Better Lighting. Better Energy. Better World

Frequently Asked Questions

Existing 3‐Wire Systems (4)

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Great question. Yes, a 3‐way switch is not a problem. If you plan to replace the switch only, there is no cause for concern with how the rest of the system will operate with it. By using 2 buttons for each existing rocker switch, you are literally installing a 2‐wire station as a 3‐wire switch. It will operate just as a 3‐wire switch, differing only in the fact that two buttons are used. The rest of the system will not be able to tell a difference between the original 3‐wire switch and the replacement 2‐wire.

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It was common for some of the older systems, especially Remcon, to mount their wall boxes horizontally. Our switches are able to mount to an existing wall box or trim ring, regardless if it is horizontal or vertical. It would purely be a cosmetic choice to make, choosing the Touch‐Plate style that suites you when mounted in this fashion.

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To answer your question directly, the answer is yes. Touch‐Plate switches are compatible with an existing 3‐wire system by using two buttons to control ON and OFF. However, the 2‐wire switches were designed for momentary use, where just one button would control both functions. Pressing the button once would turn the light ON, another press would turn it OFF, and so on. The only problem with doing a full switch upgrade first and then pursuing the actual system later is that the extra buttons will no longer be needed when the system is updated. It’s just something to think about. There would be a lesser investment made in actual switches if the system upgrade occurred at the same time, as only one button would be required for each existing rocker switch. But again, it is not a huge problem. Keeping your switches in good condition will keep your system working for longer. If the upgrade is not an immediate step in the future, it would not be a bad idea to replace the switches now. However, if you plan to pursue the system upgrade in a year or two, it would be wise and cost‐effective to wait and do it all at once. Feel free to send us some pictures and information if you wish to see how our solution could fit within your budget.

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No, a status feedback will remain an option for you. The key factor for allowing pilot/LED control is the additional wire that is needed to power the indicator light. Since your system already has a button that lights up, the extra wire used previously will be used with a newer Touch‐Plate style. Feel free to choose any contact closure switch style that has an LED option. The LEDs will be compatible with your existing transformers. Just keep in mind that the LED option only gives a status when the room light is ON. The OFF button LED will never light up.

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Orders, Shipping, & Returns (7)

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Processing and assembly takes 1-3 days for all online products. We strive to ship as soon as possible. Most orders received by 1:00 pm EST will ship the same day.

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We ship UPS and the transit time depends on where you are located. Please view our UPS Ground Outbound map to see the transit time for standard shipping.

UPS Ground Map

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Yes, we would be glad to do that; however, our site does not currently allow that. Please give us a call and place the order by phone and we can process it to charge the freight to your UPS account.

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UPS is our standard method of shipment and it is the only option available on our web store currently. We can ship via Priority Mail at no extra charge. We can ship via FedEx or DHL but there will be a $12.00 handling fee applied. Please call and order by phone if you wish us to ship via USPS, FedEx, or DHL.

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Returned Goods/Short Orders

Except for those under warranty, no returned goods will be accepted after 90 days, or without approval and a Returned Materials Authorization (RMA) from Touch-Plate.  To obtain a RMA, contact  Touch-Plate with the order number and invoice number of the goods to be returned.

Returned goods must be in original container along with the RMA from Touch-Plate and must be packaged to prevent damage during shipment.  The customer is responsible for freight & damage of parts.

Restocking Fee: If an incorrect item or quantity of item was ordered and needs to be returned, the minimum restocking fee due from purchaser is 25%.  If the item has been opened, partially installed, scratched, dented, or in any way damaged, the restocking fee will be determined by Touch-Plate upon inspection.

Any missing or incorrectly shipped items must be reported within 5 days of receipt of shipment. You must contact Touch-Plate either by phone or email and obtain a RMA number for the incorrect items so that the missing merchandise may re-shipped or credited. Failure to do so will relieve Touch-Plate of any liability of cost or material associated with the missing items.

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We are open Monday-Friday, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm EST. We ship Monday through Friday and our daily shipping cutoff is 1:00 pm EST. Orders received after 1:00 pm EST will be processed for the following business day. Holiday closures will also account for orders being processed the following open business day.

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Our standard warranty is 1 year from ship date. Click here for our complete warranty.

 

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System Upgrades (6)

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Definitely not. That’s the beauty of it. The existing wire run throughout the building is an investment you can recover.

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All non-lit switches will be compatible with an upgraded system. The only switches that need changed at the time of an upgrade are those with indicator lights. These locations need to be upgraded to a newer model that uses LEDs. The existing pilot bulbs/indicator lights are not compatible with the new system as they draw too much current.  All existing lighted switches must be replaced at the time of an upgrade to avoid damage to the new system.

