1950's low voltage wiring

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Old 03-08-00, 08:52 PM
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Our house was built in 1957. We have a low voltage wiring system. It works most of the time. The high voltage lines enter a transformer box and go through relay units and out to the switch plates through the house. One small remote box with six relays serves one part of the house, and a several others all together serve the rest. We have one relay that seems to work during warm weather, but not when the attic area is cold. Sometimes the bathroom light cannot be turned off for several weeks! Several times, when one push plate was stuck down, the whole house was frozen--no on or off--until we unstuck the switch! Two lights are connected to two different switch plates, but most connect to just one. The units for the switch plates are locked together unlike the switchplates you normally would install, so painting means pulling the whole thing out of the wall. We cannot figure out how a dimmer switch might be installed. What is involved with changing this set up to the standard wiring and switches? Oddly, there are a few of the traditional flip switches in the house and garage. Each one of these relay units costs $37, and as they go (like the one I mentioned) we can change them out. Replacing the 20 or more over time (we are told they will begin failing in the next few years) is expensive, and also quite time consuming. Having the place rewired is also expensive! We can do some of this ourselves, but hiring an electrician is very expensive. Any suggestions about what we can do?
 
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Old 03-09-00, 03:00 PM
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hello boss,
im sure your not wanting 2 hear this but u have 2 choices here eather replace the contactors as needed or have the house rewired. i sugest u have an electrician do the rewireing 4 u. reasion i say this is 2 fold 1 it will be a big job to do since it was never wired for 120V lighting, and second the service hase to taken in to consideration here like open spaces/additional load.
 
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Old 03-11-00, 06:51 AM
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Boss3,
The rewiring may not be a much as you think. These low votage systems only relate to the switching. all your lights are 120 volts. For some reason back then this must have been a new concept that never took hold for obvious reasons. You have the better of the two systems where j-boxes hold the relays. All you need to do is either one at a time or all in a particular j-box. Run 2/wires from the box to the switch location. Feed it from the 110v you have at that box at the front end of the transformers. Then the switch leg will come back and you connect to the wire leaving the relay now to the fixture. This is already 120 volts. All the low voltage system did was make a remote break in the hot line going to the fixture. The relay merely opened and closed the 120 volt circuit.
By the way, there is a new system out, modern, but like the 1950's may not catch on but it is the electronic home remote switching system. You do not need a direct hookup between the fixture and the light. You install the switch anywhere you wish on any circuit nearby and install a relay at the fixture. The signal travels through the entire electrical system to find the relay. You will need to install a bridge between the two legs of power. This might be better done by an electrician. These devices are not cheap but it is an option. I believe they are in the$30 dollar range for each, thus $60 for each switched line. They are made by several companies today but the best is probably Leviton.
 
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