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What is smart switch no neutral and how does it work?

Notice: Always consult a licensed electrician for questions regarding your home’s circuitry, and be sure to refer to relevant building codes before doing any electrical work, which varies by location. Non-licensed people are limited as to what electrical work they can legally perform; also, some work may be legal if under the direction of a suitably qualified electrician.

Generally, homes built after the 1980s will have a neutral wire going to the switch housings; therefore, no problem exists. However, houses built during the mid-1980s and onwards may not have a neutral wire going to the switch housings.

In this article, we will talk about smart switch no neutral. One common problem for new smart home users is that they want to install some smart switches to control lighting, but their existing light switches don’t include a neutral wire. There are a few options for installing a smart switch without a neutral wire, but first, let’s check to see if you have a neutral wire.

What is a Neutral Wire, and Do I Have One?

One way to wire a light switch is to have the power source wiring enter the light fixture directly, and the switch is used to complete a circuit. In this case, you will not have a neutral wire, and your existing configuration will look like this:

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Switch without neutral wire

One way to wire a light switch is to have the power source wiring enter the light fixture directly, and the switch is used to complete a circuit. In this case, you will not have a neutral wire, and your existing configuration will look like this.

Some smart switches won’t work in this configuration because they break the circuit when it is off, so power is not flowing through the switch. Smart switches require a constant power source because they constantly communicate with a hub.

If the power is cut (because the switch is off), the smart switch will not be able to receive instructions from the hub.

The second option is to have the power enter the switch box and then proceed to the light fixture. In this case, the neutral (white) wires are connected inside the switch box. The switch still breaks the circuit, but in this case, the smart switch can tap into the neutral wire to keep power flowing through the switch – the electronics in the switch still break the circuit to the light, but the switch maintains a circuit, so it is constantly receiving power.

Here is a diagram of a standard switch with the mains cable (with the white neutral wire) going into the switch housing:

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A switch housing that shows the neutral wire (white) going to the light socket

A smart switch can simply tie into the white neutral wires to complete the circuit and get a source of power to keep the radios in the switch working at all times.

What do you do if you don’t have a neutral wire?

Several options are open to you if you don’t have a neutral wire. For starters, you can consider calling in a trained electrician to run a new wire through the wiring system. The process is somewhat complex and time-consuming, but possibly the best way to go about it. Alternatively, you can buy a smart switch with no neutral and install it.

Option 1 – Run a Neutral Wire

If you want to use smart switches but don’t have neutral wires going to the switch housings, you could have an electrician run neutral wires, which will be more expensive due to the labor required.

Also, running new wires inside the walls and ceilings of your home will often require removing the actual wall material itself and then replacing it afterwards; for you, this may be too much trouble and too expensive.

However, If the house is being completely renovated and the wall linings are being replaced, this option would not be very expensive in the scheme of things.

Option 2 – Smart Switches That Don’t Require a Neutral Wire

There are dimmable smart switches on the market that can be installed without a neutral wire. The key is the dimming feature, which controls the flow of power between the light and the switch up and down to adjust the bulb brightness. This power flow is not enough to make the light bulb glow, but it provides enough power to keep the switch communicating with your smart hub.

However, you must confirm that your dimmable smart switch will work with the type of light bulbs you plan to use – many will only work with incandescent bulbs.

Can you make a smart home without a neutral wire?

In summary, if you have an older-style house, you might still be able to turn it into a Smart Home without having to rewire the whole house.

You can still get a smart home setup by purchasing a Smart Switch designed for houses with no neutral wire. 

Can you install neutral wires in your house?

Yes, on the advice of your electrician, you could run neutral wires throughout your house, it can be a complicated procedure, but it can be done.  

Can you install a smart switch without neutral?

Absolutely! Even if you have a smart switch no neutral, you can install it. That’s because most modern smart switch brands don’t require a neutral wire. Older homes typically don’t have a visible neutral wire in the wall socket.

If you think you may not have a neutral wire, simply purchase a smart switch that doesn’t need one. On the advice of your electrician, you can run a new neutral in the wiring system of your home. It is a complicated procedure, but it can be done. 

What is no neutral smart switch?

To put it simply, you can install a smart switch without connecting to a neutral wire. Though, formerly, these switches were typically hard to find. But, a few manufacturers have developed smart switches that you can install in older homes with outdated wiring systems. These brands include Inovelli, Lutron, and C by GE. 

Can I use ground wire as neutral?

Although the ground wire can function as a neutral wire, it is never advisable to use this option. You run the risk of the ground wire becoming exceedingly hot, which raises an electric shock hazard. Remember that the function of the ground wire is to redirect surges of electric current to help avoid a short circuit.

How do I know if a wire is neutral or live?

When you’re checking a light switch neutral wire, exercise extreme caution. Make sure to wear protective gloves and use a multimeter to test the wires for a current. You’ll likely come across three wires when you open the wall socket.

Since wire colors may not be standard, identifying the neutral wire can be tricky. The best way to do that is to touch each of the wires, in turn, using the voltage checking device. The wire that does not display a reading is the neutral wire.

Is neutral wire white or black?

Typically, the neutral wire is always white in color, and the hot wire carrying electricity is black. However, when installing your smart light switch no neutral, it is advisable not to make assumptions. Always test the wire using the multimeter before you start working. In some wiring systems, the neutral wire is gray or clearly labeled as neutral.