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Old 04-13-2009, 07:59 PM   #1
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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.
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:06 PM   #2
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No neutral wire...


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.
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Last edited by Bocolo; 04-13-2009 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:10 PM   #3
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No neutral wire...


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.
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:17 PM   #4
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No neutral wire...


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
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?
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:38 PM   #5
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No neutral wire...


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Originally Posted by valerikim View Post
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.
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:51 PM   #6
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No neutral wire...


No, No, No -- don't even think about using the ground as the neutral...
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:57 PM   #7
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No neutral wire...


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?
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:23 PM   #8
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No neutral wire...


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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.
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:34 PM   #9
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No neutral wire...


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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.
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:47 PM   #10
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No neutral wire...


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.
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:00 AM   #11
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No neutral wire...


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
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.
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:04 AM   #12
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No neutral wire...


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Originally Posted by Bigplanz View Post

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.
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:08 AM   #13
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No neutral wire...


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.
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:47 AM   #14
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No neutral wire...


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.
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:36 PM   #15
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No neutral wire...


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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