Ugly garage laundry light made Smart, but still ugly, and I love it anyway!

( co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #1

Not all Smart Homes are beautiful, and that’s OK!

I installed my first Z-Wave in-wall on/off micro relay module (Monoprice version) today in a simple old dusty circuit that is a perfect use case for this type of module.

My garage laundry area had a single bare incandescent bulb :bulb: wired to an ugly clunky ancient flip switch. A while back I replaced the bulb with a LED based 40 Watt light bar (looks like a long fluorescent fixture, but streamlined and has no ballast buzzing).

But my garage is dark and it’s my path to the backyard, so I’ve been flipping that awful clunky switch on and off quite a lot. The switch does not have a Neutral wire and with insufficient passive load from the LED light (common problem), a Z-Wave wall switch was not an option.

The junction box for the old single bare bulb, however, has all the wiring necessary, of course, Eureka…!: :arrow_right: Hot input, loop off to the switch, through the LED fixture, and back to Neutral.

Installed the relay in about 30 minutes by pulling off 2 wire nuts, studying the diagram for the module (that took most of the time, frankly), and then inserting it into the circuit of the module with just 2 more wire nuts. Oh… :warning: I shut off the circuit breaker first, :zap:… And put on safety glasses :eyeglasses:. And checked my life and home insurance policies :pencil: :heavy_check_mark:

The junction box is metal, but wasn’t covered anyway. The module has a little white antenna wire, so it should be easy to have that stick out of the covered box whenever I decide to close it up. There are no exposed wires… Everything tightly nutted up to insulation.

Finally turned the breaker back on and joined the module to SmartThings (appears as a Z-Wave Switch). Didn’t quite work though… Dunno, maybe I was impatient. The on/off tile controlled the light, and the light switch immediately updated the tile status, but not both in sync (i.e., the light switch wasn’t turning on the light :worried:. Well – I used my GE Secondary Remote controller to add the module and now it fully works. Light is controllable from ST, as well as via the light switch. (I don’t know if this particular relay has a “automatic bypass mode” – it may not work if the Z-Wave network can’t be reached. I think the Aeon version has this mode).

But I left the ugly old flip switch in place for now… Why? Because I doubt I’ll need to use it ever again since I installed a ZigBee motion sensor on the ceiling joist next to the light and installed Dashboard Shortcut SmartApp to “Turn On When Motion and Off after 2 minutes”.

Voila… no more dark and scary garage! But still ugly down there… The :rat: rats like it that way!

AND… Bonus!: The garage is a pathway for my beloved Buddy & Deuce Beagles (the Cosmic Pups) :dog: :dog: to get to their doggy door, the motion sensor will detect them and light the way, and alert me of their doody duty if I so desire. Buddy is 17 years old, a little rickety and a little senile, and sometimes doesn’t make it quite all the way outside, and … well: now you see why I need plenty of light on my path through the garage, right? :poop:

Just as important, the garage could be a likely entryway for burglars :alien:, so this motion sensor is in an excellent location to detect intruders, scare them with sudden light, and alert out SmartThings push notifications while we are away from home. This is an added security layer to the Tilt Sensor already installed on my garage door.

Sure … my wiring is ugly, and the joists are ugly, but some of the stuff in my garage could be a bit tempting to the bad guys.

The lesson: Sometimes a lone requirement for a little extra convenience, and about $60 ($30 switch module + $30 ZigBee motion sensor), leads to a whole lot of smart-value when added to a SmartThings location.

Ugly photos will be attached. Insults and questions welcome! :smiling_imp:

Looking for a Zwave dimmer and a switch that don't require nuteral
(Eric) #2

$30! Good deal. no dimensions, what’s the length of that thing… wiring examples are good but I wish they labeled the functions.

( co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #3

1.5" x 1.25" x 0.75".

It would be tough to fit in a single-gang lightswitch box, so that’s why they make a Dual-Switch version.

Then again, some Z-Wave Lightswitches are pretty deep too. And modern dumb-Decora are quite lean, leaving more room for this module…

Aeon / Aeotec is different shape, slimmer a bit, but doesn’t come with tail wires attached, just screw terminals that are of rather too small guage for old solid copper wire. Pro vs. Con.


Nah, not too old! I was at a friend’s house where he still had 2 button switches. It was considered a historic house, so he wanted (needed) to stay with period correct hardware. I can only imagine the wiring nightmare that would have been.

One question? How’s that motion sensor working out on the ceiling in terms of how far out it’s picking up motion?

(Keith Croshaw) #5

Looks like my smart but ugly basement.

( co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #6

It seems very sensitive… Almost picks me up in the adjoining room… Though that could have been a phantom old event.

I picked a location half-way between hallway door and laundry machines so I get immediate entry lighting and it stays active while I’m folding clothes.

I haven’t checked to see if the machines might set it off (shaking washing machine? stray heat from dryer) which would be sub-optimal and I’d try moving the sensor.

I want my dogs to trigger it though. I’ll know soon.

Great advantage over a hardwired PIR-light is I can add a second Motion Sensor at the other room’s entry to the garage, which currently is out of this detector’s view but has a hardwired light in that area for now.

(Geko) #7

Make sure to have your rework inspected. Oh, wait… Nooooo! :smile:

(Ray) #8

Pretty decent price for a dual module. I will probably get one of this and get 2 of my GE switches back from my EVR system. Pretty scary working on old wiring isn’t it? They just don’t leave enough wire length and there is a chance you could break the wire when stripping.

( co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #9

Yup. A little less scary in this project because the incoming power lines are not behind any walls, so I could have spliced in a new junction box with more Romex wire.

I can’t bear the thought of pulling Neutrals to my in-wall switch gang boxes. So I use GE Link and Hue bulbs instead.

These Relay Modules can sometimes be used in the light-fixtures themselves, depending on the path of wiring. But no dimming. : :cry:

Monoprice Z-Wave Switch saving state when it looses power