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I just changed my bulbs to LEDs for energy savings, and now they never shut off.
Your dimmer instructions says it needs "a neutral" in the box. What does that mean?
Is a ground wire the same as a neutral? They are connected to the same place in my fusebox.

Since these three questions are related, I put them together. Older electrical systems (pre-1980's in the US) are the bane of the DIY home automation installer. So many of our customers gleefully order a shiny new Dragontech or Linear switch or dimmer, only to find that their electrical systems don't match the drawing on the instruction sheet. To understand the smart switch requirements, you have to start by understanding the dumb switch. For most older homes (yes, 1975 is older now) supply lines run to a fixture. Those supply lines contain a hot, neutral, and a ground. The ground could be a wire, or it could be metal-clad armor (like BX). The only thing needed to turn that fixture on/off was a wire running down to the 'dumb' switch, and one running back to the load. Break the leg of this set of wires, and the fixture turns off. Add a ground to the switch for safety, and that constituted the modern switch of the day. For a smart switch to work, it needs a hot and a neutral wire. It's like a tiny appliance in your wall. Your computer or refrigerator wouldn't work with just one plug, and neither will smart devices. And just because your dumb switch didn't have a neutral connected, don't hesitate to look in the back of the box for capped off white wires (some electricians were forward thinkers, or needed a place to pull neutral wires to). Test any wire to be sure of its purpose.

2 Wire Dimmer: a workaround for incandescent bulbs in the past was to have a dimmer that never completely turned off. There was always a tiny bit of electricity slipping past the dimmer, which, combined with the physics of alternating current, supplied a false neutral. The problem began when LEDs came down both price and load. The LEDs were not drawing enough power. That little trickle of energy was sufficient to power the LEDs at a noticeable level, even if the dimmer was at its lowest level. Two ways around this are to forgo changing your bulbs to LEDs, and leave the incandescent bulbs installed. Alternately you can have an electrician install a dummy load to increase the draw down to where the LEDs would be less noticeable. If you plan on installing a lot of devices that require neutrals, it may be a good idea to build it into a renovation of your home and have an electrician update your wiring.

The neutral is described as a return path for the electricity, while the ground is an emergency route for safety reasons. Using the ground as a neutral to overcome the lack of a proper neutral is dangerous. Call an electrician or use 2 wire dimmer switches and suitable loads.

For your education, ZWaveProducts.com has the instructions and wiring diagrams for every item it sells under Documentation.


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