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Old 09-13-2012, 08:53 PM   #1
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Neutral at switch leg.


I completely understand that the NEC now requires a neutral at a switch box location. I am aware that with most electronic devices there is a need for a true neutral at the box rather than a pigtail to ground. (seen that many times.) I guess that my question is why the NEC decided to make it code to provide this. In any given situation, how many of you have come across a need for this at all the switch boxes in a residential, or for that matter commercial installation? Every instance I have seen in new construction where a neutral is needed it has been spec'd on the print. Why the overwhelming sweep? If you say convenience....since when has the NEC thought about "convenience" for anyone? Just wonderin'.....

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Old 09-13-2012, 09:09 PM   #2
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Neutral at switch leg.


From what I understand on this issue, it's not required in commercial since it can be added later via conduit.
Almost the same for residential, if one can be added later, through open cavities, from an unfinished side of wall, ect...
For the most part I run one irregardless.
As for 'why the overwhelming sweep' ... would take some checking into.
Would need to find the original proposal, and the reason for the CMP accepting it.

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Old 09-13-2012, 09:51 PM   #3
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Neutral at switch leg.


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Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
I am aware that with most electronic devices there is a need for a true neutral at the box rather than a pigtail to ground. (seen that many times.) I guess that my question is why the NEC decided to make it code to provide this.
You answered this before you asked it.
It is because so many MORONS were using a bare ground as a current carrying neutral because it was convenient and easy at the time (probably using the fatally flawed yet oh so common mentality that "they both go to the same place").
Using a bare ground to carry circuit current is NEVER code and NEVER saef.
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:58 PM   #4
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Neutral at switch leg.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
You answered this before you asked it.
It is because so many MORONS were using a bare ground as a current carrying neutral because it was convenient and easy at the time (probably using the fatally flawed yet oh so common mentality that "they both go to the same place").
Using a bare ground to carry circuit current is NEVER code and NEVER saef.

I agree with your observation. But is it your opinion or is it factual that the NEC actually made it a code issue because of that? In reality, how many switch boxes have you wired in a home that require a neutral present at the time of construction? From my observations only those which control outside lights are the ones which utilize them. I'm not knocking the code ruling, just wondering about it's origin. But again, point noted and taken.
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Old 09-14-2012, 03:00 AM   #5
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Neutral at switch leg.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
I agree with your observation. But is it your opinion or is it factual that the NEC actually made it a code issue because of that? In reality, how many switch boxes have you wired in a home that require a neutral present at the time of construction? From my observations only those which control outside lights are the ones which utilize them. I'm not knocking the code ruling, just wondering about it's origin. But again, point noted and taken.
What does time of construction have to do with anything???? If later on they want to add a timer that uses a neutral the may connect it to the ground. Or if they want an outlet below the switch same thing!!!
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:00 AM   #6
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Neutral at switch leg.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
You answered this before you asked it.
It is because so many MORONS were using a bare ground as a current carrying neutral because it was convenient and easy at the time (probably using the fatally flawed yet oh so common mentality that "they both go to the same place").
Using a bare ground to carry circuit current is NEVER code and NEVER saef.
I will go with safety also. There are so many powered devices availiable now.
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:14 AM   #7
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Neutral at switch leg.


It could also be to eliminate the use of the white wire as an ungrounded conductor.

Some people get confused when they see a "neutral" tied on with black wires or see a white wire in the switch box and assume it's a neutral.

Commercial is "usually" done by qualified individuals.
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:36 AM   #8
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Neutral at switch leg.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
I agree with your observation. But is it your opinion or is it factual that the NEC actually made it a code issue because of that?
Opinion. To be honest I don't really care why, does it matter? IMO no.


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Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
In reality, how many switch boxes have you wired in a home that require a neutral present at the time of construction?
I agree with Julius, WHAT does it matter? That would be like saying why do you need three prong grounding receptacles, almost nothing has a ground any more.
To answer your question, yes, of of course I have had plenty of things at the time of construction. Mainly smart dimmers.
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:40 AM   #9
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Neutral at switch leg.


Here is the Handbook Commentary if you're interested:

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This section is new in the 2011 Code. Many electronic lighting control devices require a standby current to maintain the ready state and detection capability of the device. This allows immediate switching of the load to the “on” condition. These devices require standby current when they are in the “off ” state, that is, when there is no load current. Many of these devices utilize the equipment grounding conductor for the standby current flow. Prior to this requirement, a grounded conductor was not usually provided in the switch box for switches controlling lighting loads, so these control devices needed to utilize the equipment grounding conductor to conduct the standby current. Occupancy sensors are permitted by UL 773A, Standard for Safety of Non-Industrial Photoelectric Switches for Lighting Control, to have a current of up to 0.5 mA on the equipment grounding conductor. In fact, a number of UL standards permit up to a 0.5 mA ground leakage current as acknowledgment of an operational necessity. This is allowed because the function of an occupancy sensor requires a low level standby current. The standard permits this current on the equipment grounding conductor because in a typical installation there may be no grounded circuit conductor in the switch box that can be used as the return conductor for the standby current. The exception allows two scenarios under which the grounded circuit conductor is not required. In the first scenario, the exception permits the conductor to be omitted in raceway installations where it is practical to add a conductor at the switch location in the future, if needed. The second scenario allows the conductor to be omitted where the construction of the framing cavity in which the switch box is located permits access through which the conductor can be run in the future.
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Old 09-14-2012, 07:25 AM   #10
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Neutral at switch leg.


