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Thread: Gen questions: neutral wires, LEDs (Caseta), single pole vs. 3-way

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    Question Gen questions: neutral wires, LEDs (Caseta), single pole vs. 3-way

    Hello, I'm a complete noob. My first question is, are all Caseta switches compatible with LEDs? Second, why do some switches have white wires and others don't? Lastly, do all switches work whether the original switch was for a single pole or a 3-way? Thanks :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie L. View Post
    Hello, I'm a complete noob. My first question is, are all Caseta switches compatible with LEDs? Second, why do some switches have white wires and others don't? Lastly, do all switches work whether the original switch was for a single pole or a 3-way? Thanks :-)
    Yes. Refer to lutron.com/led for compatible bulbs. The bulb manufacturer should also have details about compatibility. Adding the neutral to a dimmer allows for lower minimum loads and broader compatibility. In general, I find they work better than their non-neutral counterparts. All Caseta dimmers and switches are single-location/single-pole. Some models will work with a single, mechanical, 3-way switch. See advanced instructions below for details. For additional locations you use Pico remotes. http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum...structions.pdf
    LED, Incorporated
    Raleigh, NC 27614

  3. #3
    Quote Quote
    My first question is, are all Caseta switches compatible with LEDs?
    It's kind of tough to say because there are many different types of LED. This is really more of a question that should be directed toward the light. Of course the LED has to be dimmable to start. But then you need to determine the needs of the LED light. If it can be dimmed with a basic incandescent dimmer (PD-6WCL), then your answer is "Yes, you can use any Caseta dimmer". But some LED lights have Electronic Transformers that will not react well to a normal dimmer (the PD-6WCL). Those types of lights might squeal or hiss or flicker. If so, they will require a "Reverse Phase" or ELV (Electronic Low Voltage) dimmer, the PD-5NE.
    Quote Quote
    Second, why do some switches have white wires and others don't?
    The Caseta dimmers are advanced electronic devices that are constantly communicating with the Smart Bridge, listening for commands and sharing their own status. This means they need to consume a little current to keep themselves alive. When there is no white (neutral) wire, the dimmer must flow a small amount of current through the load (the light) so that it can keep itself powered up. The current is very low (around 5 milliamps). When you're using a basic incandescent light bulb, this is no problem. The light bulb is basically a thin piece of wire (filament). So the dimmer can flow a very small current through that filament without causing it to emit light.Not needing that white wire can be convenient, but flowing current through the load to power the dimmer is not ideal and does bring drawbacks, including:
    • The dimmer cannot go to 100% bright. If it did, there would be no voltage differential to run the dimmer circuits. Non neutral dimmers will usually only go up to 95% or so.
    • If you are connecting a non-neutral dimmer to an electronic load, like and LED light or an Electronic Low Voltage transformer, that small current can cause strange things to happen. Hissing, flickering, malfunction, etc...
    • If you are dimming a single light and the bulb fails or dies, the dimmer will go offline.
    • If you are dimming a single light, and you are changing the bulb, you can get a shock through the socket even though the light is off. This is the current that the dimmer is trying to pass through the bulb, and it can sting...

    When you use a dimmer that has a neutral wire, current flows between the hot (black) and the neutral (white) to keep the dimmer alive and powered. This is a far more reliable and predictable way to go. These dimmers will work better at very low and very high dimming levels, they will work more predictably with electronic loads, etc....
    Quote Quote
    Lastly, do all switches work whether the original switch was for a single pole or a 3-way? Thanks :-)
    The basic / most popular Caseta dimmer, the PD-6WCL that you see at the Home Depot and Lowes does not have a neutral wire (white) and it cannot work with any three way switches. You need to burry a Pico remote in the wall to cover the other switch locations. This works, but it's not ideal. I would prefer not to have battery operated devices (picos) buried in my walls. Also, if you use picos your device count goes up fast. One room may use 3 devices (dimmer + 2 picos). I prefer to use the Caseta Pro dimmers and switches (PD-10NXD, PD-5NE, PD-5WS). These dimmers / switches all require the neutral wire. But they also have a traveler wire (Blue) that can be connected to your conventional mechanical switches so you don't need to burry Picos in your multi switch rooms. This may require some alterations to the existing switches, but with some careful planning and execution it's very possible (I have many of these applications in my place).Check out the Caseta Brochure for the whole product lineup. You're not going to find the Pro devices at Home Depot, but you should be able to find them on Amazon.

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