Remote controls can turn on room lights and even many appliances. You can buy hand-held, infrared remotes that work just like a television remote to dim and operate lights, ceiling fans—even window shades—from your easy chair or bedside. Or you can utilize any of several different “wireless” systems that use a combination of transmitter/receiver technology and your home’s wiring to give you increased control. Most of these are based on the X-10 Powerhouse system that has been in use for several years.
Radio Shack, for example, offers the Plug ’n Power system, which utilizes a range of different plug-in modules that receive signals from a remote control or switch. With these, you can control living room lighting, televisions, stereos, ceiling fans, and the like from the control. You can accessorize the system with hand-held controls, keychain remotes, security consoles, a set-back thermostat, and even a telephone responder that lets you control the system by phone.
Leviton also has an in-wall system based on X-10 protocol that offers all-lights-on security lighting at the touch of a button, centralized switching, and thermostat control. The nice thing about these systems is that you don’t have to do any special wiring—they work with what you have.
Lamsom Home Products makes a wireless ceiling fixture switch that will turn on any overhead incandescent light or ceiling fan from up to 50 feet away; a wireless wall switch that will turn on a lamp, television, or similar appliance; and a wireless three-way switch for hallways and stairways where wiring isn’t set up for control from both ends.