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Occupancy Sensing Switch Wiring Question - No Ground Available

Recently I purchased this occupancy sensing switch:


The instructions say that a ground is required.  I suspected that my wiring might be lacking a ground but I didin't think it would be very hard to fish a wire to make the connection.  So far I have had no luck getting my fish tool through my wall.  I suspect that this part of my house is framed differently than other parts with ballon framing and wide open stud access from the basement.  I still have some tricks up my sleve and may yet be able to get through the sill plate to make get a wire through.


I'm wondering, how important is the ground connection for this device?  How does it work?  Is it a safety issue alone or does it affect the fuction of the sensor somehow? 



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Posted 2012-06-26T12:50:57+0000  by DGray DGray

I bought several of these switches along with some timer switches.  My house was built in the early 60's and all my switch boxes had the ground wire wrapped around the ground screw in the box.  Even after hookng the switch up to this it still was not working propery.  I had a neutral wire installed in some of these switch boxes, so instead I attached the ground to that and the switch worked as expected.


But, I think the reason why these switches aren't working properly with my ground connections is because I noticed there is no earth ground connected to my main panel.

Posted 2013-08-23T05:37:08+0000  by coffeysm

I'm having the same problem, but there are no white neutral wires to connect to.   what do I need to do?

Posted 2013-12-28T21:01:18+0000  by dab151


Posted 2014-01-11T18:01:33+0000  by janurary
I tried to install this product in my old house, which has 2 wires only. Black and white.

I attached the green wire from the Lutron to the white wire from the wall. I attached the two black wires from the Lutron to the black wire from the wall. Both are attached with twist caps.

I went to turn on the power in the breaker and the lights will not turn on. However, I can hear "clicks" in the sensor so I guess that is working.

Can somebody help me? Thank you.
Posted 2016-12-28T19:25:32+0000  by xiaobao12
My 1950s house also only has 1 black wire and 1 white wire with no ground wires throughout the entire house.  The dimmer switches work just fine connected as described in the previous comments, but the regular sensor switches MS-OPS2 do not.  I tried everything everyone else did with the same results, either the lights are only on or only off with the sensor clicking as posted above.  

I called Lutron customer service and they told me there is no way to make the MS-OPS2 switches work with only 1 white wire and 1 black wire.  But if you call them they will mail you new switches that will work with no ground!  Totally free, no questions asked.  I asked for the part number of the ones that will work: MS-OPS6M-DV-WH, they only come in white.  

So if your house is like mine just call them up and they will send you good ones.  Or if you haven't bought the switches yet and have no ground wires make sure you get part number MS-OPS6M-DV-WH.  Hope this helps
Posted 2017-01-21T20:53:54+0000  by Sid1234
Hey I wanted to chime in here because without this thread I would have not been able to get my switch working.

First of all I want to say that if your debating purchasing this switch I would go for it. I wanted a motion sensor for night time when you are trying to walk and its very dark. I didnt realize it would be as simple as putting in this switch to accomplish setting up a motion sensor for my overhead lights in my kitchen.

Definitely worth the 20 dollars.

My problem was:

I hooked my switch up and my box had no ground/green wire in it or a screw to attach a ground. 

When I turned the power on the lights came on and the switch did not work at all. The light did not light up on the switch and it did not respond if you tried to turn it off or go into the settings.

After reading here I found out that you actually can NOT use this switch without hooking up the ground, just like the little sticker says on it. My problem is how can I hook the ground up.


This switch needs power even if it's off. As per a few people on this thread I located the neutral wire which was white in my box(just like most people mention it would be in any electrical box).

I hooked the ground and the bare wire to the white neutral in my box and had complete success. Switch worked awesome.

Short answer is.
If you have no ground in the box hook it up to the white(neutral) wire to give the switch the power it needs even if it is off. It will not work without these ground wires being hooked up.
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Posted 2018-12-15T08:22:44+0000  by ahsansial
This is probably going to get buried down at the end of the thread.  But, here goes.

Electronic occupancy sensors draw a very small (~0.5mA) current for their control module.  This is similar to a gas stove that uses a small 120V current for the clock.

Prior to the 2011 NEC (National Electric Code), it was permitted to not have a neutral in all switch boxes. Consider a three way configuration: two at the top of the stairs (one for the hall, one for the steps) and one at the far end of the hall.  The electrician could run a single 14/3 to the far switch box, have the two travelers and a return switch leg.  No neutral.  But any house since the early 60's should have an equipment ground.

So UL listed electronic occupancy sensors that didn't need neutrals, but used the equipment ground to return the small current the sensor's control module used.  In the 2011 NEC, 404.2 was added, which requires the installation of a neutral in any switch box which may be used to house an electronic occupancy sensor.  And UL updated their listing requirements over time, to allow manufacturers to draw down non-conforming inventory.

Using the equipment ground as the return path is certainly contrary to the philosophy that it is not a current carrying conductor, but 0.5mA is a very small amount so we just live with it.  So when you're installing a sensor that has four wires (thread-like ground, a [possibly green -- go figure] neutral, and line and switch legs) but don't have a neutral, put the ground and the neutral on the box's ground.  If you do have a neutral, for God's Sake, use IT.

Unfortunately, if you have a really old house with no neutral or equipment ground in the switch box, you are SOL on using an occupancy sensor.
Posted 2019-02-20T13:44:57+0000  by Sparky1973
I called Lutron technical support and they told me that MSCL-OP153M (H maybe a suffix meaning plastic packaging) does not require neutral or ground.   I installed it and it works well with LED lights.  
Posted 2020-06-02T15:14:34+0000  by challenger07
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