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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

My apologies in advance for what may be a basic question...

In the photo below, I'm trying to install a smart light switch that requires a neutral wire.

638098


Those wires that I'm connecting the switch's neutral wire (white) to are colored brown rather than white. (Same color as the load wire BTW) I am not getting any power to the switch, when I turn the breaker back on (and the lights will not turn on/off), so are those not neutral wires? I am not aware of another (3-way) switch, so if those aren't neutral wires, what are they?

The house was originally wired in the 70's, although there was a kitchen remodel around 2008.

There is a chance I happened to get a defective switch, but I doubt it.

Thanks in advance for your help.

In case you're wondering, those other wire nuts in the box are to extend the length of the other wires.
 

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A "Handy Husband"
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Since there is a white and black on the switch would indicate a switch loop. Usually no neutral in the box. Show us the old switch.

Sent from my moto g power using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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So, wiring for a 3-way switch?

Standard paddle rocker switch with load, line and neutral.
This question makes no sense to me. What about a 3 way switch? The picture of the switch you show has no neutral. It has 2 hot leads (load and line, doesn't matter what you connect to what as it operates the same going either way, so they are not distinguished as load and line terminals, unlike a GFCI outlet for example) and a ground (not necessary for the switch to function, older switched never had them, but definitely not the neutral.)
 

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I don't see any brown wires at all. I agree with Randy - unless that picture is misleading, you've got neutral wires connected to ground. Unless there is a connection of white wires hiding behind the wire nut that we can't see.

I would never work on an electrical box without knowing what is the hot source wire. The only time I'd do that is if I was swapping out a lke-for-like switch and connecting everything like it was before, and it was working correctly before. (Even then you can make mistakes. For example, an old owner might have wired a light switch that switched the neutral line, which will operate the light switch perfectly normally, but it's a dangerous situation. I would always want to know exactly what I'm dealing with.) You seem to be trying to figure it out by hooking things up and seeing if it works. Bad idea. Figure out what you're doing. At the least, get a non-contact voltage tester, which will at least tell you what wire is hot, and then you can go from there.

One of the white wires is almost surely not a neutral, but a switch leg going to the light. Before removing any old electrical components, I always recommend taking a picture of it before you take it apart so you have a record of what went where.
 

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You could have the line and load reversed.
Yeah, again, you need to know what you're dealing with and which wires are hot (source). You don't know how the old switch cable was run, for a standard switch either the white or the black could be hot, the switch would work the same no matter what. Your new switch works differently, so the difference matters. Get a tester if you ever planning on doing any electrical work, is my advice.
 

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Could those wires be anything else (besides travelers)?
Why do you keep mentioning 3 way switches and travelers? According to you the old switch was not a 3 way, so the new one can't be.

Any idea why brown would have been used?
The only wire I see that could remotely be considered "brown" is the older, yellowed white neutral wire.
 

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The diagram given lower down on this page is potentially confusing/misleading. The new switch has "Line/Load" terminals identified. The old switch doesn't. So you can't tell which wire goes to which switch. (In the diagram both the old wires going to the switch were black, which doesn't happen in the real world.)

Again, get a tester.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Unless the picture is miss leading that bare and green wire should not be connected to the white ones.
Agreed. The picture is misleading. The green and copper are only connected to each other. The wire connected to the red load screw is not going into the orange wire nut. It's behind it. Here's another angle...
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You folks are saying the "brown" wires are really just discolored white?
 

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You could have the line and load reversed.
That would be my guess as well. Your old switch was just a simple toggle? It didn't really matter in that case, with a smart switch it does because that line voltage is what powers the "smart" features of the switch.
Once you get the connections figured out I am worried all those wires and that bulky smart switch will even fit in that box?
 
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