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PICList Thread
'[OT] Sparkless Light Switches'
2007\10\16@091608 by Martin McCormick

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Can one still get the silent mercury type light switches? I
recently replaced 2 60-watt light bulbs in a fixture with 2
CFL's that appear to work perfectly except that the lamp's
inrush current must be quite high for a few milliseconds. The
existing light switch is fairly new and is one of those
relatively quiet types. My wife noticed that a spark accompanied
by a faint odor sometimes happens when closing the switch.
Telling her that switching power supplies and similar stuff does
that is not selling to well.

The irony of all this is that the CFL's are actually safer due
to less heat in the fixture and about 1/4 the current. The bulbs
which are those cork-screw shaped lamps warn against connecting
to dimmers and photo cell switches so whatever I replace the
switch with needs to present normal AC to the lamps as well as
not making a visible or audible spark.

       If not for the environmental issues, a mercury switch is
the perfect solution.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ  Stillwater, OK
Systems Engineer
OSU Information Technology Department Network Operations Group

2007\10\16@094243 by M. Adam Davis

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Arcing will still occur inside the mercury bulb, you just won't be
able to smell it, and presumably it will be less visible.

You might consider adding a small sealed (or solid state) relay into
the electrical box with the light switch controlling the relay.

One keyphrase you are looking for, however, is "intrinsically safe".
An intrinsically safe device does not create sparks, among othe
things.  You may be able to find light switches with this feature, and
some of them may be mercury switches.

-Adam

On 10/16/07, Martin McCormick <spam_OUTmartinTakeThisOuTspamdc.cis.okstate.edu> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\10\16@102924 by Martin McCormick

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"M. Adam Davis" writes:
>Arcing will still occur inside the mercury bulb, you just won't be
>able to smell it, and presumably it will be less visible.
>
>You might consider adding a small sealed (or solid state) relay into
>the electrical box with the light switch controlling the relay.
>
>One keyphrase you are looking for, however, is "intrinsically safe".
>An intrinsically safe device does not create sparks, among othe
>things.  You may be able to find light switches with this feature, and
>some of them may be mercury switches.

Thanks. I wasn't sure if they had been outlawed as the last one
I installed was in the early nineties. It was a spiffy one with
a neon light in the handle.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ  Stillwater, OK
Systems Engineer
OSU Information Technology Department Network Operations Group

2007\10\16@105916 by Russell McMahon

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>>One keyphrase you are looking for, however, is "intrinsically safe".
>>An intrinsically safe device does not create sparks, among othe
>>things.

It's a very specialist concept.
It does what you want what it won't do what you want.
It's worth knowing about but won't help this problem :-)

An intrinsically safe system does what it does by sticking to that
part of the laws of physics that make sparks impossible. If you deal
with energy levels than CAN spark then intrinsically safe doesn't
apply.


       Russell.


2007\10\16@110529 by alan smith

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What about doing some sort of soft start / ramping on it? Use a non-zero crossing SSR for it?

Martin McCormick <.....martinKILLspamspam@spam@dc.cis.okstate.edu> wrote:  "M. Adam Davis" writes:
>Arcing will still occur inside the mercury bulb, you just won't be
>able to smell it, and presumably it will be less visible.
>
>You might consider adding a small sealed (or solid state) relay into
>the electrical box with the light switch controlling the relay.
>
>One keyphrase you are looking for, however, is "intrinsically safe".
>An intrinsically safe device does not create sparks, among othe
>things. You may be able to find light switches with this feature, and
>some of them may be mercury switches.

Thanks. I wasn't sure if they had been outlawed as the last one
I installed was in the early nineties. It was a spiffy one with
a neon light in the handle.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ Stillwater, OK
Systems Engineer
OSU Information Technology Department Network Operations Group

2007\10\16@113440 by Alan B. Pearce

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>An intrinsically safe system does what it does by sticking to
>that part of the laws of physics that make sparks impossible.

or encloses them in a way that will not allow the spark to reach the outside
environment.

I remember a colleague telling of using a dial telephone at a local bulk oil
depot, the dial made a rapid return to the rest position, which then clamped
the seal around the shaft, then the dial mechanism could be heard doing its
controlled speed return as it operated the digit counting switch.

2007\10\16@113950 by Alan B. Pearce

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>What about doing some sort of soft start / ramping
>on it? Use a non-zero crossing SSR for it?

I would be tempted to do the low tech solution, ideally while the lady
concerned is out, of disassembling the switch from its case, and putting
some black plastic around the switch so the spark can no longer be seen when
reassembled in its case.

