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Thread: solenoids

  1. #1
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    Default solenoids

    Why would my houses wiring have solenoids. What do they do and are they beneficial. From what I was able to gather they convert AC to low voltage DC? Is that why I have a slow delay when turning on light?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: solenoids

    solenoids are usually found around the home in the form of controlling valves ( solenoid valves ) in things like dishwashers , ice makers , washing machines , sprinkler systems.
    Simply put ..... electricity applied to a coil which creates a magnetic field and with a metallic plunger that is repelled or attracted by this magnetic field ...... performing mechanical work. In the case of a valve ..... opening or closing.

    A variation is a relay which is an electro-mechanical switch used mainly in electrical/electronic circuits commonly found around the house in digital thermastats, electronic timers, larger version is the motor contactor used for A/C and furnaces/airhandlers, etc...
    Instead of a metallic plunger has metallic spring like contacts when attracted or repelled will make a contact closure or open the contacts.

    These don't convert AC to DC. .... that is done by a convertor.

    In the case of a relay .... it can be used to work with different voltages.
    Example .... the relay can have a low volt DC applied to the coil to activate the relay to switch 120 volt AC to turn on/off a device.

    Things like cell phone or regular phone chargers , laptops , or anything else that has a little black box that gets plugged into the wall and a small cord that plugs into the device is an ACto DC converter. Other devices can have the convertor self contained in the device as well.

    As for your lights ....are these low voltage lights , CFL's , where this happening , are these part of an automated light system , etc..
    Last edited by canuk; 09-29-2009 at 06:43 PM.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
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    Default Re: solenoids

    canuck nailed it

  4. #4
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    Default Re: solenoids

    From what I can tell almost all of our electrical goes through the normal electrical panel in the basement but all our light are then routed to a box in the attic where they are connected to the solenoids and then routed to the light switches. Most are the old low voltage light switches (dinig room, bedroom, living room) but there are a few newer ones(kitchen, bath and closets), this is not part of an automated light system. The house was built around 1956.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: solenoids

    Chances are the box contains a either a power supply which converts 120vac to low voltage DC, or a transformer that converts 120vac to low voltage ac and relays controlled by the switches for the individual lights.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
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    Default Re: solenoids

    can you post a pic op? This sounds interesting.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: solenoids

    Quote Originally Posted by Sfred View Post
    From what I can tell almost all of our electrical goes through the normal electrical panel in the basement but all our light are then routed to a box in the attic where they are connected to the solenoids and then routed to the light switches. Most are the old low voltage light switches (dinig room, bedroom, living room) but there are a few newer ones(kitchen, bath and closets), this is not part of an automated light system. The house was built around 1956.
    Ah ..... the plot thickens.

    From the sound of your description you have one of the vintage automated light control systems.
    I've never seen one but reading about these seems that GE was one system possibly another system by Remcon.
    I take it you have a number of momentary switches throughout the home with a master unit(s) located in a strategic location able to control several lights.

    If it's the GE system there will be a number of latching relays and likely a step down transformer ( 120 vac - 24 vac ) located in the box in your attic. These are an older style of solenoid relay which is a combination of the descriptions I posted earlier....... The plunger moves to close/open contacts.

    The GE system uses 24 volts AC running to all the control switches which then is used to activate the coils on the latching relays inside the box to close / open contacts for operating the lights. From here the 120 volts needed for the lights is distributed from there.

    The problems you are experiencing could be from a number of issues like ..... poor wiring connections .... week relays .... corroded contacts .... stuck switches .... etc..

    Unless you are a very competent DIY'er that has a very good grasp of electrical principals and understanding of latching relays I would suggest calling in a good electrician to sort things out ...... besides I'll bet there's a spaghetti factory of wiring inside the box.

    Good luck.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  8. #8
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    Default Re: solenoids

    spaghetti is correct. Thanks

  9. #9
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    Default Re: solenoids

    Quote Originally Posted by canuk View Post
    Ah ..... the plot thickens.

    From the sound of your description you have one of the vintage automated light control systems.
    I've never seen one but reading about these seems that GE was one system possibly another system by Remcon.
    I take it you have a number of momentary switches throughout the home with a master unit(s) located in a strategic location able to control several lights.

    If it's the GE system there will be a number of latching relays and likely a step down transformer ( 120 vac - 24 vac ) located in the box in your attic. These are an older style of solenoid relay which is a combination of the descriptions I posted earlier....... The plunger moves to close/open contacts.

    The GE system uses 24 volts AC running to all the control switches which then is used to activate the coils on the latching relays inside the box to close / open contacts for operating the lights. From here the 120 volts needed for the lights is distributed from there.

    The problems you are experiencing could be from a number of issues like ..... poor wiring connections .... week relays .... corroded contacts .... stuck switches .... etc..

    Unless you are a very competent DIY'er that has a very good grasp of electrical principals and understanding of latching relays I would suggest calling in a good electrician to sort things out ...... besides I'll bet there's a spaghetti factory of wiring inside the box.

    Good luck.
    Rings a bell. Methinks I took part in a course on these devices back in the year 1973 or so. Never did see one in actual use, and I hope I never do.
    Good luck with your problem, though.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2009
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    Default Re: solenoids

    Not a big deal and you can still buy both new despard switches as well as relays for the system.

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