I'm trying to install a WeMo light switch in the place of an existing switch. I'm unsure which wire is neutral, or if I have one at all. Below is a photo of where I'm at currently. There are two switches in this one box, one of which is a fan and the other is a light. Both have only two wires coming out of them currently. There is a cap over a bundle of wires visible in the photo, but one of each of the wires from the switches is tied into this bundle. Is this the neutral wire or should I be looking for something else?

switch box

  • Looks like somebody forgot to cover the box before the painter got there. Based on the photo, it doesn't look like there's a neutral in the box. Though I could be wrong, since it's tough to see all the wires.
    – Tester101
    Nov 13, 2014 at 21:58

2 Answers 2


The tone of your post scares me a little. Meaning if you are working in this box and cannot even identify the neutral, and are asking if one of the blacks is it, you should really get some experience or read up on basic home wiring before you start pulling things apart.

Bottom line is, the bundle of spliced whites in the bak of the box is your neutral.

  • It's hard to gauge competence based on a brief post, but I agree it sounds like the OP doesn't understand what how a basic switch is wired, much less one that requires a neutral.
    – Hank
    Nov 13, 2014 at 23:13

Do you have more than one switch that controls the fan? The light?

If this is new construction, typically a red wire is used for a 3-way switch, along with the typical black, white and bare copper.

  • White - common
  • Black - "Hot"
  • Red - 3-way wire
  • Copper - Ground (Not common!)

If this was a prior re-wire, you may have a case where the person doing it did not follow code. Also, on a single switch system, you usually connect only the black (hot) wire as the switch will either open, or close, the circuit. The whites will usually be all nutted together in the back of the box and not connected to the switch. You may, or may not, have a bare copper wire connected to protect you from getting shocked should something breakdown inside the switch.

  • "Common" is not a generic term for a neutral, or grounded, conductor. Also, a red is not nearly always associated with a 3-way switch. It is just as common to see red used as a switched wire where the black may be constant hot, or part of two switch legs to a bath or ceiling fan, or a home run feed as part of a multi-wire branch circuit. Nov 14, 2014 at 0:26

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