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Thread: Higher quality motion switches?

  1. #1
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    Higher quality motion switches?

    I'm the Master Electrician for a large school district of over 11,000 students... Through construction and lighting upgrade projects, some areas where it's impractical to install ceiling motion sensors (mostly bathrooms), the engineering company is specifying Lithonia SSD series wall switches.
    Since these are in places with students and difficult for staff to supervise, they punch out the plastic motion lens almost instantly which reduces the sensing range to almost nothing. I also have many in custodial storage rooms and closets and they tend to either not work with the push button switch or fail to see motion after just a few years. I've had good luck with Leviton replacing them, but it's also needless work to go around and swap them out constantly.

    Is anyone using a more "vandal resistant" type motion switch with success? I don't mind extra cost since it's using up our time to replace them. I probably have 1,000 installed and 600-700 that need replacement immediately.

  2. #2
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    Higher quality motion switches?

    http://www.espenergy.com/wall_mounted_motion_sensor.htm

    These have a vandal resistant option when ordering them.
    Also I've had luck with putting the thermostat lock boxes over motion switches to keep them from being messed with.

    Or there is this option

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    http://www.lutron.com/technicaldocum...y/367-1768.pdf

    If wiring doesn't permit fixture end cap mounted units to work out nicely you could pair the ceiling transmitter with the accompanying wall switch which you could bury it behind the box they use to keep people out of thermostats or put a surface mount plastic J-box extender and give it a blank cover. I would use plastic cover and box. Metal might interfere with reception.

  4. #4
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    What is the load on troubled janitor's closets?

    If it's fluorescent, see if the ballast is from the last 5 years or so and try a different, newer, ballast. If its powering medium base CFLs, give it a shot with dimmable LED bulbs.

    The reason is that many newer dimmable LED lamps have a resistor at the line side of its ballast to reduce buzzing and reduce stress on the dimmer, but this also significantly reduce stress on the relay too. The disposable ballast used in CFLs have a very short, but very damaging inrush for contacts.

  5. #5
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    I don't see how a plastic thermostat cover is going to last much longer than the switch, and it's a larger target to hit. Remember that they're for keeping fingers off the controls, not to keep them from being smashed.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Electric-Light View Post
    The disposable ballast used in CFLs have a very short, but very damaging inrush for contacts.
    Unless the contact are really crap, how does this happen? Have a citation or reference for this?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpcarls1598 View Post
    ... Through construction and lighting upgrade projects, some areas where it's impractical to install ceiling motion sensors (mostly bathrooms), the engineering company is specifying Lithonia SSD series wall switches... Since these are in places with students and difficult for staff to supervise, they punch out the plastic motion lens almost instantly...
    Sorry, but my feeling is that the only way to deal with this is to put them where they can't be reached. That means the ceiling. How about Wiremold or EMT from the wall switch location up to the ceiling?

    -Hal

  8. #8
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    Almost all custodial closets are one double lamp T-5 fixture. Less than 3 years old on all.
    That would be an option to add some wiremold to the ceiling and put a motion there... I don't need to have a switch accessible, especially in restrooms. The objective now is to be hands off for transfer of germs. Automatic flushers, faucets and dryers - And now the newer buildings no doors. Heaven help people when they get their first germ and it sends them to the hospital. But I digress....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpcarls1598 View Post
    Heaven help people when they get their first germ and it sends them to the hospital.
    No. Heaven help the school system when the Snowflake's parents go to their lawyers...

    -Hal

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpcarls1598 View Post
    Almost all custodial closets are one double lamp T-5 fixture. Less than 3 years old on all.
    Any idea on the brand and model on the ballast inside? I wonder if it's some no-name China crap. See if you can get in touch with the ballast manufacturer or fixture manufacturer and ask the application engineering if it utilizes inrush current limiting. The contacts used in in-wall sensor relays are usually not the heavy duty silver oxide contacts used on manual switches, lighting contactors or motor starters.


    That would be an option to add some wiremold to the ceiling and put a motion there... I don't need to have a switch accessible, especially in restrooms. The objective now is to be hands off for transfer of germs. Automatic flushers, faucets and dryers - And now the newer buildings no doors. Heaven help people when they get their first germ and it sends them to the hospital. But I digress....
    That Lutron setup uses a battery powered ceiling sensor with the receiver going into where the switch motion sensor currently sits which obviously avoids wiring changes. Ideal would be blank face relay box with receiver and a wireless transmitter for remote mounting. I am not sure if they make such a thing though. The Lutron setup was for convenience of adding a remote sensor without pulling wires, not for avoiding vandals but hiding it behind a thermostat cage. You can't affect the functionality without breaching the box. the "vandal resistant one". Well I dunno about scratching into the lens, marker attack and such.

    Quote Originally Posted by zbang View Post
    Unless the contact are really crap, how does this happen? Have a citation or reference for this?
    Sure.

    In-Rush Current
    When a lighting system is energized,
    a momentary surge of current occurs called “in-rush”.
    This current must be limited so that it does not harm
    auxiliary lighting controls. Most electronic ballasts rated
    at <20% THD contain a passive front end inductor that
    typically results in lower levels of in-rush
    . Ballasts that
    have <10% THD typically use active power factor
    correction and, unless limiting circuitry is included, can
    have 40 amps or more of in-rush current. This may
    damage mechanical switches and contacts. In-rush
    current should be considered when designing or retro-
    fitting a lighting system. Zero crossing controls
    eliminate field issues due to higher inrush current on
    <10% THD products. Be sure ballast meet NEMA 410
    Standard for in-rush current. Also refer to ANSI C82.11
    Information retrieved from http://assets.sylvania.com/assets/do...968ee0a7cb.pdf

    Discussing the bolded section: that stuff is essentially no longer available. Those are older electronic ballasts that weighed pounds a piece. Those used a steel core choke. Copper wire as well as freight from China costs money so there's an incentive to move away from that technology.

    Two other reliable sources that explore this concern:

    https://www.digikey.com/en/articles/...t-tribulations

    https://www.intermatic.com/-/media/i...-lighting.ashx

    But in-line dimming is highly common with household LED bulbs. Dimmers control power delivery by varying degrees of delay before switching-on each half cycle. To reduce buzzing from the dimmer and the ballast, as well as reducing stress on dimmer components, many LED bulbs have a resistor on the input of the ballast, so dimmable LED bulbs is sometimes the easy way around to reducing contact damage but their utmost concern is to prevent the LED ballast from producing audible buzzing when used with a dimmer.



    See the resistors on left side? Higher wattage power supplies like a T8 ballast may use a more sophisticated approach like zero crossing detection while CFLs, LED wall packs, some fluorescent and LED ballasts not meant for in-line triac dimming might not bother with in-rush issues. Household LED bulbs are designed to be cheap up-front and they're expected to have poor durability with some only rated to last only 10,000 hours but they have their place.

    Those low endurance LED products are done for in 13-14 months in continuous use but get great calendar year life on motion detector controlled places with low occupancy hours especially utility closets and such.
    Last edited by Electric-Light; 08-07-17 at 09:53 PM.

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