Thread Number: 72651  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Switches/outlets/wiring devices
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Post# 959942   9/30/2017 at 16:59 by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

Not sure if this has been a topic before, but anyone like wiring devices, etc?

I collect the old ones, have a few brown plugs and old light fixtures.

Personally as far as modern ones, I like the rocker style light switches, they look nice, IMO. I prefer the regular round duplex outlets over decorative ones, as they seem to last better. Actually I rarely see the decorator outlets used, even if the house has rocker/decorative switches.

Another thing is, I prefer white switches/outlets/plates. With white walls, ivory just sticks out so much, and it seems some older devices discolor over time, turning a dark yellow.

My house, actually has a mixture of original 1976 Leviton outlets and toggle switches in ivory, some newer white Leviton switches and toggle switches in white, and a few Leviton rocker switches in white. Haven't gotten around to replacing all of them, mostly just did the kitchen and bath. I don't plan to replace the ones on the pine plank panelled wall, as to me the ivory actually fits in better with the color of the wood than white would.

The original outlets all have that push in style wiring, with no terminal screws, which I don't like, as it makes one wonder how good the connection is.

As they were replaced, did all side wire with screw terminal connections.

All of the original switches though, seem to have push in and screw terminal connections.

Also, still need to add outlets to the kitchen island. THe original had two outlets on the side, but when the cabinets were replaced, didn't want to cut holes into the wood side panels. I'm considering a plugmold strip under the edge of the counter so it would be hidden. Not sure if it's feasible though or would meet code.

Post# 959948 , Reply# 1   9/30/2017 at 18:12 by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

I have a small collection of vintage devices and a drawer full of new stuff for quick changeouts when I need to. I'm fascinated by old light switches, in my dads apartment building the switch to the basement stairwell light is one of those round twist-the-knob style switches original from 1915. That light still works, there's a couple more in the basement that are disconnected. Someday I may harvest them for my collection. Unbelievable that a 102 year old switch still works perfectly fine, not many light switches made more recently would last like that.

Another favorite of mine are mercury light switches, my grandmas house was full of them. Someone went around and installed those around 1960 for most lights except the bedrooms, basement light, and a switched outlet next to the picture window. The latter two were original to the house, both were those spring loaded toggle switches that made a very loud snap when flipped. One of them had a plastic toggle, and the basement switch was actually porcelain. Not sure if I saved either of those. I saved a couple of the mercury switches because I was so fascinated with their smooth operation and complete silence, but now I wish I'd saved them all.

Another switch that was common in that house were Slater switches, there was 3 of them in a single gang box in the foyer for the lamp post, porch light, and foyer light, and a single gang box in the garage with two switches, one for the garage light and the lamp post. My dad installed both of those around 1976 when he ran a conduit and made the lamp post into a three way switch setup. There was another set of three of them in the finished basement in a double gang box, one was for a storage room and was paired with a neon indicator light, and the other two were for overhead lights.

There was also a variety of wall outlets in the house, the original ones being two prong outlets, but most were replaced with grounded outlets later on. The most interesting outlet setup in the house was in the front bathroom where somebody had added a duplex switch/receptacle in the single gang box that was just a light switch before, so there was no neutral wire running to the box. So they just strapped the outlets neutral to the back of the metal box and relied on the conduit as a neutral. I was surprised when I discovered that because my grandma used to use that outlet for her Kirby and it never gave any trouble. I later used that trick for a digital timer switch somewhere and worked like a charm

Post# 959957 , Reply# 2   9/30/2017 at 19:08 by philcobendixduo (San Jose)        
I've Always Been Fascinated....

philcobendixduo's profile picture
....with different styles of wall switches. When I moved into my 1967 home, it had toggle switches that clicked loudly when operated. I replaced them all with lighted mercury switches in the 1980's and a few years ago, I replaced them all with lighted Decora (rocker) switches in WHITE except for the kitchen which has ALMOND color. I replaced all the duplex outlets with commercial grade Decora units as well.

Some unique wall switches I remember from homes and places I've worked at or visited are;
Push button (one button) on/off in both LARGE round and small rectangle style.
At a church, they had a relay system - there was a rotary knob marked 1-9.
The knob was turned to the desired position (to control desired lights) then a momentary contact paddle switch was pushed up to turn the lights on. The paddle switch could be HELD in the up position while the 1-9 knob was turned and that would then turn on ALL the lights. Pushing the paddle switch DOWN would turn them off.

All the lighted switches I've ever purchased used neon to light the switch including the "new" Decora switches I purchased in 2012. I think newer switches use LED lamps now.

Post# 960035 , Reply# 3   10/1/2017 at 13:39 by nanook (Seattle)        

nanook's profile picture

That large, round button was most-likely a Tap-Lite switch - made by Honeywell - which was line voltage. The small, rectangular switch 'could' be a low voltage system, from Touch Plate. And the system with the 9-position rotary knob & rocker switch sounds like a low voltage system, made by General Electric.

