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are all light switches the same size?

Posted on 2014-10-12
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Last Modified: 2014-11-10
Hello and Good Afternoon Everyone,

          I have an interior overhead light which has suddenly stopped working despite of the replacement of the incadescent bulb.  I have been told by other friends that the switch is likely bad and needs replacement which brings me to the crux of this question.  Are all switches the same size?  I am thinking about going to Walmart tonight and buy one, but, I want to make sure to purchase the correct one.  

         Thank you

         George
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Question by:GMartin
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viki2000 earned 350 total points
ID: 40375829
No. Not all are the same.
Form rating size point of view, they are usual 10A for 250VAC or 15A for 125VAC. You should not worry about the rating when you will turn on/off only a single lamp, an incandescent lamp. For  your case, I guess, you do not have a 1000W bulb, so don't worry about it.

What you should check is the physically look: is on or in the  wall. Then choose one (single pole) with one or 2 switches (2 poles), depending how many bulbs are in your outside lamp. Then take care to be maintained switch (a toggle switch) and not a momentary one as on light stairs for example.
Next thing is to see if you have also to buy the frame, the front decoration.
If you already have a switch to witch you can attach the front decoration, then you buy only the switch. Then you have to make sure the match. If you have a mobile phone with camera, make a picture of the existing one, go to Wallmart and check hat they have there, eventually ask somebody there to help you showing the picture of your existing switch from mobile phone.
Basically you need a single pole toggle switch. That is valid for most of the situations.
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by:rindi
rindi earned 50 total points
ID: 40375857
If it is a fluorescent lamp you are talking about, and you have changed, then it is likely that the starter is gone. The starter is a small cylindrical exchangeable part with a bionet connection, usually it is close to one of the connections for the tube. Normally when you buy a new tube you also get such a starter, as both have approximately the same life-span.

And no,  Switches are different all the time.
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by:viki2000
ID: 40375927
If rindi is right with his guess, then buy an electronic starter.
It will be more expensive than an normal one, but the lifetime of the fluorescent lamp +  starter can reach easy 10 years.
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by:Paul Sauvé
Paul Sauvé earned 50 total points
ID: 40375964
>>I have an interior overhead light which has suddenly stopped working despite of the replacement of the incandescent bulb.

I had a similar problem in the past with an overhead incandescent bulb fixture in my kitchen. The problem was with the wires connected to the fixture. In my experience, light switches (other than 'dimmer' switches) really don't fail very often. I can't EVER remember having to replace one.
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by:viki2000
viki2000 earned 350 total points
ID: 40376393
Now we know is a halogen bulb 150W from here (http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Miscellaneous/Q_28536067.html#a40376065), so forget about the fluorescent and starter suggestions.

I am just curios: did you replace indeed the halogen bulbs by yourself? Or someone else told you that were replaced in the past?
Do you refer at the same problem/lamp in these both questions?
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by:nobus
nobus earned 50 total points
ID: 40376432
i agree that switches don't go bad often; but it happens
if you want it replaced, remove it from the mounting, and take it with you to the sho p, so you can compare.
are you sure it's not the halogen bulb?  these burn out often, so check it with an ohmmeter, or inspect visually (most of the time you see the wire is broken)

***i have replaced my halogen lamp with a LED one for 60 €uro's, and expect it to have its cost returned soon, since it only uses 6 W on full power!!!!
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 40386826
Hello and Good Morning Everyone,

            Thanks so much for the insightful feedback given to my question.  I must apologize for making this situation somewhat unclear.  The outside light which is not working does use a halogen bulb and is turned on/off with one interior switch.  Even though this outside light does not work, there is a click like noise produced whenever the interior switch is in the on position.  

             With respect to the other light, an interior overhead one which uses an incandescent bulb, it does not work either.  When I took the cover plate off of the two on/off switches, I did notice that each unresponsive light has it on switch.  For example, the interior overhead light uses a single pole switch.  When this switch is compared to the other switch used for the outside security light, it looks thinner.  I was able to easily find replacements for these switches at Walmart.  I will be replacing these switches this weekend.  If I should have further questions or concerns, I will create a new post.  

                Thanks again everyone for your suggestions.  At least I know what directions to go in now with this situation.  Oh, before I forget, I never did any of the installation for these fixtures or replaced any of the halogen bulbs for the outside security light.  They were already set up and working when I moved into the house.  

                  Have a good day everyone.

                 George
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by:rindi
ID: 40386939
You could just measure the voltages on the lights using a Voltmeter with the switch in the off and the on position. If you have voltage measurement in the on position, and no Voltage when it is in the off position the switch is fine. Remove the lamps from their sockets during the measurement.
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by:viki2000
ID: 40387013
I think rindi gave a good advice, but I also think we ask too much from George. I think he has no voltmeter. He does not look as the electrician guy, he just moved in the house and the light is not working, that's all.
rindi, you know how I would do it if I would have no voltmeter or other instrument, the harsh method? Shut off the electricity from circuit breaker, put a thick wire instead of the lamp, put the switch in on position, turn on the circuit breaker and boom trips off with short-circuit if the switch is good. Important is to put the switch on first time and only after that the circuit breaker and not the other way around. That is the "heavy" method of testing the continuity of the circuit.
George, please do not do that, is unprofessional and may create all kind of problems, take it as just a joke or just ignore it.
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by:nobus
ID: 40387082
he's a tech (becoming?)  he has a soldering iron  i know of
and if my mero is right, he has also a multimeter
but he must learn the old adagio my master used (50 years ago) : to  measure is to know

otherwise, it's only guessing
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 40387099
If he doesn't have a voltmeter, he can borrow one. Besides, I think if he isn't tech enough, changing the switch could be a dangerous option, more dangerous than measuring the voltage.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 40431447
Hello and Good Afternoon Everyone,

               I want to take a moment and provide an update despite the fact this post is closed.  An electrician came out to my house about a week or so ago and tested the wires within the light socket using a non-contact voltage tester.  The electrical wires were outputting voltage when the light switch was turned on.  

              Oddly enough, every bulb used in the box of 4 were defected or bad.  When I went to the second box of bulbs,  I was able to find a good bulb which allowed the overhead light to work again.

               Thanks again everyone for your shared feedback.

               George
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by:viki2000
ID: 40434414
Then next time when you have no light you will know to check first the bulbs and also how to replace them. Good experience.
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