Home automation and question about Neutral generation

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by GreenGiant, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. GreenGiant

    GreenGiant

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    So Ive recently started working on building my home automation as well as increase my experience with it.

    I have an Amazon Echo that is connected to the wifi and with voice control can communicate to tons of things these days. I also have a Logitech Hub that I have connected to the Echo through which I can control my entertainment system.

    There really is something to be said about being able to just talk to your house and have it respond.

    The next step in the process is to get all my lighting connected, herein lies the issue...

    Thus far I have purchased a single Belkin Wemo light switch and a single Belkin Wemo Switch (plug type).
    Now the plug type works fine just plugging it into a 3 prong plug, the light switch is listed as needing a neutral, though in reality it just needed a ground (as found through much research on the interwebs).

    I believe the reason for the ability to use ground vs a neutral is because the switch has a DC power supply in it of some sort to connect it to the wifi. So as long as you have the feed connected to the power in wire, and the neutral and ground tied together to ground it powers up properly and works quite well.

    For the single switches the Belkin Wemo works, the issue that I am going to have is the 3-way switches that I have in my house. There are multiple options for smart 3 way switches, but all of them either require a neutral or require you to use high load bulbs (incandescent) or both.

    The two questions that I have are these:
    1. Does anyone have any experience using any of the smart switches without a neutral (Z-wave?)
    2. Is there a way that I can generate a neutral with a transformer or something on a 120VAC house without a neutral? (or can I use the ground wire safely instead of a neutral?)
    A couple of notes though...
    I am hesitant to go with the incandescent bulbs ones because I already have all LED bulbs and like not paying really anything for electricity every month.
    I'm also hesitant to go with the bulb replacement solutions (Phillips Hue) since they are significantly more expensive than the switch options, also they don't have a tangible switch to press and the fiance is not going to deal with the apps/talking to the Echo all the time.
     
    GreenGiant, Jan 11, 2017
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  2. GreenGiant

    Minder

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    No1. The neutral should be connected to earth ground at the service panel Only, NOwhere else.
    you should not connect to a neutral with a local DC supply, if you need a ground reference then a earth ground connection should be made to the nearest earth receptacle etc.
    M.
     
    Minder, Jan 11, 2017
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  3. GreenGiant

    Tha fios agaibh

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    The neutral is a current carrying conductor. The ground (equipment ground) wire is not. It is intended to carry current only in the event of a short circuit (ground fault).

    If you hook up any device that utilizes power and tie it to the ground wire, it causes parallel current paths which causes hysteresis heating on the wire. Using devices that draw a small amount of current is not likely to burn down your house, but with widespread use of loads using the ground wire as the return path, it can present a problem. It is now against NEC electrical code to use the ground in this manner, and except a few exceptions, is now a requirement to have a neutral wire (white grounded conductor) in wall switch boxes.

    As far as your home automation devices are concerned; they'll probably worked fine whichever way you hook them up.
     
    Tha fios agaibh, Jan 12, 2017
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  4. GreenGiant

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    And your earth leakage breaker to trip.
     
    (*steve*), Jan 12, 2017
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    Tha fios agaibh likes this.
  5. GreenGiant

    Tha fios agaibh

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    Good point, although on this side of the pond, gfci breakers (for leakage) are usually not required for indoor lighting circuits.
     
    Tha fios agaibh, Jan 12, 2017
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  6. GreenGiant

    Minder

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    NEC permits connecting to earth ground only if a earth reference is required on isolated supplies.
    This is a reference only and not a current carrying conductor.
    Connecting to the neutral to obtain a ground reference is not permitted.
    M.
     
    Minder, Jan 12, 2017
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