Can you install a smart switch with no neutral?
In some instances yes, but it depends on what smart light switch you are using. Most smart lights switches require a neutral but there are smart light switches that don’t require a neutral. We cover what smart switches work with no neutral or your other options for installing a smart lighting with no neutral.
You have several different options if you are trying to install a smart light switch and you don’t have an existing neutral in your switch box.
We cover each of the smart lighting options for installing smart lighting without a neutral. If you choose to install a smart switch that does not require a neutral, at bottom of the post we teach you how to wire smart switches with no neutral, how to program no neutral smart switches and FAQ on smart switches with no neutral required.
Smart Switch No Neutral: Option #1
Time Required: 15 Minutes - 1 Hour per switch
Skill Required: Weekend Tinkerer to Advanced
You can use a smart light switch that does not require a neutral wire. The best light switches that don’t require a neutral wire are the Lutron Caseta Dimmer Switches. The Lutron Caseta dimmers will allow you to control your lighting with your phone or can be connected to Alexa for full voice control of your lighting.
The lutron caseta dimmers are easy to install, don’t require a neutral and connect to a lutron smart home hub that will connect the lights to your wifi network and allow you to add other lutron smart home devices to your home in the future.
The diagram below shows the wiring diagram for a smart light switch with no neutral. With a lutron caseta light switch you just remove the old light switch, and install the new smart light switch with the exact same wiring as the original light switch. Even if you have a neutral in your switch box and you end up installing more smart light switches you don’t need to wire the smart light switches with the neutral, which will save you time wiring your new smart light switches.
You typically get the best value buying a Lutron package with the hub, a few switches and remotes included in the package to get you started. From there you can add on additional remotes and switches as needed. What is nice about the Caseta system is that you have switches that you can install anywhere you have a hardwired switch but if you want to add additional “switches” in your home to turn on an off the lights from another wall in your home you can do so with the “pico” remotes. Which look and act like traditional switches but are completely wireless. They even fit in existing wall switch cover plates to look like a fully built in switch and they don’t require any wiring. The wireless pico remotes will run for 10 years before the battery needs replaced and are a great solution to add additional functionality to your home without the headaches of wiring.
If you don’t have an existing neutral wire the Lutron Caseta system is a high quality system that will allow you full smart home control from your phone or with your voice using Amazon Alexa or google home.
If you end up connecting your lutron smart switches to Amazon Alexa you can control your light switches using the voice commands below. Adding voice control to your smart home adds a whole new level of luxury to your home and is simple to do once you have installed the light switches.
To connect your Lutron Dimmer Light Switches to Alexa you will need a compatible Amazon Echo Device and you will need to set up your Echo Device using the Amazon Echo App. Once your Echo Device is set up you will then need to go into the Amazon Alexa Skill Store and enable the Lutron Skill to connect Amazon Alexa to the Lutron light switches.
The Lutron Dimmers can also be connected to google home devices to enable voice control of your smart lights.
Lutron Light Switches Alexa Commands:
“Alexa, turn on living room lights.”
“Alexa, turn off living room lights.”
“Alexa, set dimmer to 70%”
With the Lutron Caseta Hub you can also control lutron smart automatic shades.
Smart Switch No Neutral : Option #2
Pull New Wiring With A Neutral
Time Required: Extensive
Skill Required: Expert
You can pull a neutral wire into your junction box by adding new wiring. You will need to use 3 pair conductor cable like this this Romex Cable on Amazon. Pulling a new neutral wire is not for the faint of heart and will most likely require that you open up walls to pull the new wiring. Sometimes you can run your electrical wiring through your attic, basement or crawlspace and then up the wall to conceal the wiring. If you have access to run the wiring it is much easier but routing the wiring through the wall can be a challenge. If you live in a state or municipality that requires all wiring be installed in conduit it can sometimes be slightly easier to run a neutral wire as you can “fish the wire” through the existing conduit circuit to a place where the neutral can be properly connected.
If you pull new wiring through your home you will need to have a new neutral wire in each switch box as shown in the diagram below. If you add the new neutral wire you wiring will be compatible with just about every smart light switch on the market.
If you house was built after 1980 there is most likely a neutral wire already in the electrical box and you don’t need to pull any new electrical wire. You can just tap into the existing neutral wire into the electrical box. But with older houses unless they have been updated you really won’t know until you open up your light switch to take a look.
If you plan on installing new in wall wiring having a reliable fish tape or pull rod will make getting the wire where you want it easier and a small inspection camera can be helpful for finding the wiring you are pulling in wall.
