Tuesday, December 3, 2019

New Replacement Parts for Residential GE Low Voltage Lighting

If your home was built in the U.S. between the 1940s and 1980s and you have odd retro light switches that look like these, you most likely have a General Electric (GE) low voltage lighting system.

This style of GE low voltage switch and cover is extremely common in homes with a GE brand system.

Here are 2 switches without the cover:

 Other styles and configurations exist as well. Here are some other examples.

You may have switches like the ones above, or some like the ones below:

See our full list of vintage styles of GE switches with images and part numbers. Use provided links to buy direct GE replacements at Kyle Switch Plates.

Replace Missing Covers for Original Vintage GE Low Voltage Switches

If your old switches are working and you need to replace missing or broken covers, we have Old Style GE Cover Plates that fit the original switches.

To cover original switches, keep the switches mounted in the original brackets and order replacement covers only.

The replacement covers for original GE low voltage switches come with matching screws and attach to the old metal bracket that has always held the switches in the wall box.

Available in classic ivory, crisp white or industrial-looking stainless steel.

Replacing GE Low Voltage Switches in Your Home

GE still manufactures switches to replace old ones that have gone bad.

If you think a switch is broken, the first step is to verify it is the switch and not the relay (or transformer) that's causing problems.

If a light in your home isn't working, use this GE Troubleshooting Guide for Low Voltage Lighting to determine which parts in your system are causing problems.

You are typically dealing with a broken switch if there is a single light that isn't working, the problem is intermittent (switch sometimes works, sometimes doesn't), and the same light works fine from another switch in the home.

The easiest way to confirm a switch is broken is to turn off the power to the switch. Take a working switch from another location in your home and use it as a temporary replacement for the switch that isn't functioning. If, when the power is restored, this fixes the problem, the switch is indeed broken.

Many homeowners decide to replace working switches in order to achieve a more modern look.

New switches are available in white, ivory and gray. New covers can be purchased in white, ivory and stainless steel.

For whatever reason you decide to replace a vintage switch, the following information will guide you through the replacement process.

GE's new replacement low voltage switches are not the same size as the older ones. This means that all switches that share a cover plate need to be replaced at the same time. The new switches are not compatible with the old covers or the old mounting straps/brackets.

Replace one switch = replace all switches + the cover they share.

It is very important not to put new switches into the old brackets! The slots on the old brackets are too small for the new switches. If jammed into the old bracket, the new switch will get pinched and eventually burn out the connected relay.

The good news is that the new style GE covers at Kyle Switch Plates eliminate the need for a mounting bracket.

Snap each switch into the plate from the front side, then wire them in (remember to turn off the power first) and attach the cover to the wall box.

Many homeowners install these new switches themselves using our GE Low Voltage Wiring Guide.

If you have any hesitation, hire an electrician.

Note that many electricians have not encountered residential low voltage systems before, so be sure to add this wiring guide to your order (free with purchase of any GE part) to assist whoever installs the replacement parts.

Shop New GE Low Voltage Switches.

Shop New Style Bracket-less GE Switch Covers.

Fixing Broken Relays in a GE Low Voltage System

The relay is likely the culprit if a single light isn't working, the failure is consistent (light stuck in ON or OFF position and won't change), and the light won't respond from any other switches that control it.

If some lights work and some don't, the failure is intermittent, and it sometimes takes pushing a switch multiple times to get the light ON or OFF, check the output on the system's transformer. In this situation, an output above 0 VDC indicates a broken relay.

As with diagnosing a broken switch, a working relay can be wired in place of the one in question. If the problem is fixed, it is the relay that needs to be replaced.

New GE relays can be purchased here. Don't forget to add a GE wiring guide to help with installation.

The 2 most popular selling GE relays are the RR7 and the RR9. The difference is the type of light switch each controls.

Look at your old relay and locate the part number.

Replacement relays are as follows:

Old Relay Part Numbers:

  • RR2
  • RR3
  • RR5


Old Pilot Relay Part Numbers:

  • RR4
  • RR6
  • RR8


New Transformers for GE Low Voltage Lighting

The transformer needs to be replaced if no lights in your system are working and the transformer output reads 0 VDC. Or, if some lights work and others don't and lights remain stuck in their last position (ON or OFF) and can't be controlled from any switch location.

The RT1-RT2 GE Transformer replaces the following discontinued models:

  • RT1
  • RT2
  • RT3
  • RT7

Wiring Tips for a GE System

You need one relay for every switch, unless you are wiring the switches in a 3-way setup to control the same lights from different locations. For example, if you have a switch at the top of a staircase and a switch in the family room which both control the family room's lights, they may be wired together so that the lights can be turned on or off from either location (but only need one relay).

You don't need "3-way" low voltage switches since GE switches can be wired in parallel to achieve 3-way functionality.

You can wire up to five relays to one transformer, depending on your setup. Consult an electrician to confirm how many relays per transformer is safe for your home.

To connect a new GE switch, turn off power to the switch, pull off or snip the wires (if soldered to the switch) and strip some of the casing from the end of each wire.

Once removed from old switches, insert wires into the red quick-connector terminals and crimp.

Snap new switches into front of new covers.

Then slide the quick connectors onto the flat connection terminals on the back of the switch.

Switch terminals are labeled  "BLK OFF" for the black wire, "RED ON" for the red wire, and "COMMON" (the center terminal) for the white wire.

Attach cover to box and restore power.

