I want a switch and pilot light for central vac receptacle

thomas_eOctober 8, 2013

I have a central vac in garage that plugs into a single receptacle 20A wall outlet.

I donâÂÂt like the fact that it stays plugged in when we are away from home (waiting for the day when a faulty sensor will get it going until I return home, overheat, catch fire etc.), so I tend to plug it and unplug it whenever I use it --- but itâÂÂs a hassle, and my wife can hardly reach the wall plug.

I want to put a wall switch to turn it on and off, preferably with a pilot light so that I can tell at a glance whether the central vac has power going to it.

I have already done the same with my (a) washer/dryer, (b) garage door opener, (c) the water heater hot water recirculating pump. Call me paranoid, but I feel better knowing that these devices are unpowered when IâÂÂm away from the house (especially on vacation). So before leaving the house for an extended time, I can peak into the garage and quickly check the pilot lights to see if anything is still powered (even in the dark the pilot lights give a quick status without checking the swithes). Actually, for the washer/dryer I have a double receptacle on the same switch with an external LED plug in light in one of the receptacles and the washer/dryer on the second receptacle.

Long story short, IâÂÂm having trouble doing the same for the central Vac, as I cannot find a switched receptacle with pilot light in 20A. They are common in 15A but not in 20A.

So my questions are:

(A) The central vac is rated at 13Amps. Does it really have to be on a 20A receptacle, or is a 1 gang 15A switch outlet pilot light combo ok? Does the fact that it is a motor load make a difference?

(B) Can I take out the 1 gang box and replace it with a 2 or 3 gang, in which case I have a good choice of common 20A switches and receptacles plus pilot light.

(C) Assuming I go for the 1+ gang solution, can I then expand to a double 20A receptacle (or does some code prevent double 20A)?

(D) Is there some code that requires that this receptacle (or even the whole circuit) should only service the central vac?

Any advice appreciated.

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Ron Natalie

Faulty sensor? Every central vac I've seen uses a switch on each hose outlet that's just a low voltage thing that activates a relay at the motor. Very unlikely it's going to operate itself.

If it's just vacation why not unplug it?

Anyhow to answer the questions:

Let me answer D first because it affects the others. This thing I presume is like most and is cord-and-plug connected. You only need to follow the normal receptacle requirements as far as the code goes with the provision that if the manufacture says it REQUIRES some specific provision then you are obligated to follow it. If they say they recommend it, it's not a code issue, but a good hint as to what you should do.

A. For practical matters a 13A motor is likely to really want to be on a 20A circuit if you can swing it. Is the existing circuit 20A already? Combo switch/receptacles are available in 20A ratings.

B. Yes you can upgrade the box to multigang or add another box in close proxiity.

C. Even if the installation requires a dedicated circuit, nothing in the code precludes a duplex (or multiple) receptacles on that dedicated circuit.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 8:15AM
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I am remotely concerned about the central vac power staying on in an empty house, because the low voltage switch/relay system is powered by a transformer and I hear it humming. Not that the humming itself seems abnormal, but it is just another electrical device plugged into an empty house, together with the furnace transformer, refrigerator, etc. The fewer I have to keep powered on, the better I feel -- expecially these older ones with the transformers. Perhaps the newer ones have much lower idle current solid state circuits.

I did find one switch/receptacle/pilot combo in 20A made by Cooper Wiring

But seems like it would be a special order. A couple of electrical supplies I called claimed to have never seen the combo in 20A.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:02PM
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Try this place, they have almost everything and the last time I ordered the stuff came in in three days.

Here is a link that might be useful: combo switch

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 10:44PM
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I guess they do have everything, don't they?

Thanks everyone for the advice and links.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 1:05AM
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