Illuminated toggle switches w/florescent lighting

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Old 11-20-11, 07:38 PM
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Illuminated toggle switches w/florescent lighting

I have a question regarding illuminated toggle switches.

I wired my house in 2003 with Leviton illuminated traditional toggle switches. I have florescent lighting and LED lighting throughout the house and everything works as it should

Here is where I have questions. I recently purchased a condo and I wanted to do the same to it as I did my house. Well, Home Depot and Lowes no longer carries the Leviton illuminated switches that I have in my home (they are the white toggle switches) Home Depot only sells the clear toggle switches and I don't want clear.

Anyway, Lowes carries "Cooper" illuminated switches. Now, I'm not going to get into it now but, these Cooper illuminated switches are the worst switch I had ever had to deal with. Only 50% work....took me several trips to Lowes to get 12 working switches. Anyway, on to my question.............

I have (2) three way illuminated switches controlling (2) florescent light fixtures. When the lights are off, the toggle switches glow as they should, however, one of the florescent lights flicker.
Same thing happened in a bedroom with (1) illuminated switch controlling one florescent light fixture. The light fixture flickers when the light is off. This does not seem normal to me. I'm thinking it's the fault of these cruddy Cooper switches. I do not have these problems with my Leviton switches.

What do you think ?
 
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Old 11-20-11, 08:30 PM
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Fluorescent lights and some lighted switches do not play well together. There is a small trickle flow through the ballast. This shortens the life of the ballast also.
 
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Old 11-21-11, 06:08 AM
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When using on fluorescents the lighted switch must also have a neutral connection so power isn't pulled through the ballast.
 
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Old 11-21-11, 02:51 PM
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I've seen this two with CFL's and lighted switches. The illuminated switch will almost pulse without any incandescent load.

I'd agree with Ray and Pcboss. The ballast (instead of a filament) is completing the circuit to light the switch.
 
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Old 11-22-11, 08:09 AM
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How can I fix this?

Also. besides shortening the life of the flourescent bulbs, any other concerns I should know about ?
 
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Old 11-22-11, 08:31 AM
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I think your best option is to use a regular switch.
 
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Old 11-23-11, 09:30 PM
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I really don't want to use a regular switch. The illuminated switches were put in place for elderly residents to find their way in the dark. The florescent lighting was put in place to help ease the money spent from my wallet. C'mon, there has to be an answer to my dilemma.
 
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Old 11-23-11, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Dregg View Post
I really don't want to use a regular switch. The illuminated switches were put in place for elderly residents to find their way in the dark. The florescent lighting was put in place to help ease the money spent from my wallet. C'mon, there has to be an answer to my dilemma.
Did you try adding a couple more fluorescents? Different brands?
Did you try something like putting a 4w nightlight bulb on the circuit?
Is there a way to rig a pilot (illuminated when on, with neutral), to function as an illuminated switch?
Is there an illuminated switch available that uses a neutral conductor instead of sneaking power via the load?
 
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Old 11-23-11, 10:24 PM
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C'mon, there has to be an answer to my dilemma.
As I said in my earlier post use a switch that has a neutral for the light.

Another solution to try is to add a lamp holder in parallel with the fluorescent light and use a low wattage incandescent bulb.
 
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Old 11-24-11, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
use a switch that has a neutral for the light.
Ray, is there an illuminated (aka nighlight, handle lit when in OFF position) switch available that uses a neutral? As opposed to a "pilot" which is lit while in ON position.
 
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Old 11-24-11, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ArgMeMatey View Post
Ray, is there an illuminated (aka nighlight, handle lit when in OFF position) switch available that uses a neutral? As opposed to a "pilot" which is lit while in ON position.
I don't know. I was hoping one of the pros knew. I could see an easy way to make one but not sure it would be code. Set a 120 volt neon pilot light into one side of the switch plate and substitute a 3-way switch (SPDT) for the SPST switch. You would need a neutral in the box and need a switch slim enough for the neon pilot light to clear when mounted on one side of the switch plate (or use a double gang box.)
 
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Old 11-24-11, 09:48 AM
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Good info here but it just may be out of my skill level.....especially since I'm now 500 miles away from the condo where I'm having these issues. I'm in my home now surrounded by Leviton illuminated toggle switches controlling many fluorescent light fixtures and no problems to report. I think I may order a few Leviton switches (since I can't get them locally anymore) and bring them down to the condo on my next visit and see if that fixes the problem. Perhaps these Leviton switches have something internal that the Cooper switches do not ??

In any event, keep the ideas coming...
I'm trying to learn from what is being written here.

Thanks for the info so far.
 
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Old 11-24-11, 08:49 PM
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Slightly far fetched, but perhaps changing out some single gang boxes to two gang units and adding a hardwired LED nightlight?

Or something along this line:
Amazon.com: Leviton 6526-W 15-Amp 120V AC Combination Decora Switch with LED Guide Light, White: Home Improvement

It seems most of the "nightlight" style switches/outlets take their own neutral.

