Wiring question

Page 3 of 5  
On 9/19/2011 9:07 AM, Andy wrote:

And this is exactly why NOBODY should be taking electrical advice from you.
It is NOT "up to Ivan to figure out what he wants to do." It is up to Ivan to figure out how to install what he wants to install in compliance with the electrical code. In many places, the NEC has the force of law.
And it IS the concern of, among others, anyone else who might ever work on that circuit in the future.
If I was considering the purchase of a home in which an inspection turned up something like this, I certainly would refuse to close until the violation had been corrected. This is the sort of "material defect" that can scuttle a real estate deal.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 18 Sep 2011 07:20:12 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

The no neutral incandescent only switch would most likely be a WS467, and the flourescent control (with neutral) would likely be an XPS3 (relay) switch. If the relay is operating on 110 volts nominal voltage, it will, in all likelihood, draw aprocemately 1ma - as MOST miniature relays have 85 to 110 mw coils. Lets go worst case at 110mw on 120 volts - that is 0.91 ma. The AVERAGE person will not even detect current flow of under 1 ma. My OLD GE plug-in remote control appears to draw just over 10ma of current at 117 volts, but it has a transformer in it where the X10 wall switch most likely uses a miniature switcher to provide the low voltage. Anyone have an XPS3 and a multi-tester to settle this once and for all???? And again - I would NOT advocate running an "orphan" neutral into the box.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sep 18, 3:25 pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I say it's totally irresponsible to be encouraging someone to tap into a neutral on another circuit based on guesses as to the design and operating charecteristics of an X10 switch they would install when you don't even know which one it is or how much current it sends down the neutral.
And I've asked about 5 times now. If he can go find another circuit's neutral and run a wire from that to the switch, then why the hell can't he just run a hot back as well and make it code compliant and safe?
>he AVERAGE person will not even detect current flow of

That wouldn't settle it because we don't know which switch actual he has. Or which switch he or someone else will replace it with in 2 years when it fails. How about they replace it with a switch/receptacle combo?

I sure looks like the two of you are giving it the green light by claiming it's safe.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 19 Sep 2011 05:42:31 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

ASSumpions a lot of electrically semi-ignorant people have re: electrical safety.
It is NOT a good idea because it is against code - and that is basically because of what else COULD be done in the future.
The actual safety of the installation is NOT a serious issue.
And if the OP wants to cheat, there is a MUCH simpler way than installing another orphan neutral. No extra wires required - just as safe, and just as much against code - but no chance of a future installation making it more unsafe.
I'm not going to tell anyone how to do it, because it is not proper - but it WILL work, and it WILL be safe, and it IS dead simple.
How do you like THEM bananas??
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sep 19, 4:27 pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I say because you don't even know what X10 switch he's actually using, you are making assumptions about how much current that switch could send down the neutral. It takes as little as 30ma to kill someone. I sure wouldn't be proclaiming it safe based on guesses as to what the current coming out of the switch which has a relay that gets energized might be. Those X10 switches are made in China and I'll bet they do not even spec the current, so it could be anything and vary from one manufacturer to another.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 19 Sep 2011 15:21:51 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

If it's current stuff I just gave you the two alternatives.

Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<<I've asked about 5 times now. If he can go find another circuit's neutral and run a wire from that to the switch, then why the hell can't he just run a hot back as well and make it code compliant and safe?>>
We don't agree on much, but you're spot on here, Chet. If you're going to pull one freaking wire, why not pull two?
I bought a house that had neutrals pulled from other circuits that I didn't discover until I ripped out the suspended ceiling in the basement. Passed some pretty invasive testing, too, because jack-assed wiring was a concern. I'm still not sure how, in the course of what normal home sales allow, how I *ever* would have caught the miswiring before purchase. Shocked the living shit out of me. So I am a firm believer in "if it's not code, don't do it."
I suspect that the reason my house's former owners pulled only one wire is that they were cheap SOB's. But, as you say, if you're going to pull one wire, why in heck not pull two and do it right? Unless you're drilling through 12" of 80 year old superhard concrete, there's no earthly reason not to pull the whole damn wire with proper ground in proper sheathing.
It sounds like Ivan will make the same choice as I did in really nasty-to-reach fixtures: use incandescents. I bought a hybrid GE CFL/halogen bulb to see if it would allow enough current to pass for the switch to operate in a circuit without a neutral. It turned on by remote control, but would never turn off, except by the local control.
The reason the CFL bulbs don't work well on X-10 is that X-10's circuitry derives power from being able to deliver a very small trickle current through the cold tungsten bulb filament when no neutral is present. A CFL bulb presents quite a different electric "landscape" than a tungsten filament one. It usually consumes that trickle power in the form of flashing.
I am surprised none of the X-10 gurus have ever developed a retrofit like a disc (like the old coin shaped fixed dimmers) placed between the bulb and socket that allowed a small trickle current to flow like a cold tungsten filament does. I imagine the devil might be in the details and that CFL bulbs probably present a host of different electrical signatures.
As for the "should I do it?" debate, I always get antsy when there is a very clear right answer and people begin to talk esoteric technical stuff that obscures it. Things like skin resistivity and parallel circuit theory HAS to confuse the hell out of newcomers here in AHR. Some responses appear to gloss over the NEC as somehow "niggling" or not really applying to this situation. The NEC's "reason to be" has been not only "original" safety (building the circuits), but follow-on safety as well (maintaining or extending the circuits). The NEC is just as concerned about the next person to own or work on the wiring as it is the original electrician running the wires. It provides a standard way of doing things so that people will have some confidence in the way the wiring was done.
To me, it makes little sense to even say "only pull a neutral." I think it's merely a case of people/docs wrongly saying "you need a neutral" instead of saying "you need a new (or piggyback) circuit with a neutral." Told they need a neutral, that's just what they do when confronted with a device like an X-10 module or an electronic timer that requires a neutral in the box.
The debate about how dangerous it is to "break code" happens repeatedly in AHR - people forget they weren't (usually) asked question about advanced physics, nuclear engineering or quantum mechanics. So they descend lower and lower into the weeds losing sight of the original question. It's an easy thing to do, but it's really a disservice to the OP in most cases.
In this situation I have to agree with Chet and the others that the OP *should* be hearing (as some did strongly advocate): "You at least need to pull hot and neutral together, preferable with ground, too. The safest solution, and one that would satisfy the NEC would be to run that wire back to the panel. That way you would be sure to not to overload whatever circuit you are looking to tap power from."
That's what I did when I wanted outdoor CFL's. Since those lights burn most of the night that's a use where they really save money. I pulled a new circuit to a new fixture and left incandescents on the old, motion-triggered lights that are only on for 6 minutes per activation but need to come on instantly, even in the cold. Tungsten bulbs are ideal for that use, they don't cost much to operate 6 minutes at a time, they don't mind frequent "short cycling" and their light contains enough IR to give me about 2 F/stops more light than the CFLs on my CCTV setup.
-- Bobby G.
* FERNANDEZ, DANIEL Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry (Mechanized) 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Cu Chi, Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam, 18 February 1966. Entered service at: Albuquerque, N. Mex. Born: 30 June 1944, Albuquerque, N. Mexico. Citation: Realizing there was no time for his wounded sergeant or the other men to protect themselves from a grenade blast, Sp4c. Fernandez vaulted over the wounded sergeant and threw himself on the grenade as it exploded, saving the lives of his 4 comrades at the sacrifice of his life.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 20 Sep 2011 08:43:32 -0400, "Robert Green"

The NEW building the insurance office I work for every morning moved into a year ago has all kinds of "orphan" neutrals. - and it passed inspection that way. Not saying it is right.

And all Ivan needs ie ONE incandescent on the circuit. A 7 watt bulb is more than adequate - a standard incandescent night-light (not one with a photo-cell) will do the job (or has for a friend of mine usinf the "incandescent only" switch in his basement full of flourescent bulbs.

Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 20 Sep 2011 13:21:53 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

changes requested by a new tenant and I found that the 277V. fluorescents were fed with one wire and connected to the to the steel structure for the neutral. Needless to say, I contacted the city and the entire building was declared unsuitable for tenancy. While the EC that was hired for repairs was working, the building actually caught fire in another suite. Some folks will cheat at anything if they think they can make a buck and to hell with safety.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

<stuff snipped>

Reading that actually made me squirm in my chair. Non-electricians seem to have a very odd understanding of the true relationship between neutral and ground. From that error all manner of kludges flow.

