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#205004 - 01/27/12 07:22 PM GE low-voltage remote control relay system
Albert Offline
Member

Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 76
Loc: Falls Church, VA
By way of "re-introduction", since I haven't posted for a long time: I'm not an electrician but am interested in all things electrical, especially historical topics on both sides of the meter.

Anyway, I just came across some photos of a spectacular GE low-voltage installation, which I thought might be of interest:
GE relay installation

This has so many cool features, I don't know where to begin. Aside from the wire-management technique, there's the extra relay in the 1900 box on the end of the trough (why?), and the slightly "listing" relay to the left of the EMT run (maybe it's in a 3/4" KO?)

I've seen a few photos of "interesting" GE relay setups over the years, but this is by far the most impressive!

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#205007 - 01/27/12 07:35 PM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: Albert]
HotLine1 Offline

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6786
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Albert:

Welcome back! Jump in and post away!

GE LV lighting controls were numerous here (NNJ), and there are some still around. Yes, I believe the pieces are still available.

The 'listing' on probably just needs to be set back in the KO. The 4x4 was possibly just an 'add-on' to use the KOs.
_________________________
John

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#205009 - 01/27/12 08:07 PM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: Albert]
Albert Offline
Member

Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 76
Loc: Falls Church, VA
Thanks, HotLine1!

Yes, in fact GE still makes the relays and switches, though the switches and relay boxes ("tubs") are different and some of the components (that 1960s-cool two-knob master switch, and the motor-driven master controller) are no longer made.

The relays actually have some nice features for modern control systems: the latching function lets the system maintain its condition through a power failure, the separate ON and OFF coils give positive control, and the pilot contacts (on the RR9 relay) provide for indicator lights and status supervision.

In fact, I'm toying with the idea of using an inexpensive PLC with the GE relays to implement some simple control functions, like allowing the use of two-wire (SPST) pushbuttons and maintained-contact switches in place of the three-wire controls, controlling groups of relays from a single switch, and allowing an outdoor-lighting circuit to be controlled by either a local switch or a master time clock or photocontrol.

The product documentation is a bit hard to find (for me, at least) on GE's web site, so here's a link which might be useful:
GE lighting control booklet

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#205010 - 01/27/12 08:37 PM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: Albert]
Tesla Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/04
Posts: 1280
Loc: Sacramento, CA
Their rival at the time was Touch Plate. Those are also still in production.

What this pic does not show is the multiple master switching plates made for these systems.

Typically, one would be at the master bedroom, and another at the kitchen. These would have LV links duplicating the trigger function of each control solenoid. So one could sit at the bedside and fire off lights all over the home -- or turn them off, too.

It is NOT true that the lock-up of a plate-switch would jamb the entire system. Such lock-ups merely zap one solenoid at a time. Stuck contacts then leave the solenoid unable to change state/ switch.

Left on -- these solenoids then have power draining impacts on nearby solenoids -- making them iffy.

Todays IR guns can spot the locked up solenoid in a jiffy -- which can then be disconnected on the LV side. Thusly, the drain is gone.

Then it's a matter of finding out which wall-plate switch is stuck in a closed state.

Since these systems are fossils -- switch failures are to be expected. Conventional switches would've been long since replaced.

----

BTW, these systems are also compatible with placing the solenoids all over the home -- with the full voltage conductors being switched at or near the light fixtures.

From such locations, a multi-wire LV harness/ cable assembly would weave around the rafters on back to central control points.

The result, either style, is to have 3-way and 4-way switching all over the home -- with master switching to boot.

Today X-10 and others have passed this approach by.

IIRC the GE solenoids even have a motor rating -- it's not big, but it's there.
_________________________
Tesla

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#205011 - 01/27/12 09:53 PM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: Albert]
gfretwell Offline

Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9012
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
IBM Gaithersburg (Md) complex uses the RR-9 system on all lighting. I ended up with a big box of the used relays and some switches because they always put new ones in on a remodel. There are 2 versions of the switch. The one with the larger rockers were more prone to sticking and burning out the coil. I probably still have some and my old house in Maryland has a bunch installed.
_________________________
Greg Fretwell

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#205013 - 01/27/12 11:35 PM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: Tesla]
Albert Offline
Member

Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 76
Loc: Falls Church, VA
Originally Posted By: Tesla
Their rival at the time was Touch Plate. Those are also still in production.

Yes, as I understand it, the main difference is that the Touch Plate system uses relays with a single coil and a ratcheting mechanism, which alternates ON/OFF with each control pulse. This allows the use of two-wire control circuits. I think there's another, newer system which uses DC of opposite polarities to control ON or OFF; I believe it uses Panasonic relays.

Quote:
What this pic does not show is the multiple master switching plates made for these systems.
Typically, one would be at the master bedroom, and another at the kitchen. These would have LV links duplicating the trigger function of each control solenoid. So one could sit at the bedside and fire off lights all over the home -- or turn them off, too.


There's one here: GE master switch
and a neat ad: GE master switch ad
also, a photo of the wiring behind one: GE master switch wiring

Quote:
It is NOT true that the lock-up of a plate-switch would jamb the entire system. Such lock-ups merely zap one solenoid at a time. Stuck contacts then leave the solenoid unable to change state/ switch.

