For many people, pulling off a light switch coverplate and seeing what's behind may be the most practical first step into home automation. Determining if your house's switches contain a neutral wire or not can help direct which home automation solution will offer you the least headache down the road.
In the case where the majority of switches in your home do contain a neutral wire but there are one or two that don't, Insteon is now just as capable as it's wireless peers due to the recently released 2-Wire Switchlinc. In this step-by-step guide I'll show you how to install the module, using a recently completed installation in our living room as an example.
|Time:||Approximately 35 minutes|
-Insteon 2-Wire Kit
-7 Marrettes/Wire Nuts
-Pliars to twist wires together
-Other screwdriver bits as necessary to remove fixture
Step 1: Note the 6-digit IDs of both companion and fixture module. Using a simple spreadsheet is a good way to keep track of your ID's for input into control devices (like Insteon software, the SmartLinc or the ISY-99i) for use later. Determining the fixture module ID after installation is significantly more involved, so spend the 5 seconds copying them down now. I've included a sample Excel spreadsheet here.
Step 2: Switch off the breaker for the light and switch in question. Identify the switch-leg wire (see below diagram for help identifying the wire - mine was a white wire mixed in with the black hot wires) and connect to the fixture module white wire, light fixture white wire and the neutral wires using a marrette/wire nut. You'll need a large marrette as there are a minimum of 4 wires going into this connection, possibly several more if other neutrals or fixture wires exist.
Step 3: Connect the black wire on the fixture module to the hot wire in the fixture box and the line wire running to the switch.
Step 4: Connect the red wire on the fixture module to the light fixture black wire.
Step 5: Connect all the ground wires together (from the fixture module, any existing in the fixture box and any connected to the light fixture).
Step 6: Remove the existing switch and connect the former switch leg wire to the white neutral connection on the companion switch.
Step 7: Connect the black wire on the companion switch to the hot wire.
Step 8: Connect the ground wire on the companion switch to a ground in the switch box.
Step 9: Place the switch wires and companion switch into the fixture box.
Step 10: Turn on the breaker and test. If everything works, switch off the breaker and struggle to fit everything in the itty-bitty fixture box. It will fit, but you may need to be creative.
Step 11: Reattach the fixture and switch coverplate.
That's it! It took me approximately 40 minutes, and that was including taking photos during the process. Since the installation it has been working flawlessly, the only difference between it and a standard switch being the linking process (requires you to push the set button rather than the top paddle). While I wouldn't want to go through this for a whole house (I'd opt for UPB or Z-Wave in the case of no neutrals anywhere) for one or two lights it really wasn't that bad.