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General => Lighting & Load Control => Topic started by: abdiel2000 on April 21, 2014, 11:59:51 pm

Title: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: abdiel2000 on April 21, 2014, 11:59:51 pm
Howdy,

Last time I was looking into Home Automation for controlling my lights, I was stopped in my tracks because the light switches in the ancient apartment I live in use just two wires: a wire that brings in the juice (the line?) and a wire on the other side that takes it away (the load?). All Z-wave switches I was looking at required at required at least one more wire, such as the neutral.

By reading through this forum, it seems like there might be some different options now, such as the Leviton VRS05-1LX and the Cooper Aspire RF9518 that might work for what I need, but I'm not sure. I can follow instructions but I'm not an electrician so glancing at their installation instructions has me unsure. Would those switches work for my situation?

Also, one of the switches powers a bunch of florescent tubes in the kitchen ceiling. I think these switches require the lights to be incandescent, yes? So even if these switches worked for the rest of my apartment (including the 3-wave switch in my hallway), I'd be SOL there, yes? And what if I'm using CFLs or LED bulbs in my lights, again would that be a no-go? Is there nothing with a battery built in?

The good news is that with Phillips Hue and the new Z-wave light bulbs coming out, I might be able to just set up my lighting without changing the switches. But if there is new tech now that would let me set things up less expensively, it'd be good to know.

Any insight you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: BulldogLowell on April 22, 2014, 12:13:17 am
If you can wire them at the fixture instead of the switch, try the Aeon zwave micro smart series.

You will have access to both wires there.

They have a dimmer and simple On/off.

Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: pmnb on April 22, 2014, 12:14:20 am
With controllable bulbs like the Phillips Hue and Connected By TCP LEDs, both of which ars supported by Vera plugins, you can indeed skip switching out all of your switches, albeit at the cost of reduced control at the switch.

In my situation, I was able to pick up Connected By TCP bulbs at an average cost of about $24 each.  You can fully control them via the Vera UI, Vera automation/scenes or any of the mobile apps.  At the switch, you can always turn them on to full power by turning them off and back on.
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: abdiel2000 on April 22, 2014, 02:39:02 am
Thank you for your quick responses. This is really such a great forum. :)

@Bulldoglowell: Thank you for your reply. I had ruled out Aeon micro-smart switches because I thought they required a neutral wire to work. But there might be a way to connect them further down the line from the wall switch? For the florescent tubes too?

@pmnb: Those Connected bulbs look like a great value and I didn't know that they were controllable by Vera. (I assume through a plugin?) My alternative has been to wait for the upcoming Aeon Z-wave bulbs (which I thought might also help extend my Z-wave network.) But at $16.97 per bulb on Home Depot, those Connected bulbs are a tough price to beat... Thank you for the heads up.
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: pmnb on April 22, 2014, 07:11:57 am
@pmnb: Those Connected bulbs look like a great value and I didn't know that they were controllable by Vera. (I assume through a plugin?) My alternative has been to wait for the upcoming Aeon Z-wave bulbs (which I thought might also help extend my Z-wave network.) But at $16.97 per bulb on Home Depot, those Connected bulbs are a tough price to beat... Thank you for the heads up.

I wrote the plugin in order to get my gateway integrated  ;)   You can take a look at http://code.mios.com/trac/mios_tcplighting (http://code.mios.com/trac/mios_tcplighting) for background info.  If you want to consider this option, I would recommend getting a starter pack with a couple bulbs so that you can evaluate them first-hand.

Good luck with your project!
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: BulldogLowell on April 22, 2014, 08:57:58 am
@Bulldoglowell: Thank you for your reply. I had ruled out Aeon micro-smart switches because I thought they required a neutral wire to work. But there might be a way to connect them further down the line from the wall switch? For the florescent tubes too?

Use the on/off version for fluorescent bulbs, not the dimmer version.

Right, insert it down the line from the switch, at the load. At the lights, there are both neutral and hot wires. This may not be practical for your specific fixtures, but then again, it may.

Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: haworld on April 22, 2014, 10:37:48 am
Another option that works with Vera, although a bit more expensive, is the Insteon controllable LED's.  They sell for $30 and work very well with VeraLite and an Insteon modem.  The modem costs $80 and you need at least that for it to work on Vera and the LED's are a bit more, but like I said, just another option for you.  Aeon Labs is coming out with a controllable LED as well but isn't available yet.
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: curiousB on April 22, 2014, 11:49:33 am
... in the ancient apartment I live in...
 

Just FYI it is generally illegal to perform electrical work on a rented property without being a licensed electrician. Renters aren't allowed the DIY latitude home owners have. Proceed with caution.

I suggest plug in modules instead of hardwired devices for your HA.
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: abdiel2000 on April 22, 2014, 03:56:53 pm
@pmnb: Ah, cool. Thank you for the link for that and also for making the plugin. Reading the other suggestions here (including the warning by curiousB) it does seem like using the bulbs would be my best option. And at $17 each, that prospect becomes a lot more doable.

