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I am trying to replace a "regular" light switch with one that has a timer built in. The old one, as shown below, on the left, has two black wires attached, and no others.

The new switch requires attaching a hot, load, neutral, and ground. I have attempted to do so, but so far it is not working.

Before: Before

Before (side view) Side view before

In order to hook up the new switch, I:

  • assumed the bottom wire of the original switch was the line/hot wire and the top was the load and attached the wires accordingly. The new switch's red wire is labelled "LOAD" and the black one is labelled "HOT".
  • attached the green ground wire to a screw at the back of the electrical box
  • pulled a white wire out of the marret of (unused?) white wires to use as neutral, and attached it to the neutral white wire on the new switch.

I had switched my breaker back on for this circuit and the new switch does not work. I have also tried switching the black and red wires, to no avail. What am I doing wrong?

After: After

  • 3
    highly unlikely anything is "unused". Do not assume so. Check around you'll find you disabled something else (light, outlet) as well by disconnecting its neutral. – agentp Dec 1 '17 at 1:39
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The problem is the neutral

pulled a white wire out of the marret of (unused?) white wires to use as neutral, and attached it to the neutral white wire on the new switch.

Instead you should ADD the new white wire to the existing bundle. Only ONE is actually a neutral, the rest are other wires that need neutral.

  • Thanks, I'll try that! Does everything else sound correct? – Stewart Dec 1 '17 at 1:44
  • Yep, pretty certain that is your only problem. – Tyson Dec 1 '17 at 1:44

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