DIY: Update Your Light Switches and Outlets

When it comes to do-it-yourself home improvement, there are certain projects that never seem to rise to the top of the list. Lighting control is one of them.

The toggle light switch was invented in 1897 and remains the standard in most homes. But new, high-tech choices are providing better ways to turn the lights on and off. And you don’t have to go the “smart,” internet-aided route to enjoy many of the new conveniences and safety features — as well as improved energy efficiency — offered in lighting controls.

Visit a hardware store in Walton EMC’s service area to check out
the latest offerings in switches, outlets and plates.

This Saturday, visit a hardware store in Walton EMC’s service area to check out these switches, outlets and plates. Most take only minutes to install, so your weekend DIY project will leave plenty of time to catch the game on TV or enjoy a bonus nap.

Maestro Motion Sensor Switch ($20)

Maestro’s occupancy mode automatically turns lights on when you enter and off when you leave. The vacancy mode allows you to turn the switch on by hand and then the light goes off automatically if no one is using the room. The energy savings are great, but so is not having to set down that load of laundry to fumble with the switch.

Thumbs up: Detects fine motion so lights won't cut off if you're in the room. Ideal for small spaces like bathrooms and laundry rooms. Easily installed in place of an existing light switch.

Leviton Decora USB Charger/Tamper-Resistant Duplex Receptacle ($25-$32)

This combo receptacle helps simplify the lives of electronic device users by eliminating the need for expensive USB adapters and providing a centralized location for charging devices like tablets and smartphones. Charge two devices at once using the two USB ports, leaving the two outlets free for additional power needs.

Thumbs up: Smart chip-controlled USB ports recognize the charging needs of each device and optimize current to reduce charging time. Receptacle comes in a variety of colors to match home décor. Matching, inexpensive coverplate sold separately.

Honeywell 7-Day Solar Programmable Switch ($34)

Its three modes help you conserve electricity while adding a level of safety and security to your home. Allows programming up to seven on and seven off times per week with the added convenience of automatic sunrise/sunset activation. The “random” mode turns lights on and off throughout the day while you're away.

Thumbs up: Easy, intuitive programming. Built-in battery backup. Large LED display has nightlight mode for easy reading in dark areas. Can be used indoors or outdoors.

Thumbs down: Works with incandescent, halogen and fluorescent lighting only.

Adorne Nightlight + Flashlight ($38)

Replace your old socket with a nightlight that automatically turns on as your room or hallway darkens. The best part: You can pop out the nightlight source and use it as a flashlight.

Thumbs up: Portable nightlight provides eight hours of battery-operated light.

Thumbs down: Requires an Adorne wall plate that is sold separately. On the plus side, the wall plate comes in dozens of finishes to match your home’s décor.

iTechDeals Gear Wall Outlet Coverplate w/ LED Night Light ($15)

It looks like a standard outlet cover by day, but a built-in sensor automatically transforms the cover into an LED light at night. Its powered by the outlet box, so both outlets are available for other uses.

Thumbs up: Installs within seconds and requires no hardwiring.

Adorne Pop-Up Outlet ($48)

There's nothing but a flat square where your outlet should be. Push it to pop out three outlets. With another push, it disappears back into the wall when not needed.

Thumbs up: Fits in a standard outlet. Requires only a screwdriver to install in about 15 minutes. Plugs are tamper-resistant to keep children protected.

Thumbs down: Requires an Adorne wall plate that must be purchased separately.

OMOTON Wall Outlet Shelf Charging Shelf ($16)

Who says a switch plate can't house more than light switches? OMOTON’s outlet shelf is perfect for keeping items off the counter in bathrooms, kitchens, dorm rooms, bedrooms and garages. It includes hooks for keys as well as a sturdy shelf (holds up to 10 pounds) suitable for holding devices such as a smart speaker, mobile phone, electric toothbrush or rechargeable screwdriver.

Thumbs up: Includes a cord storage area to keep excess cable out of sight. Easy to install.

These are only a few of the options to trick out your home’s lighting controls. If you’re ready to go the “smart” route, there are also many other products available to easily control your home’s lighting from a mobile device or via smart speaker.

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