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  • Z wave/Neutral Wires

    Hello all. I am looking for help on installing z wave light switches. I bought a new build home in 2010 and currently upgrading my switches to Z wave to work with my home security system. I have had success in all but two switches and for the life of me cannot figure out why I can't get them to work.

    From my guess, my problem is stemming from the "neutral wire". All my switches previously had just a hot wire, load, and a ground. Now I know this is not correct (and if you can let me know the risks of this as well), but the switches I have gotten to work thus far are connecting the hot wire (black) to the screw marked "line", the red wire to the "load" and the ground wire to the "neutral". It has worked in 5 switches. I know that the neutral and ground are not exactly the same thing, but it works...what are the risks though???

    Here is the other problem...in two switches, there is no red wire. I only have two black wires and a ground. When I try the same thing connecting the ground to the neutral, and the black hot to the line and the other black to the load, the circuit breaker will not stay set when I flip it back on...it trips right away. Now just a guess, it has to do with me using the ground wire as a neutral, but why would it work in the other light switches when I have a red and black wire but not in the dual blacks? Like I said, its a brand new home so I assume the color coding of the wires should be up to code.

    Now, when I orginally tried a setup with the red and black wiring, I searched for the neutral "white" wires. I thought I had found them, and when I tried it, it did not work and I also found out that one of my outlets in my bedroom no longer worked when I now had it out of the wire connector...so I assume that I found a wire that controlled the switch outlet but not the neutral...?

    Any help or insight on this would be greatly appreciated!!

  • #2
    Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

    I think your problem is that you don't understand the way the Z WAVE device works nor do you fully understand the different ways houses are wired. SInce I am not familiar with the Z wave product, I looked it up and saw how it works and how it is to be installed properly. The Z WAVE switch requires a neutral connection. It appears to me that it won't work unless you have a neutral connection. SOme of your light switch locations may not have a neutral in the box. WHat you have done it a situation like this is you used the ground as a neutral. Although this may work, it is not allowed. Doing this is against the NEC (National Electrical code). You must understand that in order for the device to work properly and legally there must be a neutral present in the electrical box where you install it. SOme switch locations simply do not have a neutral and therefore the unit should not be istalled UNLESS there may be an alternate switch Z Wave makes for such a situation. I am sure this should be covered in the instructions. Check your instructions for "switch location with no neutral" and see what it says. Also, in many cases you may have an outlet location where the outlet is controled by a wall switch. If you break into this outlet, you must understand that you now have 2 swithes in series and unless the wall switch is "on", your device will not work. Also, in the case of 3 way swithes, you must use the correct switch location for your device. Is there a special device for 3 way switches? SOmetimes you may encounter a switch box with more than one switch and unless you know what you are doing you may mistake a white wire for other than an neutral. Such situations can be confusing for someone who does not understand what may be going on with a switch box full of wires. In the situation where your circuit breaker is tripping it could be any number of reasons why that is happening. Obviously you did something wrong and it would be a shot in the dark to say just what it was you did wrong. But only 3 things will throw a breaker immediately and that is a short from line to neutral, a short from line to ground. or a short between phases. Take your pick, one of them is your problem there. But PLEASE...check to see what the instructions say what to do when you encounter a switch box that has no neutral present. I am curious to knwo what they about that. Lou

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    • #3
      Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

      Originally posted by flyinbyu20 View Post
      Hello all. I am looking for help on installing z wave light switches. I bought a new build home in 2010 and currently upgrading my switches to Z wave to work with my home security system. I have had success in all but two switches and for the life of me cannot figure out why I can't get them to work.


      Here is the other problem...in two switches, there is no red wire. I only have two black wires and a ground. When I try the same thing connecting the ground to the neutral, and the black hot to the line and the other black to the load, the circuit breaker will not stay set when I flip it back on...it trips right away. Now just a guess, it has to do with me using the ground wire as a neutral, but why would it work in the other light switches when I have a red and black wire but not in the dual blacks? Like I said, its a brand new home so I assume the color coding of the wires should be up to code.

