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Thread: Advice for a newbie member

  1. #1
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    Default Advice for a newbie member

    Hi.

    I've been reading through a number of discussions on this site along with numerous internet searches to find an answer to a particular question that I have. I think I've now collated too much data and find myself in the position of being more confused than I was at the beginning, so I thought it was time to bite the bullet and ask for help. Hopefully this is the correct part of the forum, apologies if not.

    I'm looking for a way to control lights around my house remotely and I want to know which is the best way for me to do so. Some background is I work from home and my office is in a converted loft accessed by a narrow staircase. When it's dark the staircase is fairly treacherous but the switch to turn on the lights is at its base. So when I'm working and I need the light on I have to feel my way down the stairs to get to the switch, or I have to get up and switch the lights on whilst there still in enough daylight to see. What I'd like to be able to do is to use my phone or my PC to turn the lights on for me. However, I need to deal with the sensibilities of a wife who thinks there's nothing wrong with a normal light switch and likes the simplicity of a switch which you can use without the need of a phone and an app.

    So what I'm looking for is a way to keep a standard UK type light switch but have it also be able to be controlled by an app on a phone or an interface on a PC. I don't want to re-wire anything or run Cat5, I just want to unscrew the switch I have and replace it with a similar looking one.

    I have played around with some X10 stuff and I have been able to use OpenHAB and Domoticz on a Raspberry Pi to control a CM15 interface and some plug in appliance modules. So I started off thinking that there may be an X10 solution. Indeed, there are some X10 dimmer switches available but they look horrible and will not be accepted into the house on aesthetic grounds. Unless there are some prettier X10 switches I don't know about it is out of the running.

    I have some WeMo light bulbs and they sort of work but they're expensive, they tend to become invisible to the WeMo app and most importantly they annoy the wife because you need to leave the switch on all the time. Apparently it's exasperating to have to switch a switch off and then switch it back on again to turn on the light. This causes her consternation and to be honest she does have a point, demonstrated the other day when I was struggling with some bags of shopping and only had my nose available to switch on the light!

    My current thinking is that perhaps Lightwave RF could meet my needs but I'm not sure and I don't particularly want to buy stuff only to find that it isn't quite right.

    So is there anyone out there who has been able to do what I want to do? Any help would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Automated Home Ninja Mavis's Avatar
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    I can only advise you on LightwaveRf (see my comments in the thread link below) and you really need some other options to compare.
    The LWRF switches can directly replace ordinary switches and you don't necessarily need the internet link if you wanted to operate them with an optional remote control. They also look nice.

    Actually coincidentally, this morning I switched my sitting room lights on with my nose as I had my hands full (This was the Mood Switch but I think that I have also done it with the ordinary switches)

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/vbull...light-switches

  3. #3
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    Or start simply and cheaply with a Philips Hue bulb and remote dimmer and place the dimmer at the top of the stairs (remembering to leave the downstairs one on before you go up if its still light):

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Philips-Pers...ds=philips+hue

    and if you keep your phone on you you can access the light via the app, but yo may need the hue bridge as well to do this at an extra 50.

  4. #4
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    Many thanks, I'll have a look through the post. LWRF does seem to meet the need but I agree that it would be better to have options.

    I think the 'nose test' may become ubiquitous in the pantheon of home automation lighting!

  5. #5
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    I agree with Mavis's comment. LWRF ought to serve your purposes very well. You can have both your light switch and element of remote control. As it seems your light will always have to be on when working in your study a movement sensor paired to your light switch is an option, as you go up the stairs the light comes on. Or you could have a simple remote LWRF light switch at the top of the stairs. Battery driven, it looks like a normal light switch, needs no wiring and it is paired with the LWRF switch at the bottom. Or a remote switch or control on your desk. If you are fairly regular about the times you work in the loft then set up an event or timer to have the lights come on and off for you. Using led bulbs the running costs are low.

    Another alternative is to set up the light you are writing about to operate as needed using a remote or separate battery switch and then have a separate light in the loft you operate as and when needed.

    I assume your stairs are fixed. If not then an LWRF magnetic catch can operate the light. I have a switch for a light in my loft in a three gang light switch on the landing. When I open the loft hatch the magnetic switch on the hatch paired to the light switch switches the lights on.

    Going the Philips Hue route they do a remote switch to operate the bulbs.

  6. #6
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    Many thanks for the input.

    I think it will have to be LWRF. I really don't want to be going down the route of sticking switches everywhere so I need something I can use to replace the standard switches I already have but which give me the ability to link to a phone app or to a PC. I'm presuming that Hue will also suffer from the same limitation I've found with WeMo lights. You have to leave the light switched on for the bulbs to work via the WeMo app, or IFTTT, but then when you want to switch the light on via the actual switch you need to switch it off first and then switch it back on.

    The ideal solution is to have a switch that just changes the state of the light. If it's on then pressing the switch turns it off, and vice versa. That way it can be turned on or off by hand and by app. Hopefully LWRF can do that. I shall investigate further.

  7. #7
    Automated Home Ninja Mavis's Avatar
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    LWRF will defo do what your want - ie it doesn't matter what status of the physical light switch, you can change the status of the light with either a wireless switch, a mood controller, a hand held remote or the wifi link and app.

    You have several options depending how much you want to spend.

    Working on the basis of you having a one gang existing light switch

    Basic LWRF light switch
    http://www.megamanuk.com/lightwaverf.../jsjslw400blk/

    For the wireless switch option you can have either of these up in the loft (wireless switch or mood controller)

    http://www.megamanuk.com/lightwaverf.../jsjslw201blk/
    or
    http://www.megamanuk.com/lightwaverf.../jsjslw101blk/

    if you just want a remote control then you can have one of these (remote control)
    http://www.megamanuk.com/lightwaverf.../jsjslw100blk/

    or if you want to go the whole hog then you will need the wifi link:
    http://www.megamanuk.com/lightwaverf...930/jsjslw930/

    It all depends on
    a. how much you want to spend
    b. if you are likely to expand your setup.

    Beware though, this home automation thing is addictive and expensive (and causes endless strife with a less techy other half)

    Edit: one thing that you may want to bear in mind is that the wired in light switch does have a status light (blue for on and orange for off) but if you go for the whole home automation thing you will end up with a house like a Christmas tree anyway with all the control links

  8. #8
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    Hi Mavis

    Thanks for the links, very useful. I'm thinking that I'll go with a JSJSW400WH as the master switch, a JSJSW430WH as a slave dimmer (there is actually a switch in the loft but it's even trickier to get to when it's dark) and I'll get a WiFi link so I have scope for the future. I can then build up from that, we have a two way switch at the top and bottom of the stairs which is crying out for a bit of automation! And then there's the security of being able to switch things on and off when we're out.....I see what you mean about being addictive!

    I'm already in the dog house when it comes to home automation, any use of the WeMo light bulbs always comes with an exasperated tutting and the X10 stuff is usually described as "a bit geeky" so I'm used to it! Providing she can use the switch at the bottom of the loft stairs to turn the light on and off then it'll be a step up in her eyes.

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