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Getting The Lighting System Running

Reader's Voice: An Introduction To Home Automation

Dimmer switches are not known for getting along well with CFLs (compact flourescent lights), so rather than risk the bulb or the switch, I removed the CFLs previously installed and replaced them with standard bulbs.

The problem with CFLs and dimmers is that CFLs have a ballast requiring a certain voltage for operation. When you dim a light, you're simply decreasing the voltage sent to the bulb. So, you may find that the bulb won't come on or the bulb may end up having a much shorter life if it does function at all. Most CFL manufacturers will consider the warranty void on a bulb if its been used with a dimmer. There is such a thing as dimmable CFL bulbs, but they are much more expensive. I chose the cheap route with regular bulbs. Fortunately, I'll still save some energy if I use them at reduced power. You can also get non-dimming switches, which can be used with CFLs problem-free.

I also added a lamp/appliance module. All that I had to do was plug it into the wall, then plug the lamp into the module. The access points were already plugged in and paired, according to their directions. The tabletop controller plugged in as well. 

To pair devices, you start with the controlling side and hold a button until a light starts blinking. Then, you go to the target device, such as a lamp, to turn on and press its button until the light flashes. At this point, you test the on/off to see if it paired correctly. In some cases, I had to move an access point to get a device paired. I found out later that certain electric appliances like refrigerators and computers, as well as GFI outlets, will eat the powerline signal. So, you may have to rearrange the configuration as I did to get it to work.

Different HA protocols, and even devices on the same protocol, may have different pairing procedures and may even discover devices on their own.

I added the wireless motion sensor to the family room and set it up to turn the lamp on when it detects movement. My step-daughter said she freaked out when she came in late one night after I had set that up. I'll have to remember that trick for later.

Before I went any further, I wanted to play with the system on my computer and smartphone. I plugged in the controller module and paired it with my lights. 

I then set up port-forwarding on my router so I could access my system while away from home. 

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