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Old 01-19-2010, 12:24 PM   #1
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Lighted Switch


While rummaging through my box of electrical 'stuff' I found a Cooper brand switch (new w/ cardboard packaging) marked "Lighted".

Cardboard label had no wiring instructions.

It has two side terminals and a ground. No provision for a neutral connections.

How does it light up w/o a neutral connection?
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:50 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cgoll View Post
While rummaging through my box of electrical 'stuff' I found a Cooper brand switch (new w/ cardboard packaging) marked "Lighted".

Cardboard label had no wiring instructions.

It has two side terminals and a ground. No provision for a neutral connections.

How does it light up w/o a neutral connection?
Some lighted switches (I don't know how yours is made) use the potential difference between the lighted diode and the load side switch terminal when you have a working (incandescent?) bulb in the socket. Others, (those that light up only when the switch is in the OFF position) have the internal diode connected on both terminals.
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:33 PM   #3
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When the switch is "turned off" current goes through the little light inside and the light / appliance / device being controlled by the switch completes the circuit.

Certain low wattage devices including compact fluorescent lights as the only devices controlled by the switch might not pass sufficient current for the switch light to illuminate.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 01-19-2010 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:06 PM   #4
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I have two lighted three way switches, dont know why now guess needed to use more electric, bill was a little to low
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:16 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
When the switch is "turned off" current goes through the little light inside and the light / appliance / device being controlled by the switch completes the circuit.

Certain low wattage devices including compact fluorescent lights as the only devices controlled by the switch might not pass sufficient current for the switch light to illuminate.
Correct. I was going to make that distinction (that the above applies only to Incandescent light bulbs) but I wasn't sure about CFLs!!
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Old 01-20-2010, 05:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
When the switch is "turned off" current goes through the little light inside and the light / appliance / device being controlled by the switch completes the circuit.

Certain low wattage devices including compact fluorescent lights as the only devices controlled by the switch might not pass sufficient current for the switch light to illuminate.
Or the CFLs will flicker if they are the only thing on the switch.
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Old 01-20-2010, 07:23 PM   #7
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OK, I understand from the prior posts that, in practice, illuminated switches work when they are connected to an incandescent lamp. That is consistant with the fact that mine did not light up when connected to only an outlet, nor when a fluorescent overhead light was plugged into said outlet.

Enough for the practical. In theory, where is the circuit? As I type this, I wonder if I just figured it out. Does it pass just enough current through the bulb to light the diode in the switch, but not enough to light the bulb? And fluorescents don't pass any current unless the current level is high enough?

In other words, if the lamp is switched off, does the switch light up?
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:04 PM   #8
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The current passes through the lamp to light a neon light. There is no diode.
An incandescent lamp can pass the current and you don't notice. However the minimal current will often cause a CFL to flicker.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cgoll View Post
. In theory, where is the circuit?
To recap, from the panel via the hot conductor up to the switch, through the little switch light if the switch is off, then to the thing being controlled (light, etc.), through that, then onto the neutral conductor and back to the panel.

A neon lamp that fits in the switch handle draws about 1/100'th amp so the total current in the circuit would be 1/100'th amp with the switch off and the neon switch light on. Hardly anything controlled by the switch will come right on given only that much current.

If an LED (a kind of diode) is used as the switch light instead of a neon lamp then the current drawn will be smaller still and less likely to activate a compact fluorescent if that was being controlled by the switch.

When the switch is turned on, the closed switch contacts make for a path around the switch light with a much lower resistance, the switch light is "shorted" and goes off, and the thing being controlled determines how many amperes flow, for example about 3/4 amp for a 100 watt incandescent light.

In general, things that consume less current in operation have a higher internal resistance. The higher the resistance of other things sharing the same "circuit loop" (connected in series) with the neon lamp, the fewer volts are measured across the lamp terminals. A neon lamp needs so many volts to get started; in other words without that voltage it doesn't come on.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 01-21-2010 at 09:06 AM.
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