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UK Appliance / Lamp modules

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    UK Appliance / Lamp modules

    Hi All,

    I am currently going back to implementing an automation solution, having put it on hold around a year ago due to not being able to find a suitable solution.

    I am curious whether anyone knows of any good wire-in solutions for lamps/appliances, usable with UK plug sockets? I am against using plug-in modules, purely because I think they look rather ugly.

    I have come across the Rako Pill product, which seems like it might offer a solution, but I am not sure whether it is suitable only for wall/ceiling lights, or whether it could be used for a plug socket?

    Some of the key features I am looking for are two-way comms (a must, as I want to be able to display status), as well as the ability to switch the appliance/lamp off locally.

    On the latter point, I have noticed some of the wire-in modules indicate that they can be operated locally using a momentary switch, which seems like a good solution; these seem to be widely available for wall switches, but does anyone know of a UK plug socket that has a momentary switch (or even if one can be retro-fitted)?

    Did you check PLCBUS ?

    The 2-way communication is not extra, as it still needs polling, but its working fine to display on/off status. The fast polling feature of Plcbus allows polling 16 modules in less than 1 second. It also works better if you don't have a 3-phase system that needs an additional repeater.


      Hi Stipus,

      Thanks for your reply - PLCBUS looks like it might be a good option; as you indicated, it has 2-way comms, and seems like it should be much more reliable than X10 (I have an old house, with old wiring).

      Has anyone used the PLCBUS micro modules in a UK plug socket (for lamp or appliance)? If so, was it successful, and is there anything I would need to be aware of when using this system?

      I gather it also supports a standard rocker switch for local switching (which would eliminate the need for a momentary switched plug socket), according to the product details from the UK distributor here:

      Does anyone know whether using a mechanical switch in this way will mean that I would have to turn it on again locally, before being able to control it remotely, or if the mechanical switch would simply be a toggle?

      Finally, I notice that the module indicates a neutral wire is required - whilst I intend to employ a professional to do the installation, are most UK homes wired with neutral wires? I gather that these are different to ground wires?

      Thanks again for your help!


        I think unfortunately you are going to struggle big time to be brutally honest.

        The inbuilt X10 sockets (WS10) have a very loud relay in them, don't support status request, you would sacrifice a double socket and in return get a single socket and some aftermarket sockets don't fit if you wanted to change them so i'll rule them out.

        ZWave don't appear to have any UK products that would help, only have plugin modules.

        I can't see a PLCBUS module (as nice as the features they have are) working either as the appliance micro module (which if you had deep enough backboxes I spose could be hidden behind a socket plate) is only rated at 4A and you would need a relay to get 13A...its gonna get a bit messy.

        The X10^2 plug in modules IMHO look a fair bit sexier than the old fashioned X10 modules, but I agree still not ideal...i've been creative in my place in that I have hidden them at all costs, I can't think that I have more than one module that is visible.

        The Rako Pill looks to be a dimmer unit only (Rako only do lighting control AFAIK) so that is not going to help.

        Its just the hand we have been dealt with in the UK unfortunately, there is not enough market/electrical regs in place to manufacture something like the ACT ZRR150W which looks to a be a US equivalent of what you are after. You are going to get closer to what your after on the lighting side of things, for sockets I think you are going to find it impossible.

        Sorry to give you the bad news...the other solution would be something hardwired like Idratek or CBUS - the latter comes with an eye watering price tag though!


          There is a heavy-duty Plcbus one load appliance micro module which supports up to 8A (resistive).



            Thanks for the info Mrhappy - this was essentially the reason I gave up a year ago, it just seemed like there were too few products available for the UK, which unfortunately still seems to be the case.

            It is unfortunate that someone doesn't manufacture wall sockets that look good for the UK - after all, there are a reasonable number of plugin modules, so we can assume that the technology exists, it is just about the aesthetics.

            I have been trying to avoid a solution that needs additional wiring, as I live in a very old house, with mostly solid walls, that is going to make tracking additional wires nigh on impossible.

            At this stage it looks like I will give up again, and maybe come back in another year to see if there are any new products - thanks again for your help!


              I think one problem also might be the lack of real estate in most UK backboxes, you have all the british standards to follow, plus 2 x ring main cables in there leaves you only a few mm to get creative and cram a relay and controller in.

              I've been thinking...what are the sort of appliances you intend to control from the sockets? I can't think that I have more than a couple appliances directly controlled from wall sockets due to most modern devices being a bit smart and if you turned them on/off from the wall they just go in and out of standby.

              Is there any chance you could built the micro modules into the appliances you intend to control?

              One thing i'm holding out for is they intend to (whether it ever gets made is another thing) produce very very small modules that can control a whole host of things, if that ended up talking to HS I would be happier than the proverbial.


                Putting a module on the individual lamp / appliance certainly seems like an option. My concern is primarily lamp modules - I have several freestanding lamps, where the plug is visible, making the plug-in modules not an option - do you know any products that would go in-line on a lamp and allow automatic or local switching, with 2-way communication?

                I am assuming that the module would replace the switch already on the lamp cord (assuming the switch is not on the lamp itself, in which case adding an extra switch is unavoidable with any solution)?

                What I would probably do here is either replace the current sockets with sockets that do not have switches (to prevent them being switched off, thus preventing automatic control) or hard-wire the lamps into the wall (like in a hotel).

                With reference to appliances, you make a valid point in that toggling the power would simply switch them in and out of standby; my plan would be to couple with an IR blaster, thus allowing the unit to be powered on and switched on by macro. This is not my primary concern at the present time however - that would be getting the lamps right.

                For reference, the Byron RF wall sockets look good and seem to be along the right lines in terms of features - the only thing they lack is 2-way comms, which means they will not work for my solution (I want the system to update if something is switched locally).

                Thanks again for all your help - if I can get a viable solution, I intend to put together a fairly extensive blog article about the various options available to UK users, which seems to be something that does not exist anywhere at the present time.


                  The only option I can see seems to be the PLCBUS micro module or the X10 LWM1 which supports status requests and local switching. Whilst i've not seen an off the shelf solution they are small enough to hide in something like a large footswitch which you could wire in line and then use the footswitch for local control.

                  I use a micro module in my bathroom with the pull cord used as the local control and it works well.

                  Good luck with the blog, there is little info out there for UK HA projects - there is one for a guy who did an Idratek install which might be worth a read if you have not seen it


                    I have several hallogen lamps, on which I have successfully placed a Plcbus micro-module inside the foot-switch. It was not that easy, but it fitted.


                      I've decided to finally bite the bullet, and rather than worry about trying to fit a micro module into a UK socket, i'm going to hard-wire the flex into the wall (probably via a Varilight Powergrid modular wall panel, with a 16A flex outlet and a momentary switch for local dimming), and put the micro module behind that.

                      My question now is simple - which micro module?

                      I can rule out the Rako pill, as it needs a minimum 60W load; since incandescent bulbs are all but impossible to get now, one (energy saving) bulb would need to be extremely powerful to meet that requirement.

                      Does anyone have experience of using either the Marmitek LWM1 or the PLC bus micro modules for dimming energy saving bulbs? Are there any other modules I should be considering?