Do I need to use the neutral wire?

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  #1  
Old 04-29-05, 01:40 PM
rUfUnKy
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Exclamation Do I need to use the neutral wire?

first off, is this a neutral wire ?

I am replacing a few of my switches to set up home automation and the switches I purchased are not neutral wire complient switches.

1) Do I need neutral wire complient switches?

2) What are the benifits and disadvantages of having a neutral wire?

3) Should I send these back and get the more expensive neutral wire complient switches?

Thanks,Steve
 
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  #2  
Old 04-29-05, 01:58 PM
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It looks like a neutral connection in the photo.In a 120v circuit a switch is wired in series with what it controls,without a neutral you have no circuit. Only in certain industrial circumstances is a neutral allowed to be switched.
 
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Old 04-29-05, 03:23 PM
rUfUnKy
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Originally Posted by ampz
It looks like a neutral connection in the photo.In a 120v circuit a switch is wired in series with what it controls,without a neutral you have no circuit. Only in certain industrial circumstances is a neutral allowed to be switched.
Thanks for the reply ampz
Just so I understand your response, your saying that it is a neutral wire but it is not necessarily there for the switch??

sorry for the dumb questions
 
  #4  
Old 04-29-05, 03:44 PM
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Most of the time if a switch uses a neutral wire is for a night light built into the switch,
or to run a timer or clock inside the switch unit.
If your new switch does not need a neutral wire, then you do not need one for the switch.
I would guess the neutral wire goes to the light with the hot wire from the switch.
 
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Old 04-29-05, 05:36 PM
rUfUnKy
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Originally Posted by GWIZ
Most of the time if a switch uses a neutral wire is for a night light built into the switch,
or to run a timer or clock inside the switch unit.
If your new switch does not need a neutral wire, then you do not need one for the switch.
I would guess the neutral wire goes to the light with the hot wire from the switch.
okay, thanks for the help.
 
  #6  
Old 04-30-05, 05:14 AM
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"What are the benefits of having a Neutral wire?"

A 3-wire Branch-Circuit cable with a Neutral conductor which extends from the breaker-panel can supply the power-equivalent of two 2-wire cables. In commercial/industrial wiring, a 4-wire Branch-Circuit with a Neutral conductor can supply the power equivalent of three 2-wire cables.

The White wire is the "Identified" circuit-conductor, and is also the "Grounded" circuit-conductor, the NEC requiring all Grounded circuit-conductors to be identified by the color White, and NO OTHER color.

One "exception" often used in residential wiring is the White wire of a 2-wire cable which is connected between a switch-controlled fixture and the switch. For this type of connection, the White connects to the Black wire of a "Feed-In" cable in the fixture outlet-box, and then extends power to the terminal of the switch that controls the fixture, the power extended back to the fixture via the Black wire when the switch is "On".The point is that not all White wires in residential wiring are Grounded/Neutral conductors if there are connections to switches in an outlet-box.
 
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Old 04-30-05, 08:41 AM
rUfUnKy
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Thanks PATTBAA,

can you confirm this statement:

Is it true wall switch 2031w is constantly using electricity?

Yes, it is true that the 2031W switch utilizes a constant flow of electricity. That is due to the fact that these switches do not require a neutral wire. Switches that utilize/need a neutral wire to function are more efficient in handling electricity to the switches.

Thanks, Steve
 
  #8  
Old 04-30-05, 11:08 AM
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Yes, it constantly uses electricity, but a very minute amount. A clock uses more.
 
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Old 05-01-05, 11:25 AM
rUfUnKy
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thanks john
 
  #10  
Old 05-01-05, 02:37 PM
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Assuming you are using X-10 for your home automation: my understanding is that the X-10 switches which use the neutral wire are much more sensitive to the X-10 signal (can detect a much lower signal) than those which do not require a neutral. If you ahve a large house or installation you may have signal strength issues with the non-neutral X-10 switches.

Note I I have always used X-10 switches which use the neutral. There is a much wider selection of switches which require a neutral and (I thought) they cost less.

Edit: I just looked at the 2031w switch you are using and it indeed pretty inexpensive. I am using the more expensive SwitchLinc units.
 
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Old 05-01-05, 02:53 PM
rUfUnKy
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Thanks for the info mike
My house is only about 1000 sqf (Raised ranch) So hopefully there will be no signle issue. I only paid $5.95 each so they were very inexpensive.
 
  #12  
Old 05-02-05, 10:43 AM
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"What are the benefits of having a Neutral wire?"-----

Let's modify the question to---- "What's the benefit of a system with a Neutral conductor?"

I was remiss in not metioning a very important advantage of a Neutral in a system-- saftey.

We all know most shocks are shocks-to-Ground, "Ground" being percieved as any surface that will conduct a shock-current; a wet floor, metal pipes and tubings, etc.--- I don't know the value of a shock-current that is fatal, but it is a VERY low value, probably measured in milli-amperes, .001 amps being 1 milli-ampere.

In US systems, as compared to the UK, Grounding and Bonding requirements will result in the Neutral and "Ground" being at the same potential level.This means that if you measure 120 volts between any "Live" wire and the Neutral in a panel, you will also measure 120 volts between any "Live" wire and Ground.

The significance? For example, in a 2-wire 30 amp Branch-Circuit for an appliance with 240 volts across the two conductors, the maximum voltage-to-Ground is 120 volts because the circuit connects to a system with a Neutral.The same applies to a 3-phase , 3-wire circuit with 208 volts beteeen any two of the 3 wires.

By contrast, in the UK where there are no "Neutral" systems, the voltage-to Ground on a 2-wire, 240 volt circuit is 240 volts, a very lethal value indeed.
 
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