how to install outlet in the box that lacks neutral? my box has two black wires (hot and return/load) and bare copper for ground. it was designed for switch that controls light or fan (I guess builder didn't think neutral would be necessary in future). is my only option to run neutral from somewhere else? or can I use existing wires?

  • The fact that you have two black wires means the wire could be run in a conduit and you could pull a new white wire. Cable doesn't come with two blacks unless its very, very old. Do you have conduit? – JPhi1618 Aug 30 '19 at 14:25

No, you cannot legally install an outlet without a neutral. Using the ground wire in its place is illegal and potentially dangerous. Moreover, the neutral wire must be in the same bundle as the hot wire to avoid eddy currents that could cause heating.

If the hot is in a conduit, you can simply pull a new wire. If it’s using NMB (Romex), probably -2 from the fixture, you’ll need to replace it with -3.

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You need a neutral, so run a second cable to give the current capacity needed with a separate breaker if necessary, or add a neutral wire only if that meets code.

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  • Of course, you don't mean bring in another cable just for the neutral. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 30 '19 at 20:10
  • @Harper some countries use (plastic) conduit with single cables inside... Not all use 2, 3, or 4 surrounded by an extra sheath... Are you assuming a particular location? Why do you think I mentioned it should meet code... And why not ask the other answer the same question? – Solar Mike Aug 30 '19 at 20:15
  • @Harper and even JPhi mentions pull a single white... – Solar Mike Aug 30 '19 at 20:17

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