Neutral VS Non Neutral

We often get questions about neutral and non neutral by customers who are keen in transforming their home into a smart home, so here we are, addressing these concerns and help you understand how it will affect your smart home

How Does a Traditional Manual Light Switch Work?

Switches power up lights by connecting the live wire, which carries the electrical current, to the light fixture. When the switch is turned on, it completes the circuit, allowing the electricity to flow from the power source through the live wire and into the light fixture, powering it. When the switch is turned off, it breaks the circuit, interrupting the flow of electricity and turning off the light. The switch acts as a control point, regulating the connection and disconnection of the live wire to provide power or cut off power to the light.

Then why can’t the smart switch simply copy traditional switches?

Because smart switches require a constant source of power to function properly,  it require to provide electricity to turn on the light, but it cannot simply cut off the electricity completely when light is turned off, as it needs to stay connected to Wi-Fi for users to remotely control through the app. If it cut off the electricity, user wont be able to control it anymore

How Non Neutral Smart Switches Works?

Many big companies went through various testing, finally there is a working formula, although it is not perfect, but in 2024, this is the only method.

Non-neutral smart switches work by utilizing alternative methods to power the switch and perform their intended functions. The method is called capacitive coupling, which the non-neutral smart switches draw a small amount of power from the live wire to operate the switch. Capacitive coupling allows the switch to detect changes in the electrical field and activate the switching mechanism accordingly. This method can work in certain electrical setups where a neutral wire is not present, but it may have limitations in terms of compatibility and functionality.  

While using non-neutral smart switches can provide convenience in certain situations, it can sometimes compromise the stability and reliability of the electrical system. Due to non-neutral, these switches may introduce certain issues that can affect the overall performance, functionality and may also introduce some additional challenges or considerations.  Issue such as light flickering, inconsistent operation switches or may be more susceptible to fluctuations in power is very common when neutral wire is not present.

What the best for non neutral smart switch?

In some cases, the necessary neutral wire may not be available or easily accessible. A capacitor is highly recommended to be wired up with a smart switch to address the issue of a missing neutral wire in the electrical setup. 

By using a capacitor, the smart switch can still function without the need for a neutral wire. The capacitor acts as a temporary power source, storing electrical energy and supplying it to the switch as needed. When the switch is turned on, the stored energy is released, allowing the switch to complete the circuit and power the connected appliance or light.

Here are a few reasons why a capacitor is beneficial when wiring up a smart switch without a neutral wire:

  • Compatibility: The use of a capacitor enables the smart switch to work with electrical systems that lack a neutral wire. 
  • Convenience: Wiring a smart switch with a capacitor is often easier and more convenient than retrofitting or rewiring the electrical system to include a neutral wire. It eliminates the need for complex wiring modifications, making the installation process simpler and less time-consuming.
  • Cost-effective: It allows users to leverage the benefits of a smart switch without incurring significant expenses associated with extension electrical modifications (laying neutral wire)

Here are some disadvantages on wiring a capacitor: 

  •  Increased complexity: Wiring a capacitor to a smart switch adds an additional layer of complexity to the installation process. This complexity may make the installation more challenging for some users.
  • Maintenance and lifespan: Capacitors have a limited lifespan, and their performance can degrade over time. Regular maintenance and potential replacement of the capacitor may be necessary to ensure continued operation of the smart switch. This additional maintenance can be an inconvenience for some users.

What's The Best Option?

Needless to say, neutral wire is considered the best option for smart switches 

If a neutral wire is available in your electrical setup, it is generally recommended to use it for optimal performance and compatibility with smart switches.

Here are some reason why neutral wire is the best:

1. Power supply: Smart switches require a constant source of power to function properly. The neutral wire provides a return path for the electrical current, ensuring a stable and continuous power supply to the switch. This allows the smart switch to operate reliably and consistently without any interruptions.

2. Compatibility: Most electrical systems are designed with a neutral wire. Therefore, smart switches that require a neutral wire are generally compatible with a wide range of electrical setups. Using a neutral wire ensures compatibility with standard electrical configurations, making it easier to install and integrate the smart switch into existing wiring systems.

3. Safety: The presence of a neutral wire in the electrical circuit helps balance the electrical load and reduces the risk of electric shocks or hazards. It provides a pathway for the current to flow back to the electrical panel, ensuring a safer and more stable electrical system.

4. Functionality: Smart switches often have additional features and capabilities that require a neutral wire. These features may include two-way or three-way switching, dimming functionality, or compatibility with other smart home devices. Having a neutral wire allows the smart switch to support these advanced features and provide a more versatile and integrated smart home experience.