Thursday, January 06, 2005


On Monday, Mike demonstrated his electrical prowess, once again, by installing a new light switch. The lights for our attic bedroom could only be turned on or off from the switch located at the bottom of the stairs. This is convenient when entering or exiting the bedroom. However, it is a bit annoying when you’ve been laying in bed, reading yourself into a stupor, and then have to disturb your sleepy fog to go downstairs and turn off the light. If you are me, you are wide awake by the time you have sprinted up the stairs and leapt under the covers, narrowly escaping the clutches of the monster under the bed. Our new switch allows us to turn off the lights while languorously remaining in bed.

We originally thought that the solution to our problems would be to install a 3-way switch. In preparation for the project, I began my usual internet search. I was quite intimidated by the wiring diagrams and instructions I found. Then, I happily stumbled across the Wireless Wall Switch from SmartHome. A receiver/switch replaces the old unit and a sending switch can be placed wherever you like (within 50 feet). It creates a 3-way switch without the wiring mess. The price was a little steep (30 bucks), but we decided that the convenience was worth it.

Once again, I was in charge of the breakers and Mike did the wiring. However, no matter how he wired the darn thing, it wouldn’t work. I came to the rescue by locating a small switch at the bottom of the plate. Although the switch is not mentioned in the directions, it has to be slid to the right before the toggle is active. We were a bit befuddled by the need for such a switch. The only sensible explanation I could come up with is that, by switching it off, you could clean the toggle without a disco light effect. Once we had that sorted out, the toggle worked. We put batteries into the sending switch and tested it as well. Success!

There is still a small problem….The receiver consists of a switch plate with a large box behind it. The box does not fit into our current workbox (metal box in the wall the holds the wires in place). The hole is too shallow and the switch box sticks out at least 1/2 inch from the wall. Not only is it unattractive, but the switch is also in constant danger of falling out of the wall. I am not sure what to do. It is not a simple matter of cutting the drywall opening larger. Instead, I think we need to replace the workbox with a deeper box. I am afraid that will involve more wiring than we are prepared to tackle. Any suggestions would be welcome.

We have not decided where to mount the sending switch. In the meantime, we are keeping it in a bedside drawer. We used to argue over who had to get out of bed to turn off the light. Now, we fight over who gets to use the remote (and the monster doesn’t stand a chance)!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've been thinking about your lighting dilemma. My first idea was to look for access to the wiring somewhere else besides the switchbox. Putting a new box into an existing line is really easy. If you can find access to the wiring in a crawl space, under the stairs, etc. you could your remote switch in that way. Barring that, you could put a lamp up in the beroom with a remote controlled switch and keep the switch at the base of the stairs. You could switch the lamp off and on from bed and in the morning, turn it off from the base of the stairs with the remote.


11:01 AM  

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