Using Arduino as a switch to control high power light strip

Hi, I am relatively new to Arduino and am doing a home project using the microcontroller to control the activation of a 96W light strip. The light strip will be plugged into the wall and I want to use the arduino to complete the wall-to-light circuit at specified times. As this is a high power device, I understand that I may need to use a transistor of some sort but am very lost as to what type of transistor or if there is an easier solution that exists.

Extra information:
The light strip I am using has a switch built in to the wall plug (three prong plug). I took apart the switch box and found that the switch was completing what I believe to be the 'neutral' wire of the three prong circuit.

marshallmccraw:
Hi, I am relatively new to Arduino and am doing a home project using the microcontroller to control the activation of a 96W light strip. The light strip will be plugged into the wall and I want to use the arduino to complete the wall-to-light circuit at specified times. As this is a high power device, I understand that I may need to use a transistor of some sort but am very lost as to what type of transistor or if there is an easier solution that exists.

Extra information:
The light strip I am using has a switch built in to the wall plug (three prong plug). I took apart the switch box and found that the switch was completing what I believe to be the 'neutral' wire of the three prong circuit.

If you are in North America, the neutral wire will be white color and will connect to the silvery prong of the plug. The hot wire will be black and will connect to the brass colored prong of the plug.

If we can assume you are using AC at your plug, you DO NOT want to use a transistor. Use a relay that is designed to switch your mains voltage and control the relay from your Arduino.

Since you have opened the factory made box, you are now liable for any fire, injury, etc, your project may cause.

Paul

As this is a high power device, I understand that I may need to use a transistor of some sort but am very lost as to what type of transistor or if there is an easier solution that exists.

No, not just a transistor. Transistors don’t work on AC (at least not a single transistor) and you need electrical isolation. There should be NO electrical connection between the low-voltage Arduino and the power line.

You need a relay. A relay is an electrically-controlled, electrically isolated switch.

The easiest and “safest” solution is to use [u]this[/u]. (It has a relay and some other circuitry built-in).

Or, an “industrial type” solid state relay [u]like this[/u] is pretty easy to wire-up (screw terminals), easy to mount, and can be controlled directly by the Arduino’s 5V output.

Regular (electro-mechanical) relays need a driver circuit to boost the Arduino’s current (and sometimes voltage) output to drive the relay coil. But you can get relay boards with a built-in driver.

I took apart the switch box and found that the switch was completing what I believe to be the ‘neutral’ wire of the three prong circuit.

It should be switching the hot side (or both sides), but that’s not super-critical unless something “goes wrong”.

Hello marshallmccraw,
Welcome to the forum.

I hate having to say this because I hate having to quash people's enthusiasm; Please don't do this project. It is quite obvious from your question and comments that you do not know enough about electricity to work with mains safely.

Please work on a low voltage project, build up your knowledge up to the point where you know why I am saying this.

Don't lose interest because I've said this and don't lose your life by ignoring my advice.

Good luck.

PerryBebbington:
It is quite obvious from your question and comments that you do not know enough about electricity to work with mains safely.

+1 for that aphorism.

“If you knew enough to do it safely, you would not need to ask this question.” You would need both instruction and supervision to perform this task, we can probably provide sufficient of the first, but not with confidence and can not provide the second.

All,

Thank you for the guidance, I have decided to take the safest route to finishing this project:

I am using a new wall plug with a large mechanical switch which I will actuate using a servo. I am very comfortable using servos and this will allow me to toggle the lights on and off without making a circuit. I have taken your advice and read up on the subject which has really helped elucidate some issues with other projects.

Thanks!