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Old 05-02-2012, 03:50 PM   #1
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


I admit, I'm jealous of the European style light switches, with the little white buttons instead of the standard switches they have here in Canada. I don't know much about the design of the European wall switches, other than they are designed for 250v 10a systems. And that I can buy them on eBay! So I am wondering if anyone can tell me whether it might be possible for me to install the European 250v light switches on a North American 120v system?

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Old 05-02-2012, 04:23 PM   #2
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


They will operate but if they are not UL listed for use then they are against code.

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Old 05-02-2012, 04:54 PM   #3
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


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They will operate but if they are not UL listed for use then they are against code.
Great, we don't have UL in Canada, so no worries! Now... how to wire a European light switch on an NA system?!

From what I've seen in UK instructions, they use a brown LIVE wire to connect to the COMMON terminal on the switch, and a blue wire they call "SWITCHED LIVE" to connect to the L1 terminal on the switch (plus sometimes a third wire is connected to L2, for 2-way lighting).

Would I be correct in presuming I connect the BLACK (LIVE) wire to COMM terminal, and the WHITE (NEUTRAL) to L1 in single-gang one-way switch?
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:00 PM   #4
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


We may not have UL but we do have CSA and it won't have that either. It's one of those things where it'll work fine but if your house burns down you have no insurance.

as for the wiring, it would be the same as here. I don't want to say anything more than that because i feel it would be wrong to instruct someone how to install non code compliant equipment in their home.

on a side note you can get push button switches here too eh.
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:41 PM   #5
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It's one of those things where it'll work fine but if your house burns down you have no insurance.
I don't have insurance anyways, so it does not make a bit of difference for me. And if these things are rated for 250v 10a, I don't see why they would be a problem running 120v!


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on a side note you can get push button switches here too eh.
Really, where from?

Last edited by BuckyGunts; 05-02-2012 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 05-02-2012, 06:34 PM   #6
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


A switch rated for 250 volts 10 amps (2500 watts) will work perfectly well with 120 volts 10 amps but not necessarily with 120 volts 20 amps (2400 watts). Both the voltage rating and the amperage rating have to be adhered to.
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:52 PM   #7
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


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A switch rated for 250 volts 10 amps (2500 watts) will work perfectly well with 120 volts 10 amps but not necessarily with 120 volts 20 amps (2400 watts). Both the voltage rating and the amperage rating have to be adhered to.
Aren't NA wall switches typically 15 amps? ie. Leviton 15A Toggle Switch According to this, the NEC considers 15a 125v to be equivalent with 10a 250v:

"NE Code rules require that receptacles installed for the attachment of portable cords shall be rated at not less than 15A, 125V or 10A 250V." - EC&M

Well, whether NA switches are 15a or 20a, that's still less wattage than what European switches are rated for. So given that we're only talking about a single gang 1-way switch to control a ceiling light fixture (and not, ie. a bank of lights for a baseball stadium!), I really don't see the problem. Well, I'll let you know in 10 years if the switch is still working without a problem. But if you don't hear from me in 10 years, then you'll know there was a problem.

Last edited by BuckyGunts; 05-02-2012 at 09:55 PM.
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:02 PM   #8
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


As the owner of your home your entitled to do pretty much whatever you want.
You said your in canada so i would assume your reading the CEC and not the NEC. Also you can't use a switch rated for less than 15A for a lighting circuit. Is it safe to do in your application, most likely. Just clarifying so someone doesn't read this and decide to throw some giant chandelier on a switch from ebay.
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:14 PM   #9
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


Why ask if you aren't going to follow the advice given?
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:25 PM   #10
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


finally a question pertaining to the cec and i get shot down

As for places where you can get a european style switch i would try the levitron and lutron websites. There's even sites that sell the old style antique push button type.

check these out, they aren't what your looking for but they certainly are pretty cool
http://www.classicaccents.net/Mercha...egory_Code=PBS
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:08 AM   #11
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


Oh, wow, that brings back memories. My grandmother's house had those on most of the wiring. I wonder if the new ones still make the satisfying click.
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Old 05-04-2012, 01:16 PM   #12
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Just clarifying so someone doesn't read this and decide to throw some giant chandelier on a switch from ebay.
That's good! Even if I don't much care for codes n' rules n' that ("CEC code"? What's that?! ), I recognize that other people do care a lot about this stuff, and they should know what's what. (As for the light fixture I intend to wire to the European switch, I suppose it could be considered a "chandelier" as it has 8 or 9 bulbs. But they are only 9w CFL's, so its only running about 80watts!).

4 minutes after I posted my original message, I did a Google search on the question of whether you can install a European switch on NA system, and the only thing that came up, was my own message! So yeah, its likely this thread will be the only thing people will find if they are asking the same question as me!

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check these out, they aren't what your looking for but they certainly are pretty cool
Those pushbutton switches are pretty cool, and I did consider getting it instead. But the reason I wanted a European one isn't really because it's rocker or push button switch or has "vintage appeal". I wanted to have what they have in Europe, as I simply like the idea of European styling. So I got this....

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/White-Plastic...item256fde6549


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Why ask if you aren't going to follow the advice given?
I hope this isn't too confusing, but in this case, I asked the question before the advice was given.
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Old 05-05-2012, 01:59 AM   #13
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


Let me step in here for a moment due I do live in both USA and France so I know the layout pretty well.

First of all the European switch are not compareable to the North Americian electrical junction box at all the clear cut is the deminsion is differnt.

If you want simuir to the European look you can use the Decora or simauir products so that will designed to fit in the North American junction box

Merci,
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:52 AM   #14
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


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Those pushbutton switches are pretty cool, and I did consider getting it instead. But the reason I wanted a European one isn't really because it's rocker or push button switch or has "vintage appeal". I wanted to have what they have in Europe, as I simply like the idea of European styling. So I got this....

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/White-Plastic...item256fde6549
Your so called European switch is a cheap Chinese knockoff of an Australian Switch. A quick look at the back and I can tell you it would not pass Australian Standards. Switches designed for foreign countires probably won't be UL or CSA listed, but at least get switches that have been tested to local standards. A good reputable brand in Australia is Clipsal.

Yes, it is possible to legally use foreign design switches, but the engineering work required is time consuming and can be costly. I have used Clipsal switches on projects. As a minimum to meet UL and NEC requirements you must mount the switch in their exterior housing even when used indoors. CSA and CEC areprobably very similar.
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:00 AM   #15
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Can I install European light switch on NA system?


He doesn't care, he's made that perfectly clear.

Doesn't care what your advice is.

Doesn't care about codes.

Doesn't care about his property.

Doesn't care about others' property.

The only thing he cares about is using his pretty little switch.

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