Remote Control Power Strip




Introduction: Remote Control Power Strip

Ever wanted to instantly turn off any light or appliance from afar? Tired of bending over to unplug cool x-mas lights in your dorm room? Me too! This instructable will show you how to make a remote control power strip so you can control any socket, from across a room with the touch of a button!

Step 1: What You'll Need...

This project can take many different forms but here are the parts which I used for mine.

-3 wall outlet sockets (about a buck each)
-1 normal power strip ($10)
- 6 3A 120VAC relays (at DigiKey here $1.8 each)
NOTE: 3A at 120VAC is 360 Watts per socket. If you are interested in remotely controlling a microwave or hair-dryer think about investing a few extra bucks in bigger relays.
- 1 SIS-7C chip from the nice people at Simerec ($19.95)
- 1 IR receiver from Simerec. ($2.99)
- 1 universal remote. I used this one (2$)
- Solid 18AWG hookup wire.
- Perf-board
- Any kind of small AWG signal wire.
- 12 ft of insulated wrapping wire.
- Some sort of housing big enough to fit all your stuff. I used a generic Radio Shack one.
- 1 120VAC to DC 5-6 volt converter that outputs at least 400mA.
- if you are adventurous you can build your own power supply! See step 4 for parts and schematic.

My total: $40-50 depending on what you can scrounge.


- Soldering iron and solder
- Protective eye wear!
- Wire cutter/stripper
- Plyers
- Multi-meter
- Electric tape

Optional but HIGHLY recommended:

- "Third hand" to help with soldering
- Some sort of digital logic board or similar proto-board/breadboard

Please see the last step for additional ideas before starting on your project too!

Step 2: The Basic Idea

The wonderful people at Simerec provide an amazing assortment of IR solutions for different projects. I originally came across their site after reading this insctructable and was pleased to find they already had an example of a power switching application called The Zapper. It controls one socket and is a little pricey. This is a proof of concept of how to use their SIS-7C chip to build your own remote controlled power strip with 6 sockets!

For this project we will be using the Simerec SIS-7C chip which allows up to 7 different logic outputs (of which we will only be using 6) in order to control our relays that will in turn switch on/off power to our sockets. The SIS-7C cannot run on wall current so we will also need to add an internal power supply for the small electronics. The current output from each of the SIS's output pins is sufficient to drive each of our 5V relays so there is no need for any other intermediate switches! YAY less soldering! The SIS-7C also allows a mode for logic switching so there is no need for extra logic flip-flops! YAY again!

Here is a concept design which I sketched out in chalk before starting. It uses output 7 from the SIS-7C to control one socket via a remote. I'm pretty sure the pin-outs are correct but always triple check each connection with the appropriate datasheet before turning on the juice!

Step 3: Programming the SIS-7C

Programming the chip is super easy and is outlined on the second page of the SIS-7C's datasheet here.

You will definitely need a multimeter or other way of figuring out when the "Program Status" (pin 3) pin goes "high." I had the luxury of using a digital lab with LED logic indicators (shhhh, don't tell the CS department) but the layman will just have to use a DC voltmeter.

1. Setup the IR reciever and SIS-7C on a proto-board.

2. Setup a voltmeter to watch pin 3.

3. Momentarily ground pin 12 (the "Learn" pin) and you should see about 5VDC come up on pin 3 very soon.

4. If this happens, you're golden and you should continue to follow the instructions on the datasheet. If pin 3 does not go high, it's debugging time.

Step 4: Prepping the Sockets and Little Tips From Safety Bob...

Each wall outlet has two sockets that are normally connected to the same inputs. But most are equipped with easy to remove connectors, turning each outlet into two independent sockets to be controlled by different buttons on our remote. Each of our relays is rated for 3A, which is plenty for most single socket lights or appliances. If you plan on keeping each socket on the same circuit (i.e. two sockets or per relay), plan accordingly by getting bigger relays and using a larger gauge hookup wire. Always remember to never draw more than 15A through anything, ever.

Safety Bob says...