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Due to a voltage variance between the original system and new system, the existing system must be upgraded entirely at one time. The only exception is if there are multiple panel locations, each with their own power supply. If the commons are proven to be isolated between the panel locations, then one location could be upgraded at a time. However, most existing systems were wired in a way that shared the low voltage common across all the loads. Shared commons will make a partial upgrade impossible because of the aforementioned variance in voltage.

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Low voltage is safe to work with and the majority of the labor involved with an upgrade will involve low voltage connections. However, the high voltage wires must also be disconnected and reconnected. Since high voltage can cause harm, we recommend having an electrician or qualified person onsite to the line voltage work.

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Changing to conventional wiring requires a major renovation.  All existing wiring will need to be removed and new wire put in it’s place. This is simpler said than done. Many hours of labor and much expense is involved in this type of conversion. When the work is finished, the result will leave NO remote control, which is a highlight of low voltage systems. Only conventional switches can be used, which means local control only. On the other hand, by remaining with Touch‐Plate, ALL of the existing wiring will remain a permanent investment that has lost no value. Upgrading to a current system allows a gain in current technology and protects the investment for the future. The value of your home will be restored, as the old system is transformed into a manageable and reliable product.

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We do not have contacts nationwide who are employed by us. However, we do sell directly to contractors so we have numerous contacts in our database. Feel free to contact us to request a listing for your area.

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Touch‐Plate systems dated 1946‐1985 (13)

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The first thing you need to check is the transverter (power supply). In most systems, the transverter is located near the relays, often on the exterior edge of the enclosure. The model numbers produced in this time frame were as follows:  78K1 & 17C and TVR‐1. The transverter is the sole source of power to the relays. If it fails, the relays will not receive power which hinders the lights from operating. To prove the transverter, check for a proper output voltage across the two low voltage wires of the unit (labeled “switch” and “relay.”  The bullets below address what to do based on the voltage level found:

  • A voltage reading of 0 VDC. This means the transverter has failed and is no longer operating. Install a replacement transverter to restore the system.
  • A voltage reading of 0.1‐5 VDC. This shows that a switch is stuck in the ON position, causing the transverter to remain at a lower output voltage as it continues to send power to the related relay. You should notice the transverter is warm to the touch, as it is overheating. Click here to read how to troubleshoot a stuck switch.
  • A voltage reading of 28.5 – 44 VDC. This voltage reading shows that the transverter is putting out the correct voltage. Check the wiring connections on the low voltage side, to ensure that no commons have become disconnected and that the wire has not been damaged. If the wiring is proven, replacing the transverter would be the next step. Although it is showing the proper output voltage, there may be some kind of internal error in the unit which is hindering it from sending power to the relays.
  • A voltage of any other degree. If your transverter is giving a differing voltage than listed above (greater than 5 VDC but less than 28.5 VDC or greater than 45 VDC) the unit should be replaced. The system will not operate properly without the correct voltage being supplied. A replacement unit should solve the problem.

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Typically, the transverter is located near the relays, often on the exterior edge of the enclosure. The model numbers produced in this time frame were as follows:  78K1 & 17C and TVR‐1. If you have several locations of relay panels, there may be a transverter at only one location, as one transverter can power an unlimited number of relays. Depending on how your system was originally wired, you could have one or multiple transverters. If your system is wired with remote relays (relays mounted behind the switch or behind the fixtures), the transverter is likely in a central area of your home where all of the low voltage common wires would meet. Some recommended places to look would be in an attic, basement, crawlspace, or near the breaker box.

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The transverter being warm or even hot to the touch indicates that there is a stuck switch in the system. See Troubleshooting a Stuck Switch to correct the problem. Please do so as soon as possible as the transverter will weaken in this state and eventually fail.

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If your home was built before 1957, your system would have two components powering it instead of one. The original systems used a transformer (78K1) and converter (17C) to power the relays. After 1957, the model TVR‐1 was introduced which did both functions (converting AC to DC and powering the relays). When the time comes to replace the power supply for a system dated 1957 earlier, be sure to remove both the 78K1 and 17C.

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No, your unit is perfectly normal, but it is a good question. The replacement transverter models have been redesigned from the original units. They contain an automatic shut off feature to protect it from quickly failing if a stuck switch occurs. If a switch does stick and the transverter begins to overheat, it will shut down for a time to cool itself off and then restart again. This added feature among other design changes caused the output voltage to rise. It is common to get a voltage reading between 40‐44 VDC if testing without a load. This overall higher voltage is not a concern for the system. The relays (both original and new) will respond correctly and are not in danger from this voltage variance.

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All of our contact closure switches are compatible with the existing Touch‐Plate system. You are free to pick the style that best fits your décor. One important thing to keep in mind, however, is that the LED versions will only operate if your existing switch lights up. An existing non‐lit switch will not have sufficient wires to connect with a new switch with LEDs. All of our switch styles have a non‐LED option for this reason. If having LED status is important to you, upgrading to a digital system will allow the option of adding LEDs to existing stations that are not currently lit without the need to run more wiring.

