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Old 11-25-2011, 02:09 PM   #1
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12 volt closet switches


I recently purchased a house, and the upstairs closets all had a pressure switch that looks like a silver ball. This allows the bi fold doors to turn on the lights when opened. The basement closets were wired, but did not have the switches. I found the switches at a local electrical contractor store, but the salesman said they were for 12 volts, and to use a meter to verify the wiring was appropriate. The meter showed 26.2 volts when I checked, and I confirmed that was the same as the upstairs closet wiring, where the same 12 volt switches are being used.

This might be a stupid question, but is that a hazard or even something to be concerned about? Obviously I have no real electrical knowledge, and am trying to be safe! Any feedback would be appreciated!!

Thanks, Ted

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Old 11-25-2011, 06:11 PM   #2
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12 volt closet switches


Most automotive switchs designed for use on 12vdc
would have no trouble with 24vdc especially if it is low currant,
(IE does not directily control lights, but via relay)
The only problem could be insurance related if the switchs are
not rated offically for 24vdc, then the insurance company
could use that to deny a claim.

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Old 11-25-2011, 06:31 PM   #3
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12 volt closet switches


Do the switches look like this?



If yes, those are typically used for 12 volt DC security systems on doors.

I'm thinking there are several possibilities. (Thinking out loud here...)

-It could in fact be 120 volts and you were using a digital multimeter and getting a "phantom voltage".

-Or could be AC and you were reading DC. Or DC and you were reading AC.

-Or could be 26 volts AC.

-Reading just the "switch wires" may or may not give you an accurate voltage reading? I've never tried that, so??? What if relay in circuit?

Anyway I always know the voltage I am reading, so set my meter to AC or DC as appropriate. And I always read the voltage from the source, not one side through a lightbulb or a relay. I guess you would get the same voltage if meter set to the correct type of electricity (AC/DC) and reading through a relay?

I would do some further investigating. See if you can find any "transformers" which the door wires connect to. And what type of light bulb is there?

Transformers look like this...

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Old 11-25-2011, 06:43 PM   #4
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12 volt closet switches


I found these "low voltage relays" which can be placed inside an electrical box...

http://www.licensedelectrician.com/Store/AM/Remcon.htm
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:20 AM   #5
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12 volt closet switches


Billy_bob, the picture of the switch is exactly what I have. I can't see any transformers, the wires to into the door frame. They look like smaller wires, almost like you would see with a doorbell.

I don't know if this means anything, but I noticed that even when I kill the power, if I touch the two wires I get a click from up by the light fixture, but the lights don't come on. With the power turned on, obviously the click and the light. It has a florescent fixture with two bulbs inside the closet.
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:00 AM   #6
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12 volt closet switches


Sounds like the control relay is in the light fixture but the relay is getting power from a transformer on another circuit.
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:56 AM   #7
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12 volt closet switches


That "click" sound is a "relay". And that means it is highly likely low voltage. So those switches sound safe to me.

And inside the light electrical box might be a gizmo like the one above. It reduces the voltage for the switches and also has a "relay".
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Old 11-27-2011, 01:16 PM   #8
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12 volt closet switches


Great! I'm going to go ahead and install the remaining switches. Can't say I understand how it all works, but I feel more comfortable after the replies here. Thanks again for all the info and help!!
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Old 11-27-2011, 01:33 PM   #9
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12 volt closet switches


A relay is just an electrically operated switch.

So instead of you flipping the switch, there is a separate low voltage circuit which operates that switch up in the ceiling.

Here is a video of a relay working (that clicking noise)...


And your car has a relay (aka solenoid) to run the starter. A car's starter needs BIG wires to make it run, but it would be impossible to run those big wires up to the steering column. So instead they use a relay and then can use small wires to operate that relay. In that case it is the same voltage though, but less "current" needed to operate the relay switch.


Last edited by Billy_Bob; 11-27-2011 at 01:37 PM.
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