Determine Why Your Switch Isn't Working
Switch not working? Click for instructions on how to fix a stuck switch to determine if your switch or relay is the problem.
Do I need one relay for every switch?
Yes, in a simple setup you need one relay and one switch for every light fixture. In more complex setups you might have one relay/fixture controlled by more than one switch (to turn on a fixture from either side of a room or from a master panel), or one switch controlling two or more relays (one switch controls two can lights in the ceiling at the same time). For example, if you have a switch in the master bedroom and a switch in the living room which both control the living room lights, they can be wired together in parallel so you can turn them off from either location, but they only need one relay.
Do I need pilot light relays if the switch in my room doesn't light up?
If you are using a master panel or have any switch with a light on it, you will need an RR9 pilot light relay to power that internal light bulb.
Do I need one transformer for every relay?
No, you can wire up to five relays to one transformer, depending upon your setup. Check with your electrician to confirm how much is safe.
Do I need to buy 3-way low voltage switches?
GE switches can be wired in parallel to create a three way switch setup, such as when you need a switch at both the top and the bottom of stairs or at either end of a hallway. So as long as both switches are wired to the same relay, this will work as a 3-way, 4-way, etc., setup.
What causes a low voltage relay to fail?
I have Bryant switches - can I replace my relays and switches with GE parts?
Yes, the GE parts are compatible with Bryant systems. They are based on the same type of low voltage wiring setup. The parts were manufactured in the same dimensions; switches often simply had a different logo imprinted on them.
Does it matter what type of fixture or bulbs I use in my system?
Provided the fixture does not exceed the amperage of the relay itself (typically 20 Amps), it does not matter if it uses incandescent, fluorescent, LED, halogen, etc., bulbs. If the system does not have dimming capability, an upgrade would be required to a panel with dimmer modules.
Were the newer GE replacement switches (RS23X series) the same size as the old ones?
No, they were slightly larger. Do not attempt to jam the RS23X switches into the old straps - this will cause the buttons to stick and will cause the relay to burn out. The good news was that you no longer needed straps if you were using the switches with the new style switchplates.
I have switches wired in parallel but only the switch in my master panel needs a pilot light. Can I replace the relay with a non-pilot relay?
It depends. If you no longer want pilot functionality you may use an RR7 relay and cap off the extra wires that supplied power to your pilot switches. If you want to keep the pilot functionality on the switch in the master panel, you must use a pilot relay with it. Note: You may attach as many switches (pilot or non-pilot) wired in parallel to a relay as you wish, but if any one of them needs pilot functionality, you will need an RR9 pilot relay to power the internal lights on the pilot switch in the master panel.
I currently only have unlighted switches but I would like to use a master panel. Can I buy the RR9 pilot relays to replace the old RR7 (RR2, RR3, RR5) relays?
You can ONLY IF you have the wiring in your walls for the 5 wires on the pilot relays. The extra two wires are what supply the power to illuminate the master panel switches when your remote room light is on.
Does GE still make the old mini rocker switches?
No, those were discontinued decades ago. The newer switches still had the same functionality but featured two buttons instead of rockers, where one button is the equivalent of the "on" rocker direction and the other button is the "off" direction. Note that ALL GE switches have now be discontinued and stock is no longer available as of 2021.
How do I connect newer GE switches?
Vintage GE switches were soldered to the in-wall wiring. Newer recently-discontinued switches (RS23X series with black borders and two square buttons) had quick connectors. Alternative switch options might have quick connectors or stripped leads. In either case, just snip off the old switches leaving as much wire as need, strip the casing off the end of the wire and insert into the connector, crimp, then slide onto the flat connector on the back of the switches, or use wire nuts if both are stripped leads.
My GE switches stick sometimes. Can I use contact cleaner on them to help loosen them up?
Yes, you may use contact cleaner or WD 40 to clean the light switches and clear away dust buildup, but note these chemicals may discolor old plastic plates and the face of the switches. Do NOT use these chemicals on the relays.
Is a GE low voltage system grounded?
The relays are grounded, but the switches are not.
Can I use line voltage switches in a low voltage system?
Line voltage switches provide continuous current to the relays which are only designed for momentary contact. The current will cause the relays to heat up; the components will melt and freeze the relay in whichever position it was in when the failure occurred. Line voltage momentary switches that are not rated for DC applications are not recommended.
Do you have instructions for installing these parts?
Yes, please see the low voltage wiring instructions which are free with purchase - just add the ones you need to your cart for no charge.
What gauge wire should be used from the transformer to the relays?
GE has always recommended 18 gauge wire; no change with either the old or the new transformers. GE has seen many projects that use 20 or 22 gauge instead and they have reported no problems. We don’t have a chart but the distance is quite substantial for 18 gauge and increasing the wire gauge increases the possible distance.
What color wires did the old GE relays have? What shape were the bases?
RR3 - Red, blue, black. Semi-circle black base, regular duty.
RR4 - Red, blue, black, plus yellow, blue/white striped for pilot lights. Semi-circle black base, regular duty.
RR5 - Red, blue, black. Rectangular plug-in type base for bus bar.
RR6 - Red, blue, black, plus yellow, blue/white striped. Rectangular plug-in type base for bus bar.
RR7 - Red, blue, black. Square black base, heavy duty.
RR8 - Red, blue, black, plus yellow for pilot contacts. Square black base, heavy duty.
RR9 - Red, blue, black, plus yellow, yellow for isolated pilot contacts. Square black base, heavy duty.
If you are not sure which wires to connect, or your old relay is another brand or has different color wires, you'll want to test the wires. Using an ohmmeter, find the pilot light isolated pair (maybe yellow / blue stripe) and also find the ON/OFF coil (60 ohm red / blue OR black / blue AND 120 ohm red / black.
How can I test a relay before installing it?
How do I wire the relay?
Locate the two large brass screws on the side of the base of the relay. Then locate the four small holes on the bottom of the relay (two holes per screw).
Each screw adjusts blades that are accessed from two of the small holes in the bottom of the relay.
For a standard application, you will put the wire coming from the breaker into hole 1 or 2. The wire going to the fixture goes into hole 3 or 4.
If the same breaker powers multiple rooms (for example, a bedroom and a kitchen), you'll use multiple relays.
For a 2-relay setup, the wire from the circuit breaker goes specifically into the first hole of relay #1.
Then, a wire from the second hole of relay #1 goes into the first hole of the 2nd relay (see diagram).
The lamps get wired to hole #3 of each relay. Room 1's lamp connects to hole #3 on relay #1; room 2's lamp connects to hole #3 on relay #2.
The new GE switches have two buttons - how many switches do I need?
GE's new switches function the same as the old mini rockers, so even though the switch is now split into two buttons, it is still considered one switch. Each direction on the old rockers - up/on or down/off correspond to one of the new buttons on the replacement switches.