Home Automation on a Budget – R390 and some Electrical skills

Home Automation , ,

I have long wanted to automate my house. I have looked into it multiple times only to decide the prices were too high for what I could achieve. Not to mention the additional burden of multiple technologies to achieve simple goals.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1. SonOff T1 (1, 2 or 3 switch) – Found Here – R390 currently.
2. 1.5mm Cable for the neutral
3. Screw Driver, Ladder (probably)

DIFFICULTY: Medium

AUTOMATE THE LIGHTS!

So the main thing I wanted to do was automate my lights. I already have a number of lights on timers and day/night switches in the garden and on a fountain, but I don’t want to make it so rigid that it is hard to override or that I have to go to the DB to override them.

HOW I DID IT
Using very inexpensive SonOff light switches, I now have light switches which I can operate in the following ways.

  • Turn On / Off with the actual switch. Like a normal light switch.
  • Operate manually from the App from anywhere in the world.
  • Automate the light by putting it on a Schedule / Timer / Loop Timer
  • Integrate with Amazon Alexa. Tell Alexa to turn lights on or off.
  • Setup a routine on Alexa to operate multiple switches with a single voice command. When I go to bed, “Alexa, Good Night”. This command turns off my lounge lights, fish tank lights, kitchen lights and TV. It also turns on my lights in my bedroom and bathroom upstairs. 
  • Use IFTTT to link your lights to just about anything! Turn lights On/Off based on a HUGE array of options availbel on IFTTT.
eWeLink App – Available on iOS and Android

HOW TO WIRE THE SWITCHES
In South Africa, we do have a slight issue when it comes to wiring these light switches. Our switches only break the live (positive) wire. So in the light switch boxes, you’ll not find a neutral (negative) wire.

You will have to pull through a negative from the nearest light to make the switches work. (You should have an electrician do this…….)

Open the closest light to the switch and find the return wire to the switch. Disconnect it, strip this cable a little and then pull 2 new cables through to the switch. Use one as the new return and the other as the neutral to power the switch. This is the hardest part of this setup for sure. 

New SonOff T1, 3 Gang switch before installation.
Back of the SonOff T1, 3 Gang switch
Switch before I started the project. 
Existing 4 gang switch with all the lives and returns still connected.
Wires after disconnecting the original switch. 1 positive and a number or returns for each switch. 
Wires all connected up now. The black ones is the new neutral I pulled through.