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cshep975 01-17-2007 02:56 PM

Rare single-button light switch
My wife and I have just bought our first home, but have not closed on it yet. The home was built in 1961, and we purchased it from the original owner. There are some rather unique features, including some light switches I have never seen before. I would call them push-button, but that typically describes 2 small round butoons, one on top of the other. These have just one round button, about 1" in diameter. They have older switch plates, which we were looking to replace, but cannot find anything like them anywhere. Is anyone familiar with this type of light switch, and if so, do you have any idea where we might be able to get replacement covers? If not, I imagine we will have to consider replacing all of the switched with regular toggle-type switches, which we feel would deter from the "retro" look of the home. Any suggestions?

Snoonyb 01-17-2007 09:49 PM

I would guess that you have a low voltage relay lighting system and there are those whom are still familiar with them.
When they work, they work well. When they don't, they are a challenge.
Basically, usually in the attic in the general area of the access, will be a larger then normal junction box with several regular high voltage cables ending at it, as well as several low voltage cables.
Inside this box will be several relays and a transformer.
There will be a hot pair with one leg connected to the high side of the transformer and pigtailed to one terminal of each relay. The other Leeds of the hot pair will be connected to the other transformer primary lead and the white conductors from the other household cables. The black lead from the household cables will connect to switched lead of the relay.
The secondary of the transformer will have a specific voltage output and this voltage will determine the voltage of any replacement switches. The alternative is to change the transformer.
The transformer, generally, will have a secondary output of 12 or 24V, which is the switching voltage and control the operation of the relays.

petey_racer 01-18-2007 05:12 AM

The low voltage relay system snoony describes typically has two buttons and are smaller. But the date is accurate.

I know exactly the switches you describe. And your 1961 build date places them perfectly in your house. I think that is the early days of them being used.

You will NOT find replacements or plates for these. If you really like them clean them up and deal with the plates. IMO, replacing them will give you a more sound electrical system, and not detract from the "retro" look.

I remember a few relatives who had those switches as a kid. You could put wallpaper behind the switch plates.
I never liked them much myself.

Snoonyb 01-18-2007 11:06 PM

The difference between the two systems, 1&2 button, is the type of relay, and always up for a challenge, I've enjoyed working on both.

You'll probably have more success in finding equip. by finding an electrician with a "bone yard".

cshep975 01-29-2007 04:34 PM

Honeywell Tap-Lite
After some pretty thorough investigating, I found these switches were made by Honeywell, and called "Tap-Lite." Apparently everything in the early 60's had to be operated at the push of a button :-) Anyway, I have looked and looked, and have not found anyone that still has some of these available. Ebay will ocassionally have one or two pop up, but typically the seller does not know what it is they are listing, so the description makes them almost impossible to search for. What we will probably end up doing is replacing them in a number of rooms with standard toggle switches, then use the older ones for replacement parts. It is too bad, because I really like the Tap-Lites.

Snoonyb 01-29-2007 10:28 PM

DO NOT use a single throw switch of any kind, or you will be replacing relays as well.
You need a momentary on switch.

firelily301 07-07-2007 11:11 PM

Single-button light switch
Hi all,

My DH and I just bought a 1950 cape cod home and we also have many single-button light switches. They are different than what cshep has described. Ours are a single rectagular button that you tap. They have only two cords connecting them and the button and the switch plate are actually one fixed unit that comes off the wall all together.

We'd like to replace these, any idea of how hard of a job that would be?


firelily301 07-10-2007 12:18 PM

Well, I found out what my lights are... they are Touch-Plates

Ours are the "Genesis" version of the switches. I wish I could find out if this system is dimmable - anyone know?

speedy petey 07-10-2007 03:31 PM

True, your system is completely different from the OP's.
The OP had regular "on/off" line voltage switches with no relays. You have an elaborate systems of switches and relays. Your best bet would be to find a dealer of your systems and find out what you can from them.

jkirby65 12-15-2007 08:41 AM

Replacing Honeywell Tap lite switches

Originally Posted by Snoonyb (Post 7807)
DO NOT use a single throw switch of any kind, or you will be replacing relays as well.
You need a momentary on switch.

Wow, thank goodness I found this thread. I have a house built in 1960 with the same lights--- single button Honeywell tap lites. Since I couldn't find replacement switches or switch plates, I thoughlessly replaced several switches with cheapo switches from Home Depot :eek: . Am I in trouble? Is my house going to burn down? What should I do????


Jim K

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