Making Lights Smart using Sonoff TX

Smart lamps are cool, but smart lights are cooler.

Following my adventures Making Lamps Smart, I wanted to go one step further and convert some in-wall switches to smart switches. Since I was already quite happy with the performance of the Sonoff Basics, I decided to go with Sonoff again and utilize their TX series of smart wall switches.

Let’s start with the pros:

  1. Control of ceiling and exterior lighting is now possible
  2. Compatible (like the other Sonoff devices I already have) with the eWeLink app, Google Home app and Homekit through Homebridge

Cons:

  1. Unless you have the electrical skill to splice and run the required neutral wires in your walls and ceiling, you’re going to need an electrician.

Shopping List (with costs @ 12/09/2020)

  1. SONOFF T2US US Plug WiFi\RF433 Touch Panel Switch – White 3 gang –  (I bought 2 @ R512 each from Takealot)
  2. Electrician cost – Variable (Our electrician came to add some exterior lighting and do some other work so it’d be hard to estimate just the cost of running a single neutral)

Other Requirements

In terms of software setup, the same software setup from the Making Lamps Smart post applies.

Pre-Wiring Electrical Setup

The main blocker to a fully DIY setup was that I was unwilling to alter my house’s electrical system to add in the neutral lines required for the switch to function. Thus, the first step for me was to call in our electrician to run neutral wires from the ceiling to the existing switches. If you live in Durban or surrounds, contact me and I’ll arrange my electrician to visit you! Since he set it up the neutral wire before the switch was delivered, it was already there before I began.

Wiring the Switch

Please don’t kill yourself by messing with 220v AC without the correct precautions. Ensure that your main breakers and switches are turned off and that you’ve checked using a multimeter to confirm there’s no voltage.

I also happenned to have fitted mine during load shedding 😂 so there was definitely no voltage. If you recognize the reasons why this is more dangerous, you should comment as to why below.

With that out of the way, onwards!

Naturally, you may have a different switch in your home and be fitting a switch with a different number of gangs. The basic principles should be the same though.

Pop off the front panel by inserting a flat screwdriver into the bottom of the panel and rotating.

Remove the screws holding the switch in…

…and then the cables behind the switch will be exposed.

Label all the cables before removing anything so it’s easy to wire in the new switch

Wire in the neutral (that shouldn’t be connected to anything)…

…and then proceed to move the wires over to the new switch

Once this is finished, you can pop off the front cover…

…slide on the protective terminal cover…

…and gently push the cabling back into the wall.

Put in the screws carefully as any slip will likely damage the electronics all around the holes…

…and then you can clip on the front cover and peel off the protective plastic.

From this step, you can then turn the power back on and then set the switch up in the eWeLink app following the instructions with the switch.

Post-Implementation Summary

Unsurprisingly, I can now control exterior and interior wall and ceiling mounted lights at home in addition to the lamps I had previously. Turning on the driveway and exterior lights with my voice is magical 🤩.

My Smart Home Setup after this Implementation

Nothing here has changed, there are now just more lights to control 😃

How I see the interplay between apps, cloud providers and controlled devices may not and, in some cases, definitely doesn’t reflect reality. I just use it as a handy map. See how I got to this stage by reading these posts.

The Future

When it comes to home lighting, this was the major step I wanted to complete and the only time that I needed help from an electrician. Perhaps I’ll add some LED accent lighting but that’s a low priority for now. My focus is now to build in more automation into the system, perhaps based on presence or other factors. There are also the garage doors..

If you have any questions/would like to share your experience with wiring up wall switches, please leave a reply below. Thanks for reading!

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