Wall currents are VERY dangerous. You may die if you ever come in contact with a live socket so always take the greatest care around live wires. Don't touch anything if it's "hot." Always unplug anything before handling it. Another tip I got from my electrician is never touch anything with two hands. If you are electrocuted while touching something with two hands, the current is much more likely to involve one arm, your heart, and your other arm. Getting electrocuted through one finger will hurt, a lot, and you will probably need to go to the hospital... but I know I'd rather take a trip in an ambulance than a hearse.

Step 5: Build/ Test Your Power Supply

If you are building a power supply please see the schematic/ parts list below. This design worked fine for me. Thanks Tim!

If you were lucky enough to find a wall wart power supply lying around, also test that it is working but wait to dismantle it because it might be more convenient to keep it in its plastic housing depending on how small it is.

Below I soldered the two leads of my transformer to each side of the power track. The secondary coil, or leads with lower voltage, are then piped into the rectifier and regulator setup.

Read on if you want to learn a little about how a power supply works:

AC to DC power supplies do 4 incredibly important things in those tiny, ugly, black boxes.

1. They step down your high 120VAC (for US) to a reasonable number, in our case between 6 and 12 ideally.

2. A cooperation of diodes (electrical one way valves) forces this stepped down AC current into a very sloppy DC current so that our small DC electronics can use it! This is also called a rectifier and can be bought as a separate component.

3. Capacitors smooth this bumpy current.

4. A voltage regulator or zener diode trims whatever small, slightly bumpy, DC voltage you now have down to a much smoother and lower voltage current.


Parts list for +5v power supply
- 1 Transformer, 120VAC to 6-12 VDC
- 4 1N4001 Diodes
- 1 470uF Electrolytic Capacitor
- 2 .1uF 100VDC Metal Poly Capacitors
- 1 LM7805 Voltage Regulator

Step 6: Construction

I soldered each relay to a piece of perfboard and then used the small holes on the back of each outlet to hold the leads of the power wire in place. In order to save a lot of time I used the "power track" of the power strip I destroyed to hold the 120VAC leads from each socket-relay pair.

In the final project I used outputs 1-6 of the SIS-7C to control each socket. Make sure that you wire pin 13 or the "Mode Select" pin to ground (conveniently pin 14). This allows each output to act as a toggle so the circuit won't switch off when you release the button on the remote control.

In order for the IR receiver to be "seen" by the remote it obviously has to be visible and not hiding under your desk or table. This is what the insulated wrapping wire is for. Connect about 4 ft of wire to each lead on the IR receiver and twirl it around until it forms a simple signal cord. This was made much easier by hanging a wrench or something heavy on the end of the wires and spinning that around. Make sure to keep track of which wire is which before twirling so you can properly hook it up after your done.

It is handy to program the SIS-7C before soldering it into its final resting place but in case it loses its memory or if I want to reprogram it, I added a couple dead wires to the "Learn" and "Program Status" pins.

Step 7: Testing!

Now for the fun part! Plug something in and flip it on and off for hours from across the room without ever having to bend over and risk hurting your back! I seriously spent 20 minutes turning all 3 lights in my room on and off once I was done. Super fun.

Happy building!!!

Here is a video of the working (but not quite finished) project in action!

Step 8: Improvements and To-do's

I made this section specifically because of all the ideas I had that I couldn't follow through on because of laziness, poorness, and lack of car or time or the proper equipment. Feel free to add them in to your project! Happy building!

1. Indicator LED's to show whether or not a socket is switched on or off.
2. Indicator LED hooked up to the "Program Status" pin and a pushbutton connecting the "Learn" pin to ground for easier reprogramming.
3. This really should be number one. FUSES!!! My power strip had a built in 15A fuse but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to add fuses where you deem necessary. Like if your power supply's transformer output is pretty low. Or if you plan on switching anything close to 3A.
4. Cover. I don't have the equipment in my dorm to cut the holes that I wanted in order to properly install most everything, so for right now the components just sit in the project box.
5. Also, I have yet to ground the actual sockets but that should take about 20 minutes. Normal lights don't need to be grounded but it's a good idea to do it anyway in case one of the sockets gets energized from sloppy construction.
6. Because the relays are inductive loads for the SIS-7C it would be a good idea to attach signal diodes to all the outputs. I asked Simerec about this and they said "you should have a diode across inductive loads if driving directly from the chip pin." Another option of course is to use a signal NPN transistor to control the relay.

