January 30, 2023

The automation project was completed today (except for one switch that should be in the mailbox today). We started around October 1st with the test installation of a couple of Leviton 2nd generation smart switches that we picked up at Home Depot. When those worked fine, we placed the first big switch order of a couple of dozen motion-detecting dimmers, regular dimmers, and switches on October 5th, 2022. 

We were designing the system on-the-fly, so we couldn’t order everything at once. For example, we didn’t realize just how many motion detectors we would need. Almost every switch box ended up with a motion detector in it.

Here’s the first problem we ran into. This is a commercial 0-10 volt dimmer. It controls the great room soffit lights, which are also commercial. These are the lights on top of the soffit that fire upward and bounce off the ceiling. It was the only way to get enough light. They are Cooper’s Metalux LED series and pull 75 watts to produce 8,000 lumens and we’ve got ten of them, the equivalent of fifty 100-watt incandescent bulbs. Did I mention that the Great Room is big?

There is no equivalent to this in the smart world but we desperately needed to automate these lights. The solution was, leave it in, but put it downstream of one of the new smart switches, so we could at least turn it on and off. It still has to be manually dimmed, but we don’t change that at all frequently.

The first 4 gang box we did, in Bill’s bath. It’s a little hard to see, but at the top left, there are small paper labels with the switch's serial number and WiFi mac address on them.  The far left is a dimmer with mac address of 00:07:16:27:94:66, the mid left is a switch, the mid right is a dimmer, and the far right is a motion dimmer. They control the light over the mirror, the exhaust fan (that’s why it’s a switch, you do not want to accidentally dim a motor!), the shower overhead lights, and the main bath field lights. Did I mention that this place is complicated?