Design for a frame & cover to let you "replace" a light switch with no changes to electrical wiring needed

Hello everyone!

Here in the UK we don’t normally have a neutral wire in the wall boxes behind light switches so that rules out replacing light switches with “smart” switches directly without extra costs. However, you can get battery powered switches, but if you’re like me you don’t want to have two sets of switches and have someone accidentally turn the lights off at the wall using the original switch…

This way you can put a z-wave relay up in the ceiling connected to live, Earth and neutral and then toggle the lights on and off w from the battery switch or your phone via ST app.

So I’ve designed a cover (the central item in the render below) that fits over the manual light switch, is held in place with magnets and provides a mount for a z-wave battery operated switch:

The grey squares are 15mm x 15mm x 1mm neodymium magnets with self-adhesive tape on them from this supplier. and you’d need to use 4 of them per cover - two with the non-adhesive side being N and two with it being S.

The cover would be 3D Printed and is sized to fit over the switch with about 1mm each side, and it provides a flat surface to stick the battery Z-Wave switch onto.

Here’s a view from the back so you can see where the magnets would be recessed into the cover plate body so that the cover sits flat against the faceplate of the switch.

The magnets keep the cover attached, but the cover with the Z-Wave switch can still be removed with a good pull (the magnets are each a 1.2Kg pull) to allow the switch to be turned off at the wall for bulb changes.

I’m going to get one of these covers printed at some point as I’m currently still tweaking it to try and bring the print cost with Shapeways down (the version shown in the renders above would cost £42 to print in polished white plastic!).

Once I’ve got the cost to print down I’ll make it available on Shapeways as a “Beta” product if anyone wants to try it? Unless anyone can suggest a UK 3D printing company who could do it cheaper?

What do folks think?



P.S. Hope everyone had a great Christmas!


How about this project here? Very similar to what you want.

Thanks! Sadly that wouldn’t work at all because I’m not trying to mount a tablet, just an 83mm x 83mm battery powered z-wave switch…

However it’s given me an idea for a new version of my CAD design that might be cheaper - although it wouldn’t hide the physical switch so well…



I’m thinking this is a non starter for mounting the z-wave switch on top of the other switch…

I’ve pared the CAD model down to the absolute minimum amount to material that I think would provide a firm base, and switched to only using one pair of magnets to hold it to the faceplate of the manual switch, but it’s still running in at £13.10 per cover for shapeways to print them.

I think I’m just going to go for taping the manual switches in place and sticking the battery operated z-wave ones on the wall next to them!

Have you considered getting them made in bulk in China? With home automation really taking off a lot of people are looking for ways to blank off their switches without having to get involved with wiring.

There’s an opportunity for placing holes in the blanking plate for manual activation of the lights (with a cocktail stick or similar)

I have purchased some small plastic covers that just go over the switch itself that stops me accidentally turing off the lights, a habit I cannot seem to stop. But I would be very interested in something that covered the switch completely and then allowed a z-wave or similar type smart switch to be stuck on.

I was looking for something exactly like this! So annoying when you just have some sort of reflex built in to switch off lights when you leave a room and then forget when you come back in! I was looking at buying a standard blanking plate and building up the edges somehow, but not sure how I would do that


Hi David & Kraeg

Thanks very much for your thoughts on this. I did have a look at injection moulding services (admittedly here in the UK) and I’d have to run a Kickstarter campaign to get that done - from £950 just for the creation of the mould…

Wonder if there’d be enough interest?

I’d be interested, as a rough guess I’d need about 8 of them but it’s depend on price. Does doing a bulk run bring the price down with anyone?

I’m really shocked you can’t modify a standard blanking plate, maybe with some sort of riser or clip?


Doing a bulk run with a 3D printing bureau doesn’t do anything for the price unfortunately.

I am modelling a screw on blanking plate at the moment to see if I could make a bracket that it would screw onto which you could then fix to the light switch with magnets… that would be cheaper to 3D print due to less material.

I’ve come up with a design though that would work for injection moulding with finger slots to let you turn the switch on or off if you didn’t mount a battery z-wave switch on the front of it - so I’ll make some enquiries with a UK injection moulding firm (as I’d rather it be made here than in China) about costs for that route :smile:

Who knows, there may be a Kickstarter in the offing!

Right! I’ve cooked up a frame that will let you attach a standard UK 1 gang blanking plate onto the front of a UK light switch (with single or double switches) and uploaded it to Shapeways.

Here’s a rendering of an exploded view, and a view of it assembled. The yellow on the top pair of magnets is the backing paper for the self adhesive tape.

