Can I Install a Smart Switch Without a Neutral Wire?
Yes, you can install a smart switch without a neutral wire. There are some smart light switches and dimmers that do not require a neutral wire. These are great for DIY installers looking for an effective smart lighting solution. For example, Lutron Caseta devices do not use a neutral wire.
Having to run a neutral wire to smart in-wall switches and dimmers can present problems for certain users. For one, some DIY installers might not feel comfortable connecting a neutral wire. Other users might find that the existing lights they are replacing do not use a neutral wire. For these users, their best option is to find a smart light solution that does not require a neutral wire.
For most homes built in the 1980s or later, there is usually both a neutral wire and a hot wire at the light switch. This allows for a more balanced AC load, and it prevents the switch or lighting device from making a buzzing sound. This type of configuration is important for preventing any voltage spikes that may otherwise occur. It is usually only in homes built before the 1980s where there is not a neutral wire at the light switch.
The first thing you should do is determine if your lights use a neutral wire. No neutral wire is used when the power source enters a lighting fixture directly, and the switch itself is used to complete the circuit. This is sometimes referred to as a single pole switch loop. Smart switches that require a neutral wire will not work in this configuration because they always need a power source available to communicate with the hub or bridge. Turning the lights off will cut-off the power source that the smart switch needs to do this.
Of course, there are standard light switches that will use a neutral wire. For these lights, the switch box is where a neutral wire will be connected. Power runs to the switch box through a neutral wire, and it is then passed on to the lighting fixture. Most smart switches work in this configuration because the neutral wire maintains an available power source for the switch at all times, even when the lights are off.
If you are looking for smart light switches and dimmers that you can use without a neutral wire, you might consider the Lutron Caseta products. Lutron devices are compatible with great platforms like Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, Google Home, and more. Plus, if you get the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge PRO 2 Hub, you will be able to use all your Lutron Lights with Alarm.com! More information on the Lutron integration for Alarm.com is available here. If you want to check out all of the Lutron products available from Alarm Grid, please click here.
UPDATE: Alarm Grid now offers some Z-Wave in-wall dimmers that do not require the use of a neutral wire. They are linked below:
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