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Solved: 12 volt light switches in my house?

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (Not Computer-Related)' started by asuss06, Sep 26, 2008.

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  1. asuss06

    asuss06 Thread Starter

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    i just bought my first home - gettin' the keys tonight!!! its an old house and all the switches in the entire house are 12 volt push buttons with doorbell wiring inside it. when you push any of the switches, you hear the "click" of the transformer/relay (?) up in the attic. my question is, can i wire any of those switches to turn on/off a wall outlet nearby if the wall outlets are standard 110 v?
     
  2. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    You'll have to wire from that controller box in the attic, assuming there are any spare circuits.

    A better way might be to use some of the X-10 stuff to solve the switching issue, I think tinkering with that LV lighting lashup.

    There are actually a number of X-10 devices that may solve the issue for you. I use the stuff extensively here, it's way more convenient that trying to run wires. :)
     
  3. Drabdr

    Drabdr Moderator

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    John, I don't think I've run across this wiring scenario before. So there are these switches, all through the house, and there are 12 volt operators for lights? Where do all these go, to some large box of contactors? Does each light have its own contactor? Is there a transformer for all the 12 volt switches, or just 1 master transformer?

    Is everything centrally located, breaker panel, contactors, etc.?

    Per your suggestion, I went and read a bit. So say you put in an X-10 switch, I assume you would need to install an X-10 outlet and match them up. Is that correct?
     
  4. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    There is a big relay box in one location that has all the 120V wiring and relays to control each light. The low voltage wiring goes to the switches and they all run to the control box.

    I've only seen it in one house, a friend of mine rented a house with the system installed, that was 25 years ago, and the house wasn't new. It's not necessarily near the breaker box, this one was in the attic, and the breaker box was in the basement. Apparently, it didn't really catch on, I've never seen one since. :)


    Af far as the X-10 stuff goes, you would need either the outlet or one of the lamp or appliance modules that just plug into a standard outlet, your choice. There are a host of manufacturers of all kinds of X-10 compatible stuff. eBay is a good place to search for good deals on the equipment, especially if you're looking for some of the more expensive pieces.

    Some reading on the X-10 standard.
     
  5. Drabdr

    Drabdr Moderator

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    John, thank you for the reply. And yes, by the sound of it, I think your advice is the best. By the sound of it that's some wiring work.

    Probably not unlike what product you suggest, there are remote controls you can use for lamps, appliances and the like. Those are kind of nice too.
     
  6. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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  7. asuss06

    asuss06 Thread Starter

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    hmm. thats a very interesting ebay store. ithink i can find all, or most all, of the things i might need. thanks alot.
     
  8. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    There are also a host of other X-10 vendors on eBay, so when you narrow down the list of components you want, you might do a search on the specific model numbers to get the best prices. Don't forget the shipping charges, one reason I ordered all from one place.
     
  9. asuss06

    asuss06 Thread Starter

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    ive been browsing around at all the x-10 stuff and its soooo cool. its everything i need for my wiring problem in my house.. i can be like James Bond too and have secret switches where no one would suspect!!! hahaha.
    thanks to everyone who helped me with this issue.
     
  10. Drabdr

    Drabdr Moderator

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    It was a good question. I'm a Master electrician, and had never heard of such a wiring setup.

    Yes, there are some really cool gadgets out there for play. Ancillary benefits can come from them by better managing energy usage/consumption, and turning lights off/on when you are not at home and stuff. That said about advanced "smart" home stuff in general, and not necessarily X 10 in particular. I need to study up on it.

    Disney in California has a really cool demo on smart house stuff.
     
  11. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    You'd probably have to be an "old" electrician to have seen this stuff. I don't know when it was offered, my guess is probably around the 50's, judging from the vintage of the house I saw it in. Since this obviously was installed during construction, it would have had to have been around when the house was built. Since I've only ever seen one house with it, and this is the first time I've ever heard anyone else mention it, I doubt it was in wide use. I have the sense that it was probably pretty expensive!

    One of the neat things about it was you could have a master control panel that handled all the connections. In the case of this house, it was in the master bedroom, with lights on a panel that allowed you to see the state of all the controlled circuits. Nowadays, I suspect people would do what I did and install X-10 or a similar technology for a lot less money to do the same thing. :)
     
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