Lifx Smart Switch compatibility in modern apartment

Discussion in 'Electronics & Electrics' started by Quantum Flux, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. Quantum Flux

    Quantum Flux Member

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    Before anyone flames me - I'm not planning to do any electrical work myself.

    LIFX have released a new 'Lifx Smart Switch' which can be used to make dumb light circuits smart without the irritating problem of putting a smart bulb in a dumb fixture and having it go offline when the switch is turned off.

    I've got an off-the-plan apartment due for completion later this year. This will come with the usual strings of LED down lights throughout. I recall somebody telling me these kind of circuits didn't have a neutral wire at the switch. Is that correct? Does this mean the Lifx Smart Switch can't be used in modern installations? That would seem fairly silly.

    Edit: Anyone been in a similar situation? Were you able to request neutral wire at the switch? What was the additional cost like?
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  2. aXis

    aXis Member

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    As far as I'm aware, it's not standard to have the neutral wire available at light switches - just active/active return. You would have to ask for it specially, the earlier you ask the cheaper it will be.

    I ran similar smart switches (Z-Wave, they sucked, but wifi will probably be better) in my established house and had to spend about $2k to get an electrician to run neutral wires to all of the switch points.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Quantum Flux

    Quantum Flux Member

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    The tower core / lift shaft isn't even close to my floor yet - so hopefully it's not too late to request a change. It's a 2 bed apartment so I'm guessing there will be around 7 to 10 light switch panels. I've requested a quote from the builder to provide a neutral wire at each light switch. It's only a few extra metres of wire - guessing it'll be 500 to 1k. Not sure if they'll hit me for design changes or approvals or anything like that :confused:?
     
  4. HSV_Enigma

    HSV_Enigma Member

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    In a domestic single dwelling its about 50/50 whether the supply will be taken to the switch or the lighting point but in a commercially built set of apartments it will almost certainly be taken to the lighting point so there will be no neutral. It will definitely be a design change if they will even do it but its worth an ask.
     
  5. pantner

    pantner Member

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    I've refit one of mine to a smart switch like this. Luckily it was a 2 gang switch, with one of them being a 2 way switch, so there were 5 wires available when only 4 were needed.

    If you're not able to get the neutral wire run, ask for conduit to be run in the walls to the light switches, rather than just having the wires channeled in the wall.
     
  6. OP
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    Quantum Flux

    Quantum Flux Member

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    Update...
    So due to a very irritating communication delay via my solicitor, I missed out being able to request the neutral wires at the switch. The builder however did confirm the wiring would use “loop at the light” scheme (just an active loop to the switch).

    The switches I’ve decided on are 50% off at the moment but the promo will be over before I get the keys. So I’m planning to order them ahead of time.

    When an electrician adds a neutral wire, is it just a matter of running a neutral line from the light fitting? Just trying to get a handle on install cost per switch before I go ahead and order them.
     
  7. McRutch

    McRutch Member

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    Yes it can be done just with an extra wire from the light back to the switch, but not always easy in apartments, sometimes the walls plaster goes all the way to the concrete ceiling, and the existing wires will be tied to the concrete, so they can't be used as draw wires.

    But sometimes it's easy :)
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Quantum Flux

    Quantum Flux Member

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    Was thinking I could take my time one weekend and pre-insert a bunch of yellow tongue. Then the sparky’s job is easy (and hopefully cheap).
     
  9. m3k

    m3k Member

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    i think u can tap into any neutral wire in the apartments circuit- without issues but im no electrician

    honestly id just buy the lifex bulbs and call it a day hahah they are probably not bright enough though hmm
     
  10. CacTuar

    CacTuar Member

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    You cannot just tap into any neutral. It doesn't work like this, especially with everything on RCDs now.
     
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  11. Symon

    Symon Castigat ridendo mores

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    Find out who the builders electrician is, and ask them nicely. I'm sure they would do it, most tradies hate the builders they work for.
     
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  12. m3k

    m3k Member

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    My bad yea that makes sense i was dumb enough to mix up neutral and ground- you should be able to tap into any grounding * neutral needs to be a return for the live wire and yea would trip a switch that looks for residual current !
     
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  13. OP
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    Quantum Flux

    Quantum Flux Member

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    Has anyone used a “smart module” at the light fitting? I think this would be much easier/cheaper to install since there are no new wires to get through walls etc. Would this be considered acceptable / to code? I know these are normally designed to fit behind the wall switch.

    You could intercept the existing loop wire with the module’s relay, and then supply the module live and neutral from the light fitting.


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    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
  14. pantner

    pantner Member

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    I believe the conditions (temperature for one) is very different between being behind a light switch and in the ceiling. I wouldn't risk it personally.
     
  15. heller44

    heller44 Member

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    Temperature is an issue. As well as just about all modules having exposed terminals, so have to be fitted into an enclosure. Which makes the temperature even more of an issue..
     
  16. McRutch

    McRutch Member

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