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In the case where only one light is not responding, the cause is likely a burned out light bulb, a tripped breaker, or a failed relay. Check them in that order. If you can hear the relay clicking when the switch is pressed but do not see the light changing state, it is for certain a bulb or breaker issue. If you prove the bulb and breaker, replace the relay controlling the bathroom and the light should begin working again. If a new relay does not solve the problem, then check the switches controlling this room. Switches can fail but it is unlikely that two controlling the same room light would fail at the same time.  One other thing that could be the cause is that a wire for that relay has become disconnected. This is a seldom occurrence, but any electrician would be able to find this sort of problem. If you have electrical experience, check the low voltage wire connections inside the relay panel before calling an electrician.

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Yes. The newer model 3000 relay is a compatible replacement for systems installed in 1946‐1985. It will fully replace the following models:  1550‐A, 1550‐B, 2500‐B, and 4000.  The 3000 includes screw terminals for the high voltage wire connections, eliminating the need for wire nuts on the HV side. This addition caused the base of the relay to be ½” wider than the original. The larger base is not a problem for most systems. It will only pose a problem if your existing system has relays that are double‐stacked or if the relays are mounted behind pilot transformers. The extra ½” will not allow the 3000 to be mounted behind another relay or transformer; it must be in the front most position. If the relay you need to replace is in the back row, simply change positions with other existing component, so the new 3000 can be on the front and the larger base accommodated for.

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Upgrading is a good step to consider. Upgrading cleans up the wiring of an old system and restores value to your home. The wiring in your home is an investment that can be retained. Additional control features are also possible with a newer system. Replacement components are still available but will not be forever. Eventually an upgrade will need to occur, so it is good to consider your options. A lot of time and money can be invested in simply keeping the older system running. A better alternative is putting that investment towards something current.

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The original relays used an oil‐based lubricant which overtime can accumulate dust and cause the relay to stick in extreme temperatures. The relays do not operate well below freezing or in high temperatures. For an immediate fix to this problem, replace the existing relay(s) having temperature related issues. Newer replacement relays do not use the oil‐base lubricant which should eliminate most of the problems. To completely remove this vulnerability, the system should be upgraded and relocated to a controlled environment.

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Intermittent operation is most often caused by a weakened transverter. The voltage output of the transverter should be 28.5 – 32 VDC. As a transverter weakens, the output voltage drops below 28.5 VDC which is not enough for all of the relays to respond.

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These small devices you see are pilot light transformers (original part numbers: PL‐6 and PL‐120). Their sole purpose is to power the pilot lights in the master control stations. When the relay changes to the ON position, the pilot transformer powers the light in the switch to provide a status light for control. If a pilot transformer were to fail, the only effect on the system would be that the corresponding pilot light would not light up. The control of the room lights would not be affected.

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Having a Touch‐Plate® system installed in your home provides a combination of convenience, security, and energy savings. A big savings can be gained in wire expense, as much smaller wire is used with low voltage. That was a primary reason Touch‐Plate systems were installed initially. Also the ability to control lights all over a home or building without actually having to be in that room was an unheard of concept in the 1940’s‐1950’s. This feature alone became a huge desire for home and business owners as it allowed an ease of control and promoted energy savings and efficiency.  Technology has greatly changed since the 1940’s. There is still a dollar savings as far as the wire expense goes; however, low voltage systems are installed today primarily for energy savings, building automation, and greater control capability. Advanced Touch‐Plate systems allow timing control, day‐lighting, dimming, scheduling, and scene control. Also our web interface allows the lighting system to be programmed, monitored, and controlled from a browser based device like a Smartphone or Tablet.
General Notes:

  • Two relays will not operate from a single button press in systems prior to 1986; they were designed to operate one at a time.
  • 3‐Way, 4‐Way and even 5‐Way switching is a standard feature of low voltage control systems. Almost all original Touch‐Plate installations have multiple switches controlling the same relay.
  • Never attempt to replace a low voltage Touch‐Plate switch with a high voltage toggle switch (maintain / latching style). This will cause the system to immediately fail.
  • Painted switch plate covers, cracked covers, and wall‐papered covers are very vulnerable to sticking. We recommend replacing these stations to avoid a stuck switch scenario. Keeping your switches in good condition is a necessary step in retaining a working system.
  • An existing system requires only one transverter to operate. There is no limit on the number of relays one transverter can power as it simply switches them one at a time.

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Contact Info

Touch-Plate Lighting Controls

1830 Wayne Trace
Fort Wayne, IN 46803

Phone: 260.426.1565
Fax: 260.426.1442