To wire a single relay, disconnect power and locate the large brass screws on the relay's base. Next, locate the four small holes on the bottom of the relay (two holes per screw, not labeled on relay; labeled 1-4 in image below). For a standard application, you will put the wire coming from the breaker into hole 1 or 2. The wire going to the fixture goes into hole 3 or 4.

For a 2-relay setup (example: same breaker powers multiple rooms - say a bedroom and a bathroom), the wire from the circuit breaker goes specifically into the first hole of relay #1. Then, a wire from the second hole of relay #1 goes into the first hole of the 2nd relay. The lamps get wired to hole #3 of each relay. Room 1's lamp connects to hole #3 on relay #1; room 2's lamp connects to hole #3 on relay #2.

Learn more and buy replacement GE parts at Kyle Switch Plates.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Prevent Broken Outlet Covers with Metal Switch Plates

If you've ever taken a switch plate off the wall - say, when painting the room - and overtightened the screws when you put it back on, you know how fragile plastic covers can be.

It's so frustrating when they crack!


And apparently, there are other ways to break plastic outlet covers:

How did this happen?

That's why at Kyle Switch Plates we sell tons of white metal switch plates.

We have sturdy, steel covers that won't break and look great.

They're also pliable, so they're great for tightening down on uneven surfaces, which it turns out, most walls are.

Oversized white metal cover on kitchen subway tile.

Our metal plates are made in the USA and ship from our warehouse in Northern California within just 1-2 business days.

We have over 20 metal finishes (shop plates by finish here). The white and raw steel finishes can be painted to match or coordinate with your walls.

We carry over 500 sizes and configurations and there's no minimum order. On our site, you'll find options for standard size covers as well as oversized ones that cover extra space around the switch and outlet.

Shop Kyle Switch Plates to find the size you need.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Options for Adding Wall Tile or Trim Around Light Switches

There are so many ways to dress up your walls with decorative moulding.

It can be tricky to add wall tile or wainscot and plan around every light switch or wall outlet.

Here, we're sharing various approaches to incorporating electrical devices into trim or tile.

Ideally, when adding a piece of trim, you'll want to position it at a height that runs underneath the light switch cover.

In this home, moulding was added at the same height as the switches, and this is how the builder handled it:

Next, you can see the homeowner tried to plan out the spacing of the board and batten beams to steer clear of the light switch and outlet.

The moulding ended up so close that a shorter switch plate had to be used over the dimmer switch.

If you don't space batten beams properly, you can end up with an eye sore like this:

Here, another homeowner had to cut into the beams to fit the device covers.

Another solution when this happens is to add extra wood around the device, rather than cutting into the beams to make room.

Here, an entire wall of wainscot misses every wall plate:

As with trim, wall tile that ends underneath electrical devices is always ideal.

If wall tile can't be ended above or below a switch, a common solution is to add extra tile up and around the cover plate, as these next 3 pictures show.

Another solution is to raise the tile and keep it raised until it meets the door jamb:

In this bathroom, the trim tiles were cut to make room for the light switch cover:

If you've added moulding or tile to a wall and are having a hard time getting the cover plates to fit, find wall plate solutions at Kyle Switch Plates.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Recessed Power Outlets + HDMI Ports for Flat Screen TV's

Plug your flat screen TV into a power outlet that sits back into the wall with recessed receptacle wall plates.

Covers are available for recessing a socket, cable jack, HDMI port, or any keystone jack.

They work great behind a wall-mounted TV screen, computer monitor or speaker, and they're one of our top sellers at Kyle Switch Plates.

If all you need is a way to power your equipment, this recessed outlet works great:

You can get a recessed outlet with an HDMI port built in as well.

For homes that haven't yet cut the cable, this recessed cable jack can also come in handy:

This next option has the power outlet and a large hole for feeding A/V cables or cords through the wall:

You can create your own custom recessed cover by adding keystone jacks to the openings in this 2-port recessed box cover.

The covers shown here are just some of the examples of recessed jack and electric sockets for screens that will be hung up on a wall.

Shop all recessed switch plates to see more, including covers with built-in ethernet jacks, USB feed-through ports and other voice, data and A/V connectors.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Dark Bronze Wall Plates for a Tiled Kitchen Backsplash

Use nickel devices with dark bronze wall plates to finish up your kitchen renovation project.

My kitchen recently went through an overhaul with freshly painted off-white cabinets, new granite countertops and a gray tile backsplash.

Just for fun, here's the before shot:

Big difference!

I wanted nickel switches and outlets but didn't like the way the matching nickel wall plates looked on our freshly installed subway tiles.

After trying a few different wall plate finishes that just weren't working, I went out on a limb and tried these dark bronze covers. Right away I knew they were the perfect choice. Thankfully, my husband agreed.

One of the best decisions we made was to install a USB charging outlet in place of one of the standard kitchen receptacles.

We use the USB ports on this handy outlet to charge our phones, wireless headphones and gym heart-rate monitors all the time.

We keep extra charging cables in a drawer below and it's super handy when we have parties and guests ask if we have an extra phone charger lying around they can borrow.

The tile installers didn't do a great job cutting the tile around the electrical boxes. We originally planned to go with oversized covers, but just didn't like the large scale of the big switch plates in our small kitchen.

We had to tighten the cover plates down pretty hard to conceal imperfections, and these metal dark bronze switchplates are so sturdy! We didn't have to worry about over-tightening the screws and cracking the covers.

If you're looking to install Pass & Seymour metallic nickel switches and outlets on gray or silver tile, consider pairing them with contrasting wall plates instead of the matching Pass & Seymour covers. You may just like what you find. We sure did!