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I've been installing smart switches and mostly seems like working fine. This one location though, seemed okay at first but after a power outage the breaker tripped unless I removed the right switch (see picture) in this three gang box; on a different circuit than the left and middle switch. All I can figure is something with the Neutral wires is wrong though it allows it to work once it starts working until there's another power outage.

I was hoping I could share this picture and illustration of my situation (I'm sorry I'm sure it's very amateur) and see if anyone could see something wrong or if there's a solution. I had all three switch neutral wires attached to the nut/bundle you'll prominently see. There are other switch locations on these circuits but I have no idea how they all fit together other than the left switch is a 3-way to another switch up some stairs and that's all been working.

Really appreciate any help. I'd be embarrassed to calculate how much time I've spent trying to figure this out on my own.

with switches removed pic

Illustration of wiring I'm pretty sure about, without any real idea where those neutral wires go to/from or how to tell

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  • Does the breaker for the circuit feeding the right-hand switch have a TEST button on it? Mar 5, 2023 at 2:03
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    Notes the hotel letterhead notepad. Hopes OP isn't rewiring a hotel room without permission.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 6, 2023 at 14:14

2 Answers 2

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It looks to me like cable 5 is a switch loop. White should be the always-hot wire and black should be the switched-hot wire. There is no neutral.

The popular response to that is to steal neutral from another circuit. That is a code violation and is likely responsible for your breaker trips.

All grounds go together, that's true, but neutral is not ground. Neutral for each circuit must be kept separate.

Another way of stating that is that a neutral can only be taken from a cable that already has a hot wire going to the device in question.

It looks like the bundle of neutrals is from cables 1-4 from circuit 5. The left two switches can use that neutral. The right switch cannot. Unless you want to rewire this lighting branch, so it is no longer a switch loop and is fed by circuit 5. That would mean abandoning and capping off both the hot and neutral wire up in the lamp.

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    Thank you. I have put in a no-neutral switch in the right position and I think this issue is as resolved as it can be. So far no breaker trips.
    – pjeffe001
    Mar 6, 2023 at 3:48
  • @pjeffe001 perfect! Mar 6, 2023 at 4:41
  • @pjeffe001 the proper way to indicate that the issue is resolved is to click the check mark next to the answer that helped you the most. Don't forget to click the up arrow next to any and every answer that helped you at least a little.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 6, 2023 at 14:13
  • Done thank you.
    – pjeffe001
    Mar 6, 2023 at 15:48
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica also just wanted to say thanks for the seemingly obvious idea of just using the line in for the left and middle switches. Why didn’t that occur to me?! If the no-neutral switch is unreliable I’ll have a better option. Really appreciate your reply.
    – pjeffe001
    Mar 6, 2023 at 15:51
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Only neutrals on the same breaker should be connected together.

All grounds no matter the breaker can be together.

If circuit 3 is on a different breaker than circuit 5, then the neutral #3 should not be connected to #5 neutrals.

If #3 neutral is connected in the wire nut and you have a neutral pigtail from the nut to switch 3, just remove #3 neutral and the pigtail and connect directly to switch 3(without the pigtail)

Turn off both breakers first.

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