Saturday, December 29, 2018

Let There Be Light

In my dining room area (at least that's what I've tasked it to be, the former owner had a different room usage) there's no actual light fixtures, only a pair of light pipes that let in some natural light during the day. There is one light switch, however, which controls the sum total of one outlet, approximately 32 inches away from said switch. This arrangement was clearly installed back during a dark period in American lighting history where it was illegal for standalone lamps to have their own built-in switches. At least, that's the explanation that makes sense to me.

Anyway, there's a set of unswitched outlets around the room, on two different breakers no less, that I wanted to plug some lamps into, and I made it my goal to have them all switch on and off on the same switch. And so began my descent down the dark path of home automation.

I had been very reluctant to dabble in the home automation scene, because in the past it had mostly been advertised with the "OMG ONE BUTTON THEATRE MODE, PREPARE FOR SEXY DATE NIGHT" theme that really had zero appeal to me. More recently that marketing message has changed to "YELL AT YOUR SMART HOME SPEAKER TO SWITCH THE LIGHTS ON AND NEVER LEAVE THE COMFORT OF THE WELL-WORN BUTT CRATER IN YOUR COUCH" or something like that, which also didn't play well with me. I really didn't want some random Bolivian hacker to start blinking my lights in morse code to spell out "CLICK HERE FOR HOT MILFS IN YOUR AREA".

But as it turns out, which I found after hours and hours of searching, is that you can actually do a very simple ad-hoc pairing between the switches and outlets without even needing a hub, app, or any other extra complication. You just hold a button on the switch until it beeps, then hold a button on the outlet until it beeps, and now they're paired so that switching on the switch turns the outlet on, and switching off the switch turns the outlet off. Magic.

It's not cheap magic mind you, but it saved me crawling around in the attic and rewiring a bunch of outlets, so I'll take it.

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