How to can make your home just a little bit smarter, by updating your switches to new smart devices that you can control from your tablet or smartphone from anywhere.
This one is pretty easy, but it can vary a little based on the type and age of the wiring in your home. The good people over at Leviton sent me some of their new smart home switches to include in my latest remodel project, so I wanted to show you guys how I went about doing that. But before we actually go about replacing this switch, I just wanted to give a basic overview on how a switch works. Understanding how it works helps you know how to fix and replace things if things go wrong.
Now this is an example of a typical basic switch. We’ve got a single light on a circuit, with the switch installed to control the light. We’ve got three wires, the black wire, which is the hot wire, the white wire, which is our neutral wire, and the bare copper wire, which is the ground. In this example, when the switch is in the on position, current flows from the panel to the switch, and out to the light through the hot wire. The current then passes through the bulb, illuminating it, and then returns back to the panel through the neutral wire. If everything is going as it should, the ground wire doesn’t do anything. When the switch is off, the flow of current is interrupted on the hot wire, so that the circuit can’t be completed, and the light doesn’t illuminate. So now that we’ve seen kind of the basics of how a switch like this works, we can replace it, and the first thing that I’m gonna do, is to remove the cover plate and the existing switch.
You wanna make sure that the power is off at the breaker, and one way to test that is to use a voltage tester like the one I have here. If the voltage tester beeps, that means there’s voltage present and it’s not really safe to work on the wire. Once you verify that the power is off, you can actually remove the switch itself. I understand that many of you may have old wiring in your home that’s hard to identify. Much of my house is like that.
Using a voltage tester can help you figure out which wires are which, as well. With the switch out of the way, we can look at our wiring. We have our load wire going to the light, our hot line in from the panel, and our neutral wire’s connected in the wire nut in the back. Our ground wires are also connected with the wire nut with a small piece of extra wire coming out of it, which was connected to the ground screw on the switch.
This technique is called pig tailing, and it allows you to only use one wire on the ground screw of the switch. A common electrical mistake that DIY homeowners often make is connecting multiple wires to a single terminal on a receptacle or a switch, which is against the code and if an electrical inspector looks at it, they’re gonna fail it. So now we’re ready for our new switch, and as you can tell, it looks considerably different than the previous. The new one has a lot more terminal screws, it has a silver screw, a reddish screw, a green ground screw, a black screw on the other side, and a screw underneath this piece of tape, which says only to use this terminal if it’s a three way switch. So in this case, we’re not gonna worry about that. Now the difference between this switch and a typical switch, is that this switch actually requires a neutral wire. Which is the silver terminal screw.
It comes with an included wiring diagram in case you get a little confused, but first I’m gonna start by connecting our hot line wire from the panel, to the black terminal screw on the switch. Next, I’m connecting the hot load wire that runs to the light, to the red terminal screw. From there, I’m gonna take a small piece of extra white wire and create a pig tail for the neutral connection. I’ll strip off each end of the wire just enough so that one end can be tied together with the other neutral wires under the wire nut, and the other end can be secured to the terminal screw on the switch itself.
Lastly, I’ll reconnect the pig tail ground wire to the ground screw terminal, and then I like to take a piece of electrical tape and wrap it around the switch, or the receptacle and cover the terminal heads. Because people have a tendency to grab receptacles or switches from the sides when they’re pulling them out of the box, which can create a circuit, and get yourself shocked, so I like to just eliminate that by putting some electrical tape around it.
And encourage people to when they’re pulling out the receptacle or a switch out of a box, grab it from the top and the bottom, rather than from the sides to eliminate the risk of shock. And then once that’s done, I can push the switch back into the box. So that’s it as far as the actual wiring of the switch, and it may seem a little bit confusing, but trust me, as you do it a little bit, you’ll get more familiar with it, and as long as you can keep track of which wires are which, you’ll be totally fine. So now we can actually focus on what makes these smart devices, and to get started, we have to download the my Leviton app from the app store. Once you have the app downloaded, just follow the set up prompts to set up an account.
Find and name your device, and once it’s done, you can control the switch from your smartphone or tablet from anywhere in the house, or from across the country if you want. And there are dimmer versions of these switches available as well. Another cool feature about these devices, is they actually work with your Amazon echo, or Google home as well. So to set that up, all you need to do is set up your Amazon echo or Google home. – Hello, your Amazon echo dot is ready for setup. – [Aaron] Link it to your my Leviton app, so that they can communicate, and then you can just ask Alexa to turn on or turn off your lights. Alexa, turn off the light. Now I understand that replacing an electrical switch isn’t for everybody, and maybe you’re a renter, but you still want to have a little bit of a smarter home. Leviton also makes these plugin versions of these smart devices, so you can plug this in to any traditional outlet, plug in the device that you want to control with it, maybe it’s a fan, or a lamp, or a stereo.
And then you can control whatever device is plugged into this smart device as well.
As found on Youtube