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Author Topic: Neutral Wire Workaround for Using CFL's  (Read 8226 times)

Waynemor

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Neutral Wire Workaround for Using CFL's
« on: February 04, 2008, 12:55:46 PM »

When it comes to using CFL's with wall switch controlled fixtures I have found that currently the best tool for the job is the XPS3 relay wall switch. Only catch is that you need to have neutral available at the switch location.
I happen to own a 50 year old house and this is not always possible.
So since I do not want to rip the walls apart to remedy this (WAF you know) I decided to move the wall switches to where the neutral line is. As it turns out this proved to be easier than I first expected.
Here is the short story...
I have installed an XPS3 switch in the ceiling box for my dining room light (has to have neutral for the light to work). Then I put an XPSS/WS14 (slave switch) in the original wall box. I hooked up the 2 wires running between boxes so that one is hot and the other is hooked to the control terminal of the XPS3. This combination works great and I am now looking to expand this to other rooms where I need to convert for CFL's.
The important part of this conversion is that you need a switch in the ceiling that has the control terminal (for 3 and 4 way setups). This allows for the remote switching to take place.
If the XPFM inline appliance module had the control feature it would be a great choice for something like this (are you listening X10).
Yes I know there could be other ways of doing this but what I have done was very cost effective (especially for not ripping walls apart) and still allows "local" control.
Enough for now, I hope I have the techie types thinking and in follow up posts I will deal with the how's of the project.
I will also say that I do not believe this project is suitable for someone new to X10 and I do not believe it will work for all light fixture types.
I will also say that I live in Ontario Canada and it is possible that parts and dimensions could vary for other parts of North America.

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Oldtimer

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Re: Neutral Wire Workaround for Using CFL's
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 01:51:45 PM »


I have installed an XPS3 switch in the ceiling box for my dining room light (has to have neutral for the light to work). Then I put an XPSS/WS14 (slave switch) in the original wall box. I hooked up the 2 wires running between boxes so that one is hot and the other is hooked to the control terminal of the XPS3. This combination works great and I am now looking to expand this to other rooms where I need to convert for CFL's.


Thanks for posting this.  It gets a helpful from me.  Nice example of out of the box thinking.  Looking forward to seeing the details when you post them.
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Waynemor

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Re: Neutral Wire Workaround for Using CFL's
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2008, 08:56:34 AM »

Before going any further I would like to make some disclaimers...
1. If your ceiling fixture is unusually close to the ceiling this will not work.
2. If your fixture gives off a lot of heat I have no idea what this will do to the switch if you put it above the fixture.
3. And I am sure there could be lots of other issues I hadn't thought of
For me it was successfull
My switch installation works because in most ceiling fixtures there is a certain amount of unused space. The one in my dining room has a hanging 3 light fixture on a chain and a bowl shaped section which fits against the ceiling. Even though there are pieces and cables inside this piece there is room to fit a switch.
In this part of Canada it is possible to buy extenders for ceiling boxes. There are two types that I have seen, ones as thick as a ceiling box and those which are about one third of the thickness of a full box.
In my case the one third height box fit against the original inside the dome wth no problem.. I then mounted the switch on this ring with the rocker facing down into the room.
In the original box in the ceiling you have the two screws that hold whatever you are mounting in place. If you bend the tabs they screw into slightly inward and use long screws you can mate them to the mounting holes on the XPS3 switch as it rests against the extender. When you tighten them you have sandwiched the extender ring between the original box and the XPS3 switch.
(The holes where the extender would have originally attached to the ceiling box give clearance for the extra long screws.)
At this point you have the switch mounted to the ceiling.
Next time I will talk about making the fixture mate with what has been done so far.
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Waynemor

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Re: Neutral Wire Workaround for Using CFL's
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2008, 08:59:31 AM »

When I installed the XPS3 I removed the paddle from the face of the switch to allow for more room for attaching things. It also makes it easier for re-setting house and unit codes.
Most light fixtures have a bracket for installing to the two mounting screws in the ceiling box. Most of the time it is long and narrow with a number of slots and screw holes and it may even be threaded in the centre for a tube in which the wire gets to the box to be connected. The two slots are used to hold the bracket to the original ceiling box and allow for some adjustment fom side to side.
With a bit of bending I was able to make this bracket clear the switch while still reaching the two mounting screws on the extender.
In my case the threaded tube is the piece that holds the bowl to the ceiling box as well as providing the path for the wire to get to the connectors. With the XPS3 behind it this tube was way too long and cutting it down allowed me room to thread the wire into the box and to the switch.
Once these mods were complete, everything mounted properly and looked the way it was suppossed to.
One more installment to this little saga. Next time I will talk about hooking up the electrical wiring to make it all work.

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Waynemor

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Re: Neutral Wire Workaround for Using CFL's
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2008, 11:13:18 AM »

Now for the wiring...
There can be variations on this but the idea is to take the two wires coming from the wall switch and make some changes to one of them in the ceiling box. Originally one of the wires was attached to the hot or source wire, usually using a wire nut. You want to separate these two and put both in the two "source" connectors on the switch. The other wire coming from the wall switch has to be connected to the "control" terminal. Remember that the XPS3 has two connections for each terminal type on the switch.
The two wires coming from the fixture are easy. One goes to "load" and the other goes to "neutral" on the switch. If you want to get fancy, use a continuity tester to find out which wire is attached to the outer ring on the lamp sockets and connect that one to neutral.
The other "neutral" terminal is for the neutral wire coming out of the ceiling.
The last thing to do is to install the WS14/XPSS in the wall box in the usual manner and you are done.
I hope this info was useful. Have fun upgrading for CFL's.
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