Low voltage lighting systems installed in midcentury homes were the wave of the future, although they fell out of popularity because of their initial upfront installation costs. They are still manufactured because they offer a number of advantages:
If you have a vintage low voltage system by GE, you have two options for maintaining your current setup without having to rewire your home (which is very costly):
Update - Buy new GE low voltage parts to replace broken or missing items.
Upgrade - Replace with upgraded units made by Touch-Plate Lighting Controls.
The more affordable option is to buy GE replacement low voltage switches that keep your current style. This is generally the preferred approach if you are only replacing some units and want a consistent look throughout your home. GE is a 3-wire system, so any switches will be a direct replacement. Here we review what is still in production:
Available replacements have a slightly different shape and style compared to earlier switches. Rather than groved or ridged rocker switches, these new replacements have two smooth buttons in one unit. They come in white, ivory or gray, all with a black border. They no longer require a strap for mounting and instead just clip right into the front of your wallplate. Buy new GE low voltage switches.
Both 115V and 277V versions of these energy-limiting transformers are recently discontinued but some stock is still available (while supplies last). Newer versions contain one of each transformer so are twice as expensive as the old indivdual ones.
Touchplate is a 2-wire system, so any single GE switch will have to be converted to a double switch. Although the more expensive option, upgrading to Touchplate does offer certain advantages.
A Touch-Plate upgrade to either the Classic or the Ultra lines of control units will give your home a more modern look. If you prefer switches without black borders like on the new GE switches, then Touchplate is the way to go.
Using the Decora Type Ultra Low Voltage Switches opens up a world of choices in terms of wall plate materials (metal, plastic, ceramic, etc.), finishes (from shiny to satin, stainless steel to oil rubbed bronze), and decorative designs (from simple to sophisticated, classic to cutting-edge). Touchplate Classic switches come in white, almond, ivory, and black.
If you buy Touch-Plate low voltage switches for Decora rocker style openings (the Ultra Series), you'll have the flexibility to purchase any standard rocker switch plates to cover your control units. This allows you to expand as needed with multiple gang light switch covers. For example, Kyle Switch Plates has a great selection of elegant designer light switch and outlet covers. An added bonus: you'll be able to buy matching outlet covers for a completely coordinated look.
Oversized Light Switch Covers
Plus, with the Ultra low voltage light switches, you'll be able to choose oversized switch plates if needed for covering broken plaster or paint build-up around electrical boxes, something that has never been available before for a vintage low voltage lighting system.
Free with any low voltage purchase, our GE to Touchplate wiring guides help make updating or upgrading the low voltage system in your older home.