What kind of switch is this?

skiman29March 15, 2013

Sorry for the noob question, but here it is.

Just purchased this light switch and I'm thinking its a four
way switch, please correct me if I'm wrong.

I bought it with the intention of using it in my bedroom as a single pole.

Can I still use this switch as a single pole switch?

If so how would I wire it? On the left side of the switch is stamped with a "+" sign. I'm dealing with old wiring too, not upgraded to grounded system yet.

Thanks for the help

**edit** if the writing on the button is upside down in the picture then the positive sign is on the right.

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Ron Natalie

It's an old style pushbutton light switch, common form the thirties or so. I suspect highly that it's not a 4-way but rather a DPST (swithes two legs one way). But no matter, if you get an ohm meter you can figure out which screws are are connected when you operate the switch and wire your light to that.

Frankly, if you just like the way it looks, you can order modern reproductions of those that are UL listed and have the grounding feature that makes them legal under the current codes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of modern two-button switch

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 2:09PM
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ionized_gw

What kind of contacts do the old ones have, mercury like the toggles?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 2:20PM
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skiman29

I purchased it from ebay new in the box, or NOS.

I've checked the CA switches on amazon-not amazing reviews, but got these for the same price, so I thought I'd try them.

If I just wanted to operate one light with this switch would I just wire the hot on the positive and the negative in the bottom corner?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 2:25PM
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bus_driver

ion, mercury switches are no longer manufactured for residential use.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 2:25PM
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weedmeister

that switch is probably as new as I am.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:43PM
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ionized_gw

OK, weed, but does it have as much mercury in it as you do?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 4:30PM
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hendricus

f I just wanted to operate one light with this switch would I just wire the hot on the positive and the negative in the bottom corner?

The negative goes straight to the light fixture. You have to figure out which two screws connect when the switch is thrown, the hot from the circuit box goes on one and the hot to the light fixture goes on the other.
New switches do not break the white (negative) only the black (power).

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 5:15PM
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skiman29

Ok thanks for all the help with this little issue.

Talked to my neighbor, he's in his 70's and is a master electrician.

This switch is a 250V I think he said double throw.

@ronnatalie was right in their description. I could use this switch to turn on a light and lamp plugged into an outlet, from what I understood.

My neighbor helped me check the polarity of the switch and found also that just a hot wire was ran to my switch box. We ended up wiring the two wires in my switch box to the side marked positive on the push button switch.

Probably a simple task for most, but I really do appreciate the help. Now to stain my wood trim!

thanks

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:02AM
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brickeyee

"side marked positive on the push button switch"

It it actually has aside marked "positive" it is more likely than not a DC switch.

I would be careful of any ratings you want to assign this switch.

It may not be 'listed' by a testing lab (like UL) and is NOT suitable for use in permanent wiring in a structure.

DC is actually harder to switch than AC, without voltage reversals the current never drops through zero as with AC so switching arcs are harder to extinguish.

AC switches do not have polarity markings (since the voltage reverses 120 times a second to produce 60 Hz AC).

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:18PM
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