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  • FIRST POST
    • takman
    • By takman 14th Mar 18, 5:45 PM
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    takman
    Light Switch - Neutral and Live Wires
    • #1
    • 14th Mar 18, 5:45 PM
    Light Switch - Neutral and Live Wires 14th Mar 18 at 5:45 PM
    I know the most common method of wiring up a light in a house is to have the neutral wire going to the bulb and only the live wire into the switch.

    But does anyone know if current electrical regulations require that both a Neutral and Live wire are present in light switches. If so when did this requirement come about?

    What i want to know is if newer houses are likely to have this and from what year so i can correctly advise people when they ask about how easy it is to wire up smart light switches.
Page 1
    • baldelectrician
    • By baldelectrician 14th Mar 18, 5:49 PM
    • 2,183 Posts
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    baldelectrician
    • #2
    • 14th Mar 18, 5:49 PM
    • #2
    • 14th Mar 18, 5:49 PM
    It depends on the layout of the house and the spec for the job.


    It also depends on the electrician who is carrying out the job- each may have their own preferences


    Having said that it is more common to have loop in at the switch now as it means less faffing about up ladders
    baldly going on...
    • TheCyclingProgrammer
    • By TheCyclingProgrammer 14th Mar 18, 6:14 PM
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    TheCyclingProgrammer
    • #3
    • 14th Mar 18, 6:14 PM
    • #3
    • 14th Mar 18, 6:14 PM
    AFAIK there's no reg that says it has to be done but its more likely to be found in newer properties or properties that have been more recently rewired. I don't think you're going to be able to accurately predict whether or not a house will have a neutral at the switch without just looking.
    • Risteard
    • By Risteard 14th Mar 18, 6:27 PM
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    Risteard
    • #4
    • 14th Mar 18, 6:27 PM
    • #4
    • 14th Mar 18, 6:27 PM
    There is no requirement.

    However, the Regs do now require that "consideration" be given to whether a neutral should be brought to the switch.
    • brightontraveller
    • By brightontraveller 15th Mar 18, 1:32 AM
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    brightontraveller
    • #5
    • 15th Mar 18, 1:32 AM
    • #5
    • 15th Mar 18, 1:32 AM
    Its pretty irresponsible to offer advice to others if you don't know correct installation methods yourself?
    Advice them to check with competent person? might mean less chance of fire electrocution etc
    Last edited by brightontraveller; 15-03-2018 at 1:35 AM.
    • takman
    • By takman 15th Mar 18, 9:32 AM
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    takman
    • #6
    • 15th Mar 18, 9:32 AM
    • #6
    • 15th Mar 18, 9:32 AM
    Thanks everyone i thought it might be the case that there is no definite answer based on the houses age. But at least it sounds like newer houses are more likely to have the neutral wire.


    Its pretty irresponsible to offer advice to others if you don't know correct installation methods yourself?
    Advice them to check with competent person? might mean less chance of fire electrocution etc
    Originally posted by brightontraveller
    I know exactly how they should be wired up; it's pretty simple. If there is a Neutral Wire present in the light switch already then it is simply a case of swapping them over. If there is not then you need to do extra work to get a neutral wire in there, which stops a lot of people from doing it at all.
    • hd216
    • By hd216 15th Mar 18, 9:58 AM
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    hd216
    • #7
    • 15th Mar 18, 9:58 AM
    • #7
    • 15th Mar 18, 9:58 AM
    Also depends on the switch, some use parasitic power from just the live!
    • TheCyclingProgrammer
    • By TheCyclingProgrammer 15th Mar 18, 12:47 PM
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    TheCyclingProgrammer
    • #8
    • 15th Mar 18, 12:47 PM
    • #8
    • 15th Mar 18, 12:47 PM
    There are smart light switches that don!!!8217;t need a neutral of course (LightwaveRF)
    • takman
    • By takman 15th Mar 18, 12:57 PM
    • 3,389 Posts
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    takman
    • #9
    • 15th Mar 18, 12:57 PM
    • #9
    • 15th Mar 18, 12:57 PM
    Also depends on the switch, some use parasitic power from just the live!
    Originally posted by hd216
    There are smart light switches that don't need a neutral of course (LightwaveRF)
    Originally posted by TheCyclingProgrammer
    I currently have a couple of Sonoff switches that i'm trying and they are less than £12 each including postage from eBay and i haven't had any issues with them.

    The LightwaveRF ones seem to be a lot more expensive but could be a good alternative for people who want smart switches but don't want to do any extra wiring.
    • brightontraveller
    • By brightontraveller 15th Mar 18, 5:22 PM
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    brightontraveller
    Thanks everyone i thought it might be the case that there is no definite answer based on the houses age. But at least it sounds like newer houses are more likely to have the neutral wire.




