Installing neutral wire?

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Old 03-12-14, 11:28 PM
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Installing neutral wire?

I'm trying to install a programmable timer switch but there is not neutral wire in my switch box. There is 1 black wire, 1 red wire, and a bare copper wire. Is there any way I can install the timer?
 
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Old 03-12-14, 11:53 PM
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Sounds like they used that red Romex for the switch loop.. Either that or they (stupidly) clipped off the white wire. Short of pulling new cable to that switch, no there's no way to install a neutral. And no, you can't use the ground.

Your only option is to find a timer that does not require a neutral. They do make electronic ones. They either run off a battery for the timer part, or they draw power from the circuit through the load side of the switch loop (note this type will lose power if the bulb burns out or is removed, but they generally have a reserve power supply to save the settings).
 
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Old 03-13-14, 04:36 AM
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Is this a cable or conduit wiring method?
 
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Old 03-13-14, 05:11 AM
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I was thinking the same thing, until I noted "bare" ground. Leads to believe it is cable with snipped neutral. A picture of the switch wiring would help.
 
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Old 03-13-14, 05:14 AM
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Canada also has the xx-2 cable for 240 that is just a black, a red and the ground. But the voltage would be wrong for household lighting.
 
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Old 03-13-14, 06:17 AM
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You may not install the timer requiring the neutral in that location without doing rewiring. .

Note: A single conductor neutral run may not be installed after the fact to go with an already existing cable for the hot conductor(s).

The red/black/bare cable is commonly used, when available, for switch loops as you have in this location. Its primary use is for 240 volt circuits, mostly for electric heaters, so one company trademarked it "Heatex".
 
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Old 03-13-14, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Canada also has the xx-2 cable for 240 that is just a black, a red and the ground. But the voltage would be wrong for household lighting.

Yeah that's what I was referring to when I said "red Romex".. It's got a red jacket on it.. But the fact that they used it for a switch loop doesn't mean it's carrying 240. Their code may allow it to be used in a switch loop versus repurposing/marking a white wire...

AllanJ - That stuff is virtually non-existent in the states. Our code doesn't call for it, and I'd bet very few supply houses even carry it. And now that NEC2011 requires neutrals at all switch locations (for the very reason the OP is asking), it wouldn't even have a purpose in switch loops going forward.
 
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Old 03-13-14, 05:04 PM
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Copper is copper. Nothing wrong with using that for a switch loop, just weird to do. We do not have to remark the white on a switch loop.

OP, I think your white got clipped. Look hard at the cable coming in, is the casing white or red? If white, can you see a tiny nub of a wire in it?
If so, you may be lucky enough to have some slack behind your wall you could pull in. This would bring in a neutral for you. Would have to do the same at the fixture box.
 
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Old 03-13-14, 06:17 PM
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Re

In the back of my switch box, there are two thick bundles of wire that continue up through the wall. The red and black wire comes out of the larger wire bundle. The wires (red and black) are covered with another white insulating layer like the diagram below but I have a black wire instead of white.
Just to make things clear
- the voltage of our house is 120v
- our house is built in the 1990's
 
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Old 03-13-14, 07:39 PM
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I see you are in Canada, just guessing here,
12-2 for 240 volts?

I have a few runs in my house to lights and the microwave that have this wire, in my case I guess they had some left over and just used it up rather than buy Romex with a white neutral.
 
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