Creative Solutions Since 1982

Touchplate Low Voltage Lighting FAQ

Q. What is the difference between the different Touch Plate low voltage series? Genesis, Classic, 5000, Ultra?

A. The only difference between the different Touch Plate low voltage series is the appearance. Otherwise all of the switch units function the same, as 2-wire 28 volt low voltage momentary switches. If your home is wired for Touch Plate, you can choose between the Genesis series, 5000 series, Classic series , Mystique series, and Ultra series. Note that the Ultra switches fit into standard Decora rocker switch plates which makes them very versatile.

Q. What is the difference between a transformer and a transverter?

A. They are basically the same thing: a power supply for a low voltage system that steps down the voltage. The older Touch Plate transformers combined a separate transformer with a converter that converted the AC primary to DC, so they probably coined the word. The current transverters offer both functionalities in a single unit.

Q. Are Touch-Plate parts warrantied?

Yes. Touch Plate offers a 1-year warranty from the ship date. They do offer extended 3- or 5-year warranties on relay panels or system upgrades; the information on gaining the warranty extension is included with the panel shipment. (Provide before and after photos of the installation, fill out a short survey, etc.) But the basic components such as relays and transverters, only come with a 1-year warranty with no extension options available.

Q. I have a crooked wall box. Will all the switches allow adjustment?

Genesis switch controls screw directly into the wall box so if the box is crooked, you will not be able to adjust the position. All other switch series have larger screw slots to allow for some adjustment.

Q. Are the Touch-Plate switches momentary?

A. Yes, all Touch-Plate switch units feature momentary switches. This means that you press in the switch, it makes a momentary contact to the relay, then returns to center. The button will not remain pushed in.

Q. How do these 2-wire low voltage switches work?

A. Touch Plate switches are SPST (single pole, single throw) which is a momentary action. The relays do not have a NO (normally open) or NC (normally closed) position as they just hold their position until triggered by a push of the button. To control lights, you would push the button once for ON and push the button again for OFF.

Q. Can the Touch-Plate switches we used as a doorbell or on a dumbwaiter?

As long as the  dumb waiter or doorbell is low voltage and 2-wire/momentary, Touchplate wall switches can work fine. Typically a dumb-waiter or door bell is separate and isn't connected to the low voltage system. So this means it wouldn't be different for a 3-wire system or a 2-wire. A doorbell switch typically goes right to a doorbell transformer and doesn't connect to anything else. A momentary switch (SPST) is all that is needed. SPST=Single Pole Single Throw

Q. Can the Touch-Plate switches we used to control a garbage disposal in a 2-wire low voltage system?

A garbage disposal can be controlled by a relay. Just like a light switch, the disposal still operates on AC, but the switch/control is on DC. We have had many customers in older homes who had their disposals on a relay.

Q. I want to install a bathroom fan timer with my low voltage system. Is there a way to do this?

A. There are two options:

Option #1: Get a high voltage fan timer and run high voltage wire from the fan to the spot in the wall where you want to add the timer. Basically, the switch would need to be left on and then the timer would control the on/off from the high voltage side. 

Option #2: Touch Plate does offer timing/programming/smart home control in their upgraded systems, but that probably wouldn’t be worth it unless you are looking for full control of the whole house.  The smart system would enable you to program the switch to leave the fan on for a set amount of time when pushed. If interested please contact customer support for a quote.

Q. Can I use Touchplate low voltage switches with regular voltage light bulbs?

A. Yes, you can use Touch Plate low voltage switches with regular voltage incandescent light bulbs. The bulb type doesn't matter as long as you don't go over the voltage limit on the relays which are usually 20A.

Q. Can I use Touchplate low voltage switches with LED or fluorescent light bulbs?

A. Yes, you can use Touch Plate low voltage switches with non-dimmable LED and fluorescent light bulbs as long as you don't exceed the relay's load which is typically 20 amps. If you want to use dimmable bulbs you will need to upgrade to a new Touch-Plate ZoneZ Dimming panel.

Q. Does it matter what type of light fixtures I use?

Provided the fixture does not exceed the amperage of the relay itself (typically 20 Amps), it does not matter if the fixture is for incandescent, fluorescent, LED, halogen, etc. If you want a dimmer, only forward-phase LEDs are compatible if LEDs are used. If the customer’s system does not have dimming capability, they will not be able to dim unless they upgrade to a dimmer panel.

