Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Identify & Replace Parts in a Low Voltage Lighting System

If your home's light switches look different from mainstream ones, and your house was built in the 1950's, '60s, '70s or early '80s, you probably have low voltage lighting in your home.

It can be difficult to replace your switches if they break. Or, if you repaint your walls and an old cover (or all of them!) gets thrown out, you might be finding it quite difficult to find a replacement.

The bad news is: low voltage lighting parts are rare.

The good news is: Kyle Switch Plates specializes in low voltage parts & has free wiring guides (with purchase) to help with replacing your old parts.

If you already know what brand your system is - Shop Low Voltage Lighting Parts at Kyle Switch Plates.

If you need relays, light switches or cover plates for your low voltage system, use this photo guide to identify your system's brand so we can direct you to the correct replacements (see links below).

Pay attention to the style of the switches themselves, as these are just examples of layouts - you might have only 1 or 2 switches in a plate where we show 3. But, as long as you can identify the brand of the switch, you'll know how to find the right replacement.

Once you identify your system from the image here, find the info below to get replacement parts.

#1. GE:
Model number: RFS-3, RFS-6 or RFS-9.
These old style of switches have been discontinued. New switches are available here. They will require new GE plates.
If your switches are working and you simply need new plates, get replacement GE plates here.

#2. GE:
Model number: RS2-32, RS2-37 or RS2-39
These are the current style of GE switches & plates. Get replacements here.

#3 GE:
Model number: RS2-32, RS2-37 or RS2-39
These are the currently manufactured GE switches in bracket mount plates. This style of switch and plate requires mounting straps (old ones cannot be used as the sizes are different).

#4 GE:
Model number: RTS-5
Replace this style of old GE switch with a new Pass & Seymour Despard Momentary Switch (model 1091) and despard cover plate.

#5 GE:
Model number: RTS-6
Options for replacements same as #4 above.

#6 GE:
Model number: RCS
Switches have been discontinued. Replacement RCS plates are available here.

#7 GE
Model Number: RFS Decorator
Kyle Switch Plates carries 1-gang and 2-gang replacement covers for this style of switch. Larger gang covers are not available at this time.

#8 Bryant:
Model number: Unknown
The direct replacement for Bryant systems - relays, plats & low volt switches - is GE. Replace Bryant parts with GE here.

#9 Sierra:
Model number: Unknown
Old Sierra switches can be replaced with Pass & Seymour 1091 Despard Light Switches. You'll find a variety of despard plate configurations are available as well.

#10 Remcon:
Model number: Any
Regardless of the style or part number of your Remcon light switch, the best replacement is Touch Plate.
The only tricky part is that every 1 Remcon switch will be replaced with 2 Touch Plate buttons (a separate "on" and "off", rather than a single switch with 2 ends to press "on" and "off).
Remcon relays are still manufactured and available here. The Remcon brand relays are the correct ones to operate your current Remcon and new Touch Plate low voltage switches.

#11 Pyramid:
Model number: Any
All Pyramid parts have been discontinued. Update broken relays with Remcon relays and non-functioning Pyramid switches with Touch Plate units.
The tricky things to remember: every Pyramid switch will be replaced with 2 individual Touch Plate buttons (a separate "on" and "off", rather than a single switch).
To replace the 5 Pyramid switches & cover shown, you'd need a 10 button Touch Plate unit.

#12 Touch Plate:
Model number: 5000 Series; 500S1, 500S2, 500S3
The Low Voltage 5000 Series from Touch Plate is currently manufactured in white, almond and ivory. Get parts with 1, 2 or 3 buttons.

#13 Touch Plate:
Model number: MTL Frame Series
Replace with any switches in Touch Plate's low voltage line.

#14 Touch Plate:
Model number: Genesis, GEN-1B, GEN-2B, GEN-3B
Get units with 1-3 buttons when you buy new Touch Plate Genesis parts.

#15 Touch Plate:
Model number: Classic, CLA-4B-0L, CLA-6B-0L, CLA-8B-0L, CLA-12B-0L, CLA-4B-4L, CLA-6B-6L, CLA-8B-8L, CLA-12B-12L
Get regular and LED lit Touch Plate Classic control stations in white, black, almond and ivory at Kyle Switch Plates.