      Any help or insight on this would be greatly appreciated!!
      (I have never dealt with this type of switch either),

      first of all using the ground wire as a neutral is against the NEC. as the ground is not to be current carrying conductor, as the neutral is a current carrying conductor,

      but on your switches with two blacks (you could try to reverse the two black wires, or take a tester and see which black wire is the HOT wire (that has power all the time) and hook to the black and the other to the red, the red goes to the fixture, and the black is for incoming power, from what I can find, the neutral is to complete the circuit for the system of the switch,

      even if wired back wards I do not see why they would trip the breaker, but then they may be toast now, and shorting in side the swtich,
      Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
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      • #4
        Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

        now i'm confused and shocked at what i'm reading on their website.

        http://www.zwaveproducts.com/layout/...heet-VRCS1.PDF

        look at the the first few steps. remember this is a light switch, not an electrical outlet.

        either i'm confused, or they have some serious explaining to do.

        rick.

        since when does a hot and neutral wire into the same single pole switch?

        rick.
        phoebe it is

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        • #5
          Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

          Not sure if my reply did not work because I tried to add a picture or not...so here we go again. In response to QROKING

          The product is made by GE, specifically Jasco. There is nothing in the small instructions manual that says what to do when there is no neutral wire. Online, they have videos showing how to install it and nothing is mentioned on what to do when you do not have a neutral wire.

          Now, I may have a neutral wire in there but that is part of the question. I know it is suppose to be white, but how is a good way to test which one it is? Using a voltmeter, I know which one of the black is the hot wire, but neutral?

          The other question still out there is why would my house have some switches with red and black wires and others with two black wires? What is the significance of the change of colors? I will try to post the picture again after this post...

          thanks!

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          • #6
            Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

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            • #7
              Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

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              • #8
                Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

                you have the typical tract home with romex wire. so the answer is the color is based on what romex cable they used.

                if it was 14/3 or 12/3 with ground, then you would have the red and black plus the white and typically the bare ground.

                2 blacks would typically tell me it's 2 separate romex cables 1 is a line / feed and the other is a load /leg that's switched to light or appliance.

                the switch is asking for a hot line, a load , a neutral and if it's a 3 way another traveler wire.

                rick.
                phoebe it is

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                • #9
                  Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

                  well, I did some internet investigation and I came up with an "on line" PDF that gives the information about this product. There are a few different types of switches. There is one for use when there is a neutral present. There is one made for no neutral present and there is one for a 3 way lighting system. You need to use the correct switch depending on the situation you are up against at each switch location. The photo you show of the device is a 3 way unit (the one that has a "traveler" marker). You would use that one in a 3 way lighting situation. In the case of the "no neutral present", there is a special unit for that...BUT...the lights used on that swich must be incandesant. You won't be able to use other types of bulbs with that switch. To answer Rick's question, the neutral is there and connected to the switch because it uses the neutral to power the unit that's all. In the case where the neutral is provided, you will be able to use it with other types of bulbs besides incandesant. "USUALLY" when you encounter a red wire in a switch box, it is used as a traveler, but not all the time. There could be a couple of reasons why you will see a red wire in a box. Unless you understand what really is going on, you may do some incorrect wiring if you mistake a red wire for other than what it "really" is. So, I guess what I am saying is, unless you know what you are doing you could easily do something wrong. Even us electricians on occassion are stumped when we come across a box full of wires becuase we really don't know for sure what the last guy really did in there. Often times even we have to "ring wires out" to understand what someone else did. So if it can confuse us then you for sure will be in trouble. ANother thing, since sometimes you will encounter a switch that might operate a fan or some type of motor or even an outlet to turn on a coffee pot, you have to make sure you use a switch that will not do a "dimming" scenario on that circuit. You never want to hook up a wall dimmer type switch that controls an outlet!!!!!!!!!!!! And there are other precautions as well.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Z wave/Neutral Wires

                    i will only suggest you to not to take a chance with the electricity and the wires of the device it may caquse more breakage in it. the best thing for this is to have an good electrician as he will solve all your problems here
                    Get More info

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