2007\10\16@115912 by Michael Rigby-Jones

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>-----Original Message-----
>From: piclist-bouncesspamKILLspammit.edu [.....piclist-bouncesKILLspamspam.....mit.edu]
>On Behalf Of Alan B. Pearce
>Sent: 16 October 2007 16:40
>To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public.
>Subject: Re: [OT] Sparkless Light Switches
>
>
>>What about doing some sort of soft start / ramping
>>on it? Use a non-zero crossing SSR for it?
>
>I would be tempted to do the low tech solution, ideally while the lady
>concerned is out, of disassembling the switch from its case,
>and putting
>some black plastic around the switch so the spark can no
>longer be seen when
>reassembled in its case.

A placebo switch?  To be honest I doubt there are any major implications apart from shortening of the life of the switch.  Most switches arc when controlling flourescents, be they normal tubes or CFLs.  The simple solution is to make sure you snap the switch between on and off quickly rather than slowly opening or closing, which can generate an impressive amount of sustained arcing.

Mike

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2007\10\16@121924 by Alan B. Pearce

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>A placebo switch?

No just changing the fitting of the switch so the spark can no longer be
seen - but don't tell the lady how you did it, just that you fixed it.

2007\10\16@122131 by alan smith

picon face
...what they dont hear/smell/see wont hurt them.....  :-)

"Alan B. Pearce" <EraseMEA.B.Pearcespam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTrl.ac.uk> wrote:  >What about doing some sort of soft start / ramping
>on it? Use a non-zero crossing SSR for it?

I would be tempted to do the low tech solution, ideally while the lady
concerned is out, of disassembling the switch from its case, and putting
some black plastic around the switch so the spark can no longer be seen when
reassembled in its case.

2007\10\16@125526 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>...what they dont hear/smell/see wont hurt them.....  :-)

Rather like some folk I knew, who operated a PA system in a church, with big
speakers where the chrome cap in the middle of the diaphragm was visible
through the grill cloth. various people complained it was too loud, so they
fitted some black covering so the dome could no longer be seen - no more
complaints about loudness ... ;))

'what the eye doesn't see the heart doesn't grieve over ...'

2007\10\16@135220 by Nate Duehr

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Martin McCormick wrote:

> The irony of all this is that the CFL's are actually safer due
> to less heat in the fixture and about 1/4 the current.

Don't be fooled, I've had two CFL's (cheap ones, granted) go up in smoke
when components died in the base.  One happened during turn-on, the
other was found smoking away when I walked into the room.

I don't particularly feel the added "safety" is really there after
watching two different lamps smoking.

Plus, as a "radio guy" with Amateur Radio as a hobby, the CFL's threw so
much RF crap, I had to get rid of them.

They're not a very good replacement for the incandescents if you ask me.

Poorer lighting performance, extra time to come up to operating
temperature and full light output, RF noise, and smoking bases...

I'll stick with something else.  CFL's are gone from my house and banned
from ever returning.

At one point I also replaced some outdoor spotlights with the CFL's
"encapsulated" in the spotlight type bulb shape.

Their time to come up to full brightness in our cold climate in
wintertime is a safety issue -- if I turn on the outside lights in the
middle of the night to look out in the back yard, I want them on NOW...
not 5-10 minutes from now.

Not impressed with CFL's at all.

Nate

2007\10\16@135635 by Nate Duehr

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Alan B. Pearce wrote:
>> An intrinsically safe system does what it does by sticking to
>> that part of the laws of physics that make sparks impossible.
>
> or encloses them in a way that will not allow the spark to reach the outside
> environment.

Yep, this is typically how the 2-way radio world's "intrinsically safe"
products work also... push-to-talk and other open contacts are
surrounded by rubber and sealed.

Nate

2007\10\16@143018 by Peter P.

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Oil-filled switches are available. They are large and ugly but they work well
and are very reliable. Also, why not use an electronic switch. That won't spark.

Peter P.


2007\10\16@154627 by Peter Todd

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On Tue, Oct 16, 2007 at 11:57:46AM -0600, Nate Duehr wrote:
{Quote hidden}

But wouldn't that only work if the radio was actually hermetically
sealed? If it wasn't, the explosive atmosphere could seep in anyway.

I thought the idea was that explosive safe products are often simply
designed so that they can *contain* an internal explosion, rather than
trying to prevent the atmosphere from getting in.

Of course, intrinsically safe, IE no spark can form in the first place,
is another matter.

- --
http://petertodd.org
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2007\10\16@160204 by Mark Scoville

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> My wife noticed that a spark accompanied
> by a faint odor sometimes happens when closing the switch.
> Telling her that switching power supplies and similar stuff does
> that is not selling to well.
>

Leave the lights OFF and get the wife some night vision goggles and a
clothespin! :-)

-- Mark



2007\10\17@094127 by Martin

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Replace the $0.50 switch with a $2 switch.. problem solved.

I'm biting my tongue otherwise.
-
Martin K

Martin McCormick wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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