Adding a neutral wire for a smart switch is not an easy task. This should only be undertaken if you are familiar with electrical and are willing to put in the work. If you are doing a major renovation and your house does not currently have a neutral wire you should have your general contractor add the neutral wire to the switch boxes while they are doing the renovation and have the walls open.
If you are building a new house you should make sure your general contractor wires up all of the switches with a neutral in the switch box, this should not be an extra cost when building a new home because per most modern building codes contractors are already required to wire up the switch boxes with neutral wires.
If you do plan on adding a neutral wire for smart light switches it’s a good idea to use larger deep switch boxes when possible to accommodate the larger smart light switches and the additional neutral wiring. We found these deep switch boxes which are great for remodeling work if you don’t plan on opening up the walls and can fish the new wires through the walls.
Smart Switch No Neutral : Option #3
Install Philips Hue Smart Light Bulbs
Time Required: 15 Minutes
Skill Required: None
If you don’t feel comfortable doing electrical wiring or you don’t want to do any wiring there is a very easy option to adding smart lighting to your home without touching a single tool.
You can install Philips Hue light bulbs which don’t require any smart light switch installation. You can install everything by hand with no tools required.
Philips Hue smart light bulbs work by just removing your old light light bulb and screwing in your new Philips Hue smart light bulb. Once the light bulbs are set up you can turn on or off the light bulbs with your phone, you can dim the light bulbs with your phone or you can control your Philips hue light bulbs with Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Phillips makes two primary versions of their standard smart light bulbs. One version offers all of the smart features of on/off, dimming control and Amazon Alexa control in bulbs that are standard white color. The other version has all of the same features but also can change between millions of different colors so you can get white, blue, red, green or any other color you can think of through your smart light bulbs. The standard white light bulbs are typically cheaper than the color changing light bulbs and the best value is typically if you buy at least a 4 pack of smart light bulbs.
There is no wiring required with the Philips hue light bulbs you just screw them in and set them up. You can also add Philips hue smart light switches & remotes which can be placed just like light switches anywhere in your home. You just take the remote out of the box, peel off the adhesive and place it directly on the wall. Once installed they look built in just like any other light switch. Another great feature of the Philips Hue Light Switches are that the remotes are completely detachable and magnetically stick on the wall .
To set up the your Philips Hue Bulbs you will either need to purchase a Philips Hue Kit that includes the Phillips Hue Bridge or one of the Amazon Alexa Devices that has the Philips Hue bridge built into Amazon Alexa.
If you purchase the kit with the Philips Hue Hub the smart lights will work with any Amazon Alexa Device. If you want to add smart lighting to your home but don’t want to do any wiring the Philips Hue Light bulbs are a great choice.
If you go the route of installing Philips Hue light bulbs there are few things you should do to make them work better with your home.
You should get the Hue remotes and pair them with lights in the rooms that you install the smart light bulbs. It will make it much easier to control your lights.
If you don’t do this and you turn your existing light switch off it will turn off the power to the Philips Hue light bulbs and they will be disconnected from wifi control with your smart home hub.
To prevent this from happening I recommend you put clear plastic covers over your existing light switches so you don’t keep turning them off. You can get the clear plastic switches for newer flat light switches or for old style rocker switches.
You should also install Amazon Echo Devices in the rooms that you want to control your smart lighting. I find that I almost never use the actual light switches and just use Amazon Echo voice commands to control my lighting.
Smart Switch No Neutral : Option #4 Give Up
Don’t give up! One of the three smart light switch solutions above can work for you.
Time Required: None
Skill Required: None
You can give up, but then you won’t have any smart home control of your home. But on the plus side it takes no skill, doesn’t take up any of your time and doesn’t cost a dime.
Don’t give up, pick one of the 3 options above to automate your lighting based on your skill level. If your home was built after 1980 you can most likely install any smart light switch because your light switches do have neutral wires built in. We recommend you install our smart light switches that work with Alexa and Google Home because they offer luxury and simple integration without any home hub to Alexa and Google Home.
How Install A Smart Switch With No Neutral
The video below shows step by step instructions on how to install a smart switch without neutral wire using the Lutron Caseta smart light switches that don’t require a neutral.
Step By Step Instructions: Smart Switch No Neutral Installation
Turn on the existing light switch that you want to remove so you can see the lights are on. Then go to the circuit breaker panel and turn off the power to this switch. You will know power is off when the light is off. It’s also a good idea to check that the power is off using either a multimeter or non contact voltage tester if you have one available.
Remove the existing cover plate, if you have a non-contact voltage tester or multimeter confirm the power is off with the cover plate off.
Remove the existing light switch from the junction box by removing the two screws holding ti to the junction box. Take a picture of the existing wiring.
