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I was trying to install a smart light switch, I don't have a neutral, so I can't do that. However, when I looked in the box, I noticed this other group of wires pushed to the back. They aren't capped off and they read hot. It is three wires; black, white, and copper. The wires sticking out of the box were the ones connected to the existing light switch. Any ideas? Can I use these extra wires to power the smart switch?

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  • You're gonna have to find out where that wire comes from. Are there any covered ceiling fan boxes or light box covers? It could go to an outlet box in case someone wanted it to be a switched outlet. Verify if they are hot, which would be strange, and cap them separately with wire nuts, – JACK Sep 21 at 21:32
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    @JACK Code doesn't have any exception for smart switches poaching neutrals. If it ever did, it would advise the same circuit's ground rather than another circuit's neutral... but either one would break GFCIs, so not gonna happen. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 21 at 22:04
  • Think I'll have to get an electrician to figure that out, which may be smart regardless. Do you think I should cap off those wires or are they okay like that for now? They are live for sure and on a different breaker than the other wires for the light switch. – Walter Sep 21 at 22:05
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    Different breaker = cannot get neutral from them, but yes they should be properly capped off instead of that. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 21 at 22:08
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    They could be going to 2nd planned 3 way switch that was not installed. Never assume anything on wiring even if it is a black white or red wire, I have even found bare ground wires in Romex being hot(big code violation) I find folks that think white is neutral but it ended up being the switched hot (currently a code violation but not always) you need to identify the cables at both ends and what they are connected to before a real answer can be given. The year of install can also provide a clue if wired to code as there have been many changes over the years. – Ed Beal Sep 21 at 22:11
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If you find out that the yellow cable is hot and switched only by a breaker, you can feed the light from it. Just disconnect the existing light and switch wire from the hot and neutral at the light fixture box. Cap them and tuck them away. Remove any black tape from the switch white wire and connect it to the white wire from the light fixture. Connect the black switch wire to the black light fixture wire. At the switch location, connect the feed neutral to the white wire from the light fixture box and remove any black tape, connect the feed black to the line side on the switch and the remaining black to the load side. With this setup, you can install your smart switch. Connect all grounds.

You have to verify the yellow cable source and voltage before doing any of this.

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