Neutral Wiring Capable?


#1

Looking for some help on wiring a new z-wave dimmer switch to replace my existing lutron dimmer switch.

It looks like I have neutral wires (white) available at my 2-gang back box but the wiring has me a bit confused. The switch on the left is a simple on/off toggle switch that controls my outdoor patio light. The dimmer on the right provides dimming control to the recessed LED fixtures in my living room.

But looking at the wires it looks like these are actually all acting as line/load (black) wires.

I’d appreciate any help you guys can provide. I already purchased the Samsung SmartThing Hub V2 for a great price and would hate to have to return it.


#2

I think you are right. Looks like 1 line (black wire) is powering both switches, 2 load wires out (white) to the lights, no neutrals and no grounds (would be a green wire). Neutrals must be routed somewhere else from the lights.

Are there any other wires tucked back in there? I’ve never seen 2 whites and 1 black on their own (most wiring has black/wire/ground).

There are some older zwave dimmers that don’t require neutrals, but not sure how safe it is not to have anything grounded.


(David) #3

You are correct on your observation…

I saw this same thing in my dad’s house but he did have a ground line, what I think the electrician did when he ran that line was jumped the main line up by the recessed lights and ran one to the outside and one to the switches. Not sure how that would pass code but if your house is older than 15 years then that would be one of the reasons. Looks like what you may want to do is just change out that one dimmer switch to a normal switch or leave that one and install the osram led recessed fixtures and control them that way. Just leave whatever switch you use it in the “on” position so you can control the lights.


(Jimmy) #4

Definitely no neutrals. Since it is a metal box, it could be acting as the ground, assuming there is a wire or metal conduit attached to the box


#5

Thanks for the help everyone!

Seeing that everyone agrees and there is no neutral wires I’m now confused as to how is my existing dimmer able to dim my LED lights in my living room without the neutral?

Would it be a bad idea to try and installing a z-wave led dimmer (GE for example) without the neutral to see if it would also be able to dim the fixtures and I could then use it with my SmartThings hub?


#6

Lutron holds many patents on lighting devices. They are engineered (and wired) differently than other switches.


#7

It won’t be a bad idea, it just won’t work.

Most smart switches (again Lutron is an exception) use the neutral to power the radio inside the switch which is what gets the commands from the network. No neutral, no radio, no network control.


#8

Also note that in the US in most jurisdictions wire color is not mandated by code. People can and do use any wire color, especially at the end of the day when they may just grab whatever’s left in the box. I have even seen an auxiliary wired with four black wires, not one of which was a load.

Really the only way to know what your existing wiring is is to test every segment of every wire.

Also, label every wire and take pictures (including of the screw connections) so you can reconnect the old switch if you have to.


(Jason) #9

@YvesCY

I have a few extra of these new in box I would be willing to sell. But note they don’t work with All LED’s


#10

It would be a waste of time. In my experience with all the “interesting” wiring I’ve found in my house, the GE dimmers don’t work without the neutral. It was 5 o’clock somewhere when they wired my house .


#11

Thanks for the help everyone. Looks like I may have to switch to Wink/Lutron for the time being until manufacterers start making “neutral-less” z-wave dimmers.

Or look into getting an electrician to run neutral wires throughout my house.


(Jason) #12

Please note that if the GE dimmer you have Has an input for neutral it requires it. GE/Jasco Used to make some dimmers (model 45612) that do not have this requirement. These Do work without a neutral, I have some in use. They are picky as to how well they work with certain LED’s, they work best with incandescent bulbs.

This would give you the most options.


You could also go the Smart Bulb route and use a dumb switch gaurd, or a smart button guard.


(Eugene) #13

New to the site here. I happen to come across this post. Did you happen to look behind the box to see if the neutral wires happen to be back there? Just a suggestion. I have seen some really wired wiring especially in my home so it is worth a look. By chance are these switches part of a three way setup could explain the no neutral if these are the secondary switch in the system.