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Author Topic: Neutral Wire Woes  (Read 4196 times)

Offline adamjs83

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Neutral Wire Woes
« on: June 17, 2015, 10:43:17 pm »
I am hoping that someone can help me pass a roadblock that I just hit changing one of my last sets of switches.

All of my electrical boxes so far have had neutral wires except for a two gang box which I just opened.  This box has a pair of 3-way switches. The other two boxes which house the 3-way pairs for the two switches, respectively, both have neutral wires.  I have already installed Linear WD500Z dimmers in each of of those two boxes.  I was planning this evening to install a pair of WT00Z-1 3way accessory switches in this box however they require a neutral wire.  I was going to nut off one of the traveler wires for each switch, I had already done so in the other two boxes, and then just connect the line and load for the lighting circuit with the power wire on the WT00Z however without the neutral it seems that this is not an option.  I could just eliminate the switches from this location and cover the box but I think the wife will definitely want switches there.  I was wondering if anyone has a solution to make this work without neutrals or can suggest a hard wired alternate product to the WT00Z which does not require a neutral.

One idea I have is to use the unused traveler wire to connect to the neutrals in the other boxes. Would that work?

Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 11:06:50 pm by adamjs83 »

Offline Z-Waver

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2015, 07:47:47 am »
Does your wiring not look like the attached diagram?

Offline adamjs83

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2015, 08:15:30 am »
If I understand it correctly I believe it looks like this:

http://www.act-solutions.com/PCC/images/fig06.gif

In my case the box on the left has the bundle of white neutral wires in the back so I was able to install the dimmer there.  The box on the right is where i wanted to put the accessory switch.  I'm wondering if I can re-purpose the red (in the diagram) traveler wire to tie back to the neutral bundle in the left box.

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« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 09:16:25 am by adamjs83 »

Offline Z-Waver

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2015, 09:18:27 am »
You better be sure.

It'll be necessary to reconfigure the wires but you can still get Line and neutral to the remote switch.

Offline adamjs83

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2015, 09:35:35 am »
I am reasonably sure, I have experimented with all of the wires so I have a pretty good sense of what they do.  Assuming everything is working as expected, us there any reason that I need to be more sure than that?

How would you suggest reconfiguring the wires? Does my idea of using the unused traveler to reach the neutral in other box pass the smell test?

Offline Z-Waver

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2015, 10:06:30 am »
Well, I'm not sure what you have. You replaced your original diagram with one that has a different wiring configuration.

Your second diagram could still be used to make these two switches work.

Offline adamjs83

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2015, 10:13:34 am »
Go by the second diagram, its the one I based my explanation on.  I think its a better representation of what I have.


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« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 10:36:14 am by adamjs83 »

Offline Z-Waver

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2015, 11:10:29 am »
Can you do this?

Offline adamjs83

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2015, 11:47:16 am »
Accessing the lights would be very difficult, its 4 high hats in a very tall room. 

Offline Z-Waver

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2015, 12:15:03 pm »
Maybe I could do it for you.

 ::)

Offline adamjs83

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2015, 01:16:35 pm »
I spoke to an electrician and and electrical engineer.  Apparently doing this incorrectly can risk a fire down the road, I am going to have one of them come to my house and finish this part of the project for me.  No need to play with fire.

Offline Z-Waver

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2015, 01:31:15 pm »
That is the best thing to do.

Offline adamjs83

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2015, 10:48:02 pm »
In case anyone is wondering the method of repurposing the red traveler wire to connect to the neutral in the other box was successful.  The one critical thing to watch out for is making sure the neutral you tie back to is on the same breaker as your line or you could overload the neutral wire which would not trip the breaker, causing a fire.

Thanks Z-Waver for the help.

Offline shallowearth

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2015, 01:21:39 am »
I am assuming that would only happen if there were actually different neutral bundles in the same box (aka not all tied together in one bundle) which is generally against code anyway.  I am not sure why there would be a risk that you are tying to the wrong neutral on a different circuit.. boxes should never be setup that way in the first place to prevent that kind of accident.  But who knows some times you find crazy crap wired wrong in your boxes.


Offline adamjs83

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Re: Neutral Wire Woes
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2015, 07:16:21 am »
It's possible that the box that you would be grabbing the neutral from could have other switches from different circuits which could be on different breakers.  At least this is what my electrician friend told me.  We are in greater NYC which has a lot of older homes and apartments and you would be shocked at what you find.


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