New technology wall switch dimmers?

There has been a lot of discussion here recently about newer HA technologies (Insteon, ZigBee, Z-wave, etc) replacing X10.

Which, if any, of these newer technologies offer (or have the capability of offering) wall switch dimmers which don't require a neutral wire in the switch box?

Plug-in dimmers are fine, but I have many more (X10) wall switch dimmers installed in my house. As far as I can recall, none of the switch boxes have a neutral wire and it would be prohibitively expensive to have them rewired. And I suspect that the switch boxes in most houses don't have a neutral wire.

It seems to me that any HA technology which doesn't or can't offer wall switches that work without a neutral won't get very far, except possibly when pre-planned for in new construction.


Regards, Charles Sullivan

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Charles Sullivan
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You are greatly underestimating the number of homes with neutral wires.

While I could not find an exact date for when the NEC required neutral wires what I did find says it is common for homes after 1965 to have a neutral wire at the switch box. How many millions of homes have been built since


If you're unwilling to upgrade your old wiring (which is not that hard or expensive, rewiring has been going on for decades, there are many tools and techniques developed just for the purpose), then there will always be the old X10 switches that are compatible with 2 wire wiring. There are many reasons the newer stuff requires a neutral wire and always will. (And one of those reasons is that there is actually very little demand for 2 wire automated switches)

You sound like a guy who's upset the latest software won't run on his old

386 PC with windows 3.1.
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Whether or not it may be in the NEC, such a requirement isn't included in the local electrical codes of two cities I checked (Greensboro, NC and Plano, TX) according to their chief code enforcement officers. Are you perhaps thinking of the ground wire?

A Greensboro electrical contractor tells me that if wiring from below, his practise is to run the cable from the breaker panel to the switch box and thence up to the light fixture, so in that case there would be a neutral connection available. But if wiring from above, the cable from the breaker panel goes to the light fixture and a 2-wire (+ ground) cable is dropped to the switch box.

In Greensboro usual residential construction is such that most wiring is done from below (basement or crawl space) and his estimate is that around 90% of newer houses would in fact have the neutral connection. So in this locality you would be correct.

However in Texas, most houses are built on a slab and wired from the attic. The 1978-vintage slab ranch I lived in there had only the 2-wire (+ ground) in the switch boxes. It's unlikely most others in the area were any different.

While it would have been very simple to upgrade the switch wiring in the Plano ranch, any electrical rewiring in my present (older) residence is a major undertaking.

Is that statement somehow relevant to the topic under discussion or just your notion of a gratuitous insult?

Regards, Charles Sullivan

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