I am attempting to add a light switch that has a night light in it to my workshop. I noticed that the switch box only has one neutral wire leading to it, and what appears to be a ground wire tied into the box.

The house was built in the 1950s, and the switch requires a neutral wire going from both the switch and the night light for both to work. Is there any easy way to accomplish this?


1 Answer 1


That won't work. The problem with this and any other powered switch, dimmer, motion sensor, etc. is that the switch itself is a load.

As such the powered switch needs always-hot and neutral all by itself, and of course it also needs a switched-hot wire so it can operate the light. That is three wires, and the ground doesn't count.

I see where you have only one /2 Romex with two wires in it. That means it is a "switch loop" (that's a google word) and will not have a neutral. (Or perhaps it is wired backwards, and it has a neutral and no hot).

Since you have the wall off, consider replacing that /2 run with a /3. That will provide what you require. Use the red for the switched-hot.

This is now required for new construction.

Another option is to use a "smart switch" to control the light, which talks wirelessly to a control module in the light fixture. In this case the control is wireless and the switch loop wires are redesignated as always-hot and neutral.

  • 1
    I assume that to install /3 I'd have to do it all the way back to the breaker panel?
    – nerdenator
    Jun 11, 2017 at 15:35
  • 1
    @nerdenator no, only back to the lamp. Since your box has only one /2 cable coming in, it must be a switch loop. Google "switch loop" and all will make sense. Keep in mind most switch loop illustrations will show exactly what you have because they haven't been updated to reflect current NEC requirement of /3 cable. That requirement is to solve this problem. Jun 11, 2017 at 15:39

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