Pull Chain Switches

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
Our plant has lots of overhead fans with 2 speed pull chain switches. They get heavy use and we replace a lot of them. Replacement switches from Grainger are about $50l, so we have been using $3-4 switches from local big box. Needless to say, they don't last long either.

Is there a good supplier out there of better switches for $10 or so? I suspect the $50 ones aren't any better than the originals in the fans, so not worth $50. But the cheap ones aren't made for the heavy use they get here.

Thanks for any feedback.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
Would adding fan remotes help?
I suspect there are multiple fans and not enough codes in the remote system to differentiate one from the other should they decide to just change the speed on one and not the others. Plus keeping people from fighting over the remote would be hard, especially if there's women involved!:)
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I suspect there are multiple fans and not enough codes in the remote system to differentiate one from the other should they decide to just change the speed on one and not the others. Plus keeping people from fighting over the remote would be hard, especially if there's women involved!:)
That would explain the rapid switch replacement. :sneaky:

How about the heavy-duty kind that operate as a lever?

1614122344348.png
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
That would explain the rapid switch replacement. :sneaky:

How about the heavy-duty kind that operate as a lever?


View attachment 2555471
That would be good if we can get it in 2 speed.
These are metal cage fans from Grainger, most of them mounted on down rods. A few are on floor stands.
Remotes would be good but I don’t think any module would fit into the fans. We would have to chain them to something too, to keep them from being lost.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

tsloan

Member
Location
Michigan
I am in the same boat as you as far as constantly replacing fan switches in our plant. I get the Leviton 1689-75 pull chain switches. less than $13 each from local supply house. they are single speed so I just wire the fans at high speed.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Are they shaded pole or PSC motors? (likely are) If so wire them for the high speed and use a wall speed control switch - or bring necessary leads to some sort of selector type switch that is rated for the load.

If only two speed motor, a double throw toggle can work as speed switch Can even have center off position.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
Are they shaded pole or PSC motors? (likely are) If so wire them for the high speed and use a wall speed control switch - or bring necessary leads to some sort of selector type switch that is rated for the load.

If only two speed motor, a double throw toggle can work as speed switch Can even have center off position.
You're forgetting these are pull chain switches, no wall control.
 

Fred B

Senior Member
Location
Upstate, NY
Occupation
Electrician
I suspect there are multiple fans and not enough codes in the remote system to differentiate one from the other should they decide to just change the speed on one and not the others. Plus keeping people from fighting over the remote would be hard, especially if there's women involved!:)
That would be good if we can get it in 2 speed.
These are metal cage fans from Grainger, most of them mounted on down rods. A few are on floor stands.
Remotes would be good but I don’t think any module would fit into the fans. We would have to chain them to something too, to keep them from being lost.
One remote found on HD has 4 DiP switches for channel selection, that will give quit a few possibilities, couple that with a max range of 50' might make remote control possible. Under $40. Grainger also offers one that can also work with a smart phone for under $50.
I've installed a few of these, they fit under a normal size ceiling mount cover, only limitation they dont provide reverse.
Have also used a DC motor model that allows remote reverse as well as speed/lighting controls, had light dimming also. Wasn't cheap but HO didn't want to have to get up to a 28' cathedral ceiling to change the directions.
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I would put the fans on a wall switch. Leave the speed selector and only use the change to change speed.. I assume that isn't done often... ????
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
I would put the fans on a wall switch. Leave the speed selector and only use the change to change speed.. I assume that isn't done often... ????
A very few are on wall switches but are only using 1 speed. They are very high and in awkward locations so they are just left on high.

Adding switches for some would be doable, for others, not so much. High traffic production areas, lots of machinery & piping in the way. Sometimes, no convenient wall or frame to mount a switch. Most fans plug into receptacles mounted on strut with Bell boxes & strut clamps.
 

StarCat

Industrial Engineering Tech
Location
Moab, UT USA
Occupation
Brewery Engineering Plant Technician - HVACR Electrical and Mechanical Systems
" Zing Ear " and don't you especially like the stab in terminals that are next to impossoble to disengage once landed? Or that you need a microscope to actually deal with the switch, all while then having to weild the light assy. back into place.....
another type of Tech that is mostly unreliable on any good day. Also , if you give people these pull chains, they will invariably NEVER stop yanking on them, and some will pull the chain right out of the switch. Back in the olden days, duty cycle and ruggedness seemed to just naturally happen more. Now we live in plastic world.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
" Zing Ear " and don't you especially like the stab in terminals that are next to impossoble to disengage once landed? Or that you need a microscope to actually deal with the switch, all while then having to weild the light assy. back into place.....
another type of Tech that is mostly unreliable on any good day. Also , if you give people these pull chains, they will invariably NEVER stop yanking on them, and some will pull the chain right out of the switch. Back in the olden days, duty cycle and ruggedness seemed to just naturally happen more. Now we live in plastic world.
Yep! You got it. They get very hard use. Not to mention a lot of oil & grease in the air. Everything gets coated.
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
Also , if you give people these pull chains, they will invariably NEVER stop yanking on them, and some will pull the chain right out of the switch. Back in the olden days, duty cycle and ruggedness seemed to just naturally happen more. Now we live in plastic world.
Yep! You got it. They get very hard use.
If excessive force is contributing to the failures, perhaps something like the following could help:
Attach a spring (or bungee) in line with the pull chain near the switch. Then attach another chain to limit how far the spring can be pulled down. The upper end of this extra chain would be attached to a fixed point close to the switch. This arrangement would limit how far the spring can be extended and therefore the maximum amount of force that can be applied to the switch.

If this was done I think it would be best to work out the arrangement on the ground, such as confirming the proper selection of the spring, the amount of slack on the extra chain, etc.
 

winnie

Senior Member
Location
Springfield, MA, USA
Occupation
Electric motor research
I think the idea of mechanically limiting the force applied to the switch is a good one.

I was thinking more along the lines of a magnetic link in the chain that would pull apart if yanked too hard. Something like the magnetic 'break-away' clasps made for lanyards.

Jon
 

SSDriver

Senior Member
Location
California
Occupation
Electrician

maybe this one? looks a little bit more robust. Could be the same quality in an enclose, not sure as i have not used one

1614310537891.png
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE

maybe this one? looks a little bit more robust. Could be the same quality in an enclose, not sure as i have not used one
I think that may be a momentary contact switch, for example to actuate a door opener to either open or close depending on its previous state.
That would need to be confirmed, however.
 
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