Right - from what I've read here and elsewhere, that seems to be the system's most common failure mode. My PLC-based system concept would eliminate that problem - replacing it with the risk of PLC hardware or programmer (me) failure!

Quote:
Left on -- these solenoids then have power draining impacts on nearby solenoids -- making them iffy.
Todays IR guns can spot the locked up solenoid in a jiffy -- which can then be disconnected on the LV side. Thusly, the drain is gone.

Then it's a matter of finding out which wall-plate switch is stuck in a closed state.

Great troubleshooting idea!

Now, in keeping with the 1960s theme, we need to house an IR gun in a case that looks and sounds like the original Star Trek "tricorder".

Quote:
Since these systems are fossils -- switch failures are to be expected. Conventional switches would've been long since replaced.

Good point.

----

Quote:
BTW, these systems are also compatible with placing the solenoids all over the home -- with the full voltage conductors being switched at or near the light fixtures.
From such locations, a multi-wire LV harness/ cable assembly would weave around the rafters on back to central control points.

The result, either style, is to have 3-way and 4-way switching all over the home -- with master switching to boot.

Yes, you could install the relays in a KO in the fixture box. I never cared for that concept because of the difficultly accessing the relays; the centralized relay boxes seem like a better approach. Also, I like to have the low-voltage connections enclosed in a box rather than just hanging inside the wall or ceiling.

A member of the GE low-voltage Yahoo group came up with a really good idea for installing a one or two relays: he mounts two 4-11/16 x 2-1/8 boxes about an inch apart, and inserts the relay from inside one box into the opposite KO on the other box, so the line-voltage "head" is in one box, and the control wires are in the other. Makes for a neat installation, and is a lot cheaper than the GE relay tubs.

I'm considering a "box within a box" approach for mounting larger numbers of relays. I'd install the relays in KOs along the sides of a 4" deep pull box (maybe 8x8 or 10x10), with the control wires inside the box. Then I'd put that box inside a larger, 6" deep box (maybe the kind with a hinged cover and back panel), and use the space between the two boxes for the line-voltage wiring, with DIN-rail terminal blocks for the neutral and equipment-gound connection. A conduit nipple would bring the control wires from inside the smaller box through the side of the larger box.

Quote:
Today X-10 and others have passed this approach by.


Yes, wireless RF controls are the big thing today.

Quote:
IIRC the GE solenoids even have a motor rating -- it's not big, but it's there.

Right again - it's 1/2HP at 110-125VAC, and 1-1/2HP at 22-277VAC. Also a 20A tungsten rating at 125VAC, and 20A ballast rating at 277VAC.

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#205017 - 01/28/12 12:33 PM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: gfretwell]
pdh Offline
Member

Registered: 01/20/05
Posts: 354
Originally Posted By: gfretwell
IBM Gaithersburg (Md) complex uses the RR-9 system on all lighting. I ended up with a big box of the used relays and some switches because they always put new ones in on a remodel. There are 2 versions of the switch. The one with the larger rockers were more prone to sticking and burning out the coil. I probably still have some and my old house in Maryland has a bunch installed.

Ouch. That would make me not want to use their switches. But the system should work on normal two-throw momentary contact switches, right?

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#205018 - 01/28/12 12:44 PM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: Albert]
gfretwell Offline

Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9012
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
In the IBM installation they had a relay in the first troffer of each string. They did try to be consistent that it was in one particular corner of each room so you were not looking all over for it. Later they put an adhesive "dot" on the lens frame of the troffer with the relay. That made it real easy to find. This was all 277v so you got a bunch of lights on a relay.
Usually finding the bad switch was just tactile. You looked for the one that was binding on the cover. Until they came out with the small rocker switch, there were a few different approaches. One was making the rocker smaller with a file, the other was making the hole in the cover bigger. Most important was being sure the cover to switch alignment was right. If you had a bunch of switches under one cover, you had to be sure each switch was aligned perfectly, relative to the rest, so the cover would "center" over all of them. That wasn't a big deal if there were only 1 or 2 switches but in the big computer rooms you have a bunch of switches in a row.
_________________________
Greg Fretwell

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#205082 - 01/30/12 06:41 AM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: Albert]
harold endean Offline
Member

Registered: 02/16/02
Posts: 2248
Loc: Boonton, NJ
I have seen many of these systems here in NJ and I have also pulled out some of these systems. The parts for them was getting very hard to get. Amprobe made some Remco relays around here as they were known by that name. Most EC's put the whole master relay board in the attic. It was easy to get to, but I don't know if the heat would affect the performance of the relays.

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#205196 - 02/04/12 08:07 PM Re: GE low-voltage remote control relay system [Re: harold endean]
Albert Offline
Member

Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 76
Loc: Falls Church, VA
One thing I recently discovered, which gives me hope for the future of these systems, is that WattStopper makes a relay which appears to be a direct replacement for the GE RR9:

Wattstopper HDR relay

In fact, it looks even better than the GE relay, with higher contact ratings and a manual actuator.

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