Vintage Low Voltage Wiring Questions

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ch
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Vintage Low Voltage Wiring Questions

Postby ch » Tue Sep 27, 2005 6:25 pm

I have my eye on a 1968 architectural house with a fantastic lighting system. The only glitch is that it is all low voltage, that is, the switches are connected to relays which in turn control the actual lights, outlets, etc. I have never seen this type of system before and it's actually quite cool because it allow multiple controls to fit in a single standard wall switch box and also multiple switches to control the same lights.

Unfortunately I really don't have a clue as to how to restore a few of the inoperative switches. Is this type of light control still being manufactured? Does anyone know of a reference or site or have experience in this type of lighting? Any and all information would greatly be appreciated.

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(Not my furnishing but a glimpse of the incredible arched vaulted wood ceiling)

MoneyPitModern
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Postby MoneyPitModern » Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:28 pm

Craig, can you post a photo of the switches?

Also, have you tried taking one out of the wall box and seeing if it has any manufacturer's name or numbers on it? Perhaps the company is still in business and makes the switches currently.

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L.A.kevin
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Postby L.A.kevin » Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:12 pm

Are they plastic?

K

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dentedvw
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Postby dentedvw » Wed Sep 28, 2005 3:57 am

I can only give you what I think you said you thought you wanted.

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Postby ch » Wed Sep 28, 2005 9:23 am

I have to disagree with you DentedVW since I think the lighting system is pretty fantastic as it stands. This was built as a high end home with many varied recessed and accent lights all around, all controlled from multiple vantage points using this system. I don't think it would be practical to do this with line voltage. All but two switches work right now.

These are the only pics of the switches I could pull from other pictures I have since I don't own the house. The switch on the right is more typical of what's there - it controls 6 different lights! I do like the idea of trying to locate the name of the manufacturer from the existing. It seems like the typical problem is relay failure but these seem to be hidden in the walls and may prove to be hard to find.

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Postby chb » Wed Sep 28, 2005 5:00 pm

The system is probably a "Touch-Plate" system, which is what I have in my 1954 house. The appearance of your switches is different from the switches in my house, but I believe there were variations. I was told that it is a good system used in higher-end custom homes, and it never caught on with the mainstream.

It is important that you locate someone in your area who is familiar with these systems as an electrician who is not can mess them up. I use ARC Electrical in Pasadena, CA, which I realize won't help you in FL. ARC has obtained and installed switches for me. You might contact Touch-Plate and ask for a referral in FL. http://www.touchplate.com
Last edited by chb on Thu Sep 29, 2005 12:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby MoneyPitModern » Wed Sep 28, 2005 5:41 pm

Low voltage controls with relays are not all that uncommon in commercial and institutional applications. There are companies making new components for such systems today.

I can't imagine anyone installing relays in the walls, though, as they must be accessible for replacement or servicing. Did you check out all the electrical panels? Most likely, there is a separate relay panel that looks like a circuit breaker panel from the outside.

I would be leery of using a typical residential electrician for servicing the system. Probably a good way to locate a competent electrician would be to ask the maintenance crews at institutions and larger companies in your area if they have a system like yours, and if so, who they use to service it.

You could also contact the manufacturer's to see if they have a rep in your area who can tell you which electrical contractors actively install their products. If you want to go crazy, many of the newer systems can be programmed via a PC.

Here's a good explanation of a low voltage system from one manufacturer:
http://www.douglaslightingcontrols.com/ ... design.htm

Another manufacturer:
http://www.pcilightingcontrols.com/benefits.htm

Also check out:
http://www.passandseymour.com/

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ch
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Postby ch » Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:34 pm


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L.A.kevin
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Postby L.A.kevin » Thu Sep 29, 2005 3:53 pm


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SDR
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Postby SDR » Thu Sep 29, 2005 4:38 pm

Agreed -- Only a sadist would make such components inaccesible -- and it would probably be against code, as well. . .!


Good luck - we hope you get the house, so we can "nibshit" (as a friend of mine calls "nosy peeking") !

SDR
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Postby dentedvw » Fri Sep 30, 2005 12:47 pm

I can only give you what I think you said you thought you wanted.

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dentedvw
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Postby dentedvw » Fri Sep 30, 2005 12:51 pm

I can only give you what I think you said you thought you wanted.

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Postby cadman » Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:24 pm

Hey Craig,

Looks like a GE system to me. There will be a panel somewhere in the house- in a closet, a basement, usually near the service entrance. If you find a light that's off and you hold the "ON" button for it down continuously, you should be able to hear a continuous buzzing from the relay panel.

The system utilizes latching relays and requires three wires to work: one as common, one to force the relay to the ON position, and one to force the relay OFF. You're looking at 24v or 48v at most. Touching common to one wire turns the load off, touching common to the other turns it on. Simple 'nuff.

The switches are a bit hokey internally, and I can see how they could fail with use, but practically any aftermarket momentary Normally Open switch is compatible. Toggles, rockers, push buttons...the sky is the limit. If you want a one-for-one replacement for one of your defective switches, look for a momentary toggle "(On)-Off-(On)" with a center off that's SPDT.

HTH,
Cory

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ch
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Postby ch » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:19 am

Old thread but I accidently found this site that has great information. You can identify whatever low voltage system you have:


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Postby Sealuxe » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:39 pm

Anyone with a low voltage system ( I have Remcon) looked into Verve control system? I think we are going to go with it. It gets rid of all the relays and switches. It is wireless and can be programmed to turn off/on multiple lights from each switch like our low voltage system.

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