Here's another option I just found when googling:

LED Night Light, Night Lighted Switch, LED Illuminated Light Switch, Nightlights, LED Light plate Liteaswitch.com
 
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Old 11-25-11, 08:57 AM
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I think I may order a few Leviton switches (since I can't get them locally anymore) and bring them down to the condo on my next visit and see if that fixes the problem.
Your ignoring the big issue or at least haven't answered it here. Do those switches have a neutral in the switch box and do the Leviton you bought have a neutral? That is the really important factor. No neutral it isn't good for fluorescent lights regardless of the brand.
 
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Old 11-25-11, 10:29 AM
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Ray,

The Leviton switches have no neutral. They're wired like a standard switch. I can't explain why I don't have a problem with the Levitons but have issues with the Cooper switches.
 
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Old 11-25-11, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by scoob8000 View Post
Their online wiring diagrams do not inspire a lot of confidence. If they'd spent another hour with MS Paint they might have something a bit more useful.

They show an installation using this as a pilot, connected to hot and neutral. They also show a box with only two blue wires, connected to "120 VAC" but they don't show how the LED light would connect to that. Plus, how many people are going to open a switch box and find two blue wires in there? More likely a black, red and white or a black and white. It would not be good for somebody to open up a box containing only a switch loop, and connecting this in series without a switch, i.e. for "testing".
 
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Old 11-29-11, 11:08 PM
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Ok, contacted Leviton (Cooper never called back....no surprise there !) and told them my situation. Leviton said they do not make an illuminated toggle switch with a neutral. Their "pilot lighted" switches have neutrals, but not their standard illuminated toggle switches. They did confirm that the CFL may flicker when in the "off" position due to drawing power from the ballast to light the LED in the handle.

My guess is this. Since I've had Leviton illuminated switches in my home since 2003 and never had any issues with all of my CFL's, but have several issues with my newly installed "Cooper" illuminated switches in my condo, I'll say this. Perhaps the Levitons require less feedback to light the LED than the Coopers???
To me, that's the only reasonable explanation. I'll know for sure in 2 days from now. I purchased (6) Leviton illuminated switches to replace the Coopers which I will be installing tomorrow. I'll report back my findings. If all is well, Lowes will get back those inferior Cooper switches. I'll NEVER again purchase a "Cooper" electrical device. I had a 50% failure rate with them. I'll stick to "Made in USA" Leviton products.
 
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Old 11-30-11, 12:04 AM
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You also may be able to use a "contactor" (aka relay) at each light to totally remove power from the lights, but still have the switch lighted.

And I too prefer Leviton products. And electrician's electric supply has many things the retail stores do not or can order them.
 
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Old 11-30-11, 08:23 AM
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As I suggested earlier using a 3-way switch would do the same as a relay and be a bit simpler and cheaper. You would need a neutral at the switch. One traveler for the fixture load and one traveler for a small 120v pilot light set into one side of the face plate. Line to the common.
 

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Old 11-30-11, 10:42 AM
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You could also use a 3-way switch. Have hot to the common and then load to one of the screws of the traveler and the pilot light on the other traveler screw.
 
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Old 11-30-11, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by belgarid View Post
You could also use a 3-way switch. Have hot to the common and then load to one of the screws of the traveler and the pilot light on the other traveler screw.
Dang, thats what I said in my first post. I screwed up in my second post on doing that. I have corrected my post. Thanks for the correction.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 06:38 AM
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First of all, thanks for all the tips and advice.

This is what I learned. I took the advice of using a low wattage bulb on one of the circuits and the problem is eliminated.
I found that if I went from a 13w (60w equivalent) to a larger 20w (75w equivalent) in one of the lamps in the other room, the problem was also eliminated. I now only have one circuit giving me a problem and I may take the "relay" advice to address that.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 07:32 AM
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and I may take the "relay" advice to address that.
Using a 3-way switch and 120v neon pilot light set into the cover plate is a lot simpler and cheaper. Maybe $6 at the most. And with the relay you still need a neutral anyway.
 
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Old 12-06-11, 04:16 AM
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Thanks Ray, I'll look into that.
 
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Old 12-06-11, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Dregg View Post
Thanks Ray, I'll look into that.
If you look through the previous posts you will see posts from both Belgarid and me explaining how. If you have any questions please post back.

A plan b would be to use a combo 3-way switch/receptacle and plug a night light in to the receptacle. If there is a tab between the switch and receptacle it wold be removed. The hot side of the switch loop to the common of the switch. Neutral to silver of the receptacle. One traveler to the brass side of the receptacle. Other traveler to the return side of the switch loop.
 

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Old 12-06-11, 10:19 AM
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If the relay is placed at the light fixture, then no need for a neutral at the switch...
 
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Old 12-06-11, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill190 View Post
If the relay is placed at the light fixture, then no need for a neutral at the switch...
Yes, but you need to add a cable to carry power back to the switch for the night light don't you or were you going to place a night light in/on the fluorescent fixture?
 
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Old 12-06-11, 06:28 PM
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You could use just the lighted switch and with the relay at the light fixture. Then the relay coil would pass enough current for the switch light when off, and also remove power from the fluorescent fixture. Turn on the switch, it turns on the relay and this connects power to the fluorescent fixture. Then no extra wiring needed to switch.
 
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Old 12-06-11, 08:07 PM
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Then the relay coil would pass enough current for the switch light when off, and also remove power from the fluorescent fixture.
Very cool. Never thought of that. Yes, that would be better.
 
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