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TheRydad 05-19-2012 01:01 PM

Digital Timer on GFCI circuit
I want to put a digital timer on a circuit with GFCI protection at the breaker. I purchased a GE digital timer switch (which requires a neutral to, presumably, power the electronics in the switch) and when I opened the electrical switch box to install it, I realized there was no neutral for the circuit I wanted to control. There are neutrals for other circuits in the same box.

Knowing that it would probably not work, I did try to wire the timer using the neutral from another circuit. This resulted in a GFCI fault- presumably becuase the GFCI protection sensed an unbalanced load from the timer's circuitry going back via a different neutral.

I assume my options are the following:
1. Pull a neutral to the box for the curcuit I want to switch.
2. Replace the GFCI breaker with a standard breaker and replace the outlets on the circuit with GFCI outlets to provide required code protection (the circuit powers 2 outdoor electrical outlets that we use for holiday lights).

Can anyone comment and confirm or correct me?



jbfan 05-19-2012 01:25 PM

The neutral must be on the same circuit as the hot.
Replacing the breaker does not correct the problem of the neutral on another circuit.

You can rewire the ciruit and add a neutral to the switch, or change the switch circuit to the same as the gfci.

curiousB 05-20-2012 01:45 PM

Go buy a different timer switch. I believe Intermatic makes electronic timer switches that don't need a neutral. It sounds like it will be a pain to fish a new wire for a neutral.

TheRydad 05-20-2012 03:17 PM

Thanks for the responses. I know that replacing the breaker will not change the fact that I am using a different neutral, but if it is a non-GFCI breaker, then it shouldn't trip from the timer load, right?

The Intermatic switch looks like it will work for me. Home Depot has a switch that doesn't require a neutral, but only works on incandescent circuits. I assume it is sending a small current through the incasdescent lights to power the timer in the switch and, thus, wouldn't work on other types of loads.

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