Nothing like a little fire to confirm your diagnosis that something's not quite right with that building.

One of the most outrageous examples I ever came across was a federal contractor who was installing a fire sprinkler system WITHOUT PLUMBING! They just attached the heads to the ceiling panels hoping they might never be inspected or tested. Never underestimate what a person or company will due when they're facing bankruptcy. I'm waiting for some serious disasters to occur because safety is often an area quite prone to panic-style cost cutting.
-- Bobby G. *HIBBS, ROBERT JOHN Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B, 2d Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Don Dien Lo Ke, Republic of Vietnam, 5 March 1966. Entered service at: Des Moines, Iowa. Born: 21 April 1943, Omaha, Nebr. G.O. No.: 8, 24 February 1967. He prepared his men for an oncoming Viet Cong onslaught by placing 2 mines in their path and, when the insurgents were within 20 feet of the patrol's position, he detonated them, wounding or killing half of the enemy company. Learning that a wounded patrol member was wandering in the area between the 2 opposing forces and although moments from safety and wounded in the leg himself, he and a sergeant went back to the battlefield to recover the stricken man. After they maneuvered through the withering fire of 2 Viet Cong machine guns, the sergeant grabbed the dazed soldier and dragged him back toward the friendly lines while 2d Lt. Hibbs remained behind to provide covering fire. Armed with only an M-16 rifle and a pistol, but determined to destroy the enemy positions, he then charged the 2 machine gun emplacements and was struck down. Before succumbing to his mortal wounds, he destroyed the starlight telescopic sight attached to his rifle to prevent its capture and use by the Viet Cong.
(Sorry for the length, some of these citations just can't be edited down to a paragraph.)
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 21 Sep 2011 15:14:34 -0400, "Robert Green"

Someone that would do that should be in jail.......for a long time.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I agree. I left the organization before I found out what happened in the end, but you'd be shocked to learn which Federal agency was afflicted.
-- Bobby G. * KEDENBURG, JOHN J. Rank and organization: Specialist Fifth Class, U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 13 June 1968. Entered service at: Brooklyn, N.Y. Born: 31 July 1946, Brooklyn, N.Y. Just as the helicopter was to lift them out of the area, the South Vietnamese team member who had been unaccounted for after the initial encounter with the enemy appeared in the landing zone. Sp5c. Kedenburg unhesitatingly gave up his place in the sling to the man and directed the helicopter pilot to leave the area. He then continued to engage the enemy who were swarming into the landing zone, killing 6 enemy soldiers before he was overpowered.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Why? What would cause someone to do that?

It wasn't. I'd still like to know how to easily check for crossed neutrals in a house that I want to buy. Standard outlet tests (with those little LED testers) revealed nothing wrong with the house that I bought that had several crossed neutrals.
<stuff snipped>

How do you accomplish that in the typical wall switch/ceiling fixture w/single ceramic socket arrangement? The only thing I can think of is a Y-socket splitter with a CFL in one socket and the night light in another. Not very good light distribution but it might work if the fixture is large enough. Hmmm. I might try that tonight. Some overhead fixtures are two and three bulb units. I wonder if a nightlight in one of the extra sockets would do the trick? I might even try that experiment tonight if I have the time.
-- Bobby G. *HARTSOCK, ROBERT W. Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, 44th Infantry Platoon, 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Hau Nghia, Province, Republic of Vietnam, 23 February 1969. Entered service at: Fairmont, W. Va. Born: 24 January 1945, Cumberland, Md. As a wounded enemy soldier fell, he managed to detonate a satchel charge he was carrying. S/Sgt. Hartsock, with complete disregard for his life, threw himself on the charge and was gravely wounded. In spite of his wounds, S/Sgt. Hartsock crawled about 5 meters to a ditch and provided heavy suppressive fire, completely pinning down the enemy and allowing his commander to seek shelter. S/Sgt. Hartsock continued his deadly stream of fire until he succumbed to his wounds.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/20/2011 9:25 PM, Robert Green wrote:

Laziness, stupidity, and ignorance come to mind as the most obvious explanations.