#16 Touch Plate:
Model number: Ultra, ULTS1
Get new Ultra Line Units (with or without screwless Ultra covers). Ultra series switches fit standard rocker plates as well.

#17 Touch Plate:
Model number: Mystique, MYS-1B-0L, MYS-1B-1L, MYS-2B-2L, MYS-2B-0L, MYS-3B-3L, MYS-3B-0L, MYS-4B-4L, MYS-4B-0L, MYS-8B-8L, MYS-8B-0L
Touch Plate Mystique switches can be purchased here (just scroll beyond the Classic Series units).

#18 LiteTouch:
Model number: Any
There are no current replacements for the discontinued line of low voltage lighting.

#19 GE:
Model number: RMS-2A
This control dial from General Electric is no longer available. To get the same functionality you can update to an 8-button control station which can be labeled and filled with new General Electric low voltage switches.
For up to 12 switches, your new control unit can be created with new GE switches and a 12-switch cover plate.

#20 GE:
Model number: RMS-4A
This is another version of the control dial shown in image #19. Follow the same replacement parts to update the RMS-4A from General Electric, which is discontinued.

For even more detailed descriptions of each of these low voltage systems from GE, Bryant, Pyramid, Touch Plate, Remcon & Sierra, see Kyle Switch Plates' Complete Guide to Identifying Old Low Voltage Parts here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Find Dimmers for LED Bulbs | Kyle Switch Plates

Dimmers are a great way to set a nice ambiance and save money on your electrical bill.

Replace a regular light switch with a dimmer switch and enjoy the benefits right away.

However, if you've tried to replace a lightbulb anytime recently, you may have entered the bulb aisle and been confronted with a tough decision - there are so many bulb choices these days! It's downright overwhelming!

And, not all dimmer switches will dim all types of bulbs.

You must purchase the right dimmer for your bulb type.

Until recently, dimmers were made to dim incandescent and halogen bulbs. Replacing those types of bulbs with LED's or CFL bulbs, and your old dimmer may not function.

On top of that, keep in mind that the LED bulb itself must be a dimmable bulb.

So, if you have a dimmable LED or CFL bulb, keep reading for the styles of dimmers available.

Dimmers for LED Bulbs:

Universal Rocker Dimmer:
  • Brand: Leviton
  • Dims incandescent, LED or CFL bulbs
  • Single pole & 3-way functionality
  • Colors: White, Light Almond, Ivory, Brown, Black
  • Finish: Gloss

Universal CFL & LED Toggle Dimmer:
  • Brand: Lutron
  • Dimmable CFL & LED bulbs
  • Single pole & 3 way functionality
  • Colors: White, Light Almond, Ivory, Brown, Black
  • Finish: Satin

LED Rocker Dimmer with Side Lever:
  • Brand: Lutron
  • Dimmable LED & CFL bulbs
  • Single pole & 3-way functionality
  • Colors: White, Light Almond, Ivory, Gray Brown, Black
  • Finish: Gloss

Slide Dimmer  with On/Off Switch:
  • Brand: Lutron
  • Dimmable LED & CFL lights
  • Single pole & 3-way functionality
  • Colors: White, Light Almond, Ivory, Gray Brown, Black
  • Finish: Gloss

Large dimmers come in a variety of colors & they all fit rocker switch plate openings. The small toggler dimmers are for toggle plates.

Friday, October 21, 2016

What To Do When a Switch Plate [Or Outlet Cover] Won't Fit

DIY projects often come with some unforeseen hiccups and surprises along the way.

My husband and I have done a number of projects that involved working around outlets and light switches and even though I know the importance of planning ahead and leaving plenty of space for the covers, even I've run into the predicament of ending up without enough space to fit the cover.


Good news is, there is a solution and it's so simple!

Our outlet cover mishap was the result of a board and batten project that went under a redesign mid-project.

A more common reason a switch plate cover doesn't fit is when you've added tile to enhance a wall in your home.