Q. If I upgrade my panel, can I add pilot light functionality if I don't currently have it?

Only if you have the extra wires available. If you currently don't have an extra wire per switch, it would require running more wires through the walls to make the pilot light functionality work, even with a panel upgrade.  (The board has to send the signal specifically to each pilot light for that specific button, so you can’t splice them together or everything will get the signal at the same time and all pilot lights would light up.) You would need one extra wire per button on the switch and then a jumper wire from the SC (switch common) to PC (pilot common) on the switch to provide power to the Pilot side of the switch.

Q. Can Touch-Plate low voltage switches be used outdoors?

A. While Touch-plate switches are not moisture resistant, if you are using them in damp areas such as outdoors or in pool areas, you would want to use weatherproof covers with them. We recommend the Touch-Plate Ultra switches because they fit into standard decor rocker weatherproof covers.

Q. Can Touch Plate switches be used with outdoor low voltage lighting in landscaping?

A. Yes, it can depending on how it is set up. The Touchplate transverter is a step-down transformer with 120VAC on the primary and an output voltage of 28VDC on the secondary. Outdoor low voltage lighting is installed with an additional step-down transformer. These transformers are most commonly rated with 120VAC on the primary with varying voltages on the secondary side, and are equipped with a photocell for dusk to dawn control. There are two ways to approach the installation: 

1. Power the outdoor transformer from the load side of any Touch-Plate relay. When the transformer is energized the photocell will be active. Powering from a relay will give the user manual override control from the Touch-Plate switches.

2. Feed constant power to the outdoor transformer. There would be no manual override control in this scenario.

Please see the previous question regarding use of switches outdoors if it applies.

Q. Can I use a 2-wire Touch Plate low voltage switch unit to replace my 3-wire low voltage switch, such as GE, Bryant or Remcon?

A. Yes, you can use a 2-wire Touch Plate switch unit to replace your 3-wire low voltage switch unit. You will need to split off the common wire, have 1 split go to the ON switch and 1 split go to the OFF switch. You will then have 1 button be your ON and a separate button be your OFF. You will no longer be able to have the same switch function as your ON and OFF. Because of this you will need to double the amount of buttons per lighting location. For example, if you have 2 GE switches in a switch plate, you will need to get a 4 button Touch Plate switch unit to replace it. It is pretty basic wiring. We offer a 3-wire to 2-wire conversion wiring guide free with the purchase of any Touch Plate switch unit. Be sure to add it to your cart and we will include it in your order. 

Q. If I replace my Remcon or GE switches with Touchplate switches, do I have to use Touch-Plate relays with them?

A. No, you must always use remote control relays from the same type of system. Even if you swap out the type of switches you use in your system, you must continue to use the correct relays for it - Touchplate relays in a Touch-Plate system, Remcon relays in a Remcon system, GE relays in General Electric (or the similar type Bryant and Sierra) systems, etc.

Q. Can a Touchplate switch be wired as a 3-way or 4-way switch?

A. Yes, it can. The switch is wired in parallel to the relay it is controlling. So for that reason, you could have an unlimited number of switches controlling the same light. The relay just responds when receiving a signal from whatever switch.

Q. My old Touchplate 1550A relay was 14 VDC. Can this be replaced with the new 3000 relays?

Yes. For a period of time in the past Touch-Plate was marking their relays with the lower voltage, even though they really had a higher voltage. Some were labeled as 12 VDC; others 14 VDC. But all Touch plate systems have always worked with 28 VDC transformers and transverters. To confirm this with your system, simply check the output voltage on your unit.

You may safely use a 3000 relay to replace a Touch Plate relay marked as 12V or 14V, and may use a new TPS-0120 transformer with either the new or the old relays.

Q. My wires were soldered to the bracket on my vintage low voltage switches. How do I connect the wires on the new Touch-Plate switches?

The new switches have stripped leads so you may use wire nuts to connect them to the in-wall wiring once you cut off the old switches.

Q. My pilot lights are stuck on. How do I fix them?

The pilot transformers are wired in with the relay and will change state (ON and OFF) with the relay. The pilot transformer only gets power when the relay is in the ON position. If the pilot light is remaining on, the relay has failed in the ON position and is no longer switching. Replacing the relay should solve the problem.

