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Old 07-01-2010, 07:37 AM   #1
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Installing a touch-lamp circuit in a wall - please help....


Hi,

This is my first post. Thanks for having me.

I'm replacing several wall sconces. There are no switches linked to the junction boxes (and it would be difficult to install some). My old lamps had built-it switches but were incredibly ugly and needed to be changed. The new ones do not (http://www.ylighting.com/tec-2kd-700tdecs.html).

I thought it would be interesting to try using a touch-lamp switch so that I could turn the lights on and off simply by touch. I've been playing with a basic switch that I believe works by measuring the capacitance of the lamp's metal surface -- something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Universal-lamp.../dp/B001ALR8BM

Initially, I attached the lamp to a traditional power cord and pugged it into a socket, just to make sure I was wiring the circuit correctly. It worked great. Then I replaced the power cord with the leads from the wall. It worked as well, so long as the lamp was resting on a non-conducting surface (I used a book). But when I mounted the light on the wall, everything stopped working.

The only conclusion I could draw is that the metal mounting hardware (which I figure may be providing a path to ground that wasn't present before) is screwing things up. I'm not sure if my read is right, and in any event, what to do about it.

I'm not an electrician.... more of a hobbyist. I would really appreciate some help and/or thoughts.

Thanks so much.

Adam

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Old 07-01-2010, 08:52 AM   #2
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Installing a touch-lamp circuit in a wall - please help....


I find your explanation regarding grounding with the electrical box to be plausible. I would be surprised, however, if the instructions don't address this problem.

I am unsure about your installation and house construction, but it may be a pretty simple retrofit to add a switch just below the sconse, adding a switch loop wire to the switch. If this is an interior wall (no insulation) and typical construction (vertical wall studs), it would be easy to add a switch box, and add a short wire between the sconse box and switch box.

Depending on how the wires run between fixtures, it may even be pretty simple to install a single switch to control multiple fixtures.

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Old 07-01-2010, 09:11 AM   #3
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Installing a touch-lamp circuit in a wall - please help....


I really don't know about the walls.... it's an 85-year old apartment. Everything's plaster. Can't find the studs. One of those.... I guess you never know until you try.

The instructions, unfortunately, don't deal with this at all. It looks like these switches are meant to be used with plug-in lamps, so perhaps I'm using it in an application for which it wasn't intended. Of course, other than the mounting hardware, there should be no difference.

I'm starting to thing that my explanation is correct.... The way I understand it, these switches work by charging (alternation + and -) the metal plate of the lamp and sensing the change in potential that occurs when you touch it (and the charges spread throughout your body). Once you've attached it to a large conductor (e.g. a ground wire, junction box, etc.) the impact your body has on the circuit is much less, and doesn't trigger the switch.

Does that sound right?
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:09 PM   #4
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Installing a touch-lamp circuit in a wall - please help....


I can only make educated guesses on your touch device, but this sounds like you have reached a correct conclusion.

Given that you live in an apartment, making permanent changes like a new switch might not sit well with the landlord.

One idea that I can think of is the use of insteon in-line relays and a plug-in controller. If your box is deep enough, you may be able to put a relay module in each and control both using the plug-in controller. This might be more effort and cost than it is worth to you, however.
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