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Add second switch to existing single-pole light help for noobie


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#1 Hammer

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 02:04 PM

Hi, this forum is fascinating, but most of it is over my head so I am hoping someone can help me with this very first job of mine.

I have an overhead light in my bathroom that is currently controlled by one light switch (on/off only, no dimmer). I would like to add a second switch to control this light at another location in the bathroom. Unfortunately, hiring an electrician to run new wires is not affordable for us and probably not doable given the distance/wall etc., between the current switch and the prospective new switch's location.

So, I started googling and discovered the world of RF control. Unfortunately, I am a bit confused by the all products and can't seem to figure out which product I need. Also, a lot of the products I found appear to be discontinued and so I can't tell which is the most "current" technology. At this point, I am not looking to install a whole-house system - I just need to add this one switch, but do want something that is "current." For example, I have used some X-10 products in the past, but found them to be not 100% reliable.

In my search, I found this
GE 45614 Z-Wave 3-Way On/Off Switch Kit

and on the surface seems to do what I need. Eg., z-wire is wireless (good) and 3 way is what I want to accomplish, but looking at the installation manual, I see that I need a traveler between the two switches...but that's the problem I have to begin with! One thing that might help is where I would like the new switch to be located is an existing outlet that I can draw power from, although en-ocean technology looks pretty cool.

Any ideas? Thank you so much in advance!

Hammer

#2 123

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 04:42 PM

Hammer,

Welcome to Cocoontech!

Let me recap what you want:
  • The equivalent of a 3-way light circuit (but without having to re-wire the existing 2-way bathroom light circuit).
  • Inexpensive (not looking for a whole-home lighting solution).
Have a look at the following kit: http://www.skylinkho...s/lc/wr318.html


You replace the existing bathroom light-switch with the WR-001 wall-switch. You stick the battery-operated TM318 wireless switch on the wall at the other end of the bathroom (anywhere within 500 feet).

Check out the online retailers who advertize on this site. I'm sure at least one of them stocks this product (for less than $40).

Edited by 123, 27 December 2011 - 04:44 PM.


#3 Hammer

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 09:25 PM

Hi, thank you so much for the quick response. Functionally, that is exactly what I am looking for. However, is there a different unit/model that you know of that matches the other decora switches on the same plate? Thanks!

Does your answer also mean that the GE part I found will not work? And so z-wave is not what I am looking for? Thanks - beyond this current project, I was hoping to gain some knowledge in case I can apply it to other things around the house.

Hammer

#4 Lou Apo

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 11:07 PM

Hi, thank you so much for the quick response. Functionally, that is exactly what I am looking for. However, is there a different unit/model that you know of that matches the other decora switches on the same plate? Thanks!

Does your answer also mean that the GE part I found will not work? And so z-wave is not what I am looking for? Thanks - beyond this current project, I was hoping to gain some knowledge in case I can apply it to other things around the house.

Hammer


I don't know about zwave, but Insteon has a solution.

http://www.smarthome...s-Switch/p.aspx

This plus this

http://www.smarthome...nd-White/p.aspx

They will match your decora paddle switches. Only difference will be the LED's.

#5 Work2Play

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 05:15 AM

Wow - I'm normally not an Insteon fan, but that is a great looking solution!

I know it can be accomplished with UPB as well, but it'd be a little costly (2 switches, a controller) plus the time/hassle of stealing power from the outlet...

#6 oberkc

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 08:29 AM

Does your answer also mean that the GE part I found will not work? And so z-wave is not what I am looking for?


I am sure that it would work fine, but it looks as if this particular Z-wave solution would require wires between the two switches, which I thought you were trying to avoid. However, I don't think that this necessarily means that Z-wave is not a viable solution...just that other Z-wave devices may be a better fit.

My experience, like Lou Apo, is with insteon. His suggested solution appears absolutely simple from an installation perspective and elegant from an operational standpoint. Ongoing battery maintenance seems to me to be the only downside, but solving that problem requires running wires. While you expressed concern about running wires between switch locations, what about from an outlet to the new switch location? Is this a viable alternative?

#7 Hammer

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 10:24 AM

oberkc, yes, that insteon solution will work and agreed that the only downside is the battery which I can surely live with. However, I can get power from the outlet that is right next to the spot where I plan to add the second switch. Do you know of another second switch model which is line powered instead of battery? Either way, I am very grateful for everyone's help!

Hammer

#8 Hammer

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 10:24 AM

Hi again, if I may ask, why does the z-wave solution require a traveler wire (as it clearly does from the installation manual), if z-wave is an RF technology?

Thanks.

#9 Lou Apo

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 12:41 PM

oberkc, yes, that insteon solution will work and agreed that the only downside is the battery which I can surely live with. However, I can get power from the outlet that is right next to the spot where I plan to add the second switch. Do you know of another second switch model which is line powered instead of battery? Either way, I am very grateful for everyone's help!

Hammer


You can use two of the second Insteon swtiches I listed. This would work for sure since they are both rf and power line control. Or, you could use the cheaper Insteon switches without the rf (the ones that are power line control). If you wanted to go cheaper yet, you could get two of the Icon Insteon switches.

Keep in mind, however, that if you use the power line control only switches, you need to be certain that the power to the light and the power to the outlet that you are using to get power to the other switch will need to be on the same phase of your homes wiring. This is not a big deal. If they are not, you can just go to the breaker panel and swap wires with two breakers to get them both on the same phase. You also run the risk of power line interference.

If they only reason you are going to this extra trouble is the battery, I would skip it. The battery will last years. Compare the time spent changing the battery out every 3 years vs the time spent cutting holes in the wall, installing a box, pulling wires and so on.

#10 oberkc

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 01:43 PM

Hi again, if I may ask, why does the z-wave solution require a traveler wire (as it clearly does from the installation manual), if z-wave is an RF technology?


Yes, Z-wave is RF technology. I can only speculate on the use for this particular kit, but assume that it is for retrofit installations, where wiring already exists, for those who would rather save a few dollars over the purchase of two, full-blown z-wave devices.

Like LouApo suggested, just purchase two, full, insteon dual-band devices and run power from your outlet. Pay attention to his advice regarding circuits and phases for best results. Check out the insteon device manuals for "cross-linking". If you are trying to avoid insteon, or have a preference for Z-wave, I assume that two, full capability z-wave switches would also work for you, assuming you can find some that meet your aesthetic needs.

#11 chedemefedeme

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 09:15 PM

I use this in a few places in my house (though i have a full automation system that integrates insteon, this function stands alone) and its really slick.

The insteon switches/dimmers can be linked to each other and communicate real time with each other. For example I linked the dimmer in my main house for the back yard flood lights with the dimmer in the shed for its yard flood lights. Now if i turn on the switch in one location the other location turns on instantly with it. No more running all the way over to the house if I'm in the back yard and it becomes nighttime. Just hit the switch in the shed and all the lights, most of which are NOT mounted on the shed, come on. I can even dim it to any level I want and the linked switch follows.

Insteon has its frustrating quirks, particularly when it comes to setup (and the infuriatingly short range of their new wireless stuff) but its cross linking functionality is honestly one of my favorite parts. My Elk automation panel and central Insteon controller can go down and cross linked switches still work because its literally peer to peer communication between the switches.

Edited by chedemefedeme, 30 December 2011 - 09:16 PM.


#12 Work2Play

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 01:21 AM

It seems if you have no desire to get into a full lighting solution, there's a simple out of the box solution to what you're trying to do:

http://www.smarthome...it-White/p.aspx




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