Connecting the dimmer switch to the nuetral line?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Erico, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Erico

    Erico New Member

    Messages:
    73
    Location:
    NY
    I'm involeved in a little project at the neighbor's house - I'm helping out with the carpentry and drywall.

    Her father is doing a little electrical work - pulling a couple lights for a closet and hall light from an existing outlet.

    The old codger insists on connecting the dimmers/switches to the WHITE/NUETRAL wire and not the black/hot.

    I suppose the end result is the same as it pertains to breaking the circuit BUT is it SAFE?

    I've NEVER seen one wired that way by a pro and the directions always say black to black and white to white. There is a reason the dimmer switches come with black wires already attached.

    Why he insists on mixing and matching - I don't know.

    What are the rammifications? Is the house going to burn down? Everything else is done in a neat manner - wirenuts, tape and in conduit (per code in Chicago). But his bothers me.
  2. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    1,001
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    Well, for one it is a serious code violation and has been for MANY years.

    Having the hot side hot all the time is only half the issue. With the neutral switched the neutral is also hot as it is being backfed through the load to the switch. So anyone working on the circuit (like him I bet) without shutting it off completely could be in for a (possibly deadly) surprise.

    If he is this insistent on doing something so stupid and wrong I would be suspect what other violations he is adamant about creating. :rolleyes:
  3. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    As to functioning it should make no difference. The dimmer, source and load won't "know" it.
  4. killavolt

    killavolt In the Trades

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Southington CT
    If you have a black and a white wire (only) coming into the box the switch was mounted in you have a switch leg coming in. The white wire should have been identified as such and marked accordingly.
  5. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    1,001
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    Killa, from the sound of the OP it seems this old guy really is switching the neutrals.
  6. Erico

    Erico New Member

    Messages:
    73
    Location:
    NY
    yes

    You are correct
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