I have a house that was built in the 60's. The lights in my house use a low
voltage lighting system that uses relays and rocker switches. You must
press down on the on side of the rocker switch to operate the associated
relay and turn the lights on or the off side of the rocker switch to turn
the lights off. Apparently this is an outdated system and replacement
switches an relays are impossible to find. Does anybody know of a source
for this type of equipment or a modern equivalent that can be used as a
Replacement parts are available. Check with some of your local electrical
supply companies. The relays may not be identical, but they should work.
You probably will not be able to get identical replacement switches, but a
substitute should be available. There are two wire systems and three wire
systems. It sounds as though you have a three wire system. One common
wire, one wire for off, and one wire for on.
I'm curious about this type of system since I've never seen them. What is
the purpose of the relay? Why not wire the lights to the switch directly?
And if the lights operate on low voltage, wouldn't there be a high line
loss, high line temperature (due to high current)?
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The lights are line voltage. The relay control is low voltage. The
realys may be in a central location or distributed. The switch wiring is
all low voltage, more like doorbell. It is easy to have multiple
switches for a light, and they are all like a single pole switch, no
3-way/4-way circuits. I think low cost of switch wiring and flexibility
were attractions. Some systems could have pilot lights at the switch -
also low voltage. And there could be features like one switch operates
like a master over multiple circuits. You could have a switch in the
bedroom to turn off all lights or turn them all on in an "emergency".
Should also have said - the switches were all momentary contact with
latching relays. With 2 wire systems pushing the switch would change the
relay/light between on and off. As John said, on 3 wire systems, pushing
the on side of any of multiple switches would turn the light on, pushing
the off side turns the light off.
Personally, I can't see that there was any savings in wiring a house with
this type of system but I suppose it was futuristic for it's era. Currently
there are similar, more advanced computer controlled systems like Lutron
Homeworks, which, in twenty years or less, will be just as much of a Pain as
this old GE system is now.
In the 60s how else could you control a light from 7 different
the lights were line voltage just a relay at each fixture.
you know even back then the price of copper was a issue. thats a fact
proven by alunimimum which caused house fires.
so the thin control wires saved money on copper.
the current computer controlled systems wouldnt be a pain in 20 years,
they will have ceased to exist. computer stuff changes so fast.......
thats assuming the world doesnt war itself into destruction, and sadly
i am not convinced it isnt likely:(
You could control a light from seven locations then, same as now, with two
three ways and five four ways. The fact that the current computer
controlled systems will cease to exist in twenty years is exactly the "pain"
I'm referring to. The "pain" is for the unfortunates that have them in their
houses and can't get parts or service
I'm a big fan of technology, provided it works with conventional wiring
methods. All of these systems that can't be scrapped and replaced by
conventional systems, when they fail or just become obsolete, go against my
better judgment. Also John, I'm sure you've seen as I have, that no one has
any respect for low voltage wiring. It gets trampled on, yanked and pulled
apart by every contractor , homeowner, exterminator, etc. that has to work
near it, so the stuff just lends itself to problems.
But they're just latching relays, SPDT momentary rocker switches and a
transformer (or maybe it's shared with the doorbell). It's not really fair
to compare such fairly simple tech with fancy electronic controls that
really will become obsolete and NLA fairly quickly compared to the life of
a house's electric wiring system.
Yes it is a simple technology. However if someone wanted to add a
decorative dimmer to their dining room light fixture it would entail
installing line voltage wiring and eliminating the low voltage wiring,
relay, and switch. It might add up to several hundred dollars plus wall and
ceiling damage just to install a dimmer.
Yes, good point. But there the solution would be to replace low tech low
voltage with high tech low voltage. Obviously still a more elaborate job
than replacing a switch with a $5 dimmer but to be fair, presuming the
original LV setup was multipoint control, you'd lose that with a simple
line voltage dimmer setup.
Face it guys,
A low voltage relay system is not camparable to standard wiring. It is
comparable to a whole house automation system. (Like X10 also old
technology, Lightolier "Brilliance" or less favorably to Lutron
My point is each system has its strong and week points and changing
systems is pain in the drywall!
Steve Kraus wrote:
this is like old cars compared to the latest ones.
in the 60s anyone could fix a car, today you take it to the dealewr who
puts it on a computer that connects to detroit or perhaps japan and
diagnoses the problem.......
new cars are more fuel efficent, run well, but 20 years from now no one
will know much and parts will be obsolete.......
technology has it downsides.......
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