Leviton Switch... I have black (hot), white(neutral) but no red / yellow wire?

Hey everyone, I tried finding a similar question but haven’t had any luck… I’ve been struggling with this all afternoon!

I bought a Leviton Z-Wave switch from Home Depot (wife is out of town and I’m bored). So, I replaced the switch, paired it with the network, went to turn the light on and… nothing.

I have a black (hot), white (neutral), and ground wire. But the Leviton directions / diagram also show a red wire. I was under the impression that this was only needed for three-way circuits? It’s weird because the switch pairs with my network and shows on/off appropriately in the app. It just doesn’t turn the light on or off.

Anyone else had something like this happen?

So usually a standard single-pole dumb switch has two blacks. One is the power coming into the box, the other black is power going to the light.

Smart switches use a neutral and a ground wire in addition to the line and load black wires. I would check that the load wire (probably black) is securely connected to the screw labeled load.

Btw I do the same thing when the wife isn’t home

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You do not have a neutral in that switch location. Someone ran a Romex down. One of those wires is black and the other is load (red terminal). You will need to run a neutral down to that switch location for it to work. They should have taped that white wire to indicate it was not a neutral.

IF you feel comfortable, WITH THE WIRES TOUCHING NOTHING, you can turn the circuit back on and use a voltage tester and I am willing to bet one of those wires will indicate voltage and if you tie them together, your light will turn on.

These switches need a neutral because, unlike even other dimmers with lights on them, they cannot work in series. They need to draw a little bit of current to run the radio inside them and that radio clicks over a relay to turn on the load.

If you have the access, replace that romex in your wall with a 3-conductor one (Black, White, Red and ground) Run black as your hot, white as your neutral and red to your load. Chances are, that wire goes up into a box, probably in your light, where you have access to hot, load and light wires.

Good luck.

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Looks like you’re right @kahilzinger. I touched the white and black wires together and sure enoug… light came on.

So they way they have it set up is white = load, black is hot, and there is no neutral at the switch.

I’m still confused about why the switch APPEARED to be working (turned on, paired with network, etc) when it was not in fact working. But that’s another question for another day… Sounds like it’s time to get a professional electrician!


Guessing you were connected to a filament lightbulb. There was current going through it to power the switch for the joining and radio portion through the filament without using enough current to cause it to light.

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So if I tried using a LED bulb it might work?

No, it will not. I was trying to figure out for you why you were able to join the switch. It will not work without a neutral ran.

Ah, got it. Thank you again for all your help!

Hi Aaron,
Just saw this message. Probably you might have got the solution. I just ran into it today, and got it working.
Basically, the black wire is hot/live.
White wire that you see is actually the load, supposed to be black, but because of using romex, the previous electrician has reused the white wire for load from the light bulb, instead of running a separate black.
You can tape it black for clear indication and use it as load.
And for neutral (white), pull from the bunch of white that should be with a wire nut.
This would work and it worked for me with the smart switch.

Hope your helps.

You are replying to a thread which is three years old, so presumably the original poster has solved the original problem. In the future, please don’t respond to threads which haven’t had any activity for more than a year unless you’re absolutely sure it’s relevant, otherwise it just keeps bubbling up old stuff which confuses everybody.

Meanwhile, it’s very important to know that in the United States most jurisdictions do not mandate color for most of the wires in residential projects, which means any color can be used for any wire. So don’t go by just the color. Sometimes it gets to the end of the day and there’s only one spool left in the toolbox, and that’s what the electrician uses. i’ve seen whites used as hot, blacks used for neutral, and anything used as a traveler. I’m not saying that’s good practice, I’m just saying it’s not a code violation in most places and it does happen. So you should always map the circuit before doing any electrical work, and don’t make assumptions. :wink: