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Why Is There No Neutral in a Switch Box?

06th May 2022

When you open a switch box in your home, you will find three wires, i.e. live, neutral and ground. 

However, sometimes there are only two wires present in a switch box, i.e. live and ground.

There will be no neutral wire in the box. While it doesn't make much difference, you might have a problem installing a smart switch in it.

The smart switch needs a neutral wire to work on its own even when the power is off. However, if there is no neutral wire, you can either run a new neutral wire or use a smart switch that works without neutral.

If you want to know why there is no neutral wire in your switch box, we can help you. In this article, we are going to explain to you about neutral wire and why it is not present in the switch box in your home. 

What Is A Neutral Wire?

It is a type of wire in an electrical switch box that creates a reverse pathway for the current. It helps the current to flow back to the original source.

The electrical system in your home is largely unbalanced. This imbalance can result in shocks and fires. Your house's neutral wire returns electrons to the power supply when an outlet is turned off, or a power surge occurs.

In the home, the neutral wire completes the circuit back to the main panel. It's not active, so its voltage is zero. 

One of the most important functions of a neutral wire is to provide a return path for currents. Modern U.S. electrical codes require the use of a neutral wire. 

Contemporary light switches have a power source and a ground wire. Earlier switches do not have a neutral. If you're planning a smart home, it's critical to have a neutral wiring system.

What Is The Purpose of Neutral Wire?

The purpose of the neutral wire is to provide a balanced voltage across all three phases. Without the neutral, the voltage across the load and between the phases would be different, which could be disastrous to electrical equipment. 

The neutral is connected to a common point, which is generally zero voltage, as in a star configuration. In the event of a voltage imbalance, the entire circuit would fail, causing a dangerous electric shock.

The neutral wire in a three phase electrical circuit serves as the common ground between all phases. The three phases are connected in series, and each phase can form an independent circuit. 

This allows each phase to form an independent circuit. The neutral wire maintains a standard voltage rating, which ensures a constant voltage across the entire load. This wire can be used for a number of different purposes. One is to provide a path to the ground.

The neutral wire is often confused with the ground wire. It is, after all, a ground wire, but that's not what it's called. However, it provides a safe path to the ground and avoids the risk of electrocution and critical injuries.

Why Is There No Neutral In A Switch Box?

In most modern homes, a neutral wire is present. However, if your house is old, there is a possibility that a neutral wire is absent in the switch box.

The only way to find out if you have a neutral wire is to check the switch box. In order to do so, you need to turn off the breaker box. 

After that, you need to remove the trim plate from the switch. There will be screws in the box, so you need to remove all the screws to open the box.

Once it is done, pull out the switch carefully. Be careful while handling the switch. Don't touch any wire ends. Now, you need to look for white wires.

If you notice white wires, it means the neutral wire is present in the box. However, to be sure, make sure you check the voltage of the wire.

The main reason why there is no neutral wire in your switch box is that ordinary switches have no use of neutral wires.

If you are using a normal switch, there is no requirement for a neutral wire. It is done to save copper wire. While an ordinary switch doesn't need a neutral wire, it is necessary for smart switches. 

What to Do If You Don't Have a Neutral Wire?

You should not attempt to install a smart home without a neutral wire. The process is difficult but is not impossible. There are three basic solutions to the problem. In case you don't have a neutral wire, consult an electrician and follow his recommendations. If you're not familiar with electrical circuitry, it is best to leave this job to an electrician. However, if you do have the skills necessary, you can try these three methods.

· Add Neutral Wire:

Using an electrician is a good idea. It's important to note that an electrician cannot add a neutral wire to an existing electrical box. He can add a neutral wire to the electrical box for a minimal fee. They can pull the wire from the main circuit and give you a connection to the switch. 

· Use Non-Neutral Smart Switch:

You can't install a smart switch with no neutral because it needs the power to run through. If you do decide to use this type of switch, you'll have to redo the wiring in your walls. If you have a smart home, you can use no-neutral smart switches. This way, you don't need a neutral wire. By using no-neutral switches, you'll be able to automate the lights without having to rewire walls or replace existing light fixtures. 

· Use Dimmable Smart Bulbs:

You can also use dimmable smart bulbs if you don't have a neutral wire to install a smart switch. You can either connect them to a Wi-Fi network or use a hub. These bulbs don't need a neutral wire. You can easily use it to control the lights smartly in your home. They can respond to voice commands and individual applications. You can also find models that are compatible with the Alexa and Google Assistant. 


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