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valerikim 04-13-2009 08:59 PM

No neutral wire...
 
I am replacing my existing end-line light switch with Leviton Acenti ACS15 switch. The switchbox has only 3 wires in it: 2 black and ground. But the new switch requires a neutral wire. What are my options?

Thanks.

Bocolo 04-13-2009 09:06 PM

What are the colors on your switch? As far as I know switches do not have a neutral.

Just looked it up they do have a neutral. Sorry.

Speedy Petey 04-13-2009 09:10 PM

Some dimmer switches, timers, etc DO require a neutral.

Your ONLY option is to re-wire the switch loop with a "3-wire" cable so you can have a neutral in that box.
You CANNOT run an individual wire, or a neutral from a different circuit.

valerikim 04-13-2009 09:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Speedy Petey (Post 259474)
Your ONLY option is to re-wire the switch loop with a "3-wire" cable so you can have a neutral in that box.

I don't think I can do it myself. Do you know what would be the approximate price range for this kind of work if I hire an electrician?

Bigplanz 04-13-2009 09:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by valerikim (Post 259476)
I don't think I can do it myself. Do you know what would be the approximate price range for this kind of work if I hire an electrician?

While I don't recommend it, I have seen the ground used to serve as the neutral for a switch like that. Completely non-code compliant, but it 'works.' I have also seen people ground a three prong receptacle through the neutral to get it to pass a plug tester inspection. We started requiring no face plates and 'receptacles must be left out of the box for inspection' after somebody got caught doing that. :eek:

georgiasparky 04-13-2009 09:51 PM

No, No, No -- don't even think about using the ground as the neutral...:no:

rgsgww 04-13-2009 09:57 PM

Don't use the ground as the neutral, please don't mention about it.

Using the ground as the neutral HAS killed people before. Don't do it.


You said two blacks, this is uncommon, unless your house is wired with conduit or some method that allows you to pull individual conductors.

Do you have access from above? Where do these switch wires go?

Can you provide a picture?

Bigplanz 04-13-2009 10:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rgsgww (Post 259500)
Using the ground as the neutral HAS killed people before. Don't do it.

I agree completely, and don't recommend it at all. I think it should be mentioned under the 'never do this' category of advice. NEVER use the ground wire for anything other than an Equipment Ground. The service ground (AKA neutral) must be completely separate from the EG.

Speedy Petey 04-13-2009 10:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bigplanz (Post 259516)
I agree completely, and don't recommend it at all. I think it should be mentioned under the 'never do this' category of advice.

Then WHY say: "While I don't recommend it, I have seen the ground used to serve as the neutral for a switch like that. Completely non-code compliant, but it 'works.'" ????

NO, it does NOT work. It creates a situation that is potentially VERY dangerous and needs not be mentioned.

Daniel Holzman 04-13-2009 10:47 PM

I ran into a switch like that recently, it was for a dimmable 12 volt halogen system, the switch required a separate neutral. I had to rerun the circuit to provide the neutral, and it of course needed a separate equipment ground.

Bigplanz 04-14-2009 07:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Speedy Petey (Post 259530)
Then WHY say: "While I don't recommend it, I have seen the ground used to serve as the neutral for a switch like that. Completely non-code compliant, but it 'works.'" ????

NO, it does NOT work. It creates a situation that is potentially VERY dangerous and needs not be mentioned.

Well, point taken. I wasn't very emphatic in my statement, I grant you. Perhaps I'm jaded, as I work in the regulatory field and see people do stuff like this a lot. It would get flagged on a field inspection and the inspector could have the utility company cut your power off until you fixed it, wired it correctly.

We had a case here about 7 years ago where somebody used the ground as the common in a three way switch. It 'worked' in the sense that the switch performed as intended. Unfortunately, there was a short somewhere else (garage door opener) and since the ground had been bypassed/removed, an open short was created that resulted in a fatality.

Speedy Petey 04-14-2009 07:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bigplanz (Post 259630)

We had a case here about 7 years ago where somebody used the ground as the common in a three way switch. It 'worked' in the sense that the switch performed as intended. Unfortunately, there was a short somewhere else (garage door opener) and since the ground had been bypassed/removed, an open short was created that resulted in a fatality.

This was a well documented case that got a lot of media attention. LOTS of finger pointing. The ones ultimately responsible got jail time as well if I remember correctly.
All I remember with any certainty is that a child lost his/her life.

RegeSullivan 04-14-2009 08:08 AM

Could you use another switch? This switch is a non-dimming and there is no timer or sensor so you should be able to find a switch that does not require a neutral unless the led is important enough to warrant pulling a new wire.

joed 04-14-2009 08:47 AM

If the switch has two black wires on it then you either have conduit and could pull a new neutral or there are white wires in the back of the box that you didn't find.

220/221 04-14-2009 06:36 PM

Quote:

Unfortunately, there was a short somewhere else (garage door opener) and since the ground had been bypassed/removed, an open short was created that resulted in a fatality
Probab;ly an open neutral rather than a short.

The real danger here is if you get an open neutral, the current will follow the ground path and energize anything plugged in or gooked up to a ground wire. In the garage door/wet kid case the current likely flowed thru the ground pin on the GDO, thru the metal components, thru the kid and into the wet cement driveway.

Don't use ground for a neutral.


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