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I am retrofitting the main light in a room to be controlled by a home automation system, in this case, I'm using z-wave, but for purposes of this question, it could be any digital protocol.

I would like to have all switches that control the light do so using z-wave, and the actual dimmer circuit won't have a physical switch (it will be buried in the light fixture).

In other words, I will have no switches in the wall that actually break the connection or dim the light.

Is this ok from a code perspective? Does NEC have some kind of rule that I must have a switch in the room that physically controls the light?

If it's not ok, I'm looking for the particular part of the NEC that says that.

  • Can you fit wallbox remotes/control panels at the expected lighting control locations? – ThreePhaseEel Dec 10 '18 at 23:54
  • I'd worry more about common sense, intended use cases, and what users of the space would expect, including fail conditions. Electronics fail, DIY projects fail, and commercial automation systems fail, so what will happen when this sytem fails? How will your users use it? I would always have a manual switch somewhere, unless there were other ways to get light in that space. – YetAnotherRandomUser Dec 11 '18 at 3:22
  • @YetAnotherRandomUser -- even plain old single pole mechanical lightswitches go bad :P (whether it be due to arc damage on the contacts or mechanical wear and tear) – ThreePhaseEel Dec 11 '18 at 4:31
  • @ThreePhaseEel Yes, that is true. Anything can go bad. However, those such light switches go bad at much less of a rate than DIY or commercial switching and dimming devices, so they make great backups to automation. – YetAnotherRandomUser Dec 11 '18 at 15:09
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The NEC requirement is that it be possible to turn on a light in a room, via a switch that is in a reasonably expected location.

If you need your phone to turn the light on, that's a no go.

NEC is not particular about whether the lamp is a permanently installed light, or a plug-in floor lamp. The floor lamp is allowed to have a switch on itself, which if turned off, defeats the room switch.

NEC is also not particular about the technology used, as long as it's listed. It just needs to work.

However, they may be other building codes which come to bear. There is also your local jurisdiction's interpretation, their local rules, and the ultimate nuke: the ability of the jurisdiction to revoke a home's occupancy permit if the arragement proves to be problematic.

  • Do you happen to know the section of the code that governs this? – Jim B. Dec 12 '18 at 2:45
  • @JimB. NEC 210.70. – Harper Dec 12 '18 at 5:02
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This isn't as novel as you think

Many commercial buildings use a similar setup, with low-voltage wired controls at the switch locations on the wall talking to a central dimmer panel that handles the actual dimming duty for a set of lighting circuits, instead of using individual wallbox-mounted line-voltage controls. So, as long as the Z-wave remotes you plan to wall-mount are reliably powered (so they won't quit working unexpectedly due to a dead battery, for instance) and can provide the expected degree of lighting control, I think this will be fine.

  • Although not directly controlled won't the op need a "override" switch located in the room? It could talk to the z wave, I know I have to have over rides in commercial facilities, and thought the switched outlet or light was required in residential. – Ed Beal Dec 11 '18 at 0:36
  • @EdBeal -- the wired remote is the required switch in this case – ThreePhaseEel Dec 11 '18 at 3:06
  • I guess I don't see the physical switch the op said the controll would be in the fixture no switch in the room that's where I would think a problem may be. – Ed Beal Dec 11 '18 at 13:17

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