Here are 2 examples - 1 was avoidable and the other was not:

In this bathroom remodel project, an inexperienced DIYer brought the height of the tile too high, leaving no room for the cover plate - probably a result of a last minute decision to add the row of tiny brown accent tiles in between the tile & the finishing trim:

In this home bar project, the bullnose edge for the tile backsplash was thick enough that the cover no longer fit:

Kyle Switch Plates makes both short switch plates & narrow switch plates that will still cover your entire electrical box opening, but fit these tricky situations. The difference is that the openings in the plates are shifted to allow extra room on 1 edge of the plate.

For the bathroom tile incident, a 2-rocker half short plate is the perfect fix. The plate is trimmed, or short, on the bottom. It can be rotated upside down to be short on the top as well.

The home bar project was also fixed with a double rocker plate, however, instead of being trimmed on the bottom, this plate is narrow on one side. Adding a half narrow double rocker plate only required the homeowner to swap out their toggle switch for a rocker switch.

An alternative to changing the switch from toggle to rocker would be to convert the left plate opening to a toggle with a toggle converter for rocker switch plates.

If you find yourself in a similar situation leave us a comment! We'd love to hear how our half short or half narrow switch plates saved your DIY project mistake!

Monday, October 17, 2016

What To Do When A Device Won't Fit In An Electrical Box

If you've ever tried to update or replace a light switch or outlet, only to find that your new device is bulkier and won't fit into your shallow electrical box, this post is for you.

The most common instance for this predicament is when you attempt to replace an old duplex outlet with a GFCI outlet. New GFCI receptacles are much thicker than duplex style outlets, as you can see in this comparison:

If your box isn't deep enough, you won't be able to fit the GFCI into the box.

You may also discover you have a shallow electrical box when adding other devices such as fan controls or programmable timer switches.

Box extenders expand your electrical box by 3/4", making it deep enough to accommodate bulkier devices. The perfect fix for any switch that is too deep to put in your wall.

These handy box extenders sit under your device. Simple place the device on top of the extender, then screw both into your electrical box at the same time using the included extra long screws.

Once it's in place, simply cover with your switch plate as you normally would.

Note, this is an external extender for the electrical box that's inside your wall - it will raise your device & switch plate off the wall 3/4" & will be visible. Choose white, ivory or brown.

Buy shallow box extenders here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Get Your Outlet or Switch to Sit Flush with Wall

When your home is built, the outlets and switches are all installed flush with the drywall. But if you add decorative elements to your walls - a tile backsplash in a kitchen or wainscoting in your entry way - you'll find that your electrical box ends up recessed, making it difficult to put the switch plate cover back on.

There are 2 ways to fix a recessed electrical plug - with spacers or a goof ring.

Raise an Outlet with Spacers

Spacers are really easy to use. They come in a strand and can be folded over to reach your desired height (in increments of 1/8"). Simply fold the strand to the thickness you need and cut off the excess.

Buy electrical device spacers here.

Keep in mind you may need a longer screw if you raise your outlet more than 3/8 of an inch.

Raise an Outlet with a Goof Ring

If you need to lift your plug up from your electrical box, but 1/8" increments won't fix your situation, get a goof ring.

Goof rings slide into your electrical box and the tabs rest on your new surface - for instance, a black granite backsplash. Then, your receptacle can be installed over it to sit flush with your wall, tile or wainscoting.

They are also made for 2 devices here.

Whether wall tile, paneling, board & batten, beadboard, granite, corrugated metal or shiplap is creating a problem, you can easily fix it using one of these 2 safe solutions for recessed plugs and light switches.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Specialty Light Switch Finishes Give High-End Look

Often when you put the money into high-end switch plates, you want light switches & outlets that match.

Until recently, fancy switchplates (like Venetian bronze and antique brass) had to be paired with plainer switches (like brown and ivory).

