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Beginner's Electrician Guide for Smart Home Wiring

Doing your own electrical work at home no doubt sounds like a pretty daunting task. Typically, it wouldn’t be recommended, and when in doubt, call the professionals. However, smart home wiring is a different ballgame. Smart home devices are extremely user-friendly and easy to install, and with a few tips, you’ll see that home automation wiring is a breeze!

What Devices Will I Need for Wiring?

You don’t need a lot to get your smart home wiring done. If the devices are “smart” you need a wireless router. In terms of tools, keep it simple. You need a screwdriver, a drill, pliers, a level, wire nuts, screws, and wall anchors. Sound complicated? Don’t worry - most smart devices you buy will have most of the things you need included anyway besides the drill, which may not even be necessary, although it makes things easier. 

What Kind of Wiring Will I Be Doing?

It depends on what you want to install. You can install smart switches and smart electrical outlets, smart sprinkler controls, a smart thermostat, smart smoke/burglar alarms, and video doorbells. None are particularly difficult to install. 

Differences Between Structured Wiring and Electrical Protocols

Smart home wiring uses low voltage wiring: CAT6E for ethernet and HDMI for video. High voltage wiring is what’s used for your appliances. This uses heavier wiring, and low and high voltage wiring needs to be kept separate. If they’re too close together you might get interference. (SOURCE)

Which Devices Need to Be Hardwired?

Many of your smart devices are plug and play. However, some do indeed need to be hardwired - things such as your smart light switches and electrical outlets, smart sprinkler controls, smart thermostat, video doorbells, and smoke alarms. 

What Equipment Will I Need?

Again - almost everything you need will be included with the smart home device you purchase. However, it’s always good to have a few essentials sitting around like screwdrivers, a power drill, a level, screws, wall anchors, pliers and wire nuts. 

Light Switches & Smart Outlets

While wiring a smart light switch and outlets may seem a little daunting at first, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with all the essential steps you need to follow. In the end, you’ll probably be surprised by just how easy it actually is!

How to Wire a Smart Switch/smart Outlet

  • First thing’s first: turn off the power to the outlet before you get to work. You can do this by switching off the breaker located in your fuse box. If you don’t know which breaker is for which outlet, the solution is simple - just turn off the master power. 
  • Unscrew the wall plates and disconnect the existing wires that are connected at the base by turning the wire nuts. Make sure to keep all of the pieces in a ziplock bag so that you don’t lose anything.
  • Next up - identify all of the wires in your system. You’ll need a neutral wire to proceed, but not all homes have them. If you don’t see a neutral wire (it’s the white one), put everything back to how it was (remember the zip-locked bag?) and call an electrician.
  • Identify all of the wires and connect them with your wire nuts to the back of your smart system. Again, the neutral wire is white, while the Line and Load wires should be red or black. They’ll be different colours so you can tell which is which. 
  • Once everything is connected, push the wires back into the socket as far as they’ll go, screw on the wall plate and presto - you’re done! (SOURCE)

How to Wire a Video Doorbell

Video doorbells have become extremely popular lately, with them designed so that not only can you see who’s ringing your doorbell, but also keep tabs on your doorbell remotely. Some of them even have mics and speakers so you can communicate directly with the people who ring the bell. If you receive a lot of deliveries this is a game-changer. Just think about it - no more missed deliveries or unnecessary trips to the post office!

Installing a video doorbell is simple. For the most part, they’ll need to be wired to your home electricity. Battery-powered doorbells are available too, but you’ll need to remember to check and replace the battery pretty often. Wiring it to your home electricity is the way to go if you want to install it and not worry about checking it again and again. 

Here’s how to do it!

  • Turn off the breaker that connects to your old doorbell. If needed, turn off the whole home’s electricity.
  • Remove the old doorbell. If the doorbell is being placed on brick, stucco or concrete, this is where a drill will come in handy. Make sure you line it up correctly to avoid making unnecessary holes. 
  • Connect the wires coming out of the wall to the screws on the back of your new doorbell using the wire nuts. If they’re too short, you can use extensions, which you can also fasten with wire nuts. 
  • Screw the doorbell back into the wall and presto - you’re done!

As you can see, installing smart home devices isn’t necessarily something you need to call the electrician for. If you’re installing more complicated things like a smart thermostat or smart sprinklers, you should be able to cover it yourself but if you’re not sure - call the professionals. Otherwise, it’s all pretty simple and quick to do!

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