The exceptions seem odd to me. Yes if you have conduit or the construction allows access, you can add a neutral conductor. But how may homeowners trying to add a timer or a dimmer will have the knowledge (or the desire) to undertake the rewiring? ("My buddy says to just connect the white wire to the bare ground- It'll work fine")
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Old 09-14-2012, 07:38 AM   #11
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Neutral at switch leg.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
You answered this before you asked it.
It is because so many MORONS were using a bare ground as a current carrying neutral because it was convenient and easy at the time (probably using the fatally flawed yet oh so common mentality that "they both go to the same place").
Sorry, have to disagree. There is not enough evidence showing that everyone was using the grounding wire as a current carrying conductor. If you dig into it, the main reason was that people are now putting more timers & electronic gadgets to control lighting. With that, a lot of circuits namely switch legs do not have a Neutral.

Also, majority making these changes are home owners, not licensed electricians. It is easier to band-aid stupid, than fix it, which is why they added that section into the latest NEC.
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Old 09-14-2012, 07:57 AM   #12
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Neutral at switch leg.


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Sorry, have to disagree. There is not enough evidence showing that everyone was using the grounding wire as a current carrying conductor. If you dig into it, the main reason was that people are now putting more timers & electronic gadgets to control lighting. With that, a lot of circuits namely switch legs do not have a Neutral.
....you are saying the same thing as Speedy.
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:19 AM   #13
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Neutral at switch leg.


Quote:
Originally Posted by zappa View Post
....you are saying the same thing as Speedy.
I did not go into a whole thesis to get to the point. Sometimes things just tend to get over engineered, vs breaking it down to simple terms.
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Old 09-14-2012, 09:23 AM   #14
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Neutral at switch leg.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
I completely understand that the NEC now requires a neutral at a switch box location. I am aware that with most electronic devices there is a need for a true neutral at the box rather than a pigtail to ground. (seen that many times.) I guess that my question is why the NEC decided to make it code to provide this. In any given situation, how many of you have come across a need for this at all the switch boxes in a residential, or for that matter commercial installation? Every instance I have seen in new construction where a neutral is needed it has been spec'd on the print. Why the overwhelming sweep? If you say convenience....since when has the NEC thought about "convenience" for anyone? Just wonderin'.....
Thanks to Petey for supplying the explanitory info from the NEC handbook which I have reposted below.

This section is new in the 2011 Code. Many electronic lighting control devices require a standby current to maintain the ready state and detection capability of the device. This allows immediate switching of the load to the “on” condition. These devices require standby current when they are in the “off ” state, that is, when there is no load current. Many of these devices utilize the equipment grounding conductor for the standby current flow. Prior to this requirement, a grounded conductor was not usually provided in the switch box for switches controlling lighting loads, so these control devices needed to utilize the equipment grounding conductor to conduct the standby current. Occupancy sensors are permitted by UL 773A, Standard for Safety of Non-Industrial Photoelectric Switches for Lighting Control, to have a current of up to 0.5 mA on the equipment grounding conductor. In fact, a number of UL standards permit up to a 0.5 mA ground leakage current as acknowledgment of an operational necessity. This is allowed because the function of an occupancy sensor requires a low level standby current. The standard permits this current on the equipment grounding conductor because in a typical installation there may be no grounded circuit conductor in the switch box that can be used as the return conductor for the standby current. The exception allows two scenarios under which the grounded circuit conductor is not required. In the first scenario, the exception permits the conductor to be omitted in raceway installations where it is practical to add a conductor at the switch location in the future, if needed. The second scenario allows the conductor to be omitted where the construction of the framing cavity in which the switch box is located permits access through which the conductor can be run in the future.

Unfortunately the explanitory info (which is not code for our amatures), fell short of detailing the real reason. The real reason was not because of "people are now putting more timers & electronic gadgets to control lighting. With that, a lot of circuits namely switch legs do not have a neutral". The problem is that in large buildings where there are a large quantity of these devices, each device adds a small amount of current to the grounding system via the EGC. Upto 0.5 mA per device to be exact. This in turn created problems with GFI breakers in buildings with 277v lighting and led to nuisance tripping.

Hope this helps!
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Old 09-14-2012, 01:17 PM   #15
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Neutral at switch leg.


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The problem is that in large buildings where there are a large quantity of these devices, each device adds a small amount of current to the grounding system via the EGC. Upto 0.5 mA per device to be exact. This in turn created problems with GFI breakers in buildings with 277v lighting and led to nuisance tripping.

Hope this helps!
It helps very much. This is the reasoning I was looking for.

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