But now, electrical switches & receptacles are being offered with a new designer look in 3 stunning finishes:

Dark Bronze:

Lighter than brown with a warm red tone, newly manufactured dark bronze electrical switches add elegance to these already magnificent bronze wall plates:

Antique Brass:

New antique brass switches & outlets are a beautiful deep gold which looks fabulous with a variety of covers, including antique brass shown here:

Nickel Silver:

If you're into the gray wall trend mixed with dark brown wood floors that's recently taken homes by storm, you might have elegant walls stenciled with metallic silver paint mixed with a matte gray.

If so, you'll love these new nickel light switches with dark bronze covers:

Monday, April 18, 2016

3 Best Graduation Gifts for Electrical Engineers

Not sure what to get them when the graduate this May? Here are 3 distinctive gift ideas for electrical engineering students.

1. Creative Cash Bulb

After shelling out 4 years of tuition, most college students feel pretty broke. That's why the gift of money is not only a popular choice, but an appreciated one come graduation day.

Instead of handing over a card with a hundred dollar bill or check inside, get creative! We are loving this crafty idea from Lexie Sachs at Good Housekeeping:

Money tucked inside a light bulb jar is a creative way to gift graduation cash to an electrical engineer. The gift tag that reads "Here's to your bright future!" is the perfect finishing touch.

Find more creative gifts with light bulbs for electricians

2. Professional Business Card Case

Help your son or daughter network once they land their first job out of college with a light bulb business card holder or card case for electrical engineers. Tucking some graduation cash inside will ensure it's extra appreciated!

 light bulb electrician business card holder grad gift

 card case for electrical engineers

These unique networking card holders for electricians can be engraved with their name and grad year and are crafted just for you with custom colors. Add their school colors or just choose a favorite hue.

3. Engraved Tape Measure

Another useful gift for an electrical engineering graduate is a personalized tape measure. These cool pocket sized measuring tapes are Zippo brand and come embellished with an electrical circuit design:

 engraved electrical engineering tape measure

The best graduation gifts for electrical engineers are ones that incorporate an electricity theme. That's why we're sure a light bulb full of cash, networking card case or travel tape measure will be a big hit at your son, nephew or grandson's grad party.

See more electrical themed gifts here.

Have other creative ideas? We'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Basketball Switch Plates for Man Caves & Sports Fans

I can't sit down in a bar or restaurant without first analyzing which seat has the best view of the TV screen. Then I choose the opposite side. That's because my husband is well on his way to winning his office March Madness basketball bracket and every game matters so much.

It's fun when you're passionate about something, isn't it? It's even more fun when you can work that passion into your home decor.

My husband is one of those guys who has a man cave. I personally thought the spare bedroom would be more useful as a guest room should we ever have visitors. But, he really wanted that man cave and insisted I keep my decorating touch OUT of it. (Ha!)

He was definitely surprised when I agreed black walls would look great and even helped him paint it. I think he was even more surprised when he liked some of my suggestions for the room. (Like I said before about keeping out - ha!)

One of his favorites was when I brought home this black outlet cover from Kyle Switch Plates with red basketball design to reflect his love of the Bulls. (Yes, in our house we not only cheer on college ball, we follow the NBA too. And by "we" I mean "he".)

And, I haven't told him yet but for his birthday he's getting a matching automatic sports night light to go in this outlet. With those dark black walls it's hard to see in there at night! Although I have to admit it does look cool.

Yah I know, I know. I'm supposed to keep my decorative touch out of there. But, once again, I think he'll be surprised. In a good way. :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fixes for Kitchen Backsplash Switches & Outlets

Sometimes there just isn't room to fit an electrical box vertically on your kitchen backsplash or bathroom tile. A great solution is to simply mount your kitchen outlets and light switches horizontally instead.

I've seen this in many kitchens by the sink where the half-backsplash wall tile or marble leaves little room for electrical devices. Usually it's when there's a ledge that opens up into another room or a split-level island that has a breakfast bar.

In some cases, switches have been mounted sideways but too close together for the cover plates. In that case, you can use plates in which the openings have been shifted to create a short side. Then, you can put the short ends of the plates together like this:

This looks like 2 normal cover plates, but if you look closely, you'll see that where they meet in the middle the screws are closer to the edges of each plate than on the outside edges. Here's what a single plate looks like:

See how the rocker opening and screw holes have been shifted to one side of the plate?

