Here's a hint ... actually, the whole thing. My church has 13
20 amp circuit breakers each controlling 2 400 watt metal halide
lamps. Breakers don't work well as switches. They start
tripping when the load is well below the 20 amp rating. They
get hot when on, after many years of using them as a switch.
They have been replaced several times. After replacement, they
are fine for a few years ... then they start getting hot and
start tripping. So, I would like to have an external set of
switches to turn on the lights in groups. One switch would turn
on 4 circuits or 8 lights.
Speedy Jim wrote:
Hopefully you're using switch-rated circuit breakers? The normal ones are not
permitted to be used as everyday on-off switches.
When you need to turn on multiple circuits from one switch or timer, it's
standard in the industry to use ASCO (Or other brand) lighting contactors in
1-2-4-6-8 or 12 poles.
Yes, I think the breakers were rated for use as switches,
however, they still didn't do well. I know in the TV studio
where I work, the electrical contractor and architect put one
switch for each breaker for the lighting grid for the same
reason. In the church, I had thought about using relays, but it
is probably overkill there. I think using some 2 pole and some
single pole switches will allow the lights to be set up in a 1,
2, both arrangement and will allow turning on only the left side
or the right side or both.
HA HA Budys Here wrote:
Well then why not try using single pole contactors, the kind used for
low-voltage, automated, or computer-controlled switching?
Otherwise, you're probably limited, practically and financially speaking, to
using 6- 2-pole switches and 1- 1 pole switch.
As others have mentioned, the solution is relays.
BUT, in particular, you want LATCHING relays which only consume power when
There are systems that use 24 volt latching relays. The relays take up a
hole in a J-box. Inside the box you have two wires that switch the load.
Outside the box you have three wires (common, ON and OFF) that control the
Since only 24 volts is used for the control the wiring of the low voltage
doesn't suffer from many code restrictions.
IOW: It can be surface wiring or even "inaccessible".
We used to attend a church with such a system. One control box has a 8
position rotary switch and one ON/OFF rocker switch. If you wanted, say,
all lamps ON, you would hold the rocker switch ON and rotate the rotary
switch through all 8 positions.
These are GREAT systems as they permit the load carrying wiring to take the
most direct route from CB panel to load and permit placement of as many
control panels (yes, you can put them in parallel) as you care to connect.
The remote control relays are a good idea (if the switching needs to be
remoted). GE stopped making that one but here's a replacement:
OP Has to watch the rating of any relays used since this is metal halide
Might also add that there are circuit breakers specifically rated for
Lighting contactors (as suggested previously) are available
multipole and also available in latching versions.
I've done it this way, and it's probably the cheapest solution.
Mount a pair of two pole switches side by side in the same box. Before
mounting, carefully drill a cross hole through the switch levers. After
mounting, insert a finishing nail or piece of coat hanger wire through
the holes in the two levers. Crimp the ends or use a spot of epoxy to
keep the rod from sliding sideways and falling out.
Best to use "commercial or industrial" grade switches for this, as
they'll have larger levers and probably tougher lever material too.
Presto! just what you were asking for.
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone
to place the blame on."
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