low voltage light switch for old house

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Old 02-04-09, 05:19 PM
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Cool low voltage light switch for old house

I'm trying to find an outlet that sells low voltage paddle switches for a home build in 1953. Does anyone know of any such store where I might find this?
 
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Old 02-04-09, 07:26 PM
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If it is just a regular switch (SPST) a regular light switch will work just fine.
 
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Old 02-04-09, 08:45 PM
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I already answered this question when you posted in the lighting forum. It is highly unlikely that you will find any of the momentary contact low voltage relay control switches in a retail outlet. You need to contact an electrical supply house that deals in commercial and industrial systems.

You might be able to find one at a really old-time hardware store in your immediate area. I was able to find one style at such a store in my area but I don't know if they still have any as it was some fifteen or more years ago. If you post a picture of the switch you are trying to replace I may be able to give you a suggestion.
 
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Old 02-05-09, 10:16 AM
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Are you sure it is the switch? You have verified the control module works by touching the two wires at the switch together. I know you probably have but just covering all the bases.
 
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Old 02-05-09, 01:08 PM
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Ray, there are actually three conductors at the switch; a power, an "off" signal and an "on" signal. The three conductors were usually about #20 stranded in a three-wire "zip" cord format. The entire "system" consists of a 24 volt (secondary) transformer and relays that have dual coils in a latching contact arrangement. Sometimes a full-wave rectifier was installed in the transformer secondary and the relays were operated on direct current. Some of the switches had indicator lights and the corresponding relays had auxiliary contacts for the indicator lights.

I may still have a couple of relays, switches and cable around here but it would take some time to dig them out. If I can, I'll post some pictures.
 
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Old 02-05-09, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by furd View Post
Ray, there are actually three conductors at the switch; a power, an "off" signal and an "on" signal. The three conductors were usually about #20 stranded in a three-wire "zip" cord format. The entire "system" consists of a 24 volt (secondary) transformer and relays that have dual coils in a latching contact arrangement. Sometimes a full-wave rectifier was installed in the transformer secondary and the relays were operated on direct current. Some of the switches had indicator lights and the corresponding relays had auxiliary contacts for the indicator lights.

I may still have a couple of relays, switches and cable around here but it would take some time to dig them out. If I can, I'll post some pictures.
Thank you. Always like to learn. Charlie Calabre, please ignore my posts.
 
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Old 02-05-09, 03:41 PM
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For more info, see GE RR7 relays. They latch a SPST on with one wire to common, and they latch it off with the other wire to common. Still in use to this day, after more than 50 years.
 
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Old 02-05-09, 05:21 PM
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Try Dale Electric: Dale Electric Supply Co. - Since 1947 - Wholesale and Retail Electrical Supplies

Those GE 24-V relays and switches are obsolete (and rightfully so) - they're not cheap. They were a bright idea that never took off. You and I are stuck with them.
Doug
 
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Old 02-05-09, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Charlie Calabre View Post
I'm trying to find an outlet that sells low voltage paddle switches for a home build in 1953. Does anyone know of any such store where I might find this?
I know you send me the PM note and somehow I found a stanard toggle switch format

This is a Pass And Syemour part number TM811DTM

this is relivty new switch just came out some time back so I do not know the cost wise it will be unless you check with electrical supply centre due I am pretty sure most big box store may not stock this item at all.

here the other item you may want this

LEVITON MANUFACTURING - 1257-I - Dale Electric Supply Co.

this supply centre may have few diffrent style you want so give them a buzz to see what they can come up to your needs

Merci,Marc
 

Last edited by french277V; 02-05-09 at 10:41 PM. Reason: add more info
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Old 02-06-09, 04:24 AM
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Originally Posted by gilmorrie View Post
Those GE 24-V relays and switches are obsolete (and rightfully so) - they're not cheap. They were a bright idea that never took off. You and I are stuck with them.
Doug
I respectfully beg to differ. The relays are still being manufactured and are still available.
 
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Old 02-06-09, 08:30 AM
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Nope, not at all obsolete. I gave a real quick look last night but I couldn't find any in my garage. They were made by Sola but had the same specifications as the GE relays. Several manufacturers made (and still make the relays and switches. I had a (new at the time) solid state sequencer in my previous house that turned off all the lights sequentially, it was fun to click the switch and watch something like eighteen different light fixtures click off in succession.

But I repeat, you will NOT find any of the system parts in a home center.

Here's a link you may find helpful.

Inspection & Repair Guide for Low Voltage Building Wiring & Lighting Systems
 
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Old 02-06-09, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick Johnston View Post
I respectfully beg to differ. The relays are still being manufactured and are still available.
Yes, but in my opinion the concept is obsolete - I can't imagine new residential installations using the idea. Can you? And, the replacement costs, including the plastic switch plates, are very high.

