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I’ll bet this has happened to you. You’re elbows deep in a wiring project, or lost in a trance-like state, figuring out a major troubleshooting problem. Suddenly, a tap on the shoulder and a quiet “excuse me” interrupts you, sending a jolt right down your spine.

Install 3-way Lighting Control Without Needing Traveler Wires

Steve Maurer, IME
I’ll bet this has happened to you. You’re elbows deep in a wiring project, or lost in a trance-like state, figuring out a major troubleshooting problem.

Suddenly, a tap on the shoulder and a quiet “excuse me” interrupts you, sending a jolt right down your spine.

“Hey … I got a question for you. I’m workin’ on my house and need some advice. How do you make a light work with two switches? You know … like one on each end of a hall.”


Quick tip. Draw out a color-coded schematic, travelers marked carefully, and copy it like a hundred times. It’ll save you some grief.

By the way, I thought when I retired I’d be done explaining it.

Wrong!

Brother-in-law turned out to be a hardcore do-it-your-selfer.

Put switches wherever your customer wants them, no matter what
Think wireless.

You can turn any single switch location into a three-way switch, and even add up to 10 locations. No extra cables are needed. And converting an existing three-way into a wireless setup with the potential to upgrade to multiple switches is almost a snap.

And check this out. Your plain old toggle switch can be upgraded to a dimmer switch as well. With some models, you don’t even need a neutral to install the upgrade.

Most of the newer dimming switches will work with LEDs, CFLs, halogens, and incandescent lamps.

Word of warning, though.

If working with LEDs and CFLs, make sure the bulb is labeled ‘dimmable’ or it will cause problems. Other than that, you should be good to go.

But back to that wireless thing and putting switches anywhere, even on windows!

I kid you not … windows.

Wireless switches work with device pairing, not traveler connections
Once the base switch is installed, you can pair multiple remotes with it. For instance, if a toggle switch at the bottom of a stairwell is replaced by a base switch or dimmer, a wireless remote can be placed halfway up or at the top of the stair well. And no extra wires are needed.

Now, when you think ‘pairing,’ you might think Bluetooth automatically. But that’s not always the case. For example, the Caséta line by Lutron pairs using a proprietary radio frequency protocol called Clear Connect RF. It uses a specific radio frequency to let devices ‘talk’ to each other.

For simple wireless dimming and on/off operations, no home Wi-Fi is necessary. And while a dimming remote can be installed on a wall using a bracket that looks like a wall plate, it’s not a requirement. In fact, you can carry the remote in your pocket or lay it on a coffee table for easy access.

Like I said, you can have up to 10 possible wireless locations for a single wired switch. All of this without the need for a Wi-Fi connection in the home.

But if the customers want more options, like setting scenes, setting on/off times, or even scheduling for when they’re away from home, an internet connection may be needed to connect with an app and to keep firmware updated.

There is a hub available that can do all that … and more. And it will connect with many of the ‘smart home’ systems like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.
But should the internet go down—and it sometimes does—the switches and dimmers will continue to function until the internet returns to normal operation.

Oh yeah, the window thing. If for some reason that’s the perfect location for a switch, simply stick the remote to the window or other surface with two-sided adhesive tape.

Yep, the days of explaining additional switch installations to my brother-in-law are over. I’ll just tell him to buy a wireless switch with remotes. I’m sure he’ll figure it out … eventually.

But, the days of offering your customers more advanced options is just beginning.

Did I mention some of these switches work with automated window blinds and fans?

Well … they do.

Photo courtesy of 
Vive Lighting Controls
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