Please send me your comments and suggestions so I can add to this list!

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    35 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    A nice and safe alternative is to use a Wattstopper power unit which is UL approved, has zero voltage switching and as a bonus has DC output at about 150 mA to power your controller. One such unit (B-120 EP) is available from Amazon for about $15. - Enjoy.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    My Version:


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Cant I use any other IR reciever other than SIMEREC IR reciever
    one more thing is there any alternative for this superb IC

    Simerec states the chip can provide up to 25mA per output pin. The relay coil current is 40 mA. Are you not exceeding the Simerec chip's specifications? 


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes. Either way, relays should never be connected directly to the output of an IC, unless is it is designed to. The standard practice is to use a transistor and flyback diode as protection.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I took your example here and simplified down to two outlets. Check out the finished product. I went with snubberless sensitive gate triacs for the power switching. I think safely each outlet can handle at least 500watts in the current config. The triacs are isolated from the "Simerec chip" (Really a PIC with some ok code on it) by MOC3010's The effect is that the PIC only sees the load of an LED on it's pins.



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice looking project. You might consider non-conductive components for this as well as a ground-fault receptacle for the first outlet in the chain. I always try to minimize the number of conductive paths when I make up a box like this. My thinking is along the line that it may be always raining, and I have to use this outside in the rain in the worst case. That way I don't get caught "short" when I pick it up :)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I appreciate the comments. There's alot of room for improvement. I don't think it'll ever make it out in to the elements. But the grounds are good and solid in the device. I'll try to post something with more complete pictures to show the internal construction.


    11 years ago on Step 8

    Nice gadget.

    Re: step 4
    If you are electrocuted, you will have no need to worry about tomorrow. When one receives a *lethal* dose of electric shock, it is termed an electrocution -- death.
    e·lec·tro·cute (ĭ-lěk'trə-kyōōt') Pronunciation Key
    tr.v. e·lec·tro·cut·ed, e·lec·tro·cut·ing, e·lec·tro·cutes
    1. To kill with electricity: a worker who was electrocuted by a high-tension wire.
    2. To execute (a condemned prisoner) by means of electricity.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 8

    Re: #1

    Does it help if you loosen off the tension?

    *waiting for the slap while I'm LMAO*


    10 years ago on Step 1

    I'd like to do this to control the lights in my room, but 20 bucks for one chip? I don't think so.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 1

    If you're into microcontrollers you could probably get by with an MCU and IR receiver for ~$5.


    10 years ago on Step 2

    Schematic on a black board... I like it.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Is it just a matter of replacing the relays to beef up the amperage? I want to use something like this on a 12.5-amp/120V Dust collector, and I think the replacement relay would be the 15amp variant of this one (@digikey)

    Am I about to kill myself?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    are there any other components other than the SIS-7C that i can use because i live in the Philippines and my parents doesn't like buying online and i can't find it here. Thanks i don't mind if they are circuit boards


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Nice idea, I've seen those remote-controlled sockets you can buy and thought that they were pretty limited (one socket per socket!!!), so having them as a single strip is useful... :) One thought though (and although I'm British, I'm learning about US electrics through experimentation of my own), you only need to break off the tabs on one side of the sockets, usually the Live (or Hot as you call it) tab, the Neutral (Cold I guess!!!) side can be left joined together, reducing the need for lots of wire, as its only the Live side that needs to be switched on and off, the Neutral can just go straight back to the input... :) Also, don't be fooled by the idea that the "Cold" wire is safe to touch, it is not, AC current goes back and forth, so touch the cold wire and ground and you still end up receiving a shock, and I should know cos I have done it thinking the same thing!!! :Z


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    The Neutral wire is connected to the ground at the service panel, but if anything is using power coming on the same cable, it will have some voltage with respect of ground. You only have to break the tab on the Neutral (Wider blade) side of the plug if there are two completely separate circuits coming to each half of the outlet. This is often used for lamps, where the top, (or bottom) half is switched by the light switch, while the other half is not switched. I personally have never come across any outlet that needed the Neutral tab broken off.