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Thread: Adding a 3rd wire to switch (neutral)

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member ingeborgdot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Adding a 3rd wire to switch (neutral)

    If you are familiar with the insteon line of swithces and automation you know that they require three lines into the switch. It needs a neutral (as far as I know to send the signal) to make it work. I only have two lines coming into my switches. What is the easiest way to make this work?

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    Functionally, you really only have ONE wire in that switch box...one side is normally open, and when you flip the switch, the hot is connected to it. So, you really only have a hot lead (well, probably have a ground, too). You'd have to run a 1x/3 cable from the light fixture to get the neutral in there.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Central Florida


    Smarthome.com offers the following alternatives:

    What to do if you don't have neutrals:
    a) If ceiling fixture: Convert a swtich leg into a neutral and install a switchlinc (or keypadlinc) in the switch box plus an inlinelinc in the ceiling fixture
    b) if a 3 way circuit: simply convert one of the traveler wires into a neutral (bringing neutral from the "master" to the "slave" and install 2 switchlincs (since insteon does not require the travelers)
    c) hire an electrician to "pull" neutrals for you (and you might want them to install the INSTEON products at the same time) -- usually, this process isn't quite as expensive as most customers fear

    (a) might be viable for you, but it looks expensive.

  4. #4
    Computer Systems Engineer jdoll42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    In Illinois near St. Louis, MO


    OK pro's. Correct me if I'm wrong. I know this isn't the right way to do it, but shouldn't the switch be grounded anyway? You see where I'm going with this... I know, not the right way and probably against code, but couldn't he use the ground in a pinch for a return path to the main panel instead of a neutral?

    With that said, even if it would work, I personally wouldn't do it. I'm just curious as to whether or not it would work.

    Again, DON'T DO IT THIS WAY!

  5. #5


    You do not want to energize your grounding conductor.

    Someone could get hurt or, in the right (or wrong) situation, killed.


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