Using these half short wall plates made for kitchen tile or granite backsplashes is an excellent solution when you don't have room for a regular switchplate.

They also come as short duplex outlet covers and as short toggle plates for tight spaces too.

Switch plates with shorter edges are the only solution f you've remodeled your kitchen and run into this problem:

"Oops! My horizontally mounted kitchen switches are too close together for cover plates!"

It's a common problem that we get calls about so often that we've custom created these plates with you in mind. You're welcome!

For more tricky switch plate solutions see our post on Narrow Switch Plates for Tight Spaces.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Protect Your Walls & Paint with Switch Plate Expanders

Standard switch plates don't cover a large portion of the wall around your switches and electrical devices. Over time, fumbling for the switch either in the dark or while not looking can lead to a lot of fingerprints or paint chips around your cover plates. Especially if you have children.

In high traffic areas of your home, office, school or day care, you can protect your walls with switch plate expanders.

 2-Gang Switch Plate Expander for Wall

Wall plate expanders are easy-to-install white metal plates that sit between your switch plate and the wall. They can be used with any switch plate - toggle, Decora rocker, outlet and combination. Above, we show a 6" x 6" 2-gang expander plate sitting under a combo rocker outlet cover.

Extra Wall Protection for 1-, 2- and 3-Gang Electrical Boxes

Protective expanders are available for single, double and triple gang electrical boxes. Use with your current plates or buy new white metal plates for an exact color match.

Click the images below to shop Kyle Switch Plates' expanders and find fewer fingerprints and less dirt on the walls around your cover plates.

1-Gang Switchplate Expanders:
6" high by 4" wide - place underneath any single switch plate or outlet cover.

 1 Gang Switchplate Expanders 4x6"

2-Gang Wall Plate Expanders:
6" x 6" square plate fits 2-gang electrical boxes. For use with any 2-gang cover plate.

 2 Gang Wall Plate Expanders

3-Gang Expanders:
8" wide by 6" tall back plate for triple gang electrical box. Use with any configuration of triple plate.
 3 Gang Cover Plate Expanders

Friday, January 8, 2016

Guide to Light Dimmers & Dimmer Switch Plates

Dimmer switches are great as they offer a way to control the amount of light in the room as well as save on energy costs. Whether you're looking to add new dimmer switches to your home or you've done some remodeling or redecorating and you want to update your light switches to match, there are a variety of dimmer switch styles to choose from.

Dimmers with or without On/Off Switches

One of the most notable differences between dimmer types is whether they have an on/off switch or not. If the dimmer has an off/off switch, you can leave the dimmer pre-set to a specific level, then just toggle the switch on and off. That's ideal if you don't plan to adjust the dimness of your lighting very often and don't want to fuss with adjust it each time you turn on the lights.

In my own home, I generally have the lights either on full blast or off. For that reason, I have dimmers without off/on switches - I just push the slider all the way up when I enter the room and all the way down when I leave. Then, on the rare occasion I choose to dim the lights, I slide it to the right spot.

Dimmer Styles & Finishes

As you can see, there are a number of types of dimmers. Light dimmers come as rocker, slide, rotary and toggle. Choose the look and style that fits your home, or that fits the type of switch plate opening you are trying to fill.

One thing to note is that not all styles are available in every color or finish.

Here are the other options available for each finish:

White Dimmers:

All dimmer types are available in a white finish.

Black Dimmer Switches:

There are also a good variety of dimmers to choose from in black.

Brown Dimmer Styles:

The only style you won't find in brown is the slide dimmer without the on/off switch.

Gray Dimmers:

If you're looking for gray toggle dimmers, you won't find any. But, you can get a gray rotary dimmer which fits the same opening as a toggle switch, or select a clear toggle dimmer as shown here:

Shop affordable dimmers in all finishes at Kyle Switch Plates.

Coordinating Switch Plates for Dimmers

Dimmer switch plates are easy to find - rocker and slide dimmers fit decora rocker plate openings, and the rotary and toggle dimmers fit toggle plates. These very common plate openings can be found in a variety of combination switch plates here.