wiring a GE Timer Switch

I purchased a GE Digital Timer Switch (desc: GE5100E60-71D, intended for single pole switching) to use with my bathroom exhaust fan. The fan is wired in a "switch loop" manner (power "hot" supply for the fan is at the fan junction box) and not at the switch. All the switch does is complete the loop... am I making any sense?).
Anyways - the timer switch has three wires (BLACK, BLUE, and WHITE), and they are supposed to be connected as follows (according to the directions in the box): BLACK lead to the circuit's Line conductor, BLUE lead to circuit's Load conductor, WHITE lead to circuit's Neutral conductor.
Can you help me out? Thanks!
Cory Lechner Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
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Yes, that makes sense.

That timer requires power to do it's job so it needs a neutral wire. You don't have one. If you happen to have conduit between the switch and fan for some reason you could put in a neutral conductor. If you have non- metallic cable you'd need to put in a new cable with enough conductors (2 for the switch loop + 1 neutral + ground) to maintain the switch loop arrangement. It may be easier to bring a new power cable to the switch box then repurpose the existing switch loop cable to power the fan. If you have minimal electrical experience I'd suggest contacting an electrician to do any of these.
The simplest option is a new switch. Mechanical timer switches can usually work without a neutral.
Doug
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I have wired most of our basement - I think I should be able to figure it out. It might be tough to bring in a new power cable (I might be able to fish it in). Could I somehow tap into the light switch (directly beside the timer switch) for a neutral, (it is also wired as a "switch loop")? Could I run a single wire from another neutral source?

I installed the same Digital timer switch in our upstairs bathroom (it was not setup as a switch loop).... it works great!

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No, if the light is just a switch loop then there's no neutral to use there either. A single wire could theoretically be run somewhere to make it work but that wouldn't be considered safe or correct.
Sorry, Doug
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switch; is that what you are saying? Then you probably can't do it. The switch needs power, and gets it by putting current to the neutral over the white wire. No neutral, no power, no switch. Is it the only switch in the box, no lighting switch there also, or maybe an outlet? If there is a light switch also, you can wire it to that switch's neutral (assuming they are on the same circuit, and you don't have a metal box, and you don't have a GFCI in an awkward place; a lot of assumptions). I have seen old circuits like that where they used a ground for the switch circuit, but that is illegal, and a horrible idea in a bathroom.
I am curious (not enough to try it though, cause it could start a fire, or at least ruin the fan, for all I know) what would happen if you ran the white wire to the fan also. The fan would get a constant small current; would that be enough to hurt it? Perhaps the reduced current from having to go through the fan also would prevent the switch from working correctly? Anyone know?
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On 07 Dec 2003, Cory Lechner wrote:

Yes, I think! You only have two black wires at the switch, it's looped from the fan location, you have no neutral or ground wires in the switch box. Right? If so, you're hosed...

The timer appears to be electronic rather than mechanical (the old kind, typically found in motels, where you spun the knob and it crept its way back to the off position?...those are just a mechanical device). This means *your* timer needs to be treated like a -device- not just a switch. IOW, it's looking to have 120VAC available for its use, not just break the hot wire.
You've either got to rewire the switch/fan or find a mechanical timer that just uses/breaks the hot side of the circuit. Hell, there's still cheap motels out there, I'm sure they still make 'em! <g>
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I'm curious as to how you ended up with a no-neutral switch loop for both the fan and the light, at the same location.
Your only "quick & easy" solution is to use a spring-wound timer switch, such as made by intermatic, in place of your fan switch. It needs no neutral.
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They are both set to switch loops....

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Having no neutrals at any switches is quite common. :-(
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Yes, but rarely when you've got 2 switches ganged. Additionally, I've NEVER seen an electrician run power to a fart fan first, then a 2-wire switchleg out.
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On 09 Dec 2003, HA HA Budys Here wrote:

Actually, if the power is available up in the middle of the ceiling, that would be the smart way. If you have 2 separate switches controlling that fart fan (and the light fixture that's part of it) then you can drop the loop to the switches with a single piece of 14-3 w/ground. Common hot down, two switched hots back up.
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I'd agree, but from the original post, the fart fan is seperate from the bathroom light, and each has it's own no-neutral switch loop to a common 2-gang box. Not exactly stand fare in residential rough-in.
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You need to run a new three conductor (12-3 or 14-3 depending on whether 20 or 15 amp) cable between switch and exhaust fan. There will be enough conductors for switch leg and a neutral.
In my case, in addition to installing an electronic timer for the fan, I had replaced the old (very noisy) fan/light unit with a new one which also has a night light, so the existing cables ended up being used for the light and night light, so no wasted cables and everything ended up working perfectly.
George Elkins
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Run a 14-3 cable to replace the old 14-2 cable, correct? Would it work with a switch loop?
Cory

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Yes, the 14-3 replaces the existing 14-2, except there's a neutral. (Use the white wire as a neutral, unlike the 14-2.)
George
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