In order to use this you will need the following additional items:

1 x UK standard 1 gang blanking plate
2 x 12mm long M3 thread countersink machine screws. Depending on your blanking plate, you may need shorter screws than this. If the ends of the screws protrude beyond the frame height when tightened they will prevent the completed frame assembly from sitting on the light switch.
2 x M3 hex nuts
2 x 20mm x 6mm x 1.5mm self-adhesive backed neodymium magnets (N pole version)
2 x 20mm x 6mm x 1.5mm self-adhesive backed neodymium magnets (S pole version)

An example blanking plate can be seen here - e.g. and you can buy the magnets from here - it was designed specifically for these magnets.

It’s a lot cheaper to 3D print than the “all in one” covers that I’d designed, and I reckon it would be even cheaper per unit if I was to to get it injection moulded - although injection moulding will need a Kickstarter project to get it off the ground due to the upfront costs of tooling and minimum quantity production run.

I’m going to get 1 printed to test it myself, and if it works I’ll make it available for purchase on Shapeways and also for download so if folks have their own 3D Printers they can print them for themselves.

It can be found on Shapeways here

And I’ve found someone who can 3D print the “full cover” for a lot less than shape ways (but still prohibitive for ordering more than one as a prototype - £18.34 for the full cover, and £8.09 for the frame for mounting a a blanking plate.

I’ve ordered both for printing and will post photos here when they arrive.

For now though, here’s a render of the full cover showing front and back views.

What do folks think of it?

This is awesome. I’ve got lots of lights that take halogen lamps so swapping to smart bulbs is not an option. I’m definitely interested enough to buy one or two to test.

Hi Claire

Just to be clear, this is to let you put a battery powered switch z-wave switch where your current light switch is. The no wiring needed refers to not then needing to get a neutral wire to the light switch like you would if you wanted to put a wired in smart switch there.

In order to control your halogen lights, you WOULD need to wire in a z-wave relay that has live, neutral and earth wires between the lights and their current mains supply - this would then be turned on/off by the battery powered smart switch.

Hope that clears things up - apologies for any confusion.


Thanks for clarification - I’ve been looking at putting relays in the existing light switch boxes but it’s not a viable option as not enough space. Whereas fitting them near the light fittings is an option. Hence I’m interested in your adaptation.

Looks great Dave. Does the full cover GO OVER the existing switch and completely cover it? i.e. does the full frame rest against the wall?

I believe there are quite a few differences and variations to UK single gang switches and the profile and edges are all different depending on manufacturer. So a frame that sits on top of a switch that has been designed for that, may not look good or sit properly flush on a different switch. So having a frame that goes over the switch would look the neatest :smile:

I would have thought that there would be a reasonable market for these.

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Just thinking a bit more about this - my initial need was for a blanking plate that would take the Philips Hue dimmer switch but that’s based on the US decora style switch (thin and tall). I’m guessing that this wouldn’t work on your blanking plate as it’s too tall.

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Looks good, what Z-Wave switch are you planning on using on top of this? I’ve just ordered the Hue Tap but there isnt very many out in the UK market at the moment.


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Hi Paul!

Thanks for your comments

The full cover does cover the whole switch but doesn’t go all the way back to the wall, instead it stops a couple of milimetres away from the wall.

I designed it like that to allow for people who might have slimmer wall switches and to make it easier to grip to pull it off against the two 1.2kg pull magnets. LOL

The other design (the frame) to let you use a standard blankin plate just sits on top of the switch rather than surrounding it, so as long as your switch conforms to the standard UK dimensions for a 1 gang light switch, it’ll cover it. That was designed like that to cope with people who might have light switches whose faceplate is flush with the wall.

Re the Philips dimmer switch, it would fit width ways, but is too tall. I could always design a version that’ll it’ll fit on though. (In fact, I’ll need to do that anyway because we’re going to be using them! - watch this space!)


Thanks - I designed this around the following ones - “ wall controller”, “Devolo homecontrol wall switch” and the “Z Wave Popp wallcontroller” from Vesternet. The Hue Tap is 75mm diameter so it’ll fit on this OK :smile:


Thanks Dave :smile:

I look forward to your new design. I guess ideally, a new plate would replace the Philips wall plate and sit over the switch. As the remote already has a steel component for the magnet, maybe that could be quite neat? Would tie it to the Philips controller only though.

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Sounds like a good idea to me!

Whereabouts in the hue dimmer is the steel plate located for the magnet? In the middle? (So I can plan for where to put the magnet in the plate to hold it)