Turn closet light on when door opens

I have what should be a simple thing but, as is usual, it’s more difficult than it needs to be. I would like to have the closet light turn on when the door opens. Sounds simple, open/close sensor with a GE smart switch. Unfortunately, the GE smart switch requires a neutral wire in order to work. Mechanical light switches don’t require a neutral, so they weren’t brought down to my switch box.

Is anyone aware of any switches that will work without a neutral and will integrate with SmartThings? Or maybe there is another way to get this done?

This switch does not require a Neutral

Leviton VRS05-1LX

Well the cheapest way for this would be to use an occupancy sensor that doesn’t require any neutral wire, something like this

And I have these installed with no issues…This will only work if the occupancy sensor/switch is in a place that has a clear view of the room, so that it can properly sense when someone is in and out…

Yep, I use that in our laundry room. No reason to make it part of the “smart house” since it is one light and one task in that room. Much simpler to use the occupancy sensor.

This one is also no neutral

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If the rule is simple such that door open = light on and door closed = light off, then you can probably get away very cheaply with a $15 GE Link bulb.

Drawback is that the physical switch must not be turned off, and you lose manual control for switching the light on or off. (If you physically switch it off, you can’t turn it on again with ST.) Also, after a power failure, the light will be turned on when the power comes back.

But you can’t beat the price and ease of installation :smile:

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I payed for an electrician to pull a neutral, it wasn’t all that expensive in the scheme of things. Plus the more zwave or zigbee devices you have makes that network (zwave or zigbee) stronger.

Hey @sidjohn1 is it too costly to get neutrals pulled? I have no clue about electricity and sitting with 10-12 zwave switches from Amazon sale and waiting on the electrician this weekend?

I do understand that it will differ from house to house. :slight_smile:

Well the definition of costly will vary from person to person, but in Austin, TX i spent ~$150 for a house call to pull 1 neutral. If you have several you think you might want pulled do it all at the same time cause the cost per pull will drop. I’m pretty sure i spent more on the house call than the pull itself. When you’re spending $40-50 to replace a $2 switch whats $200 to do it right?

Crap! I hope I have neutrals, man! :frowning: at least my electrician doesn’t charge extra for house call but for actual work done!

A little secret i found out, if its a 2 or more gang you have a 90% chance of there being a neutral. single gang are completely a crap shoot. if your home was built before 2000 it’s safer to assume you don’t have a neutral for your single gang.

For another possibility for closets zwave led bulbs with a motion detector or open close sensor also work well. the only issue is that if the switches gets turned off you loose your automation, but the light will still turn on/off like normal if the switch is “accidentally” used.

The bulb below comes with a screw in lock to prevent the switch from turning off “accidentally”.

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My closets work fantastic (rather missus’s) with ST multi and GE link! I ordered 3 new ST multis’s today and in stock at Amazon (the new ones)! Expected delivery day after! :slight_smile: and yes, the switches I intend to replace are all 3 gangs (if that’s what you call them). :wink: thanks a lot!

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For anyone who is not familiar with the term “gang” this should help clear things up. All of these are single load.

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What do you call the rectangular ones? :wink:


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This one really sucked in my house though on a pull chain which is always pulled integrated with basement door open! YMMV! Returned it! I remember posting a pseudo techie review on this one!

PS: I am talking about Linearlincs and not the GE links!

In a couple locations where I have motion-only or open/close-only use cases I just put in the GE bulbs, hard wired the switch, and put a blank faceplate over it. No risk of someone turning off the switch. I don’t think it’s to code because of “legacy” usability reasons but it works great for me.

Talking about the LinearLincs not the GE’s!:slight_smile:

Yeah, I saw your post with those. I just prefer $14.97 over $29.36.

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As a geek, this pains me to say, but… the easiest way to do this is just the “old fashion” way.

Years before SmartThings I needed to replace the light fixture in my wife’s closet. I took the opportunity to add in a little poor man’s automation. I picked up a cheap “reverse momentary” switch from Home Depot… a nice looking little metal box with a plastic cylinder that points out the front. Just wire the hot going to the light through the box. Mount the box in the upper corner of the door.

When the closet door closes, it pushes in the button and cuts power. When the door open, the button pops out and turns on the light. MUCH cheaper than using sensors and outlets or z-wave bulbs.

I’m all for geeking out, but for a closet where you don’t need to know otherwise if it’s open or not or have any special settings for turning on/off the light based on time or darkness level or whatever… this is a very cheap, elegant solution.

Here’s the switch I put in: $15 bucks at Home Depot:

No other sensor, switch or special bulb required.

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