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My living room is 70 feet long and almost 40 feet wide at the widest point. (Yes, I realize this is a lot of space.) In the ceiling there are 50 can-style light fixtures, each of which currently has a BR-30 LED bulb. These are controlled by about 25 light switches, scattered widely around the room, each of which operates one or more cans. In case it's relevant, nothing is dimmable. I do not currently use Alexa or any other sort of smart-home system.

I would like to be able to flip one switch and have all the lights come on, while retaining the option to turn on lights selectively. My main goal is to be able to light up the entire room as soon as I walk in the door.

I know of three ways to do this:

A. Replace the fixtures with smart fixtures.

B. Replace the bulbs with smart bulbs.

C. Replace the switches with smart switches.

I realize that options A and B will also allow me to make things dimmable and allow for color adjustment. Those things would be nice, but don't feel mandatory.

I believe that C is the cheapest option, using, e.g. the hardware here. (See demonstration here.) My understanding is that after installing this hardware behind all of the switches, I will be able to turn on all the lights from my phone (or better yet from an iPad mounted on the wall), whereupon the individual switches will operate as toggles, so that I can turn off those lights I don't want. This sounds about perfect to me.

My questions:

  1. Are there other options I should consider?

  2. Do any of these options have pros and/or cons I might not be thinking of?

  3. Are there better smart-switch options than the one I linked to?

  4. Based on others' experience, am I likely to be making a mistake if I choose C, thereby forgoing both the dimmability and the color control?

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  • Kasa smart switches are only about $15 apiece...
    – Huesmann
    Jun 3, 2023 at 21:10
  • @Huesmann: This is the first I've heard of Kasa smart switches (which probably indicates that I am starting out with very little knowledge and need a lot of help). I am off to Google them.
    – WillO
    Jun 3, 2023 at 21:12
  • @Huesmann: It appears that the Kasas would require me to change all my switchplates, whereas the ones I linked to would go behind the existing switchplates. This is an issue because there are several places in the room where three or four switches are on a single plate, and replacing that with three or four separate plates might take up a lot of wall space.
    – WillO
    Jun 3, 2023 at 21:17
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    Each Kasa switch would replace a toggle switch. You'd end up with a cover plate like this: homedepot.com/p/… Jun 3, 2023 at 23:52
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    Those linked switches are cheap Cheese junk, they are not safe or legal to use in AC wiring. They're Alibaba trash re-branded. Wow, after I said that, I checked the domain registration and the domain registrar is actually Alibaba and conceals the domain owner. Of course they do. Well it's one of those Alibaba sellers rebranding their junk to look domestic. It's covered with registration marks but they're all junk marks that are widely faked. What matters here is UL, CSA or ETL. Jun 4, 2023 at 1:05

2 Answers 2

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Yes, C

Putting in smart bulbs or cans and retaining the existing switches will have the (big IMO) disadvantage that when certain wall switches are turned off, their respective lights will go off line and not be operable smartly. Later when the switches are turned on, they will return to their former state (color, brightness) that might disagree with the current state of all the other lights.

The best approach to using a large number of smart fixtures/lights as a group is to put all of them on one or two "master" switches and put those in an obscure location or train everyone not to touch them. Or no wall switches at all, just the breakers and smart controllers.

For that reason if you want to keep 25 switches and continue using them I think smart switches is the best approach.

There are lots of different kinds of smart switches. Some standards-based like Z-Wave, Zigbee, some proprietary like Kasa, Leviton, Cync, etc ... and the pros and cons are more subtle. If you have any kind of smart-home network or controller already you may want to stick with that standard, or if you use Alexa or Google Home or whatever, you should ensure your choice is compatible.

Or D

Go with smart pucks or bulbs, bypass (short circuit) all the existing wall switches so the ceiling fixtures are permanently powered (controlled by the breakers), use your smart apps and voice control, and if you want wall switches, add battery-powered ones. Look for example at Cync for a system that works well that way. You can stick the battery-powered control switches onto blank faceplates that replace your existing switches. Hopefully not 25 of them, but you could.

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In general, I agree with jay613's answer of C - Smart switches. Definitely better than A or B.

But another possibility is to investigate the wiring and see if things can be combined. For example, if you only need 6 zones of lighting instead of 25 zones, you should be able to get away with installing only 6 smart switches and removing the others. That type of change could be very simple or very complicated, depending on how the wiring was done.

One catch is that even though all 50 lights can easily be on one circuit with LEDs (a quick search find BR-30 65W "equivalent" LEDs that use 7.5W each - 7.5 x 50 = 375W, about 1/4 of a typical circuit capacity), they are likely split into at least 3 circuits in order to allow 65W incandescent bulbs. If the wiring was done in a reasonably common-sense manner (which is not guaranteed, at all) then it should be possible to combine many of the existing lighting zones. However, you may find adjacent existing zones that logically should be together are actually on separate circuits, and it is even possible to find that some of the lighting is on circuits that also power receptacles or lights in other rooms. A bit of detective work will be needed to figure it all out.

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