Magic Light Switches: No Wires Required

I’m an avid do-it-yourselfer. I’ll tackle just about any chore around the house.

Busted plumbing doesn’t faze me. I’ve got tools. Furniture repairs, loose hinges, drawer knobs fall off or refrigerator door handles on the wrong side. I’ve got POWER tools and I’m not afraid to use them.

But, I won’t work with electrical wiring.

If it means running wiring down the inside of a wall from some undisclosed source, I will not do it. I would rather do without.

When the kitchen light switch was on the “other side” of the kitchen, I would endure the bruised body parts and walk across in the dark.

When I had to bend over, open the cabinet and reach back to the switch for the garbage disposal, I began to consider wiring a switch once again. I quickly nixed that idea when I realized how close to a water source I’d be working. The convenience of a counter height switch went down the drain.

Then there are those certain power outlets in a room that activate by a switch near the door. Notice that there is seldom rhyme nor reason to the location of the power outlet. I was especially amused by the switch that controlled the power outlet directly below. Which, ironically, is where the lamp was placed. I could as easily switch the lamp on at its base as to use the wall switch.

I wanted the switch to illiminate the lamp on the other side of the room which would conveniently light my way to the kitchen, the hallway and the bathroom. I’ll not admit how many piggy-back extension cords were run around the baseboards to accomplish just that.

Oh, sure, I considered installing a clap activated remote switch. But what if I just wasn’t excited or energetic enough to give it a hearty clap? What if my hands were full and I was left with nothing to clap?

Or, what if I was down with a body-weakening-chills-and-fever-I’m-going-to-die-already flu and hadn’t the strength to clap the light on. I could die trying.

Then, there was that big dream I had back in the 1970’s when all that I really, really wanted in life was a log home. I toured dozens of model log homes and I was in love. I stopped dreaming when I read of how difficult and costly it was to run wiring in log walls.

To install switches in a log home the builder must drill channels within the logs to run cabling and they must route cavities into logs for switch boxes. This delays the building process, it’s time consuming and costly, it restricts freedom to place switches where desired, and often results in an aesthetically unpleasing appearance.

There was that nastiest of all phrases “aesthetically unpleasing appearance”. As beautiful as the log homes were, I would not tolerate an aesthetically unpleasing result. I would wait and watch for the perfect solution.

I became addicted to “This Old House” and every home improvement show I could find. All I wanted to see was a way to get power to the switch without going through the wall. Instead, every episode about switch installation demonstrated how hard it is to drop a wire down the wall and fish it through at the box to hook up a new switch. The skilled and experienced contractors couldn’t even make it look easy.

Then, just yesterday, a press release crossed my desk and hope sprang anew. A manufacturer was announcing battery-free switches that operate like normal light switches except they transmit wireless signals to control lights and fans. The switches are powered by energy harvesting technology where the act of clicking the switch creates the energy necessary to control devices.

All of that jargon meant nothing to me until I read the installation instructions:

Switches simply screw in and snap together. No time-consuming drilling or running and fishing wires required. A relay receiver is wired to a light or any electrical fixture and a wireless switch that controls the receiver is then mounted at any convenient location.

Installs as easily as hanging a picture! Anyone who can connect 2 wires can install one of these switches. It sounded as simple as a gizmo I used to use that would clip into the electrical cord on my table lamp, piercing the exterior covering and creating a connection with the wires. I’d used this system for adding a switch on a lamp cord.

Now, I’ll be able to add switches to anything, anywhere that I need them. I feel as excited as Tim the Tool Man Taylor with a new power tool. Arr arr arr.

But I had only tapped the tip of the iceberg! As I studied the marketing material, exciting possibilities emerged that would have every handyman in the country repeating after me “ARR Arr arr”.

It spoke of full lighting automation. “A switch can communicate with an unlimited number of lights or fans, allowing building owners to have one master switch that will turn every light in the house off or on.”

I wasn’t interested in flipping a switch and lighting the whole house. I simply wanted my pathway lit, like a runway lighting in synchronization to my gait.

“One light or group of lights to be controlled by multiple switches, allowing the benefit of creating lighted pathways. By programming a group of lights that creates a pathway from one destination to the next, homeowners can safely navigate through their home in the middle of the night.”

Like the doors that opened as Maxwell Smart exited the elevator and walked down the long corridor of doors, all the lights in my home would illuminate as I entered.

In true allegiance, they would then extinguish themselves as I passed them when leaving.

All that is left to me now is to locate the source of these switches and the power will be mine!


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