In a world full of advancing technology, smart light switches have become common in many households. They can dim the lights to your favorite setting, save power, and even respond to an app on your phone. However, it can be difficult to find information online on how to install this practical device.
To make things easier, we’ve put together a simple guide that will move you through the process of installing your very own smart light switch.
By performing each step, one at a time, you’ll have your house lit up and functioning in no time. Using this piece of technology doesn’t have to be hard.
Determine What Type of Switch is Needed
The first step is to purchase the right kind of switch for your home. There are two main types of switches:
- Neutral Wire Switches: These are required to be hooked up to a neutral wire to work.
- Non-neutral Wire Switches: These are often also wired but do not require a neutral wire.
Both types serve the same purpose, but the neutral wire switch has an extra step in the setup process. You need to check to see if your house has a neutral wire inside the area where you will be installing your smart light switch.
*We also wrote an article about what happens if you wire a smart light switch wrong. You’ll find some necessary and helpful information. Feel free to read it.
Checking for a Neutral Wire
The neutral wire is typically a white or grey wire inside the workings of your previous switch. You can learn more about it on YouTube here. You can often determine if you have one by checking the inside of the switch.
However, if you’re uncertain, it’s best to call for an electrician. Some houses simply don’t have them. If not, you can purchase the less complicated version of the switch that doesn’t require the neutral wire.
Buy Your Switch
Once you’ve decided what type of switch is right for you, it’s time to purchase. Amazon is a great place to find these.
Some quality neutral wire-based switches include:
All of those work very well as smart switches and have a fairly easy set-up process.
Some quality non-neutral wire smart switches include:
All of these require relatively easy installs and work just as well as their neutral wired counterparts.
Gather a Variety of Tools
There are a variety of different tools that are needed for several switches. Here are a few general ones that may come in handy during this process:
- Flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers: These are used for unscrewing and screwing in the light switch plate.
- Wire Cutters: These are used for cutting and attaching wire during the install process.
- Wire Connectors: For attaching the wires to your switch.
- Flashlight: So that you can see what you are doing when working inside the dark wall.
- Electrical Pliers: For touching the various wires inside the light switch.
All of these tools can be purchased on Amazon for reasonable prices and are necessary if you choose to go about this process by yourself.
Turn Off the Power to the In-Wall Switch
This step is critical. Make sure that, before you mess with any kind of electrical wiring, you turn off any power that is flowing to that outlet. Take the proper safety precautions so that you can enjoy the fixtures you’re installing.
Once you’ve turned off the power, you need to test to make sure that it’s off. You can purchase an electrical tester on Amazon to stay safe.
Open the Existing Light Switch
For most installs, you will need to unscrew the existing light switch (the exception being plated, non-neutral wire switches). Unscrew the plate from the wall and remove the switch to reveal the existing wiring underneath.
Install the Switch
The next step is to physically place your brand-new light switch. There are two kinds of installation processes since we are discussing two types of wiring.
Installing with the Neutral Wire
When wiring this type of switch, it’s important to understand the basics. There are typically three kinds of wires involved in this process:
- The black wire: This carries power to the device.
- The white wire (neutral): This completes the circuit and brings power from the circuit box.
- The green wire (ground): This gives extra electricity a safe and neutral place to disperse to if it’s not needed.
Both of these play a critical role in providing the power that your brand-new switch needs to work. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with those, you will need to:
- Connect the black wires: These should hook to the left side terminals.
- Connect the white wire: First, you need to splice the end, then connect it to the right terminal.
- Connect the ground wire: This is attached to the ground terminal, normally at the top of the switch.
With these steps, your switch should be together in no time. If you aren’t comfortable with this, however, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Call your local electrician to perform the install for you.
Installing Without the Neutral Wire
This process is a little easier, only because there isn’t an extra wire involved. There are a few different ways that these switches are installed:
- Wired: These can be installed in the same way as the switches with a neutral wire, except that the neutral wire is gone. Only the black and green wires need to be connected.
- Plated: Some switches come with plates, which can be mounted to the wall. The switch is then attached to this plate. Your manual will let you know if this applies to your particular switch.
These are the main two methods of installing these types of switches. However, they may vary from product to product.
Read the Instruction Manual
Although these techniques are generally used for both of these switches, it’s still important to read the manual that comes with your specific set. There may be slight variations that could make all the difference in your experience.
Call an Electrician if Necessary
As mentioned before, if you are uncertain at any point in the process, please call an electrician. Safety should be a top priority. If you are not confident, you may risk:
- Poor install
- Wall damage
A professional can help you if you can’t quite get the hang of it.
Turn the Power Back On
Now that your fingers are safely out of harm’s way, you can turn the power back on. Make sure that all of your switches have been installed and you are clear from any sources of electrocution before taking this step.
Test Your Install
The final step is to test your install to ensure that the light switch is in proper working order. To test, you may:
- Test smart hubs: Make sure that your smart switch is linked to devices such as Alexa or Google.
- Test the physical switch: Flip the switch on and off, or test the dimmer setting to make sure your lights are connected.
Once you’ve made sure your install is correct, you are free to use your smart switches as much as you would like. Have fun with the hard work you put into this process.