In some of our recent blogs, we’ve been exploring the differences between plug-and-play options and their installed counterparts. This time, we’re going to be looking at something that doesn’t have a comparable plug-and-play device available on the market: Smart Relays. Put simply, there are no other devices like these available in the UK in terms of what they can do and how they can expand the boundaries of your home automation.
So, what is a relay?
Smart Relays are installed devices that can be added to any electrical circuit and allow remote wireless control of anything else connected to that circuit. In practise, this means that you’re able to control a whole new range of devices, appliances, and electrical fittings in the same way that you control your lighting, heating, and plugged-in devices.
With a Smart Relay, you can get even more creative with your routines and automations. For example, you can take your morning routines to the next level by triggering a relay to open your blinds gradually or get the garage door to open as you head out the front door. LED strip lighting in your kitchen? Make it easier to see your work surfaces while you cook, then transition to your dinnertime lighting scene with a simple click or voice command which wirelessly triggers your Smart Relay to turn off the LED strips.
How do relays work?
There’s a couple of different options when it comes to how Smart Relays work. Some, like the Lightwave Smart Mini Relay, have three latching positions: open, stop, and close. This allows control of automatic window shades, electric gates, or a garage door.
Others, like the Lightwave 3-gang Smart Dimmer, don’t have the capacity for three distinct positions but can control three separate mains electrical circuits independently from each other. As this relay is so powerful, with a 3.5kW maximum shared load, it’s great for controlling large wattage loads like commercial lighting, underfloor heating or a pump for your garden water feature. This relay is also capable of monitoring energy consumption, which is displayed through the app in a simple graph.
Both options, however, can be hidden away behind a fitting, within the circuit, or in waterproof housing, which makes for a sleek and unobtrusive addition to your system. If you have Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Apple Homekit, you can control these devices with your voice too.
Why do installers love Smart Relays so much?
Smart Relays are extremely versatile devices that can solve a load of headaches for professional installers and qualified electricians. When paired with a wider home automation system, an installer can set up a wireless ‘magic button’ from any Smart Dimmer that triggers a Smart Relay. This means that, between the switch and the light fitting or device, there is no need for additional wiring.
Some great examples of this would be using a relay to control a bathroom extractor fan, or using a relay for your garden floodlights which can be controlled from any Smart Dimmer around your entire home.
Installing and configuring your Smart Relay can be a little more complicated than Smart Sockets or Dimmers, so we always recommend getting in touch with a professional installer to help you out.