Like most people, I didn’t get to plan out the wiring in my house. And since it’s mostly fine, I don’t really want to redo it all either. But, there are things I would like to fix. One option is to take advantage of some of the Home Automation products out there, and that is exactly what I have done.
A nice, simple, place to start would be my dining room. There are two lights on the ceiling, each controlled by a separate dimmer on opposite sides of the room. They are even on different circuit breakers and I cannot wire these together. The only nice thing about this setup is that the switches are on opposite sides of the dining room, and I pass by both on the way between different parts of the house.
So my plan is to install a pair of dimmer switches that can talk to each other and therefore control both lights at the same time to the same level. Now to decide what technology to use for my install. Turns out that I decided that a while back, before I live in this house. I won’t get into the reasons behind the decision in this article, I’ll just say that I’m using Insteon based hardware.
For this simple setup, I need two dimmers. Because of the unique way that these switches work and are powered, you really need to double check which switches you buy. My dimmers were setup on a two wire setup, where the hot wire is run from the light to the switch, the dimmer is connected and the power runs back up to the bulb. Because of this I had to buy a specific 2-Wire Dimmer. Ask me how I learned this, go ahead.
Installation is simple, just install as you would any other switch. If you are not qualified, get someone who is qualified to do the install. I’m not going to claim that I can tell you the proper process, so don’t ask. The short version is: cut the power at the breaker box, test there is no power with a proper probe, remove the old dimmer, install the new one according to instructions, replace covers and turn the power back on. There, that was easy. Do it again for the other one.
Now that they are installed, we need to make them talk to each other. First I will set the dimming speed to it’s fastest setting, this is not required, I just like to have the lights come on quickly in this room. Luckily there is a great manual available for these online, as this is not intuitive. You set the brightness to a specific level and then press the recessed set button quickly twice. There we go, it will dim the light at a new speed. Feel free to play around with this, set it real slow to annoy those who do not know how to configure this hardware.
Also in the manual is a nice section called Synchronizing Devices in Groups. It has nice simple instructions for making the two devices sync right up. Follow those and you are set. Test it out; turn on one side and the other will turn on as well, go turn off the other switch and both will go out. Have fun troubleshooting if it does not work, mine like to sometimes take a second before the remote one reacts.
It’s simpler then wiring it all up, works well, and later you can automate things more! I’m using my phone to turn of lights in my living room.