depth since they are often the only option for a house with European wiring. It’s the same devices as the ones sold for the US, just on a different Z wave frequency.
There may not be one post that you could expect to follow in a step-by-step fashion. Take a look at the installation instructions for relays like the aeon micro (on the manufacturer’s website or some online retailers have links to them too). Everyone’s wiring can be a little different so you have to familiarize yourself with how the relays expect to be connected and what you have in your wall/ceiling. Learn to use a multimeter if you don’t know how. You can’t be guessing what’s what.
I installed an aeon micro in my ceiling above the fixture in a 3-way configuration. It was hard to fit, and I got help from others on this forum that know what they’re doing better than I do (take pics as you’ve already done). Both of the switches on this circuit work fine, I had to connect the switch wires to the relay too (see the instructions).
I have smart bulbs with an osram lightify battery switch cover as well. It’s been working pretty well for me, very little lag surprisingly, and I’m still on a V1 hub so no local processing even in smart lighting. Not having neutrals in the switch boxes really sucks for home automation.
Thanks for the links. All those options do require a neutral wire so I might as well get an electrition to get in there. I know someone that might do it for relatively cheap. I will probably end up using the GE switch since I already bought it.
The other option would be to get an older switch and use an incandescent light. I am considering that as well because the LEDs are a little too bright for my eyes
Quick update, I did remove the cover to look inside the LED fixture as I didn’t remember seeing any extra wires in there. Just like the switch, there is one black (live), one white (load) and one ground wire. There is no neutral in there either. I read somewhere that a neutral can be pulled from another switch nearby (if the other switch has it). May be I will get the electrician to do that.
There are two separate wires colored blue and red that originate from the LED fixture. Not sure what those are for but I don’t think they can be used for a neutral connection.
Maybe they should come up with a switch or a relay that takes power from the live wire and provides neutral with some power to power the zwave switch/ relay. But I don’t know what I am talking about so this might be impossible to do.
In the US, wire colors are not mandated by code, so people can and do use anything for any purpose. I’ve seen red used for line hot, white used for load, a switch with four black wires none of which were the hot. You just have to map every segment of every circuit before you start so you know exactly what it is. If you don’t know how to do that, bring in an electrician.
Also, taking before pictures is great, make sure you get pictures of where the wires attached to the screws so that you’d be able to put it back if you had to. If there are two wires of the same color, make sure you label them.
As for fishing up a neutral, that is often possible if there is an in wall receptacle nearby. An electrician will know how to do it if it can be done.
I can confirm the black wire is the live wire. I got shocked yesterday while removing the old switch. I know I should have turned off the breaker, but our current breaker is not labelled accurately at all. I am fine, it lasted less than a second, and I haven’t touched any exposed ends other than that one time. I take full responsibility of my actions
Also, I don’t think there is a box inside the ceiling. It looks like there is only one big wire with the three wires inside it going from the switch box into the light fixture (which confuses me because where is the main power coming from then??? ). I will let the electrician figure it out and update this thread if I find anything interesting.
I was aware that there will be power going through the wires. The contact with the exposed end was completely accidental. I expected it to be a quick installation, so figured I could save time by skipping the whole sequence of turning off multiple breakers until I get the right one. I normally take my time for these projects. I was in a hurry for this one.
I literally have two switches in the same box controlled by different breakers, if that’s not against code, I feel it should be but assumption is the number one cause of injury/death when working with electricity.
Honestly, taking the time to find that breaker is 100% worth it. Having changed over 25 switches in my house now, I don’t trust anything and you should see all the NEW notes written down beside my breakers now and I haven’t even started on the upstairs switches…