Remove the existing wiring from the existing smart light switch. Wire the the old wires to the new Lutron Caseta smart light switch. As long as you only had 2 wires (Hot and Load) on the old light switch it does not matter which in which order you connect the existing wires with wire nuts to the new smart light switch. It will work in either configuration. If you have a ground wire (bare copper or green) connect it to the ground wire on the Lutron Smart Switch. The Lutron Caseta smart light switch does not require a neutral so you don’t need to disturb the other light switches within the box.
Push the wires back into the junction box and screw the two screws back into the junction box to hold the smart switch in place.
Re-install the light switch cover plate.
Turn the smart power back on at the circuit breaker and test to make sure the switch turns on and off.
Congratulations you have successfully installed your smart light switch without a neutral.
How To Program A Smart Switch With No Neutral
The following instructions are valid for programing Lutron Caseta smart light switches which don’t require a neutral wire.
With the smart light switch installed turn on and off the switch to test it’s functionality. If it is working properly you can now program the smart light switch.
Plug in and install your Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge. It needs to be connected to your wifi router with a hardwired ethernet cord supplied in the box and powered with the included plug.
When the device is ready to be added hold down the bottom button on the Lutron Caseta Light for 10 seconds and it will start flashing. The smart light switch should now appear on the Lutron Caseta App.
With the smart light switch added you can now control your smart light switch right from your phone.
How To Connect A Smart Switch With No Neutral To Alexa
If you connect your smart light switch to Alexa you can control it using voice commands. Both Lutron Castea Smart Light switches and the Philips Hue smart light bulbs we covered above can be connected to Alexa. However in these step by step instructions for connecting smart switches to Alexa we are only going to cover how to connect Lutron Caseta light switches to Alexa. The process is very similar for connecting other smart devices to Alexa.
Open the Alexa App and click on the the on the menu icon in the upper left hand corner. Select the “Skills and Games” menu tab in the menu.
Search for “Lutron” in the search box.
Click on the “Caseta and RA2 App.”
Enter your Lutron Castea App username and password to enable the connection of Alexa and the Lutron App. Follow the instructions in the Lutron App to connect the smart light switches to Alexa.
FAQ: Smart Switches No Neutral
I live in an older home with no neutral wire will these smart light switches work with my existing wiring?
Yes, the Lutron Caseta smart light switches are designed to be a swap in and out replacement for existing light switches without any additional wiring needed to be run. They don’t require a neutral wire and can replace existing light switches even in older homes.
Will Smart Light Switches Still Work If The Internet Goes Down?
Yes, if you install hardwired Lutron Caseta smart light switches as detailed in option #1 of this post the smart light switches will function like normal dimmers even if the internet goes out. You will just loose the ability to control the smart switches with your phone or voice until the internet is restored.
How Many Wires Does A Smart Switch With No Neutral Require?
No neutral smart light switches require a hot wire, load wire and a ground wire. If you live in a home with conduit the ground wire can be terminated directly to the conduit.
Is there a wifi smart switch with no neutral?
Yes and no. The Lutron Caseta smart light switches don’t require a neutral wire and you can control them over your wifi network with your phone or with a smart voice assistant but the Lutron Caseta smart light switches require a smart home bridge that plugs into the back of your wifi router in order to communicate with the smart light switches.
So you can control the light switches through your wifi network but smart home bridge just needs to be plugged into your wifi router to communicate with the smart light switches.
Are There Smart 3 Way Switches With No Neutral?
Yes, the Lutron Caseta smart light switches that don’t require a neutral can be setup in a 3 way light switch configuration. The 3 way switch no neutral setup with the Lutron Caseta light switches can be setup without any additional wiring. The Caseta light switches are paired with a Lutron Caseta Pico Remote that can turn any wired Lutron Caseta smart switch into a 3 way smart switch with no neutral. The Pico remote directly connects to the light switch and has a 10 year battery life. The pico remotes can be mounted on the wall and look just like a built in light switch.
If you already have a 3 way switch configuration with wiring and want to convert it over to a 3 way smart light switch you can do so by just wiring all 3 wires together that are on the existing switch and then installing the Pico remote with the Pico Wall Plate adapter and it will look just like a built in hardwired switch in the light switch cover plate.
What Smart Dimmer Switch Doesn’t Require A Neutral?
The Lutron Caseta smart dimmer switch does not require a neutral wire and has 4 button function, increase light levels, decrease light levels, on and off.
Are There Smart On/Off Switches Without a Neutral?
Yes, Lutron Caseta also makes an on off switch that does not require a neutral wire without dimming adjustment.