low voltage switch replacement?

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Old 07-25-03, 11:18 AM
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low voltage switch replacement?

Hello,

I bought a house and it has what I think are low voltage switches for several lights in the house. I think originally these were connected to some kind of flourescent lighting. Now the lights have been replaced with incandescent fixtures (a fan and a single-bulb ceiling light).

The switches all appear to work fine, but I'm considering replacing them with the "standard" type toggle switches. The current switches are a sort of flat rocker switch which when pressed on one side turns the light on and when pressed on the other, turns it off (they appear to be made by GE).

Also, when the switches are hit, there is a distinct "clunk" sound that comes from the attic--I assume this is some sort of a ballast for the flourescent?

I'm wondering about the following:

1. Is it a potential hazard for these switches to be hooked to the incandescent fixtures?

2. Can I replace them with standard switches?

3. If I can replace them, do I have to remove that ballast or whatever it is that "clunks" when the switch is flipped?
 
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Old 07-25-03, 11:42 AM
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Do they look like these? http://www.leviton.com/pdfs/decora/D...20Switches.pdf
These could be low voltage or line voltage. Can you open the box and tell us what the switch looks like from inside?
 
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Old 07-25-03, 12:05 PM
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Hi again,

Thanks for replying to my question! I looked at that site and they are different from the switches illustrated there. I took off the faceplate and looked around inside again. I'll try to provide a better description.

There are two switches. Both rock from side to side (rather than up and down). Inside the faceplate is a bracket that is mounted so that there is a switch in one hole on the top, a blank square in the middle, and another switch on the bottom. Upon pushing one side of a switch, I hear the click in the ceiling, the light comes on and the switch returns to a middle position.

Inside the wall there are smaller diameter wires than what I am used to seeing going into a switch or outlet. They are red, white, and black and go into each of the two switches.

I just found a small inscription on the front side of the switch bracket and it says,

3A 25V (3 amp, 25 volt, I assume?)

On the back of the faceplate (which looks like it was made for this particular type of switch) it says, "General Electric."

Thanks again for the help!
 
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Old 07-25-03, 01:44 PM
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You have a G-E low-voltage "remote-control" system with uses 25 volt "Latching" relays for switching fixtures On/Off. It's usefull for controlling 480/277 volt flourescent fixtures. The contact-circuit which Opens/Closes the fixture-circuit is isolated from the low-voltage switch contacts. The "Click" you hear is the relay "Latching" On & Off.
 
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Old 07-25-03, 01:58 PM
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What is your motivation for replacing the switches?
THose date back to the 60's, and are out of date now.
Without a distinct reason for replacment, I would say "if it ain't broke don't fix-it" which is generally contradictory to what I actually do in practice!

Bottom line, you would need to install the proper size of Romex cable to the the ceiling fixture from the new "ordinary" switch. lights controlled from multiple switches require 3-way and sometimes 4-way switches, daisy-chained with 3-wire cable.

gj
 
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Old 07-25-03, 07:40 PM
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Thanks very much to you all for getting back to me about this! I had a feeling that these were pretty dated, but just wasn't sure of how much. One of the former owners (I'm guessing 2-3 owners before me) was an electrician and he really liked flourescents. Apparently someone after him switched to the incandescents.

As long as its not dangerous to have the incandescents running from the switches (is it?), my real motivation for replacing them was cosmetic (one of them is missing a faceplate). If its seems safe, maybe I'll hold off on replacing them and instead make a new faceplate by cutting holes in a solid one. But, are these things hazardous?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 07-26-03, 08:41 AM
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"Are these "things" hazardous?"----No. In commercial locations they are used for controlling fixtures equipped with hi-voltage ballasts. There is 25 volts at the control-switch instead of 277 volts.
 
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Old 07-26-03, 09:54 AM
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Thanks PATBAA. I'm going to leave them "as is" for the time being until I can get enough other projects complete and can rewire the area. If I could just find replacements for the switches themselves, I'd probably just replace them and leave the rest alone (old switches are cracked and stained from years of use). But, it sounds like I may have to make do with these for a while.

Thanks for all the help!
 
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