Ordinary light switch controlling a few fixtures. I'd like to keep these
lights from being turned off during business hours. After hours it can
follow the position of the switch. What are my options? I could get a
miniature digital timer switch but those generally have a manual override
switch. Maybe there is a version without one and settings hidden from
casual users but I doubt there is one where there is a manual control that
is only active when the timer is off. So here are some thoughts.
· Mount a timer or timer switch elsewhere and parallel it with existing
toggle. As long as timer is on the lights stay on. Requires adding wires
to conduit and new conduit & box at timer location.
· Shove a low voltage relay in the back of the box to parallel with
existing toggle. Power relay with LV supply plugged into simple wall timer
or from other equipment that is always on when business is open.
· Replace SPST toggle with SPDT. Lights wired to pole. Existing power to
one throw, other throw is fed from a switch at an inaccessible location,
timer, or simply a circuit that is live when the business is open.
Requires only one new wire to switch but possibly other conduit or wire
I think you have covered most if not all the possibilities. I will add
one idea as a part of one of your solutions. You can get one of those
thermostat control locking covers. Also you could replace the existing work
box with a larger one or add one right next to it.
You might want to look at www.smrthome.com for some additional ideas.
You're just itching for an excuse to put in a high-tech toy, aren't you? :^)
Most people would use a sign, or one of those switch-guard flip-open cover
things. Is it customers or employees who you want to keep from messing with
it? I'd make a joke out of it- a shadow box about an inch and a half deep
around the switch, with a sliding or hinged clear plastic lid, and some
joke warning message on the lid. Maybe a toy padlock you put on in the
morning as the coffee is perking, and take off on your way out the door at
night. (Or like the other guy said, one of those thermostat box things.) I
would NOT try for any home-made high-tech solution, especially if this is a
store or other space the public passes through. It WILL fail at some point,
and you will either be dead in the water, or have people stumbling in the
I'm sure a real electric supply house (not a big-box) will have all sorts of
multi-function switches and timers, but it may be hard finding one to fit a
single box- it'll probably stick out some. A floodlight timer with an
override button comes to mind. 'On" during a set interval, 'Off' otherwise,
but also has a 'test' setting for the guy that changes the bulbs. If you
have employees or general public in the space, talk to your insurance agent
before you install any home-made (aka non-UL) electrical devices.
X10 is a solution that will work here. You can replace the existing
std or 3way switches with X10 ones. The switches can still be operated
normally, but also controlled via an X10 signal on the AC line. There
is an X10 mini controller available that looks like a digital clock
that you plug in anywhere in the building. You can use it to control
switches (4 max I think) and tell them when to go on or off. There is
also an interface to connect to a PC, so that can be used for control
too, as well as motion sensors, etc. Check out smarthome.com. There
are also vendors on Ebay.
On second thought, Never mind! I guess I needed a second cup of coffee
before I woke up. X10 can do many things, but it won't keep someone
from manually turning off the light switch during business hours.
That's when the X10 switch the user can operate is not the same one
that directly controls the light. If the light is controlled by a
module at address L8, and the switch the user has access to is at C5
the macros could be set up something like:
IF C5 on OR time becomes 8:00 THEN turn L8 on
IF C5 off AND ((time<8:00) OR (time>17:00)) THEN turn L8 off
Leave the key in the switch when you go home for the night.
Or give a key to each employee.
Put in a locking and non-locking switch to OR the power
to the light. Either of these two arrangements
ought to work:
parell 2 switches one a timer in a enclosure or secure area, leave the
other available for regular use
a buddy has a office building with a long hall. he leaves just a few
lights on for security, has a timer on all the rest that goes off
during non peak hours and motion detectors to trip all lights on during
activity, they turn off after 15 minutes
cut his electric bill nicely
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