Does wiring to switch box need neutral?

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  #1  
Old 12-27-05, 06:24 PM
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Does wiring to switch box need neutral?

Does wiring to the switch box need a neutral run with it? In other words, can I run two wire romex to the switch from a junction box? One side would be hot and the other would be switched. The switched side (white) would have phase tape on the end inside the junction box making it black indicating a switched wire. This would get connected to the black wire going to the light.

I was just told by my brother that can't do that and instead have to run two two-wire romex cables to my switch, tie the white/neutrals together in the switch box, and use the blacks for the hot and switched. He said you can't use phase tape on anything less than 6-gauge wire.

Or would it really be up to my inspector? Will he care?

Steve
 
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Old 12-27-05, 06:34 PM
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Yes, you can do that. It's called a "switch loop". The black wire must be used as the switched hot, and the white wire as the unswitched hot. The white wire should be reidentified at both ends with a black marker. This all means that in the junction box, the white wire of the switch loop will connect to the hot black wires in that box.

There is some partial truth to what your brother says, but it's mostly wrong. The rule about wire size refers to marking black wires white, not marking white wires black. And it generally applies to individual conductors, not to wires within a cable.

Don't generalize the rules I've given you too much. It's not always okay to reidentify a white wire as a hot, but it is in the circumstance you cited.
 
  #3  
Old 12-27-05, 07:54 PM
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Exactly what I needed to know. Thanks!

Steve
 
  #4  
Old 12-28-05, 07:42 AM
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I suggest you use a 3-wire cable for two reasons---- you will have a more definite and positive identification of the conductors, i.e., Black = "feed", Red = switch-controlled wire to fixture---- in the future, you can extend a 2-wire ( Black & White wires) "feed-out" cable from the switch outlet-box to another outlet, such as a receptacle.
 
  #5  
Old 12-28-05, 03:24 PM
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Another reason to extend a neutral to the switch box is that a number of controls - timers, "smart" dimmers, home automation (X-10) switches either require a neutral, are less expensive in versions that require a neutral, or perform more reliably with a neutral.
 
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