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Old 10-07-2013, 07:30 PM   #1
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3-ways and neutrals


Joke's on me. I'm starting to wonder why I'm trying to study and stick to codes when I'm just harry homeowner...

I just saw that there's a requirement for neutrals at each switch location, including dead-end 3 ways. Which sucks because I already have 12/3 wired up. I do see there's an exception regarding access on one side. So, here it goes.

The 3-way switch box is on one side of the wall, and the other side of the wall is the room with the panel box. There's a cutout in the that wall to the right, for where a duct used to go It just has insulation stuffed in its hole right now. There's also a cutout below for duct work. The beauty (and pity) of this house is that its so-called studs are only located where windows are. So basically, it's free access from the cutouts in the wall to the switch box right on the other side.

Since there's a way to get wire from the panel (obviously able to tie into that circuit there) to the switch box without having to remove any building materials, does this make that 3-way box exempt from the neutral requirement? Obviously there is a neutral on the other 3-way box, just not at this dead-end one.

This box serves both a dining room and a hallway if it matters.


Last edited by Tonglebeak; 10-07-2013 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 10-07-2013, 09:23 PM   #2
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3-ways and neutrals


That would fall into one of the exceptions, and would not need a neutral.

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Old 10-07-2013, 09:50 PM   #3
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3-ways and neutrals


the neutral is not necasary at each box,as usually it just passes through to the load. now the equipment ground is another story, it needs to be there for safety reasons.
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Old 10-07-2013, 09:51 PM   #4
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3-ways and neutrals


the neutral is not necasary at each box,as usually it just passes through to the load. now the equipment ground is another story, it needs to be there for safety reasons. nothing wrong with doing to code, at least your doing it right.
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Old 10-07-2013, 11:23 PM   #5
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3-ways and neutrals


Thanks guys. It just blows my mind that there's even a code that says this. It's not much different than creating a building code that requires the current homeowner to dig post holes every four feet around your property, just in case the next homeowner decides to put a fence in. I always thought codes were meant for safety and not to be used as a crystal ball.

/rant
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Old 10-08-2013, 01:27 AM   #6
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3-ways and neutrals


The reason the neutral is required in each switch box is a safety concern. To many people were installing dimmers or motion switches that require a neutral and lacking a neutral they use the ground. The exceptions (especially in NEC 2014) have pretty much gutted the requirement.
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Old 10-08-2013, 04:32 AM   #7
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3-ways and neutrals


i do beleive this is the 2014 code .. you would need to see if your area has adopted that year code ....there are states still on 2005 .. prolly 40% on 2008 ..( PA ) and there rest are 2011 ...so check with your local area ...


yes the 2014 does require using 14/4 - 12/4 for the 3 ways ..
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:06 AM   #8
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3-ways and neutrals


2014 requirements for neutrals at switches

Latest update to 2014 NEC changes
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:18 AM   #9
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3-ways and neutrals


I'm surprised over the confusion of this requirement. It came out in 2011. They expanded/clarified the exceptions in the 2014.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:23 AM   #10
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The neutral requirement was in 2011 NEC, 2014 added addition a exemptions

Edit: K_buz types faster than me.
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Last edited by rjniles; 10-08-2013 at 06:25 AM.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:36 AM   #11
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3-ways and neutrals


Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
The neutral requirement was in 2011 NEC, 2014 added addition a exemptions

Edit: K_buz types faster than me.
the first two exemptions in the 2014 code already exist in 2011. 2014 added many more common-sense exceptions.

of course, lots of places still on 2008 (or even 2005), where a neutral at the switch isn't required at all. i should say isn't explicitly required. one would still need a neutral at the switch if the manufacturer's instructions required it (110.3(B)). the requirement to use equipment in accordance with its listing has been in the code forever.
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Old 10-08-2013, 11:33 AM   #12
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3-ways and neutrals


Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
The reason the neutral is required in each switch box is a safety concern. To many people were installing dimmers or motion switches that require a neutral and lacking a neutral they use the ground. The exceptions (especially in NEC 2014) have pretty much gutted the requirement.
I'm glad 2014 is dealing with it, but it isn't a safety concern to the everyday person and should have never been made code without all of those exceptions to begin with. That's what the code is supposed to deal with, right? Tamper-resistant for the kids, GFI for the wife who wants to blowdry her hair in the tub, AFCI for people who think it's a good idea to roll chairs on their lamp cords. Most people aren't going to care if there's a neutral in a switch box, and if they do care, then either they're an electrician who already fishes walls for a living, or someone who should be researching what they are about to do before doing it and afterwards to make sure it was indeed ok. I know I never knew what a neutral was until I had to work on what I now know is a 3rd-world country electrical system. Grrrrrrrr What's next, requiring me to run all of my Cat6/coax in conduit so the next person who can pull in Cat8 and fiber without having to break a sweat?

(Rant is not aimed towards any of you, let me be clear. I fully appreciate all responses that are offered here . It's just sad seeing people continue to try to legislate stupid.)
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Rant is not aimed towards any of you, let me be clear. I fully appreciate all responses that are offered here . It's just sad seeing people continue to try to legislate stupid.)
Not the first time. Won't be the last.
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Old 10-08-2013, 02:43 PM   #14
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3-ways and neutrals


as one guy said,"you can't fix stupid." boy was he ever right.we have people that know better than us , then we have some that are out there to make $$$.
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Old 10-08-2013, 02:58 PM   #15
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3-ways and neutrals


I personally though the neutral requirement was/is a good idea. The exemptions pretty much make the neutral optional if it is possible to add the neutral later. But how many "Joe Six-packs" are going to do it correctly and add the neutral Read some of the posts/questions we get on this forum. My buddy says: "Hook it up to the ground wire, they connect to the same place anyways"

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