Friday 22 July 2016

Wireless Light Switches Can Save You Thousands!

Part of my reason for installing home automation technology was I wanted to be able to turn certain lights on or off, or adjust their brightness wirelessly. To do this the first thing I needed was a home automation hub. (See this article on hubs.)

Once I got the hub running it was time to find light switches that would do what I wanted. After a bit of research I landed on the Lutron Caseta Wireless In-Wall Dimmer switch, which was available at Home Depot. At $64.98 per switch my wife thought I was a little nuts, until I explained how they could save us a lot of money and improve our home security. Here's how it worked:

In our house there were some 3-way light switches, usually at either end of a hallway, but no means of turning the main floor hallway on/off from upstairs, or turning the upstairs on/off from the main level.  We also wanted to be able to control the main floor lights from the basement.

We called in an electrician and he quoted us over $2,000 to do what we wanted. He explained he would have to cut holes in our ceilings to do it, so there would be repairs afterwards we would have to pay for.  Taxes in we were probably looking between $2,500 - $3,000 for what was supposed to be a simple change. Thanks to home automation I had an alternative.

When I researched the Lutron switches I found that they also sold their Pico remote controls with wall-mounting kits. These remotes look and feel like actual light switches, and can be used to control individual or multiple Caseta wireless switches. The best part was the remote with wall-mount kit cost $29.98 each.

This meant I could do exactly what we wanted without paying an electrician anything. Lutron had some fantastic step-by-step instructions and videos on their website showing how to install their switches and remotes to replace both single-pole switches and 3-way switches.

I installed all the switches and remotes, connected them to my Wink Hub and we were done! I even set up an extra remote by the main door that turns off all the lights in the house when we are leaving.

Because the switches talk to my Wink hub I can program lighting schedules, making it appear that someone is home even if we are not. I can also manually turn lights on and off remotely from anywhere using my smartphone.

For convenience I have some lights come on automatically at sunset, and have other lights dim when it's my oldest child's bedtime to serve as a visual indicator it's time to head to her room.

I was able to do exactly what we wanted for under $300 instead of $2,500 - $3,000. Since I saved at least $2,200 doing this I bought a couple of extra switches to enhance the home automation capabilities.

Using wireless switches can give you the freedom to rework your home lighting controls, both physical and virtual, to whatever you wish at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. Given it can be so much cheaper and offer you more capabilities it's worth considering next time you want to make some changes.

Happy surfing!

-The Home Geek

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