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Wireless light switch question

John_Brown | Posted in Mechanicals on

I am working through the possibility of enclosing a Timber Frame with SIP panels and was curious about how the NEC might view a wireless light switch. I know the code doesn’t mandate certain things that are left to “design” but I wasn’t sure about these wifi switches. I only ask because it might be an elegant solution to avoiding additional wire chases in the panel. If I merely opted for a 16″ chase or a baseboard cavity, I could perhaps make use of a wireless light switch in certain locations. I may have to reach out to a local electrician or the state inspector.

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  1. John_Brown | | #1

    Here are a couple Sketchup renderings of some ideas I had to perhaps address the SIP electrical problem. Obviously, one part of this question is code, one part is aesthetics... FYI, I didn't draw the drywall, only the OSB on the inside panel to draw the discussion to the SIP.

  2. SwitchgrassFarmer | | #2

    John, I have a number of GE Z-Wave light switches in my home but those are electrically wired, with both manual and wireless/network control. Do not have any wireless only control switches.

    The Z-Wave switches work probably 99.9% of the time, but there have been a few instances where I had to flip the switch to off manually. It's nice to have that capability.

    One other thing to note is these wireless devices (at least the electrically connected ones I have) tend to be slightly deeper than standard switches etc. Could be an issue if you start to encroach on the SIP's let-in 2x bottom plate.

    Was thinking of your baseboard question this morning. Stayed at a B&B last night that was constructed in 1821. It's a very large brick home with quite elaborate trim etc. Baseboards were quite large and deep, you could definitely put an outlet in them. However, the baseboard size and depth was mirrored elsewhere in the room with comparatively scaled door/window trim and crown moulding.

  3. Expert Member

    Your first stop needs to be the NEC, or at least a conversation with an electrical inspector. No doubt the codes will evolve to include wireless controls, but how far they have gone in allowing them now is something that needs sorting out before working up a bunch of details.

    Our codes here in Canada allow surface mounted conduit of various types, but not burying wires in trim as it doesn't provide the required 1 1/4" protection from errant fasteners.

  4. Reid Baldwin | | #4

    We have Phillips Hue lights in several rooms. These work best if you leave the wall switch on and use the Hue switch to turn them on and off. With that approach, you could put the regular wall switch on an interior wall even if that location is not very convenient. Then, the Hue switch could be mounted in the convenient location. The Hue switch is mounted to the wall surface with no wiring.

  5. Jon_Lawrence | | #5


    I have been testing out Lutron's Caseta dimmers and so far I am very impressed. If it is a single switch scenario, it won't help you. However, if you have a multi-switch setup, it allows you to install one wired dimmer and then you can add as many RF wireless remotes to that lighting group as you want. The remote can be mounted on the wall in a 1/2" deep cutout and will look like a regular switch on the wall, or you can keep it laying around (it is the size of Apple TV remote) or purchases the surface mounting plate they have. So essentially you are wiring a single pole switch and adding as many wireless controllers as you want to create a multi-switch scenario without the wires. I have also been testing it with Amazon's Alexa and works flawlessly. It does require you to buy the Lutron Smart Hub ($70 - $100 depending on model) if you want to control from Alexa or your smart phone. Each hub can control up to 50 devices. The setup was beyond easy.

    The picture is the wireless remote installed on the wall. Uses a CR2032 battery. The wired switch looks exactly the same on the wall.

  6. Jon_Lawrence | | #6

    Here is what the remote looks like with the pedestal.

  7. Expert Member

    Do you know what the phantom loads are for the lights controlled remotely? The standby use on devices like garage doors and televisions can be surprisingly high.

  8. Jon_Lawrence | | #8


    I don't know what it is, but there is definitely some draw. I made a light test lab in my utility room and installed a bunch of different LED light fixtures to see what I liked and what would work with the Caseta. I added the lights first and with the old rocker switch in the off position, I did not get any power on the line. However, after I added the dimmer, there was power on the line, but not enough to light the lights. I called Lutron because I could not find the the standby amps in any of their spec's and tech support said it is so small that they don't even have any documentation on it. I am sure it is nowhere near the 18 watts of standby power draw from my cable box.

  9. CASUDI | | #9

    I designed a lighting/wiring plan for a 1500sf (SIPS) house, with one light switch and 4 keypads; the keypads each had 6 options and were located where light switches would normally be in the 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The keypad switch options and everything else can be controlled from a device (iPhone/iPad) ~ the wiring runs through a mechanical & electrical chase (designed into the plan to simplify plumbing and electrical runs on account of the SIPS) ~ All the lights are LED with a centralized LED light driver panel connected to the switching device…..

    It was challenging getting the electrical inspector to approve my driver panel (that’s another discussion) but there was never any issue with the wireless control of all the lights and absence of light switches! I would suggest checking with your local electrical inspector, however chances are they are now catching up (or will be very soon) with LED lighting design.

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