How do I convert a light switch into a smart switch by installing a smart relay?

If you can replace a light switch, you can install a wireless relay. Simply connect the wiring from your home to the correct ports of the wireless relay, and you’re off to the races. Let’s look at wiring in a smart switch:

Why not buy a smart light switch or smart bulbs?

Several years ago, a former colleague of mine was very fond of Philips Hue and fitted his house with smart light bulbs. They worked great. The only challenge was when other people in the house would try and turn the smart bulbs on or off with the traditional light switch. If the power is cut to the smart bulb by using the traditional light switch, you have no way of turning it back on automatically as the power is cut to the device.

Smart light bulbs like this are best controlled via a smart hub (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc) or their native apps. If you want to use them in an automated fashion you have to leave the wall switch on and control the state of the light bulb digitally.

I want a light switch to act as a light switch, but I also want to be able to turn my lights on and off via automations. I’ve previously heard other people refer to this as the escalator principle:

If an escalator stops working for whatever reason, it still functions as stairs.

This also rules out most of the smart light switches, as these often need to connect to some kind of cloud, and if that cloud goes down, you could struggle to turn your lights on.

Continuing to have my light switches function as light switches provides two benefits:

  • Any guests or visitors will be completely unaware of any automations or special devices. They can use the lights as lights.
  • If all this fancy automation stuff breaks I won’t have to race to fix the problem, I can still use my lights as if they were never smart to begin with.

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