Installing a WS12A X10 Decorator Style 3-Way Dimmer

Ok so I lied in my first article on X10: I'm sticking with it. Insteon is unfortunately still out of my price range for a house I don't own (I don't want to have to rip everything out of the walls when I leave). X10, for that matter, is out of my price range - it seems in the year since I've ordered some sort of price fixing has gone on with at least switch modules. What used to be a $9 dimmer now costs $20 shipped, and the WS13A 20A wall switches now cost upward of $30.

Patent fscking thievery if you ask me.

The rest of my switches and security system are on their way so those will have to wait for another time. Interesting to note that alibaba has all sorts of neat Chinese x10 shit that should be available on 60Hz but isn't.

First switch to go is bedroom lighting. This is the obvious first choice, since dimmers:

  • Set the mood for sexytime
  • Protect your eyes from your hangover
  • Gently turn the lights on from bed so you can take a leak without stepping on the cat

Electrical tape around the switch. I can see this was installed by the same person who did my decorative phone jack.

As you can see there's not a hell of a lot of space in there to work with, made worse by the use of a four-wire nut for a two-wire connection.

You can either cut the excess wire or if you're a masochist like me you can un-bend it and try shoving it back up out of the electrical box. I try to take the least destructive route whenever possible but depending on how well the Romex is secured outside of the electrical box this may not be an option.

Now that we're all nice and tidy connect the blue wire of the switch to the "live" wire, which is the hot that comes from the breaker. Connect the black wire to the hot that goes to the fixture.

The red wire would be connected to a companion switch if we wanted to take advantage of three-way switching but unless the third wire has already been run between the two electrical boxes it is probably easier and more economical to simply use a wireless switch at the other location to achieve the same effect. Cap the red wire with a wire nut so it doesn't come into contact with ground.

Don't forget to set your house and device code under the paddle switch. I really hate these one-pole switches, particularly the fact that at first glance the toggles look like they provide two-way dimming functionality. Sadly, their Insteon equivalents start at $50 per unit.



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