Smart home comprise of smart switches and smart switch don’t come with neutral wire for smart homes. The neutral wire is not used with the smart switches in many cases. But if there is a need to add another smart switch that requires a neutral wire then a neutral wire is added for the smart switch.
Smart switches are active every time to be turned on and off any interval of the time remotely. With a neutral wire with the smart switch, the circuit is always completed which can be easily turned on with the help of the voice or app.
There are different ways to add a neutral wire in smart switches which are discussed in this article.
The conventional and typical switches which are usually wall switches require a neutral wire for their operation. A neutral wire is used to carry back the current to the voltage or the power source from which it is coming from.
A common neutral wire connection in a conventional switch box is shown in the figure below:
Fig: Typical Switch box connection
Importance of Neutral wire
A neutral wire is used to provide a return path to the earth ground. A circuit is incomplete without a neutral wire. If the neutral wire is disconnected from an electrical system then the flow of electricity is also stopped unless the neutral wire is connected again.
A neutral wire is attached to the earth’s ground within an electrical system through a panel. Neutral wire provides a path to complete an electrical system.
Smart switches are the replacement for the old traditional switches which are used to improve the controlling efficiency of different appliances or equipment attached to them. Smart switches are operated the same as the traditional switches but they are also controlled with other smart applications and devices.
Remote control, mobile applications and different other interfaces are used to control the smart switch from anywhere with ease. Smart switches are the new form of automation with better efficiency. Smart switches are used for various functionalities such as ease of control, better reliability, and fewer power consumption.
A smart switch is shown in the figure below:
Fig: Smart Switch
Smart switches are used to control different appliances that are hardwired such as lights, fans, and many other household appliances.
Neutral Wire in Smart Switches
There are numerous manufactures of smart switches. Some manufacturer smart switches require a neutral wire for their operation and some manufacturer smart switches don’t require a neutral wire for their operation.
A neutral wire connection with a smart switch is shown in the figure below.
Fig: Smart Switch Neutral Wire Connection
Checking a Switch Box for Neutral Wire
There are several ways to look for a neutral wire in a switch box. One of the ways to look for the neutral wire is as below:
- Look for the electrical distribution board, breaker panel, panel board, breaker box or the main electrical panel.
- The main electricity feed should be turned OFF.
- The switch face-plate should be removed.
- The switches from the gang box should be removed to check for the wires at back.
- Look for the white wire inside the switch box wires, if there is a white wire then it means there is neutral wire in the electrical system of the house.
The switch box should be examined with great care and with proper equipment. The circuit breaker should be turned OFF before examining the switch box to prevent an electric shock. The wires should not be touched by hand intentionally or unintentionally.
Need of Neutral Wire in Smart Switches
Smart switches are always on standby as they can be turned ON at any instant of time. So, the neutral wire is important in smart switches. The neutral wire is used to complete the circuit even when the switch is in the OFF condition. With the help of the neutral wire, the smart switch circuit is always completed which is then used to turn ON or OFF the appliance connected to it remotely.
If there is no neutral wire in the switch then the circuit is only completed when the switch is turned ON and once the switch is turned OFF the circuit is incomplete. So, the neutral wire is an essential need in smart switches. There are different smart switches that don’t require a neutral wire which can be also used for the same purpose but most of the smart switches available require a neutral wire for their operation.
The smart switches which don’t require a neutral wire for their operation require a home hub. The home hub is essential in such smart switches to store the programming for the smart switches. The hub stores the login information and wireless network details in order to operate the smart switch.
Typically micro-controllers are used to store the different information about the smart switch. To compete with the smart switches available in the markets different manufacturers are replacing the micro-controllers with the home hub in order to improve the reliability of the smart switch.
Adding a Neutral Wire
There are several ways to add a neutral wire. There is also an option to replace the smart switch requiring a neutral wire with a smart switch that doesn’t require a neutral wire for its operation. In this, all the options available will be discussed.
The first choice is to take a neutral wire from a switch box that already has a neutral wire. There are several ways to extended an existing neutral wire from a previous switch box. The identification of a neutral wire from a switch box is discussed in detail in the above section.
An electrician should be called to extend a neutral wire from the existing switch box. The neutral wire should be extended from the switch box following the electrical system and wiring ethics in order to safety add a neutral wire to the smart switches.
Another option to add a neutral wire is to add a new cable to the switch. The neutral wires and hot wires are insulated inside the walls in proper covering. An electrician should be called to add a neutral wire to the smart switch from a light fixture. The light fixture and the smart switch both can be also rewired in order to add a neutral wire in the system. Rewiring both wires is a complex and expensive practice so instead of rewiring both a new neutral wire is added in the switch box.
The connection of ground wire as a neutral wire is not safe as per the electrical codes and the building codes. Neutral wires should be installed separately in the switch boxes and there is no other certain way to add up a neutral wire. The neutral wire needs to be extended throughout the electrical system.
The next option is use such smart switches that don’t require a neutral wire for their operation. The smart switches capable of dimming are used instead of the neutral wire. The dimming functionality is a crucial process as it reduces the power flow from the light to the switch to a trickle.
Smart switches are used to replace the old conventional switches in order improve the automation factor.
Smart switches are energy efficient and their automation level provides a comfort level as compared to conventional switches.
The smart switches are mostly used with the neutral wire. Neutral wires are used to complete any circuit and the same concept is used in the smart switches to complete the circuit with the help of the neutral wires and operate the switch remotely at any instant.
Neutral wires can be added by two ways. One way is to extend a neutral wire from a previous switch box comprising of neutral wire and the second way is to add a new neutral wire in the house by following the electrical and building codes.
Services from a professional electrician must be taken in order to add a new neutral wire or to extend a previous one.