    I know exactly how they should be wired up; it's pretty simple. If there is a Neutral Wire present in the light switch already then it is simply a case of swapping them over. If there is not then you need to do extra work to get a neutral wire in there, which stops a lot of people from doing it at all.
    Originally posted by takman
    You cannot know what "wire" is without testing so advise based on a guess? Knowing termination points on switch etc isn't knowing existing installation is safe ,
    Do you take liability or inform those you !!!8220;advise!!!8221; actions make them liable in the event of fire, electrocution.

    Correct installation information is different than a blanket answer to cover all.. To do so safely correctly user needs to identify live, neutral etc if they can then they wouldn't need advice...
    This isn't to say only electricians should fit items but its stupid, dangerous to give advice without knowing all the info in situations like this ...
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Mar 18, 5:33 PM
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    Cornucopia
    In my experience, the vast majority of UK properties do not have both Live & Neutral present in the switch box on the wall.

    With houses built since around 1980, the most common circuit has the complex wiring elements in the ceiling rose, with the switch being in the Live line. The idea of this is that the only user serviceable part (the bulb holder) is not live when the switch is in the off position, and therefore relatively safe for non-technical people to access to change the bulb.
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-03-2018 at 5:39 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • takman
    • By takman 15th Mar 18, 6:12 PM
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    takman
    You cannot know what "wire" is without testing so advise based on a guess? Knowing termination points on switch etc isn't knowing existing installation is safe ,
    Do you take liability or inform those you !!!8220;advise!!!8221; actions make them liable in the event of fire, electrocution.

    Correct installation information is different than a blanket answer to cover all.. To do so safely correctly user needs to identify live, neutral etc if they can then they wouldn't need advice...
    This isn't to say only electricians should fit items but its stupid, dangerous to give advice without knowing all the info in situations like this ...
    Originally posted by brightontraveller
    I think your being abit OTT and assuming what i'm going to tell people.

    When people ask me along the lines of "how easy is it to fit a smart switch like that one" it would be very condescending of me to say "Sorry i cannot tell you as you may injure yourself or cause a fire".

    What i do say when someone asks me something like that is " It's easy to do but you need to have both a Live wire and Neutral wire connected to the switch and not many houses have these; i had to run a wire from the light fitting". I was discussing this with someone who was moving soon into a new build and so the question about if new houses would have a neutral wire came up.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Mar 18, 7:18 PM
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    Cornucopia
    It seems to me that the Smart Switches are not optimally designed for British house wiring.

    The switch unit should be next to the ceiling rose, where the uninterrupted power is, and then the switch lead can be taken over entirely by the smart switch. Either the original switch plate could be retained (in which case it would offer two-way switching with smart override), or the wiring could connect to a small switch circuit on a new plate.

    I'm sure that would be more straightforward than re-wiring, or paying £185 for the LightwaveRF ones.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • bris
    • By bris 15th Mar 18, 11:01 PM
    • 7,661 Posts
    • 6,669 Thanks
    bris

    What i want to know is if newer houses are likely to have this and from what year so i can correctly advise people when they ask about how easy it is to wire up smart light switches.
    Originally posted by takman
    If you don't know the answer then clearly you are not qualified to advise anyone else, leave it to the experts.


    Electricity kills, as already said it's irresponsible advising anyone to undertake electrical work.
    • takman
    • By takman 16th Mar 18, 9:57 AM
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    takman
    If you don't know the answer then clearly you are not qualified to advise anyone else, leave it to the experts.

    Electricity kills, as already said it's irresponsible advising anyone to undertake electrical work.
    Originally posted by bris
    So if you installed a light switch in your house and one of your friends asked you how easy it was to do or how exactly you did it, would you seriously not tell them?. I would find that very childish if someone refused to tell me how they did something.

    There is a big difference between telling someone how you did something and actually telling them they should do it. If i simply tell them how i did something then i don't see any problem with that and it's up to them to decide if they want to/are able to do it themselves.
    • brightontraveller
    • By brightontraveller 16th Mar 18, 11:33 AM
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    brightontraveller
    So if you installed a light switch in your house and one of your friends asked you how easy it was to do or how exactly you did it, would you seriously not tell them?. I would find that very childish if someone refused to tell me how they did something.

    There is a big difference between telling someone how you did something and actually telling them they should do it. If i simply tell them how i did something then i don't see any problem with that and it's up to them to decide if they want to/are able to do it themselves.
    Originally posted by takman
    How you or how they your question wasnt how did you install a switch but how to advise them ? If its made for uk meets requirements, regulations and design is suitable for non competant person instalation then it would have comprehesive instructions, but many "smart light switches."are simply not made for uk markets despite being availible here which is the make that you wish to advise on ?
    • TheCyclingProgrammer
    • By TheCyclingProgrammer 16th Mar 18, 12:47 PM
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    TheCyclingProgrammer
    I've already mentioned the LightwaveRF switches as an easy to wire switch but if you want something even easier that requires no wiring at all, you could use Hue lightbulbs and one of these switch covers to mount the Hue switch over the original switch:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Philips-Hue-Dimmer-Remote-UK-Light-Switch-Adapter-Cover/263504928799?_trkparms=aid%3D555018%26algo%3DPL.SI M%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D43781%26meid%3D066aef9169844978 8467c025c54d973b%26pid%3D100011%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1 2%26mehot%3Dpp%26sd%3D253249244914%26itm%3D2635049 28799&_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850

    The original switch stays in place and you can access it by popping the Hue switch out of the mount, so you can still easily isolate the bulb.

