Author Topic: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?  (Read 394 times)

Offline jrweiland

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Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« on: August 05, 2018, 03:47:45 pm »
I have a lighting question, forgive me if it's too basic!

My home does not have neutrals at the switches. For one room, I solved this with the Aeotec Nano Dimmer. Dimmer is installed behind the light switch, and the light switch is wired into the nano to turn the light on/off. (Basically, the wires in the switch box go directly into the Dimmer, and the switch then gets wired to the Dimmer to tell it to turn on/off when it's toggled)


I recently discovered the Aeotec Micro Switch. Will it work the same as the dimmer described above (just without dimming and just being on/off)? Or do I need to install it in the ceiling, with the light fixture where there is a neutral wire?


It would be so great if it worked in this no-neutral situation because it's much less expensive than the dimmer.


Thanks so much!

Offline Mike Yeager

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2018, 01:26:47 pm »
I'm going to get bashed for this, but if you're in the US (I can't speak for other's electrical systems), and it's NOT on a ground fault circuit (might work there, might not), use the ground as a neutral. The reason this works is that they both connect together back at the panel. This solution does NOT meet code and there's probably going to be a ton of posts telling you that you'll burn your house to the ground, but it's worked well for me for many years. Your mileage may vary....

Ok, I have my body armor on. SMITE ME!!!!

Online rigpapa

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2018, 02:10:52 pm »
I'm going to get bashed for this, but if you're in the US (I can't speak for other's electrical systems), and it's NOT on a ground fault circuit (might work there, might not), use the ground as a neutral. The reason this works is that they both connect together back at the panel. This solution does NOT meet code and there's probably going to be a ton of posts telling you that you'll burn your house to the ground, but it's worked well for me for many years. Your mileage may vary....

Ok, I have my body armor on. SMITE ME!!!!

OK. I'll go. :) The present and future risk this creates is to unwitting others (and maybe forgetful you). The ground is not meant to be a full-time current carrying conductor (that's why they are usually smaller than the corresponding neutral). Even the small current required to operate the microswitch may be sufficient to deliver a fatal shock to an electrician or other brave individual that works elsewhere in the circuit and opens the neutral and/or ground (we all know electricians and DIYers that are happy to do quick things "hot"--breaker still on). The shock itself doesn't even need to be sufficient to kill, as the old electrician's adage "it's not the shock that gets you, it's the fall from the ladder" suggests. That could put you on the path of some serious personal liability, even years after you've sold the house and forgotten you did it. Never underestimate an insurance company's commitment to recoup its payout to their injured insured.

@jrweiland, having it in the ceiling, where the neutral is, is better.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 02:13:33 pm by rigpapa »
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Offline randya

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2018, 04:23:16 pm »
jrweiland, are you sure there is not a neutral in the switch box?  When I wired my zwave switches in, the neutral was not connected to the old switches (obviously) but they were still in the box.  They were tucked away in the back of the box and basically jumped from "in" to "out" lines so that neutral continued downstream.  So all I had to do was tie into that for the zwave switches and all was good, safe, and to code.

Offline Don Phillips

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2018, 08:17:09 pm »
jrweiland, are you sure there is not a neutral in the switch box?  When I wired my zwave switches in, the neutral was not connected to the old switches (obviously) but they were still in the box.  They were tucked away in the back of the box and basically jumped from "in" to "out" lines so that neutral continued downstream.  So all I had to do was tie into that for the zwave switches and all was good, safe, and to code.

That was true in my case. My GE switches even came with a jumper (although I bought me a spool of #14 white wire). Added a jumper from the ganged neutrals and the switches (4 of them) work great.
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Offline jrweiland

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2018, 07:07:38 am »
Hey! I actually don?t even have a ground either lol. Built in 1948. I?ve checked to see if there is a neutral tucked away in the back of the box, but have yet to have that happen in any of the switch boxes I?ve checked out.

Is there any way at all that I can have a no-neutral setup in the switch box for this device?

Offline Sammy2

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2018, 02:28:37 pm »
Doesn't the switch just make or break the circuit?

A light bulb is basically a dead short used to create light. You connect one to the L and the other to the N which is carrying current back to the breaker.

Did I miss something? Do you have a wiring diagram to tell a thousand words?

Offline Mike Yeager

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2018, 08:52:44 pm »
If all you have in the box is two wires, a hot wire in and a switched lead to the light/fan, you're solidly out of luck. The electronic inside the ZWave device require a neutral to power them.

Offline jswim788

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2018, 12:12:51 am »
I don't think the original poster is out of luck.  The device mentioned really doesn't seem to need a neutral.  See https://aeotec.com/z-wave-light-dimmer-switch.  I'm guessing that it works like some of the old style lighted switches - it gets a little current through the load when it is "off" - not enough to make the bulb at the load appear on, but enough to power the device.  As I recall some of the Cooper switches were able to do that as well?

Offline shallowearth

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2018, 04:13:02 am »
The best smart switches (particularly if you want dimmers) that don?t require a neutral is Lutron?s Caseta System.  You can use the Caseta Hub or Wink Hub to control the switches.  I don?t believe there is a plug in anymore for Wink unfortunately, not sure about Caseta I think it was also pulled by the author.  However I currently have some Caseta switches plus a Wink, I just send commands over to them from my Vera via IFTTT (using Webhooks on IFTTT to the Wink Service).  Is actually more stable than the plug in was but doesn?t support the other direction (currently doesn?t support triggers from Wink).

Offline Mike Yeager

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Re: Aeotec Micro Switch in no-neutral situation?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2018, 04:43:01 pm »
I wasn't aware there was a device out there that didn't require a neutral. I learned something today (which is good) and it's even something that may come in handy.  :) :) :) :)