Q. I installed a new 3000 relay and switch but my lights started to flicker after a few days. What would cause this?

A. Flickering is almost always caused by a weakening power supply. The relay is getting insufficient power and it cannot hold the next position when triggered. Test the transverter first. While it's more common to have failures with 2-3 relays when the power supply starts to weaken, sometimes a single relay can start experiencing issues. As time goes on and the unit weakens, more will start to become intermittent/erratic as well. If you check the transverter voltage and it is normal, then next check the actual fixture itself and the wire connections on the line voltage side (both at the fixture and at the relay). There may be a loose wire which is causing the light to flicker when the power is lost. It's very unlikely that it is a relay problem. A relay does not fail in this manner. It will either not work at all or work intermittently, but it will not cause the light to flicker.

Q. I installed a new relay but it failed after a few minutes. When I swapped another old relay into the location it worked. Is the new relay bad?

A. It is more likely that your transformer may be beginning to fail. If the voltage on the transverter is weakened, the newer relays will not respond correctly. The older relays are more forgiving so that would explain why it worked in place of the new one. Test the output of the transverter with it still connected to the system. The reading across the two low voltage leads needs to be 28.5 VDC at a minimum. Anything lower means the unit is weak and will fail soon. Replacing the transverter should solve the problem and also allow the new relay to operate correctly.

Q. How would I connect two ZoneZ relay panels?

Each set of 6 relays in the ZoneZ system works independently. If you wish to tie the low voltage commons together among many 6 relay sets (which we recommend), you simply run a wire connecting a low voltage common terminal (White) on the control board to the low voltage commons of the other control boards. The line voltage wouldn’t need to be tied together unless you plan to feed more than one 6 relay board with one breaker feed. This setup isn’t very common; however if that is the case, then you would also jumper the hot between two boards.

Q. Can I use these Touch Plate switches with a garage door opener?

Yes, they can be used for anything low voltage. Touch Plate switches are used in so many different applications, garage doors definitely being one of them. But just be sure you are using them with a low voltage wiring setup (24-30 VDC). They are not rated for line voltage (120 VAC).

Q. Can I Touch Plate switches in a 12V system?

Yes, using Touch Plate switches on a 12V system would work.  If there are pilot light LEDs, they will be dimmer than normal.

Q. Can I use unlighted Touch-Plate switches in other low voltage setups?

Touch-Plate contact closure switches can be used for button control in a wide range of control applications in low voltage systems. These are momentary, two-wire, dry-contact switches. They are typically used with relays, however other applications may have a different internal switching control setup. If you just need the basic functionality of on-off switches, the unlighted versions should work just fine.

Q. Do you have a low voltage system wifi option so I can control my lights from my phone?

Yes. Touch-Plate has a low voltage system wifi upgrade option that allows for lighting control from a browser-based device such as a tablet or smart phone. Because these upgrades are more complex, we quote each project individually, tailoring the system to your needs. Please contact us regarding a quote for a Touch-Plate wifi upgrade. We will ask that you send pictures of each existing relay panel (with the cover removed) as well as a count of the wall switches with the number of buttons on each configuration. Ex. Five 4-button control stations, two 6-button control stations, etc.

Q. Is voice command available for a GE, Bryant, Sierra, Remcon, or Touch-Plate low voltage system for use with Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo, or Google Assistant?

Yes. Gaining verbal command options would require an upgrade to a Touch-Plate Time Keeper digital system that is custom-built with voice control capability. Please contact us regarding a quote and include information on the number of control stations (and number of buttons on each) needed. We will also need photos of your current wall panels (with the cover off), too.

Q. How many relays can a single transverter power? 

A. You can power an unlimited number of relays as long as they are not actuated (pushed) at the exact same time.

Q. Can Touch Plate LED lights be used to turn on plug-in LED under cabinet lighting?

Touch Plate switches are momentary switches that activate a relay that either turns power on or off. If you are wanting to wire the Touch Plate switch in between the power supply and the lights, that would not work: the switches are momentary contact so the wires would be connected only momentarily.  The switches depend on a relay for the on/off functions of the lights that they are controlling. However, if you want to set it up so that the Touch-plate relay is controlling the power outlet the light strips are plugged into (to change the power state from either on to off), then you are welcome to use any lights plugged into the receptacle.

