A smart switch is a traditional regulator that can be used remotely through a mobile application or voice. For better voltage control, the circuit of a significant percentage of these switch models needs a neutral addition.
How do you add a neutral wire to a smart switch?
There are two significant ways to achieve this seamlessly, and both of them require a trained technician’s service. The first is to add a new neutral to the special switch and the second way is to extend the neutral from a former switch to a new one.
However, it is pertinent to note that these methods need to be handled by trained technicians, and also, there are other options that we will help you remotely explore which do not require any expert input.
How to add a Neutral wire to your light switch?
To achieve this, you can extend a preinstalled neutral from an existing box or simply fix a new one to your home. The first method is more complicated than the second. Either way, you need a trained expert and some precautions.
Just like we hinted at above, there are many ways to add a neutral to your special smart switch, depending on your house plan and needs. We shall discuss each option in detail in subsequent paragraphs.
- The first option is to get a box that has a neutral wire
Most traditional switches come with this, and your home will have a neutral attached to this box. After that, extend the neutral from this box to your new switch. There are many ways to accomplish this. However, this method is not as straightforward as it seems.
It is highly recommended that you get a trained expert or professional to help you attach a neutral from a former box to a new switch. The expert will be required to consider the distinct electrical pattern of your home when extending a wire from one place to another. This is a significant prerequisite to ensure safety during and after the installation.
- The second way to add a neutral to your new switch is to get a new neutral for the box independently
We recommend here once more that you get an expert to help you fix the live and the new neutral into your walls with good covering. You can also remodel the new switch and light independently, but this method is more stressful and more complicated than simply fixing a new neutral to your new fittings.
Another way is to buy a select switch that does not need a neutral. In this regard, there are two types of smart switches:
- One that has dimmers
- The one without dimmers
The dimmers work similarly to a neutral by balancing the flow of current. Hence, getting an electrical fitting that comes with dimmers is a better choice, especially if your house lacks proper planning.
If you wish to see a live demonstration of how to install a neutral to your select switch, watch this video below.
Why do special switches need a neutral?
The reason is that they need to stay on every time. These switches are so named just because you crave the desire to control them at all times. To achieve this, you must have a neutral, which makes the circuit balanced and consequently gain access to the fittings remotely, even when it’s powered off.
The function of the neutral is to prevent a broken circuit. Without it in place, the circuit can’t be powered remotely when the switch is off. This means that you can only use it when it’s on. When you look at your junction box, the neutral is placed to balance the two wires that power the light.
Also, a home hub is used in scenarios where you have an electrical fitting that does not need a neutral. This is possible as your login details are preprogrammed on the hub. Here, you do not need a controller in the fittings.
What are the alternatives if you do not possess a Neutral?
There are three primary alternatives for people who wish to achieve a balanced current flow in this regard. You can have a wire fixed to your house to serve this purpose or use smart switches instead. The third option is to get special bulbs, which will save you stress and cost.
To fix a new wire as your neutral, you need the service of an electrician. This professional will help you fix a wire to your home to balance the flow of current. A more expensive approach is for the electrician to do a separate remodeling for all .fittings Getting new electrical fittings through your building might be too much stress and incur high costs.
A Practical helpful option is to buy special smart switches that come with dimmers. These switches need no neutral. The dimmers work similarly to the neutral to return hot wire current to its source. A crucial consideration if you choose this is to make sure that the special switch is compatible with your fittings before purchase.
The third option is to use dimmable smart bulbs. This option is helpful, especially if you do not want to undergo the stress of a full house rewiring. Cost-wise, this might not be the best option for you when you consider its efficiency, but it will serve you a lot of good. With these bulbs, all you need to do is leave them on and have a nice remote control.
Whichever option you go for, always endeavor to consider local electrical rules and regulations. Also, remember not to compromise your safety or convenience due to a tight budget.
What is Neutral Wire?
A neutral wire is a piece used to complete the current flow; it is the material through which the primary current returns to its source. Just as transformers help us balance the power we receive from the main lines, think of a neutral wire as a way to balance the potential during current transmission.
Usually, the all-electric current must return to its source in other to have a complete and balanced connection. To achieve this, a neutral wire is used to return the current being carried by the live or hot wire. This allows the current to flow through a balanced potential.
From the name, some people do think that one can’t get an electric shock from a neutral wire. Indeed, neutral cables are expected to carry no potential, but electric shock is possible if the system lacks balance. This is why the neutral is usually connected to the earth to obtain a balanced current flow path. Besides, specific protective structures can be used to enhance safety if the cable is not connected to the ground. These structures are as safe as using the ground.
Lastly, there’s a subtle difference between a neutral cable and a ground cable. The neutral, which is usually white, returns hot wire current to its source. On the other hand, a ground cable, typically green, is used to safeguard electrical fittings from imbalanced voltages.
How to check for a Neutral Wire?
You can check for a neutral piece using several methods. We shall explain in proper detail below. However, the most straightforward way is to open your panel and look for a white wire. There are certain precautions and guidelines you must follow during the check.
You must note that a trained expert should do all installations and checks. Follow these steps to know if you have a neutral.
- First off, look for the main panel and disable the live circuit you are working on
- For verification, begin with the light-powered on.
- Make sure that the circuit is off by using its breaker.
- When you’re sure that the box has no power, open the panel and remove the switch by unscrewing.
- Leave the components as they are.
- There might be variations due to different manufacturers, but the basic model is similar.
- If you see a white wire in the box, it means you most likely have a neutral.
- Sometimes, the presence of a white wire doesn’t denote that you have a neutral. Hence, check if you have two wire bundles entering the box.
- If you see that, you’re good to go.
Do not touch any component with your bare hand during the check. If you wish to see a live demonstration on how to check for a neutral, watch this video.
Special switches are gradually taking over the use of traditional models. Most of these new fittings need a neutral for a complete connection. Since most people desire a remote control of their fittings when powered off, there’s a need for a reliable voltage control method provided by a neutral. As we highlighted throughout the article, you have several options if you wish to add a neutral to your smart switch, but a professional’s help is required in most cases.