    The only downside to these I can see is that if somebody that wasn't familiar with the setup tried to change the bulb they might do so with the lamp holder live. Probably not a major risk and you're unlikely to be changing Hue bulbs frequently but something to bear in mind.
    • takman
    • By takman 16th Mar 18, 1:14 PM
    • 3,389 Posts
    • 2,994 Thanks
    takman
    How you or how they your question wasnt how did you install a switch but how to advise them ? If its made for uk meets requirements, regulations and design is suitable for non competant person instalation then it would have comprehesive instructions, but many "smart light switches."are simply not made for uk markets despite being availible here which is the make that you wish to advise on ?
    Originally posted by brightontraveller
    Maybe "advise" was the wrong word to use. But as i said above i currently use the Sonoff Switches in my house (I only have two at the moment to see how good they are) which cost less than £12 each on eBay. It's described as the "EU" model and is made by ITEAD which is a chinese company. It does have a wiring diagram but all it basically shows is you need to run a neutral wire to it from the same circuit as the light bulb (as well as live in and out).

    But as it's so cheap i don't want people to go out and order one after seeing mine and not realise they need a neutral wire and waste their money sending it back. So i always mention this requirement when people ask about it.

    It seems to me that the Smart Switches are not optimally designed for British house wiring.

    The switch unit should be next to the ceiling rose, where the uninterrupted power is, and then the switch lead can be taken over entirely by the smart switch. Either the original switch plate could be retained (in which case it would offer two-way switching with smart override), or the wiring could connect to a small switch circuit on a new plate.

    I'm sure that would be more straightforward than re-wiring, or paying £185 for the LightwaveRF ones.
    Originally posted by Cornucopia
    I do actually have a smart switch connected to a lamp that could be wired up as you said. The only reservations i have is that it relies on several systems to work and an internet connection so i wouldn't want to be in a position where i couldn't turn on the lights due to a fault.

    I've already mentioned the LightwaveRF switches as an easy to wire switch but if you want something even easier that requires no wiring at all, you could use Hue lightbulbs and one of these switch covers to mount the Hue switch over the original switch:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Philips-Hue-Dimmer-Remote-UK-Light-Switch-Adapter-Cover/263504928799?_trkparms=aid%3D555018%26algo%3DPL.SI M%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D43781%26meid%3D066aef9169844978 8467c025c54d973b%26pid%3D100011%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1 2%26mehot%3Dpp%26sd%3D253249244914%26itm%3D2635049 28799&_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850

    The original switch stays in place and you can access it by popping the Hue switch out of the mount, so you can still easily isolate the bulb.

    The only downside to these I can see is that if somebody that wasn't familiar with the setup tried to change the bulb they might do so with the lamp holder live. Probably not a major risk and you're unlikely to be changing Hue bulbs frequently but something to bear in mind.
    Originally posted by TheCyclingProgrammer
    I have previously looked at the Hue system and the main reason i didn't get it was because it didn't control the switch directly. But that does look like a good solution to that.
    • brightontraveller
    • By brightontraveller 19th Mar 18, 3:46 AM
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    brightontraveller
    Maybe "advise" was the wrong word to use. But as i said above i currently use the Sonoff Switches in my house (I only have two at the moment to see how good they are) which cost less than £12 each on eBay. It's described as the "EU" model and is made by ITEAD which is a chinese company. It does have a wiring diagram but all it basically shows is you need to run a neutral wire to it from the same circuit as the light bulb (as well as live in and out).

    But as it's so cheap i don't want people to go out and order one after seeing mine and not realise they need a neutral wire and waste their money sending it back. So i always mention this requirement when people ask about it.



    I do actually have a smart switch connected to a lamp that could be wired up as you said. The only reservations i have is that it relies on several systems to work and an internet connection so i wouldn't want to be in a position where i couldn't turn on the lights due to a fault.



    I have previously looked at the Hue system and the main reason i didn't get it was because it didn't control the switch directly. But that does look like a good solution to that.
    Originally posted by takman
    Sonoff do a "UK" model maybe start by telling others that
    • Hermione Granger
    • By Hermione Granger 19th Mar 18, 10:41 AM
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    Hermione Granger
    (I only have two at the moment to see how good they are) which cost less than £12 each on eBay. It's described as the "EU" model and is made by ITEAD which is a chinese company.
    Originally posted by takman
    Being described as an "EU model" doesn't mean that the unit has actually been approved for sale in the EU especially when you read about the number of counterfeit and poor quality electrical items that are sold on ebay.
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