I didn't say that the relays, etc. aren't still available (although from limited sources and at somewhat ridiculous prices). In my response to the questioner, I gave him a source for purchasing them.

General Electric, the original promoter of this concept for residential installations, essentially backed away from it years ago.

I have that low-voltage system in my early-1950s house. I feel like I know of what I speak.
Doug
 

Last edited by gilmorrie; 02-06-09 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 02-06-09, 09:58 AM
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I retrofitted my early fifties house to use the relay-controlled lighting and I was quite pleased with it. Of course I was able to get most of the relays, enclosure, wire, control switches and such either free or for surplus prices.

It was a bit silly considering the house was less than 1,000 square feet and all on one level but it was also a lot of fun to be able to control the lights from several locations and the master control switches made it really easy to turn everything off when leaving or going to bed. Since I still had a few relays, switches and control wire (and also the possibility of getting some more parts at bargain prices) I briefly considered doing the same when I moved to my present house but ultimately decided against it because there was just no real need for such control.

So I'll agree with Doug that it's not the most economically practical thing in a residence, providing that residence isn't a multi-floor mega mansion. On the other hand, it isn't much different from the fancy-schmancy "scene" lighting schemes being done in some of the high-end (pricewise) homes built today.
 
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Old 02-06-09, 02:30 PM
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And, there is no way to install a conventional dimmer switch. Or a timer switch. Or a light-activated switch. Or lighted switches. Or....
Doug
 
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Old 02-06-09, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
If it is just a regular switch (SPST) a regular light switch will work just fine.
No. The G.E. low-voltage system uses momentary contact switches. A regular switch will leave the relay energized, causing it to buzz and burn out.
Doug
 
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Old 02-06-09, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
I

here the other item you may want this

LEVITON MANUFACTURING - 1257-I - Dale Electric Supply Co.
for your needs
Merci,Marc
Nope, that is a 120-V switch. For the old G.E. low voltage system, it has to be a single-pole, double-throw, momentary contact switch.
Doug
 
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Old 02-06-09, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by gilmorrie View Post
Nope, that is a 120-V switch. For the old G.E. low voltage system, it has to be a single-pole, double-throw, momentary contact switch.
Doug
Googeling the term - spdt+"momentary contact" - comes up with lots of medium voltage switches but the prices are shocking. If that is truly what you need if it were me I'd buy a couple of spst low voltage momentary contact switches from some place like Radio Shack and mount them vertically on a blank cover plate.
 
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Old 02-06-09, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Googeling the term - spdt+"momentary contact" - comes up with lots of medium voltage switches but the prices are shocking. If that is truly what you need if it were me I'd buy a couple of spst low voltage momentary contact switches from some place like Radio Shack and mount them vertically on a blank cover plate.
Your idea would work. But, my wife might object to the appearance.

So then, I'm stuck with buying these replacement devices:

G.E. RR7 relay @ $37.53 each: GE INDUSTRIAL SYSTEMS - RR7P3 - Dale Electric Supply Co. (Get several, they tend to burn out.)

Plastic switch plate @ $39.83 each: GE INDUSTRIAL SYSTEMS - RR7BAN - Dale Electric Supply Co.

Low-voltage rocker switch @ $7.52 each: GE INDUSTRIAL SYSTEMS - RS2-37 - Dale Electric Supply Co. (Get several, they shoot craps too.)

When I previously said this 60-year-old system was obsolete, I ought to have said that it should have been considered obsolete when it was first introduced!
Doug
 
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Old 02-06-09, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by gilmorrie View Post
Yes, but in my opinion the concept is obsolete - I can't imagine new residential installations using the idea. Can you?
Yes. The company I work for installs them every day. Mostly for commercial establishments, but the lines between commercial and residential are blurring.

Here's one scenario. It's a large residence with 33 TVs and 17 sound systems:
The low-voltage light switches are still there in every room (although updated), but they now coexist with the motion sensors, relays, IR, RS232, and Internet from the whole-house wireless touchpads. In addition to controlling the lights, those touchpads also control the TVs, stereos, curtains, HVAC, garage doors, and even the oven, fridge, coffee maker and alarm clock. There is even a touch-pad button to active the boiler that melts the snow on the driveway and sidewalks. (Don't worry -- it is set to turn off automatically when its sensors tell it that all the snow is melted!)

How 'bout the latest? Call your house from your cell phone and turn on the oven. Or call your house on the drive to work to see if you remembered to close the garage door. If it's open, it will tell you. Press a key to close it. It will send you a text message or email to tell you it is now closed.

Good stuff!
 
