Is it “a live”?

Before you go into full blown home automation, we need to have a basic understanding of wire circuitry at home.

Prior to that, let’s do a little time travel – Singapore is former British colony because of a certain Sir Stamford Raffles who supposedly stepped onto our shores… the rest, as they say, is history. Like literally.

But that also means there is a lot of British influences here – our legal system, highway codes, street signs, Language, food/candy (bet you didn’t know Polo mints is one of them), and of course, our electrical wiring systems.

Back to basics

Let’s get back to basics so that we’re on the same page. In order to understand electricity, we need a little bit of Primary school science.

Remember your wiring diagram? A battery, a switch and a bulb? No? Here’s something to refresh your memory.

Basic Physics 101 to jog your memory.

Actual Wiring At Home

Unfortunately things aren’t that simple, as with all things in life. If you opened up your light switches at home, you’ll notice some wires in there, probably some brown ones and a green/yellow one. Now it is imperative that you recognize what these wires are – you don’t have to memorise them now, but bookmark this page so that you can come back and re-read this once you need the information again.

The typical (UK-type) household wiring looks like that:

Typical UK Household wiring diagram
Typical UK Household wiring diagram

While most of these are largely similar, there are different types of wiring, for example, in the US.

Schematically, this is what it looks like with the live and Neutral wires:

What it looks like at home with Live and Neutral wires.

When you open up the light switch box, you would see a few wires. Essentially you want to do is to replace the Light Switch with a Smart Switch, so that it can remotely trigger the lights. Take note of what is inside the box – 99% of the time, you will see LIVE wires (brown) and EARTH wires (green) to the metal case (if it is a metal case), like this:

Live and Earth wires found typically behind the light switch in Singapore/UK/HK

Remember this, because you will be tested.

OK, you’re not going to be tested, but this information is important because you will need it later.

There are only LIVE and EARTH wires by default.

There is NO NEUTRAL wires.

That’s it for today!

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