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Old 03-21-2012, 11:05 PM   #1
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photo sensor - ground/neutral wire usage


I've installed a photo sensor for an exterior single bulb (energy saving one) fixture. After fighting my way through in our VERY low attick space 4 times -for different tools, turning off breaker, etc-, I ran a 14/2 romex from a j-box (that carries only line+neutral, R+W wires straight to the fixture) to the photo sensor outside as a switch-leg wire....and ooopsss, when everything was pulled and just the sensor needed to be connected, I realized, the photo sensor needs a neutral as well!
I've phased the ground wire on both ends, made it to be a neutral, now I have line+load(as switchleg wires)+neutral going to the sensor. Since the distance is only about 10 feet, the load is about 14Watts (compact fluorescent bulb), I thought it can't do anything wrong like this...... AM I SO WRONG HERE?? (it's a pain in the axe to climb the attick in the Florida heat even in the morning, in that narrow space....)
Thank you!
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:30 PM   #2
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photo sensor - ground/neutral wire usage


By code, using the ground as a neutral is illegal.
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:42 PM   #3
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photo sensor - ground/neutral wire usage


Can you try to replace one section of cable to 14-3 instead of the 14-2 ??

And you say R+W conductors if whole cable is red et white then where is the black conductor is ?

Merci,
Marc
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:49 AM   #4
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photo sensor - ground/neutral wire usage


k_buz, thanks, but I did this work for myself at our own house, so I guess I don't need to worry about codes being accepted by inspector, etc. right? In other words: there is nothing seems wrong with the actual way it works now, but it's against the code, otherwise it's not dangerous, right??
frenchelectricanThe RED & WHITE wires are the only ones coming in from line side in this j-box, there is no Black wire coming in to begin with. (these are the wires that are coming straight from the existing regular wall switch and going to the fixture....now with the newly installed -by me- additional switch/photo sensor in the circuit)
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:29 AM   #5
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photo sensor - ground/neutral wire usage


Quote:
Originally Posted by tt3312 View Post
k_buz, thanks, but I did this work for myself at our own house, so I guess I don't need to worry about codes being accepted by inspector, etc. right? In other words: there is nothing seems wrong with the actual way it works now, but it's against the code, otherwise it's not dangerous, right??
Yes, if given the right circumstances, it can be dangerous.

If what you fed the motion detector from was a metal box, and somehow that uninsulated neutral comes in direct contact with that metal box, your neutral and ground are now essentially bonded and everything metal throughout your house can carry a load on it.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:35 AM   #6
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photo sensor - ground/neutral wire usage


Quote:
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Yes, if given the right circumstances, it can be dangerous.
No, IT IS dangerous. And the whole this is my own house I don't have to worry about the inspector is a bunch of crap as well. Trying to use the "we don't have codes" excuse to justify using a bare ground as a neutral is sad at best.
Also, what is grounding the circuit if you use the ground for the neutral?? Nothing.

This is wrong on so many levels I almost hesitate to give advice.

tt3312, you screwed up. Admit it. Accept it. Move on.
Do the right and SAFE thing and replace the cable with a 3-wire. This is no mystery and NO surprise. Photo cells have ALWAYS required a neutral.
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC. If you're on the '14 already I feel sorry for you.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:36 AM   #7
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photo sensor - ground/neutral wire usage


You need to stay out of the attic and get out the check book!!!!

Nowhere, ever is it safe to use the ground wire to carry current!!!

I'm all about helping diy, but when you have as little knowlege as you have about electricity, time to call a pro!
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:17 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of yours help: wire is getting replaced!!
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