In this post, we teach you how to install a smart switch. If you live in an older home with no neutral wire in your light switch junction box you might be wondering if you can still install a smart switch?
The answer is yes! you can install a smart switch without a neutral and we provide you with several options so you can add smart to your home or any home for that matter.
Options For Installing A Smart Switch
- Install the smart switch without the neutral wire
- Add a neutral wire.
Any of these options will work for installing a smart switch, but my favourite option is to install a smart switch with a capacitor. Because in my opinion, it’s the easiest and most effective option. If you already know what a neutral wire is and how to identify one skip ahead. If not we have a short tutorial and explanation that teaches you what you need to know to identify a neutral wire.
What Is a Neutral Wire? How To Identify a Neutral Wire?
A neutral wire by colour designation is a white insulated wire that takes the return electrical current back to your electrical panel. In most newer homes (built after 1985) you will find a neutral wire in the electrical switch box. But in older homes, it wasn’t always a requirement for the neutral wire to be wired through the switch box, and instead, the neutral wire is connected at the light fixture or electrical outlet and hidden behind the walls.
However, it is easy to check if you have a neutral wire and you can either follow the steps below we have on how to identify a neutral wire.
How To Check For A Neutral Wire:
- Turn off the power at the circuit breaker for the light switch you want to check for a neutral wire. The best way to do this is turn on the light switch so that the lights are on and then go to your circuit breaker and turn off the circuit for that light switch. When the lights go off you will know you have selected the right circuit.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the electrical outlet cover plate.
- With the electrical cover plate off it’s best to check that the power is turned off at the light switch. You can do this with a non contact voltage tester or a multimeter. I recommend using a non contact voltage meter. If you don’t have one try turning on and off the light switch at the switch again, if the lights don’t turn on it should indicate that the power is off.
- With the power confirmed to be off you can now remove the light switch. Unscrew the two screws holding the light switch to the junction box. You can now remove pull the light switch forward and inspect the wiring inside the junction box to determine if there is a neutral wire. If you see a blue/black wire in the junction box it typically indicates that you have a neutral wire.
Make Sure Your Power Supply is Turned Off
Before you install a smart light switch, you should first turn off the power supply of your home. By doing this, you can guarantee your own safety and the safety of everyone you live with. If you leave your power supply on, then there is a risk that you will experience electrocution and electrical fire.
You should also make sure that there is no wiring voltage remaining by using a voltage tester. Just like you do whenever you are installing a smart bulb. You need to make sure that you have done this step first before you proceed with the smart switch installation. Aside from that, you also need to take the time to organize your circuit breaker.
Uncover The Electrical Wires Behind Your Switch
Once you have turned off your power supply, make sure that you can already see and examine the electrical wiring of your switch. In doing this, you first need to unscrew the wall cover and then remove the screw attached to the light switch. Carefully pull out the cover once you have removed the screws, and then check the wall boxes to make sure that you have enough room to install your home’s smart light switch. It is better to have a bigger space when installing a new smart switch because it will come with large electrical components.
Detach and Disconnect The Old Switch
It is very important to know exactly the setup of the wiring before your light switch replacement. Take a photo of it and keep it as a reference. You might need to look at it again before you install your new smart switch. Put a label on each with a colour different from each other to prevent yourself from getting confused while doing this step. After replacing your light switch, you can now detach your old switch and keep it for future use.