How to Install Smart Lighting with No Neutral Wire at Home

Many (if not most) homes built prior to 1985 do not feature a neutral wire

How to Install Smart Lighting with No Neutral Wire at Home

Many (if not most) homes built prior to 1985 do not feature a neutral wire.  Hundreds of millions of homes therefore do not have neutral wires, but does this mean installing a smart light switch is impossible?

The short answer is no - a neutral wire is not strictly necessary for smart light switch installation.

If your home lacks a neutral wire, there are three things you can do to upgrade to a smart light switch:

  1. Install a smart light switch with no neutral wire required
  2. Install smart bulbs and connect them with a wireless controller or app
  3. Install a neutral wire in your home

All three of these options technically pave the way for bringing smart lighting technology into the home. However, one of the options combines the best of all worlds, bringing advanced smart lighting control into the home with no major renovation works required.

If your home lacks a neutral wire but you would still like to install a smart light switch, the first of the three options comes highly recommended - installing a switch that does not require a neutral wire.

What Is a Neutral Wire?

In most homes, the neutral wire can be clearly identified by its blue colour.  Generally speaking, the vast majority of homes built after 1985 will feature a neutral wire. Before 1985, it was comparatively rare for a neutral wire to be fitted in homes as standard.

If you are not sure whether or not your home has a neutral wire, you can find out by taking a look behind one of your light switches. Follow the steps below to determine whether or not there is a neutral wire fitted in your home:

  1. Isolate the light switch you intend to check by turning off the power at the circuit breaker. Check that you have flipped the right switch by attempting to turn the light on and off, which should no longer be operational.
  2. Use a screwdriver to remove the cover plate from the light switch, before testing once again that the power is turned off. You can do this by using either a non-contact voltage tester or a multimeter - both of which are useful devices to have around the home for DIY jobs.
  3. If it is safe to do so, you can pull the light switch away from the wall and inspect the wires behind. If you see blue wire, this is almost certainly a neutral wire - blue is the standard designated colour for this particular cable in UK and Europe.
  4. Carefully push the cables back into the wall, place the light switch back in position and screw it back in place securely.

If there is a neutral wire present, this means you can go ahead and install most types of smart light switches. However, homes that do not have a neutral wire are not compatible with the kinds of controllers and switches that are reliant on one.

In which case, you’ll need to consider the alternative options available.

Three Ways to Install Smart Lighting Without a Neutral Wire

For homes with no neutral wire, there are three options for upgrading to smart lighting. Though again, one of these options is by far the most convenient, if looking to gain access to the full benefits of smart lighting at home.

Here are the options for homes with no neutral wire:

Option #1: Install A Smart Light Switch That Does Not Require A Neutral Wire

By far the best of the three options, some of the best smart light switches on the market right now are designed to operate without a neutral wire. This extends their compatibility to homes built before 1985, while at the same time making them easy to install. As there is no neutral wire required, installing these switches is as simple as swapping out a standard light switch.

One of the best smart light switches currently available with no neutral wire required is Evvr’s In-Wall Relay Switch. Easy to install and set up in a matter of minutes, the Evvr In-Wall Relay Switch is the perfect no-compromise solution for homes that do not feature a neutral wire.

Option #2: Install Smart Light Bulb & Wireless Switch

This is technically the quickest of the three options, but can nonetheless compromise the overall functionality of the system. Installing smart light bulbs is as easy as switching out your regular bulbs, after which they can be connected to a controller via WiFi or Bluetooth. Depending on the smart bulbs you install, their features can be controlled using Alexa, Google Home or Homekit.

Installing smart light bulbs is a fairly straightforward option, but smart bulbs typically lack the extensive features and functionalities of a more advanced smart lighting system. In addition, many of the light fixtures you have around your home may not be compatible with conventional smart bulbs. With a smart lighting controller like the Evvr In-Wall Relay Switch, you can continue using the regular bulbs and LEDs you already have in your home.

Option #3: Run A New Neutral Wire To Your Light Switch

Last up, there is always the option of installing a neutral cable in your home.  Doing so will ensure your property’s compatibility with most smart light switches, bringing it up to the same standard as homes built post-1985.

However, installing a neutral cable involves opening up your walls and can be a fairly extensive renovation project. Unless you have relevant experience in the installation of home electronics, it is a job best left to the professionals and can therefore become quite costly.

In Summary...

Increasingly, manufacturers are setting their sights on the development of smart controls that are not reliant on neutral wires. The presence of a neutral wire can be beneficial, as it broadens the range of devices and controllers a home is compatible with. Even so, an advanced controller with no neutral wire required - like the Evvr In-Wall Relay Switch - brings together the best of all worlds at an affordable price.

Unless you are happy to go ahead with what could be a major renovation, opting for a smart switch with no neutral wire necessary is the best option by far.

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