And it won't, either. There is no easy way to check.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 20 Sep 2011 22:17:13 -0400, Doug Miller

wrong. You need to physically disconnect and separate all the neutrals and then check for interconnection between circuits - one at a time, in every possible combination, to find it. Or load each circuit, and energizing each circuit sparately, check each neutral to see if the neutral corresponding to the line - and ONLY the neutral corresponding to the line, is "live" - while all neutrals are physically disconnected.
Only other way is to physically trace back all the wires - an even BIGGER job.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sep 20, 10:55 pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I would think a relatively easy test would be to put in a GFCI breaker, temporarily at least, in each breaker slot. GFCI's include a circuit which places a small test voltage on the hot and neutral simultaneously to detect if there is a short between the neutral and ground anywhere in the circuit. That GFCI would also trip in the case where the neutral is either not for that circuit, or crosswired with another neutral because it would look to the GFCI just like a short between neutral and ground.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 21 Sep 2011 05:27:21 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

GFCI would trip is if there is a problem in one of the neutrals -if even then.
Try it some time. Wire up a couple of circuits on a test board and plug it into an outlet. Have 2 "circuits" on the test board, and cross the neutrals. Put a GFCI on one or both circuits ant test to your heart's content.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sep 21, 5:44 pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Wrong. Go take a look at how a GFCI is actually designed. As I stated, besides comparing the current flowing in the hot and neutral through any loads, they also generate a small 120hz test voltage on both the hot and neutral. Any path back to that GFCI other than the hot and neutral connected to it will result in it tripping. That path could be the neutral of that circuit connected to ground OR that neutral connected to another neutral. In either case, the GFCI will trip as soon as power is turned on, without any load.
So, if you want to find out if you have any shared or crossed neutrals, all you have to do is replace breakers one at a time with a GFCI and turn the power on. If there are any crossed or shared, the GFCI will trip. It's all about parallel circuits.

You really should stop giving advice on subjects beyond your pay grade.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/21/2011 10:12 PM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Requires a load at each outlet.

If neutrals from different circuits are interconnected, the GFCI feature trader describes would cause an immediate trip. The feature is intended to detect downstream N-G connections and a N-otherN connection looks the same.
If the circuit is connected to a different neutral, when a load is connected the neutral and hot current at the GFCI breaker will be different and the GFCI will trip.

For a different neutral the trip will be when there is a load connected, not immediate.
The injected current on the hot wire doesn't accomplish anything since there is voltage on the hot wire anyway. If the GFCI is reverse H-N wired the feature that detects a N-G (or N-otherN) connection downstream will still work.
I can't think of an easier test than GFCI breakers. You need to stick a load on each outlet.
You could also loop a clamp on ammeter around both H and N for the circuit. It would also require a connected load, one outlet at a time.
There isn't a real easy test for N-N connection and interchanged neutrals.

Sure seems that way some days.
------------------------------------ I agree that capturing a neutral from a different circuit is a dumb idea (particularly from an EE).
I don't think it came up - the problem of no neutral at a switch is why the 2011 NEC requires a neutral (with major exceptions).
--
bud--


Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<stuff snipped>

I understand the curiosity motive from EE's - how dangerous is it to pull a "foreign" neutral? But I think it does a disservice to the man in the street who wants to simply know whether he should "pull a neutral" from elsewhere. Sure, it probably won't hurt HIM, but it could kill the next person. If the OP has a bad memory, that next person could easily be him.

After years and years of seeing people pull neutrals from other circuits and the proliferation of switches and devices that need a neutral, it was long overdue.
I just wonder how much money builders saved by wiring wall switches without neutrals?
-- Bobby G. *JOHNSTON, DONALD R. Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company D, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. Place and date: Tay Ninh Province, Republic of Vietnam, 21 March 1969. Entered service at: Columbus, Ga. Born: 19 November 1947, Columbus, Ga. An enemy soldier threw 3 explosive charges into their position. Sensing the danger to his comrades, Sp4c. Johnston, with complete disregard for his safety, hurled himself onto the explosive charges, smothering the detonations with his body and shielding his fellow soldiers from the blast. His heroic action saved the lives of 6 of his comrades.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.