Post# 960271 , Reply# 4   10/2/2017 at 18:16 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I have a few receptacles and switches I removed when renovating my house.

The oldest are from the original construction in 1952. They are the Pass & Seymour brand. These switches have a porcelain body with ivory bakelite handles.

I had replaced several switches in the 70's with those with a small pushbutton (Leviton), and some others in the 80's with rocker switches (Slater).

The basement had some devices that were brown, and most of these had been installed in the early 60's when part of it was finished.

All new devices are white, and the "decorator" type made by LeGrand/Pass & Seymour.

Cole mentioned that he thinks the "decorator" type receptacles don't last as long. I don't think it has anything to do with the style of device, but rather the grade. Residential is the least expensive grade, and doesn't hold up well. All devices used in my renovation are commercial specification grade. Had I wanted to spend even more, I could have used hospital grade (receptacles that have a green dot on the face).

The link is to the P&S site, and explains their PlugTail system.


Post# 960327 , Reply# 5   10/3/2017 at 00:11 by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

The original devices in this house from 1990 are Eagle which is now Cooper. The new Cooper stuff is identical to the Eagle devices in the house. I only replace devices with spec grade, especially since I noticed that the original Eagle stuff here is the same as Cooper's Spec grade today. And the Eagle stuff has held up quite well so it only makes sense to use Spec grade Cooper.

I generally stick with Cooper spec grade, my second choice is Pass & Seymour spec grade, and for GFI's I like Leviton best.

Post# 960332 , Reply# 6   10/3/2017 at 00:31 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

askolover's profile picture

I've replaced  all but one of my home's old dark brown/black loud snap switches with silent white ones.  I know someone back home with the two round button push on push off switches in her house.  I think those are neat. 

Post# 960460 , Reply# 7   10/3/2017 at 16:49 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        
Johnathan (GusHerb)

Cooper is now Eaton, which is also the manufacturer of the Cutler-Hammer breaker panels. They also sell devices labled Arrow-Hart.

Post# 960496 , Reply# 8   10/3/2017 at 21:30 by fisherpaykel (BC Canada)        
Push in style wiring connection-not very secure

Yes not good, my 1983 house had an outdoor under eave Christmas plug that stopped working some years ago, one of the push in wires had come out, the screw conection was there, I guess the electrician thought well it is there, quick and easy, why not? We know why not. I released the other wire and used the screw connections, still working now.

Post# 960499 , Reply# 9   10/3/2017 at 21:46 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

wayupnorth's profile picture
And being able to bury an electric line 22 plus years ago that I paid to be in conduit as to never screw up, not just put the wire in beside the septic line and it finally failed for my garage. Cant go back, contractor that did it is dead now. Too bad, so sad for me...

Post# 960506 , Reply# 10   10/3/2017 at 22:32 by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

I'll have to do some catching up on that. One of the reasons I liked Cooper was they were made in USA. I looked at the Leviton devices in my drawer and realized they were made in USA too, but distinctly remember them being made in Mexico before. IIRC the reason I chose Cooper over Leviton was they cost the same as the spec grade Levitons but came with the backwire option (not to be mistaken with backstab) which is more convenient and creates a stronger connection than just a wire around a terminal.

Post# 960606 , Reply# 11   10/4/2017 at 15:44 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

Where a device is made depends on the model number. For example, P&S has GFCI's that are exactly the same except for country of origin. The 20 amp PlugTail tamper resistant version is model number PT2097TR if from China, and model number PT2097TRNA for the NAFTA compliant version from Mexico. The wallplates are made in USA.

Post# 961607 , Reply# 12   10/9/2017 at 21:00 by Steved (Guilderland, New York)        
GE Relay system

Our vintage 1962 home has a GE low voltage lighting system with the main control in our bedroom. We have been here almost 5 years with no issues. The previous owner updated a couple of switches and I was able to find a few more plus relays on eBay for backup. I believe all the homes this builder sold were equipped this way. Funny how there is very little information about the residential system on the web

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Post# 961659 , Reply# 13   10/10/2017 at 06:49 by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

My previous house that I lived in had the same system. Going to sell it in 2018. I was able to find pretty much any of the parts through an electrical supply house locally. Worked great. Nice for remote control over many lights inside and out. Mine was also located in the master bedroom. Great system that is still working well after all these years.


Post# 961669 , Reply# 14   10/10/2017 at 07:25 by steved (Guilderland, New York)        

I swear that pic was right side up when I posted it.......

Post# 962482 , Reply# 15   10/14/2017 at 13:12 by cornutt (Huntsville, AL USA)        

I had an uncle whose house had some kind of low voltage system. The switches were rockers and they were huge -- there was no faceplate because the rocker covered the entire box. The surface of the rocker was clear Lexan or some such, and there was a mirrored finish underneath it. The house was built in, I think, 1964.

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