Eight Things to Consider Before Installing a Smart Light Switch
by Ryan DalPezzo, Owner
Smart light switches give homeowners better control and remote access to their lighting system, help save on energy bills, allow for home automation, and provide many other great benefits. However, homeowners often make the mistake of installing smart light switches on their own without the proper knowledge to successfully set up a network of electrical wiring.
This is not to say that installation cannot be done without the help of a professional electrician, however, there are a few important things that you should know before attempting to install smart light switches throughout your Northern Virginia home. If you are planning to install a network of smart light switches, continue reading to hear a few tips from our experts at RD Matthews Electrical.
Things to Know Before You Install a Smart Light Switch
Installation requires extensive rewiring
Installing a smart switch is far more complex than changing a lightbulb or performing other everyday electrical work around the house. Although you do not necessarily have to be a professional to manipulate the wiring in your home, it is important to have a basic understanding and comfort level so that you do not injure yourself or cause serious damages while installing new devices. If you are not comfortable dealing with electrical wires, our electricians specialize in smart switch installation services and we are happy to set up your smart switch network for you.
Not all electrical wiring in Northern Virginia is compatible with smart switches
Northern Virginia has many beautiful, historic homes, however, this means that electrical wiring may not be up-to-date and therefore will not be compatible with smart switches. Smart switches typically work best with copper wiring, which was not introduced until the 1940s. Additionally, some homes in Northern Virginia contain aluminum wiring, which can be highly dangerous when paired with electrical switches. When investigating your electrical wiring, it is important to know the difference between copper, aluminum, and knob and tube wiring so that you do not attempt to apply smart switches to an incompatible system. Before installing smart switches, you may need to hire an electrician to replace your current electrical wiring system with a network of copper wires.
Smart switches require a powerful circuit breaker
Smart switches operate with a constant signal output. For this reason, it is essential to have a circuit breaker that can provide this level of power. Before you install a smart switch, ensure your circuit breaker panel is a minimum of 100 amp service. If this is not the case, you will need to discuss your options with a reliable electrician.
You will need to connect your smart light switch to your existing light switch box
The vast majority of light switch boxes contain a ground wire, which should not be directly attached to the light switch itself. Before you install the smart switch, you must identify the ground wire, as you will need to connect it to your smart light switch. Homeowners must also ensure there is enough space to fit the smart switch inside the existing lightbox.
Some homes feature multi-gang light switch boxes, which power more than one light switch. In this case, you may not be able to install a smart light switch. If something does not look right inside your light switch box, such as a ground wire that is already connected to a switch or a multi-gang system, contact an electrician to assess the problem before going any further.
Pairing smart switches with lightbulbs
Generally, smart light switches work best with regular lightbulbs, however, some companies are now selling smart light switches that can be paired with smart lightbulbs in addition to regular ones. The smart switch must be able to distribute power between both smart and regular bulbs without cutting the power. Depending on the type of lightbulbs you have in your home, make sure to do your research and select a compatible smart switch before purchasing.
Voice activation is a great addition to smart light switches
If you are planning on incorporating smart light switches into your home, you may want to consider pairing them with other modern technology. Many homeowners use voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo or the Google Home to improve home automation and make life easier. These devices can easily be paired with your smart light switches so that you can control them from anywhere in your home. Before you install a smart switch in your Northern Virginia home, speak to a local electrician about the possibility of a voice-activated system.
Smart switches operate through a strong Wi-Fi connection
Homeowners should be strategic when installing smart switches, and keep them close to a strong Wi-Fi connection. If your smart switch does not have a strong enough Wi-Fi connection, you will not be able to operate it via mobile devices, which can be extremely frustrating. Additionally, if your smart switch is not connected to the Wi-Fi, you may not know whether or not you have successfully turned your smart switches on or off through your mobile application. Investing in a mesh Wi-Fi system may be the best option for maintaining a strong Wi-Fi connection at all times.
Smart switch systems must be updated periodically
Like all computer systems, your smart switch software must be updated to continue working properly. Make sure you have notifications turned on so that your smart switch app sends you an alert every time it needs to be updated.
RD Matthews Electrical Smart Switch Installation
Smart switches are a great way to modernize your home and give you full control over energy usage at all times. It is important, however, to make sure your smart switches are installed correctly and have all the compatible accessories to meet their full potential.