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Old 02-07-09, 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by gilmorrie View Post
Nope, that is a 120-V switch. For the old G.E. low voltage system, it has to be a single-pole, double-throw, momentary contact switch.
Doug
Doug please read my underlined word


20 AMP; 120/277 VOLT; TOGGLE DOUBLE-THROW CTR-OFF MOMENTARY CONTACT SINGLE-POLE AC QUIET SWITCH; INDUSTRIAL GRADE; GROUNDING; BACK & SIDE WIRED; - IVORY


This is copy and pasted from the manufacter listing and yes it will work on 24 volts system { I allready done few like that }


Low-voltage rocker switch @ $7.52 each: GE INDUSTRIAL SYSTEMS - RS2-37 - Dale Electric Supply Co. (Get several, they shoot craps too.)
That will work as well.

( Becarefull some of the old LV switch do come in dispard format as well )

For myself I just change the switch* to either rocker or toggle format as I underline it above { it seems easier for me to get it }

Merci,Marc

* useally either SPDTmont or DPDTmont switch set up depending on how it connected.
 
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Old 02-07-09, 05:16 AM
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I agree with Marc and Rick. I used the switch that Marc is describing for many of my control stations and I know I have at least one of them in my garage (somewhere) right now.

Doug, if it is mainly the cost of the control switches and their plates that is so bothersome then I would suggest that you use pushbuttons with LED lights mounted in standard nylon blank plates. The nylon plates are easy to drill for the pushbuttons and by using the ones with LEDs you still have the pilot indicator function. Many other possibilities. Your wife can't possibly be so attached to the original switches that she isn't open to something that she might like better.

I will agree that the inability to install dimmers (at least easily) is a drawback. Timers CAN be installed but again, not as easily as a line-voltage timer that installs as a replacement in a switch box.

I did install a motor-operated dimmer for some blue accent lights in my bedroom lights. It was kind of neat to be able to run the lights from dim to bright from either the bed or the doorway. I used a slow speed geared and reversible 24 volt motor (dc if I remember correctly) mechanically coupled to a standard rotary dimmer. All of it was contained in an equipment enclosure in my attic.
 
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Old 02-07-09, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
Doug please read my underlined word

20 AMP; 120/277 VOLT; TOGGLE DOUBLE-THROW CTR-OFF MOMENTARY CONTACT SINGLE-POLE AC QUIET SWITCH; INDUSTRIAL GRADE; GROUNDING; BACK & SIDE WIRED; - IVORY
OK, thanks, I stand corrected.
Doug
 
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Old 02-07-09, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by furd View Post
Doug, if it is mainly the cost of the control switches and their plates that is so bothersome then I would suggest that you use pushbuttons with LED lights mounted in standard nylon blank plates. The nylon plates are easy to drill for the pushbuttons and by using the ones with LEDs you still have the pilot indicator function. Many other possibilities.
OK, thanks, that might work for me, switch-wise.

But, the switch thing is just one issue.

For my 60-year-old system, with a separately located relay for each switched fixture or outlet, it's not practical to try to backfit various features like scene lighting, or whatever.

G.E. originally promoted this system in the early '50 as a way to save on conductor - namely #12 or #14 switchlegs. Didn't make a lot of sense, and now Charlie and I are stuck with it.

Each relay (which are very expensive and can crap out), and the low-voltage wiring to the relays, are stuffed in their associated ceiling or receptacle boxes, reducing already limited access for maintenace or changes.

I don't doubt that such a relay system could be installed in a new house, and be satisfactorily. But the system that G.E. came out with in the early '50s, and that I have, isn't it.
Doug
 
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Old 02-08-09, 08:03 AM
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OK, you've beat me down. I've ordered a supply of momentary pushbuttons, LED lamps, and blank ivory box covers. I will be going into production to make up a supply of low-voltage switches.

My plan is to use the LEDs to serve as a illuminated switch, so we can find it in the middle of the night. But, the only way to wire it is to sneak the power through either the Open or Close low-voltage conductors going from the switch to the relay. That will put a little current (whatever the LED uses) through the relay coil continuously. We'll have to see if that current is enough to cause the relay to hum or chatter.

There is another reason, aside from cost, that I'm making up these replacement switches. The original low-voltage switch boxes and plates in my house are horizontal, not vertical. Replacement switches and switch plates for such an arrangement are no longer available. The only option, using available parts, is to mount the switch so it operates side to side, not up and down - rather unconventional, I think.

Likewise, the suggested 120-V momentary spdt switches would have to be mounted horizontally, presenting the same problem.
Doug
 
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Old 05-13-09, 11:41 AM
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This system is much used in large office buildings to switch "On / Off" flourescent fixtures that are powered by a 480/277 volt system.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 01:25 PM
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GE Paddle switches

HI,

There are many different kinds of switches. The orginal brown switch with ripples on it, RFS-6, RFS-7 (full time locator light and takes three wires to operate), RFS-8 (with pilot light and takes four wires to operate), RCS2 ( a little larger that the RFS series and takes three wires to operate) RCS2PL ( with pilot light and takes four wires to operate).
I have had luck buying from (Removed email)
 

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