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3W and 4W switches co-existing with master/remote switches.

3W and 4W switches co-existing with master/remote switches.

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  #1  
Old 12-07-10, 11:04 AM
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3W and 4W switches co-existing with master/remote switches.

Yesterday, the guy working the electrical isle at Home Depot said that if I want to replace 2 of 4 standard 3W or 4W switches in a circuit with master/remote switches, that I have to replace all of them.

So I searched the Internet and indeed I couldn't find any 3W/4W product where master/remotes would co-exist with standard 3W and 4W switches.

I thought about it and I came up with a design for a master/remote 3W and 4W switch that could be in the same circuit as standard 3W and 4W switches - it would be a new invention but it would work.

So for now, let's assume that it can be done and there are no legal roadblocks (assume that no one has a patent on it already and that I can get one)

The question to electricians: in your experience is this something that would sell? How often do customers want standard 3W and 4W switches in the same circuit as master/slave switches or how often would you use this if it existed? And to the non-electricians, is this something that you have ever wanted to do but couldn't?
 
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  #2  
Old 12-07-10, 12:11 PM
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What the heck do you mean by master/remote switches?

Three-way switches are used to control a load, generally a lighting fixture, from two different locations. Four-way switches are used in conjunction with three-way switches to control a load from more than two locations.

Far too often the clerks in the big-box megamart homecenters don't know a thing about what they are trying to sell.
 
  #3  
Old 12-07-10, 02:25 PM
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Master/remote switches are what you use if you want to incorporate a dimmer switch into a circuit using multiple (3W and 4W) switches. The dimming is performed by either the load-side 3W or the line-side 3W; either switch is replaced with a master dimmer switch. Whichever is chosen, that is the only switch that does the load limiting function (the dimming). If you want to be able to dim from a second switch in the circuit, that second switch is a remote switch; it doesn't itself perform any load limiting but communicates with the "master" to tell it to dim and to what level.

So the issue is that master/remote switches communicate information (when to dim, what level, etc.) on one of the traveler wires between the switches. And as long as the switches are the same brand they talk just fine to each other. But the traveler used can no longer be used for it's originally intended purpose with the standard 3W and 4W switches so those standard 3w and 4W switches don't work anymore in the circuit; the wiring is no longer conventional wiring for 3W and 4W switches (2 travelers between each switch with voltage alternating between each traveler with each toggle of a switch).

So, I figured out a master/remote dimmer switch design where standard 3W and 4W toggle switches can continue to work in the circuit, so my questions to the electricians was whether that was a good thing (that there was a need in the market for it) or just a 'yawn'.
 

Last edited by JustWannaKnow; 12-07-10 at 04:35 PM.
  #4  
Old 12-07-10, 03:05 PM
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Ahhh..this sounds like more of a home automation question. Might want to post there...or I could move it?
 
  #5  
Old 12-07-10, 03:07 PM
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Gunguy45: If you think it's better suited there, yes, please move it (as long as you think electricians visit that forum). Thanks.
 

Last edited by JustWannaKnow; 12-07-10 at 04:37 PM.
  #6  
Old 12-07-10, 09:01 PM
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If I'm understanding this, the remote switch (actually a dimmer controller) wouldn't be controlling the 120-volt AC directly. It would instead use the wiring to send info to the master dimmer, which in turn would control the 120VAC to the lights.

It's a great idea, but X10 and other smart home devices are already doing it. The main downside for an inventor is the UL approval. It costs $10 - $20,000 to go through the process of getting approval, and without the UL sticker you won't find many electricians to buy and install it.
 
  #7  
Old 12-07-10, 09:07 PM
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Rick: No, I was explaining existing technology to Furd in that #3 post. This invention for 3W and 4W dimmers does everything like existing technology but has the advantage of being able to co-exist in the same circuit as regular standard 3W and 4W switches so someone can replace like 2 out of 4 switches in a circuit when installing dimmers - now, you have to replace them all.
 
  #8  
Old 12-08-10, 10:46 AM
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Moved thread back to Electrical at Member request...
 
  #9  
Old 12-08-10, 11:36 AM
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I can't recall a situation where someone wanted a combination of basic toggle switches and fancy dimmers on the same light. It's generally not a problem to replace all of the switches with the compatible remote switches. If anything most people are more concerned with them all looking the same and matching in color so they wouldn't want old mixed with new even if it was possible. The companion switch (remote) that is compatible with the Lutron Maestro series is only about $20 if I recall correctly so this is not a huge price to have full control of the on/off/dim from the remote location(s).
 
  #10  
Old 12-08-10, 12:12 PM
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ibpooks: Thank you. A very helpful, straightforward reply. What I have is a solution in search of a problem. If any niche use for this technology comes to mind, please let me know.
 
  #11  
Old 12-08-10, 08:16 PM
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I agree with Ben. I have several multi-station dimmers in my house and while I often don't use them as dimmers from the individual stations I like the "flexibility" that I have to be able to lower or raise the lighting from the various stations. I can't imagine why I would trade a dimmer station for an on-off switch.

Now that I understand what you are asking I think you are correct, you have a solution to a non-existent problem.
 
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