Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Light Switches

Late last week I set up the LightwaveRF double light switch I bought. This is the first test of whether it's easy to retrofit existing sockets and light switches with automated ones.

Here it is in it's beautiful packaging. Overall it has the same "finish" as a normal white light switch but it's operated by buttons and has indicator LEDs.

Out of the box it's a bit of a chunky monkey. The packaging says you need a minimum of a 25mm gang box but the unit itself is about 25mm deep so I don't know how that would work.

In terms of wiring it's just like a standard 2-way light switch with live, neutral and switch wire connections. Here's what I replaced:

During the operation. This gang box is for a stud wall and is about 35mm deep. This gives enough room for the switch itself and the feed in cable behind.

After (but without the face plate on). The blue LEDs are for when the lights are switched on. One thing I noticed is that it didn't work with standard CFLs, (they just flickered constantly no-matter whether the light was off or on). When I used standard filament bulbs it worked OK.

After, with the face plate on. The LEDs show the lights are switched off.

You can manually control the switch simply by pressing the top button (on) or bottom button (off). The light switches on and off in a pleasant "soft start" manner. Pressing and holding the buttons allows you to dim/un-dim.

The switch is put into pairing mode by pressing and holding both the buttons. You then pair by pressing "on" on either a remote control via the web interface or device app. Then via the web/app you can switch off and on, dim or lock/unlock a switch.

So overall this seems quite useful. I can switch a light on when I'm away from home or set a timer to control it (see later post). However the main point is that you can replace sockets and lights with these units but you do require a deep gang box. Perhaps a little more miniaturisation is required before they become mass market.

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