Control Any Plug-in Light with a Wall Switch: A Quick Ikea Light Tweak

Post contains an affiliate link. If you go buy the awesome thing I am about to tell you about, I’ll get like 10 cents or something. Thanks for supporting Boxy Colonial!

I’m not sure I’ve ever been as excited to see a long weekend as I am right now. This whole school year promises to be extra crazy, between Dave doing his masters and Ari starting high school, and it hasn’t helped that the first few weekends of it have been totally consumed by driving all over the place getting travel trailer stuff taken care of and whatnot. It’s all good stuff, but it’s overwhelming. This weekend we have lots to do, but nothing that has to be done at a certain time or out of our house. So we have lots of long delayed and half finished projects to work on this weekend, which I hope will translate to lots to blog about over the next couple of weeks.

But today!

I have only a little thing to blog about. But it’s the sort of little thing that might change your life forever if, like me, you did not yet know it existed.

Remember the light fixture we bought for Abe’s (formerly lightless) closet?


It’s the Foto pendant light from Ikea, and it’s the kind that just plugs in, and you have to turn it on and off by plugging it in and unplugging it again. On one hand, this light was perfectly suited to our needs, because we weren’t going to deal with electricians and wiring and all that just to have a closet light. And because a closet is the best place for a light with a visible cord, because, well….it’s a closet, and the cord can hide right by the door and never be seen except by people who are actually in the closet. But it’s also a pain and not the safest situation in a toddler room, because Abe started wanting to plug it in himself almost immediately. Because he wants to do everything himself.

Then Dave chatted with a guy at Home Depot, who told him about this AMAZING invention, whereby one can turn ones plug in Ikea (or other store) light fixture into one that operates with a (remote control) switch. No wiring required! As if by MAGIC!

It’s called a wireless wall switch remote, and we ordered it for around $20 from Amazon. You can use it to control any outlet, so it would also work for a lamp you want to turn on as you enter a room, or, I dunno, if maybe you want to have a CD player start up the Imperial March whenever you come in. The possibilities are limitless!

Okay, so here’s the thing we bought:

wall switch remote light control

It operates on a 12 volt battery, which is included in the package (the info on Amazon says the battery lasts 10,000 hours), and it says it will work up to 100 feet (our outlet’s only about 4 feet from where we hung the switch, so I can’t say whether that’s accurate).

Then all you do is plug the thing with the battery into the outlet and plug whatever it is you want to control with the switch into that:


And then hang the switch/remote on the wall. This was actually the trickiest part, because the screws it comes with are TEENY, and we had to break out the drill and tiny drill bits. One could probably use command strips to hang it up, too, if one did not want to mess around with tiny screws.

And then it looks (and functions) just like a regular wall switch!


So easy even a toddler can do it!


(or you could hang it high enough that your toddler can’t reach. Bonus!)

I should also mention that it emits some kind of frequency that attracts cats. We’ve never seen this cat before; she just turned up as soon as I plugged the box in:


I’m only kidding! That’s our cat, Athena. You have to read all the way to the end of the posts here at Boxy Colonial, because that’s where I put the really bizarre jokes.

So, in short, this remote light switch thing is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. Or, well, it’s nice at least. It’s like Abe has a REAL closet light now! (I should mention that the light fixture itself was $15, so the thing to convert it so it would operate on a switch was more than the light itself. But still only around $35 now to take Abe’s closet from totally dark to having a wall operated light fixture).

Find out how to convert any plug in lamp or light fixture to one that works  with a wall switch! Easy and inexpensive, with no wiring required!


Control Any Plug-in Light with a Wall Switch: A Quick Ikea Light Tweak — 20 Comments

    • Well, I’m glad you didn’t know….I was a little worried I’d post this and everyone would say, “duh. We’ve had those all over our house for years.” 🙂

  1. A number of years ago, we installed a controller that was similar (different brand, I think) and it worked but it buzzed annoyingly all the time. We returned the first one & got a replacement but it also buzzed audibly so we gave up. Either your brand does a quieter job or the technology has been improved. Glad to learn that silent (to all but cats!) remote controller is available.

    • oh, that sounds terrible! Yes, thankfully no buzzing at all with this one! I’ve noticed baby monitors have improved a ton since my first baby, too. Maybe the same people are working on it 🙂

  2. Hmmm. I sort of vaguely knew such things existed, but I sort of vaguely thought they were more expensive. Now I must think where I could use such a thing. (If I get around to installing a light in my dark dark cave of a hall closet it will be a battery light because there is no outlet anywhere near.)
    More Athena, please! She’s a star.

  3. Option B… Motion sensor in the closet. Open door, turn on light, close door, no more motion, light turns off in 5 minutes. This was our basement solution. I was equally excited about it when we did it.

      • Actually our problem in the basement is that the light is over the stairs, but has no lower switch. Its right after the TV show gets interesting that the lights turn off, and then you are in your comfy chair in the dark, and wondering where the dog is that a kid starts running around upstairs or you NEED a snack, etc. and now you have to get out of the basement without tripping over the dog, the coffee table, stepping on legos or knocking over your partner’s TV tray.

        We put a side table with a lamp on it next to the couch.

    • right?! I went and read some reviews (umm….AFTER buying it and being perfectly happy with it), and some people pointed out that you can really only use one in your house or they’ll interfere with each other. which actually could be helpful if, say, you’re on the Brady Bunch, and your parents are trying to sell the house, and you want to make potential buyers think it’s haunted. And now I’m really sad that I didn’t read the reviews before I wrote the post, because I totally missed a chance to stick in a Brady Bunch reference!

  4. Wow! I wish I would have thought of that! I was telling Nick that we needed it for our patio outlet (you know when we eventually get fancy lights out there), and he was very unimpressed. He apparently knew these things existed. Thanks for letting me know about this so I could get on the same page as my husband for our exterior patio situation.

    • ha! It seems like everyone should already know these exist–and yet many people seem to have shared my ignorance. This post is pretty much a public service announcement.

  5. This looks like the solution to a long standing problem we’ve had with our nightstand lamp. It doesn’t have a switch so we have to plug it in to turn it on (which is a tall task when it’s pitch black). To be able to put a switch at bed-height is going to make life so much more pleasant. Thanks for this!

  6. Can you use more than one lamp with it so several turn on at once? I hate the overhead light in my office so I have several lamps. It’s annoying to turn and off on 5 lamps at a time!

    • hmm…I’m not sure that would work, because you have to plug into the outlet…but maybe there’s a way to set it up? I would just worry about overloading something, so I guess I’d say maybe write to the manufacturer to find out if there’s a safe way to do it.

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