How quickly do you find that they respond?
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: pmnb on April 22, 2014, 04:01:30 pm
How quickly do you find that they respond?

Response of lights to a command initiated from Vera is nearly instant.

On the flip side, if the state of a bulb is changed out-of-band from the Vera (remote, TCP app, switch off/on etc.), the default polling in the plugin is 60 seconds, so those changes may not appear on the Vera UI for up to a minute.
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: gymshoe on October 15, 2014, 04:33:58 am
The advice given above suggests installing at the load.

The wiring instructions for the aeotec Microsmart switch 2nd edition don't show how this could be done. It only shows how to attach at the light switch. Any ideas how to wire at the load?  (As you can tell, I am no electrician?:-)

thanks,
jim
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: Z-Waver on October 15, 2014, 07:23:39 am
The attached diagram shows a 3-way setup, but it should give you the idea.
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: gymshoe on October 15, 2014, 01:55:10 pm
Hmmm.  I think my problem is that at the load, I just have two wires: neutral, and the hot-load wire which comes directly from the switch (which is either hot or not, depending on the status of the switch).  Is there a way to implement this without running additional wires back to the line and switch?

thanks,
jim
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: integlikewhoa on October 16, 2014, 12:24:32 am
Hmmm.  I think my problem is that at the load, I just have two wires: neutral, and the hot-load wire which comes directly from the switch (which is either hot or not, depending on the status of the switch).  Is there a way to implement this without running additional wires back to the line and switch?

thanks,
jim

If what you say is true then where does the neutral come from and does it come in by it's self?  If you don't have hot and netural at the switch and you don't have hot and netrual at the load, then something fishy is going on.  Usually if only 2 wires come come into the switch (hot in hot out) they both go up to the load where a hot and netrual come in then the hot goes down to the switch and neutral passes to the load. 

Bottom line tho is every z-wave on/off switch 3 way or not needs to have neutral and hot to power up the z-wave switch. If you can't get both there is no way the switch will work. If you can't get at the switch usually you can get at the load. 
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: Cor on October 16, 2014, 10:31:15 am
The corridor is similar setup in my house I think.

One wire ( neutral ) goes directly to the lamp. The other wire (Fase)  goes to the lightswitch and from the light switch to the lamp.
You can not (unless you pull some extra wires) insert a relais like fibaro at the lightswitch.

What I did and works very well:
Get a fibaro relais and put it where all the wires come together. This can be at the junction box (in my case this one was directly above the switch).
Cut the wires from the switch , connect "hot"/fase  to the fibaro ( S1 and N).
Cut the  Neutral going to the lamp , insert it to the fibaro and reconnect to the lamp.
The  "hot" /fase wire which was on the switch insert it now at "L"
Connect the other wire which came from the switch ( the one which is dead when you togle the switch) to O1
Connect I and L which each other.

That will work. you will have to get some tape or shrink tube with different colors on the wires , since the wire-colors are now a bit f*cked up.

hope this helps
Good luck ,
Cor
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: integlikewhoa on October 16, 2014, 11:15:42 am
The corridor is similar setup in my house I think.

One wire ( neutral ) goes directly to the lamp. The other wire (Fase)  goes to the lightswitch and from the light switch to the lamp.
You can not (unless you pull some extra wires) insert a relais like fibaro at the lightswitch.

Not judging by what he is telling us. Your house is quiet common in older setups. But you have a hot and a neutral coming into the first light (usually in a romex depending on how old the house really is), then the hot comes back out of the box and heads down to the switch from another romex and comes back up after the switch in the same romex it went down in. Hot only from the switch.

Hmmm.  I think my problem is that at the load, I just have two wires: neutral, and the hot-load wire which comes directly from the switch (which is either hot or not, depending on the status of the switch).

Above might not be true but it's what he has told us so far. If there is more then one light on this switch maybe he's checking the wrong one.
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: gymshoe on October 16, 2014, 03:44:45 pm
I will have to look around for where all these wires come together as running new wires does not appear doable.

thanks for the help.

jim
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: integlikewhoa on October 16, 2014, 05:47:30 pm
I will have to look around for where all these wires come together as running new wires does not appear doable.

thanks for the help.

jim

Running wires is always doable but is never a 5 min job and sometimes requires long drill bits and a crawlspace or attic. Electrician might be your next step if the wiring gets to complicated. No one want's to see you get hurt.
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: gymshoe on October 17, 2014, 03:51:08 am
LOL.
I did mean "doable by me".  I am usually good knowing my limits.

j
Title: Re: Z-Wave for Light Switches For Ancient Wiring
Post by: aa6vh on October 17, 2014, 11:50:51 am
Another possibility is to use a ZWave socket. It screws into the existing socket, and the bulb then screws into the Zwave socket. Might be easier to implement in an apartment.

Something like the Intermatic HA05 (though good luck finding one), or the Everspring model:

http://www.amazon.com/Everspring-Z-Wave-Screw-In-Socket-Module/dp/B00G3OEW9C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413560670&sr=8-1&keywords=zwave+socket

You would need to disable the existing light switch, to prevent cutting power to the ZWave socket.