Q. Can Touch Plate switches be used with ceiling fans?

A. Your Touch-plate system should be fine with ceiling fans as long as the total load connected to the relay doesn’t require more than 20 amps (2400W). The only time there might be an issue with anything connected to a Touch Plate system is when using the new Touch Plate Universal dimmers.  For example, the ZoneZ Universal Dimmer panels have a limit of 2 amps (240W) per circuit which can be an issue with large incandescent loads. Otherwise, all of Touch Plate's regular relays are 20 amps (old and new).

Q. I have another vintage low voltage system. Can I replace my older switches with Touch Plate switches? 

A. Touch Plate switches can be used in systems that required basic Class 2 momentary contact switches. There are dozens of vintage low voltage systems, some using 2 wires, other 3 wires, so we would need more information to help us determine if they would work. First, we would need to know whether their existing switches are momentary contact or maintained.  This can be tested for continuity with a button press.  If the current stays when the light is on, it is maintaining.  If the current only lasts momentarily while the light stays on, then it is momentary. Once you have this information, please send us photos of the front and the back sides of the switches and plates, and include any brand or model information you can find. If the same button is pushed on and off, it is likely a 2-wire system; if you must push two different buttons or rock a switch one direction ON and another OFF, then it is probably a 3-wire system. Photos of any relays would be helpful, too.

Q. I have Touch Plate control station with both line voltage and low voltage switches in a two gang box. How do I update these?

 A. Ultra switches can be used to swap out the low voltage switch to a shape that fits a modern 2-gang wall plate. For a full explanation, please see Line Voltage + Low Voltage Combination Plates.

Q. I have a shallow locations where I need to install these switches. Which is the depth of all the switches?

A. The depth varies by the style series:

5000 series switches have a back depth of about 9/16" and an overall depth of 13/16".

Genesis series switches have a back depth of about 1/2" and an overall depth of 13/16".

Classic series switches have a back depth of about 5/8" and an overall depth of 15/16".

Ultra series switches have a back depth of about 5/8" and an overall depth of 13/16".

Mystique series switches have a back depth of about 5/8" and an overall depth of 15/16".

Innova series switches have a back depth of about 1.5" and an overall depth of 1 13/16".

Q. Can Touch Plate switches be used as an input for another device?

Yes, Touch Plate contact closure switches can be used as an input for other devices.  They will just pulse the 24-28 VDC to signal whatever the input device is looking for.  The only caution is that the voltage needs to be less than 30 VDC and is only a momentary signal (not maintained). 

Q. My switch seems to be sticking or not popping back up correctly. Should I use contact cleaner on it?

You may try using contact cleaner spray to clean the contacts on the switch, however, please be advised that while it is safe for the contacts on the switch, it could discolor the plastic so be sure that it doesn’t get on the plastic.  Note: Most likely if the switch is getting stuck, though, it is not that the contacts are dirty (that would result more often in a switch that won’t make anything happen).  Most like it is the spring wearing out or something mechanical getting worn. Because the answer to the stuck switch problem is to replace the switch, then contact cleaner wouldn’t hurt to start with; if that doesn't help then you could always replace the switch later.

Q. I replaced the old relay with the TPL-3000-RELAY but the lights still won't come on. What could be happening?

The older relays can fire with 24VDC, but the newer ones require at least 28.5VDC. If your transverter is reading around 28VDC, then it might be too weak to power the new relays. Often replacing the transverter fixes the problem. A new relay will provide close to 40VDC (which is still perfectly fine for the older relays).

Q. I installed a TPL-CSP-8004B transformer but am still having an issue with the RCP panel. How can I troubleshoot this?

Double-check the connection to the pilot common on the power board.  Pull it out and put it back in making sure that it is secure.

Remove the pilot light wires (in the blue terminals) and the pilot common and then check to see if the lights work normally (obviously the pilot lights won’t).  If this fixes the problem, then add in the pilot light common and the pilot light wires one at a time to see at what point the problem starts again.  There could be short in the pilot light wires and this should help isolate which one is the issue.  The manual walks you through the voltages to check for types of shorts (page 13).

If removing the pilot light wires doesn’t fix the problem, then there could be a problem with the power board or one of the control boards. Remove the top control board and see if the rest of the system comes back.  If not, remove the bottom control board and put the top one in that spot to see if that works.  If nothing fixes it, then we recommend ordering a new power board to start.

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