What Is a Smart Light Switch and How Should I Plan for It

What Is a Smart Light Switch and How Should I Plan for It

 

Let’s begin from the basics to understand about smart light switch. This is an electrical diagram of how your normal lights and switch is connected to the electrical grid.

 

Part 1: BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE ELECTRICAL DIAGRAM

electrical diagram of smart light switch
Diagram 1: Electrical Diagram

There is a live wire from the din rail/circuit breaker/distribution board to your switch. From the switch to the light, there is a live output wire. The number of live output wire(s) depends on the number light(s) your switch is connected to. A neutral wire is then connected from the light to the circuit breaker.

When you turn on one of the buttons for a switch, there is a closed circuit and power flows from the circuit breaker to the switch via the live wire then to your light via the live output wire and eventually from the light, it flows back to the distribution board via the neutral wire. Voila! That’s how it works!

 

Part 2: HOW DOES A SMART LIGHT SWITCH WORK

Now, for a smart light switch, there is one basic principle. It needs to be powered all the time so that it can be on standby mode 24/7 and is ready to receive instructions from Koble app, Google or Siri voice control. Some of you may be panicking now. WHAT!?!? Powered up all the time!?!? Doesn’t it consume a lot of electricity!? Well…. it does consume a lot of electricity on standby mode ONLY IF YOU CHOOSE THE WRONG SMART SWITCH. Smart switches from Koble are designed to be super energy efficient. So efficient, it costs less than 2 cents/month for a smart switch to be on standby mode. To put things in perspective, our Smart Motion Sensor which operates on a coin button battery can last 1.5-2 Years. Let that sink in… a battery, the size of a coin allows a smart device to operate for 1.5 – 2 years.

Now, back to the smart switch. There are 2 kinds of smart switches in the market.
Type 1. Smart Switch Operates without using neutral wire
Type 2. Smart Switch Operates using neutral wire

Why are they termed as such? It’s literally what it means.
If there is no neutral wire at the switch point, it is a Type 1. Smart Switch without neutral wire.
If there is a neutral wire at the switch point, it is a Type 2. Smart Switch with neutral wire.

 Wiring diagram of a smart switch without and with neutral wire
Diagram 2: Wiring diagram of a smart switch without and with neutral wire

Part 3: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SMART LIGHT SWITCH THAT OPERATES WITHOUT A NEUTRAL WIRE AND A SMART LIGHT SWITCH THAT OPERATES WITH A NEUTRAL WIRE

Since most if not all houses do not have neutral wire at the switch point, Type 1 (switch operates without using neutral wire) is commonly used.
In such cases, the old manual switch will be directly replaced with the no neutral smart switch.

Now, you may be wondering how the smart switch gets powered up and stays on standby mode.
The no neutral smart switch will actually release a very small power via the live output wire to the light. However the current is so small, it will not cause the light to be turned on, but sufficient enough for the smart switch to stay on standby mode.

Wiring diagram of a smart switch when turned off and turned on
Diagram 3: Wiring diagram of a smart switch when turned off and turned on

 

So… if it is that simple, why should we have a Type 2 Smart Switch With Neutral Wire?

Here comes the trade off. Since there is a constant current flow to your light’s driver, your light is working 24/7 and theoretically it might affect the lifespan of your light’s driver. Originally, your LED Lights might last 50,000 Hours(5 years usage). It might get affected and may be reduced to 40,000 Hours (4 years usage). The keyword here is “MAY”. In theory, this is possible however at Koble, our Type 1 No Neutral Smart Switch has been used for 2 years+ and so far, there aren’t any complaints.

Zoomed in view of the actual connection between Live Output and Neutral wire
Diagram 4: Zoomed in view of the actual connection between Live Output and Neutral wire

That is why, a Type 2 Smart Switch with neutral wire is preferred 🙂

 

Part 4: THE HIDDEN GEM OF A SMART SWITCH

On the left of the diagram, you will see a typical switch with 1-button. This is usually found at the entrance of the house. When you change it to a smart switch, you can actually request for a 2-button smart switch. The 1st button will be used to control the light. The 2nd button will be used to control multiple devices. The setting is usually done on the app itself.
You can choose what devices should be controlled when you press the scene control button.

For example, the scene control button can be designed to perform a “Leave Home” function. Just imagine, when you are about to leave yoursmart home, you can press “Leave Home”. All the lights and air conditioner will be turned off without having you to prowl through each individual room just to check if devices are turned off.

How a smart switch can be fully utilised
Diagram 5: How a smart switch can be fully utilised

With these tips, we hope that you have a better understanding of what a smart light switch is and you will know how to plan for the amount of smart switches required for your house.

For any help required, feel free to reach out to us!