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Gadget Freak Case #238: Controller Adjusts Garage Lights
4/17/2013

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A low-voltage transformer attached to a four-inch octagonal electrical junction box.
A low-voltage transformer attached to a four-inch octagonal electrical junction box.

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Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Household solution
Rob Spiegel   4/17/2013 11:29:10 AM
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I always enjoy the Gadget Freaks that solve household problems. This is an elegant example of a bit of ingenuity making life easier in the home.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Household solution
Charles Murray   4/17/2013 6:22:12 PM
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As I've always said, Rob, we've got smart readers. Also frugal. The most expensive part of this solution is the solid state relay at $21.

lchien52
User Rank
Bronze
garage lights
lchien52   4/18/2013 9:58:36 AM
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I had a similar problem where some of the garage lights were going to be blocked by the opened door.  I solved it by placing the ligths so that they were aove the horizontal windows in the door when it was in the open position - much of the light made it to the room down below in that position.

 

Elizabeth M
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Re: Household solution
Elizabeth M   4/18/2013 10:22:04 AM
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I enjoy these as well, Rob, especially since I would never imagine doing anything iike they do to fix something. Lucky I know some Gadget Freaks of my own who I call in when I need something done!

sysdesign
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Iron
SSR loads
sysdesign   4/18/2013 11:13:29 AM
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I assume the SSR is triac or SCR based.  Most are zero voltage switching and require holding current.  What kind of flourscent lights did you have?  If they had electronic ballast without power factor correction did the circuit work?  Magnetic ballast may not have sufficient holding current.

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Re: Household solution
mrdon   4/20/2013 4:59:18 PM
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Rob, The key word here is "elegant. Sometimes the best solutions to a challenging problem are simple ones. Very nice Gadget Freak article!

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
WHY?
OLD_CURMUDGEON   4/22/2013 3:39:35 PM
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#1)  Is there any reason why you didn't connect the transformer primary AFTER the switch?  Why have the power on to the transformer IF the lights in the garage are NOT being used?

#2)  Why switch the low side of the AC circuit instead of the high side?  Was it a matter of wiring convenience?

#3)  Since your circuit is directly connected to house wiring, in case of a fire, could the fire marshall disallow an insurance claim because NON-UL-approved wiring devices are being used?

Thank you.

 

 

 

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Household solution
Rob Spiegel   4/22/2013 7:52:13 PM
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I agree, MrDon. Creating a simple solution may take more creativity than building a complex solution. 

TomM
User Rank
Iron
Re: WHY?
TomM   4/23/2013 4:19:39 PM
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I considered switching the transformer but thought that cycling power to it might be harder on it than leaving it on. I ended up thinking of it as another door bell transformer (it is), which stays on all the time.

I used the relay and switched low voltage (16 V) to prevent exposure to line voltage out on the garage door track.

I don't know about the insurance issue. I designed it to be as safe as possible with line voltage contain in the junction box. The low voltage circuit is like a door bell circuit.

Thank you for writing.

Regards,

Tom

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: WHY?
OLD_CURMUDGEON   4/24/2013 7:57:58 AM
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THANX for your responses.

#1)  I guess in the overall scheme of things, the few watts per day that the bell transformer uses are not going to bring down your local power grid.  Since those transformers are fairly high impedance, it probably doesn't matter one way or another.  IF it was my circuit design, I would probably have put it on the swiched side of the AC circuit, just because that's the way my brain is "wired".

#2)  What I was referring to was placing the SSR on the low side of the AC circuit, not the control relay.  Whenever I've used SSR's in control applications, I've always fed them, and taken the loads from them.

#3)  I'm NO attorney either, but in today's litigious atmosphere, where INsurance companies generally contrive to void policyholders' claims, seeing this circuit made me take pause.  YOu can bet your bottom dollar that some over-zealous investigator COULD insert a sentence or more about your circuit in an attempt to deny a claim.  Although I've never wired anything of my own design into the electro-mechanics of our houses (and I've thought of many applications over the decades!), I just question the efficacy of doing so now.  In my younger years I've totally wired several houses from the "pole" to the last outlet, so I did have intimate knowledge of acceptable wiring practices.

 

 

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