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I’d like to install a GE smart dimmer and a GE smart switch into a four gang box. The box currently has four non-smart switches.

I determined that one of the switches is on a different circuit than the other three. One circuit breaker cuts three of the switches and another the fourth. It is one of the ones I’d like to replace.

The issue I’m running into is with the neutral wires to power the smart switch. There is only one bundle of neutral wires in the box. It was my understanding that the neutral wire had to be on the same circuit as the load and line for the switch.

The bundle of wires for the switch that is on a different circuit doesn’t have a neutral wire at all. There are six bundles of wires coming into the box even though there are only four switches. I’m assuming the others are for adjacent outlets. All of them have neutral wires except for the one, so there are a total of five white wires that are all twisted together and capped.

The neutral wires appear to be all on the same circuit as when I open the breaker for the three switches, they are all cold. For curiosity, I separated the neutral wire bundle and with the one circuit closed, two of the five wires are hot. Is that normal/expected?

If it matters, the switch that is on a different circuit is a four way configuration in that two other switches control the same fixture. I don’t yet know the neutral wire situation for the other switches but I’m assuming they will also have a single bundle but don’t know which circuit at this time.

Is it safe to power both switches from the one neutral bundle? If it’s not ok, I don’t know what options I have as there doesn’t appear to be a neutral wire on the other circuit, at least in the box I have opened so far.

Appreciate any help!

For background, this room was once part of our main house. We built it out into a mother-in-law suite/house with its own breaker box. I believe the fixture in question was part of the original room. That is probably irrelevant, however, as it is now on the new breaker box now so it would seem that everything was rewired. This was all done using a contractor with an electrician, permits, inspections, etc. So, should have been done to code (at least in theory).

Best regards, Eric

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  • Without diving deep into your post, just some general advice: Your smart switch will probably need a neutral and that neutral must be on the same circuit as the power according to code. While it might "work" to stow-a-way some current on the other neutrals for the smart switch, it's not a good idea at all. Don't do it. Would it be possible to place the smart switch in one of the other 2 locations that control the fixture? There are so many ways to wire up 3-way and 4-way switches it's hard to give solid advice without knowing more. Apr 22, 2020 at 21:04
  • Can you post photos of the inside of the box please? Apr 22, 2020 at 22:49
  • If it is a multi wire branch circuit there can be 2 hots and 1 neutral. For many years code has required handle ties as a minimum safety, but prior to the code required handle ties the breakers were supposed to be on different legs (L1 & L2) the problem was the breakers got moved around later and when both hots end up on the same leg the neutral can be horribly overloaded. Then the code was updated to require handle ties for multiple reasons. To keep the 2 breakers on alternate legs that makes sense but the big one is handle ties keep someone from a shock on the neutral if only 1 bkr is off.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 23, 2020 at 2:54
  • 6 cables sound normal. 2 for supply, and 4 for the things switched by 4 switches. Apr 23, 2020 at 2:55
  • It’s normal to see voltage on neutral wires when separated. See here for more info: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/38367/…
    – DoxyLover
    Apr 23, 2020 at 7:28

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