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Old 02-10-2012, 08:02 AM   #1
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Warm light switches

My wife is concerned that the light switches in the bathroom and vanity area get warm, not hot, after they have been on a while. We haven't tracked it over time, though we will, but I would assume that some warmth around the switches would be normal. But it does beg the question: is there anything in the switches that could go bad over time and cause overheating?
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Old 02-10-2012, 08:15 AM   #2
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Jerry,

An electrical switch of any type (except maybe a lighted switch) should not generate any heat. Heat would indicate a bad connection of some sort. Could be where the wires attach to the switch or could be the contacts within. When a switch is in the "on" position, there are contacts inside the switch which touch and allow the current to pass. If these contacts are corroded due to contamination or arcing, that would possibly create some heat and it will only get worse. IMHO..... If the switch is getting warm, I would recommend not using it until it has been diagnosed and repaired.
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Old 02-10-2012, 08:38 AM   #3
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Is the switch being overloaded? Any switch when power is applied will bet a little warm but should never get above room temperature. Electricity produces heat but the switch should never be to hot to touch. Now if the switch is arcing when you turn it on or off then there is a potential problem and it should be replaced as soon as possible. Check your wire connections at the switch to make sure they are all secure.
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Old 02-10-2012, 09:56 AM   #4
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I agree, if the switches are getting warm then there is a problem.. Now, some problems are easily fixed so I will give you step one then I'll discuss possible problems.

Remove power (use the battery disconnect and unplug from shore)

CYCLE THE SWITCH (Lights should not come on) many times, 2,3,4,5 dozen times or more.

Restore power and test.. If this fixes it it was dirty switch contacts causing high resistance and they cleaned themselves when they were cycled w/o power.. Go out and buy a lotto ticket cause Lady Luck is smiling on you this day.

Now, If you have "Upgraded" the lights, you may be exceeding the rating of the switch.

And if you did not.. Then the manufacturer may have used a switch which is described by ME TV's "Foul Language" (Bunch of chicklets yammering among themselves and Ethel says to Lucy (I Love Lucy luch) "They are talking about Fred" Lucy indicates puzzlement "They are saying Cheep Cheep Cheep".
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Old 02-10-2012, 11:53 AM   #5
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Jerry- IIWMI'd take the switches off the wall & check the wire contacts. Yours are probably press-to-cut insulation stripping type where the insulated wire is mashed into the notch. If there is insufficient contact, there will be high resistance which will generate heat. On mine where I had contact problems, I stripped a short area then pressed the now bare copper into the slot for a firm contact, and it worked great thereafter.
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Old 02-10-2012, 04:00 PM   #6
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Seems to me like the bathroom and vanity switches are 12 volts. I know RV's use the "press to cut" devises like Mike mentioned for 120 volt stuff, but the 12 volt stuff should have a spade connector crimped on stranded wire.

In my world of electrical knowledge, any switch that gets hot is a problem. If you have good clean connections and no damage to the contacts in the switch, there will be virtually no resistance and no heat buildup. If there is heat, it is being caused by a poor connection. Heat being produced by a devise that is not designed to do so will continue to get worse until it fails. Failure might appear in the form of the light won't work anymore or it might show up as fire. While one is less desirable than the other, both are preventable. (IMHO)

Best to have it checked by someone qualified to decide whats wrong & fix it.

Just my 2 cents worth.

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Old 02-11-2012, 12:05 AM   #7
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All - I think some might have gotten the cart ahead of the horse, but maybe it's just me.

First are we dealing with 12VDC or 120VAC switches? Second, are those switches lighted inside? FWIW-My reading light switches in my coach in the bedroom have lights in them as does the dining room light (120VAC Switches), however, they are not warm when off or when on. Do you feel the warm switches the same as your wife? If not, maybe something else is going on, I would check every switch in the coach (house portion) with both of you touching and feeling, then compare notes. Now if she feels the warmth and you do not, I would advise you to have her talk to her doctor, something else might be going on, and that statement is not to “blow you off”, but something serious might be going on.

I am sure (for the ones I have taken apart and looked at) my 12VDC switch all have solder-less connections on them, not press to fit, as the spare ones I carry have blade male posts to accept that terminal type. Be aware, WRV used wire nuts in places where they should not have, and used the wrong size and type of crimp on connections in lots of places, so you may end up fixing a lot more places than just a switch. Please don’t ask me how I know, or the type of electrical personnel WRV used because I am seriously jaded on both of those subjects.

I believe the only press to fit type are the 120VAC wiring in the coach. FWIW#2 - RV 120VAC receptacles/switches are the lowest electrical quality type parts made, the NFPA & NEC folks know this, but allow RV manufacturers to use them because of cost, so even though these unit costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, the parts of the 120VAC electrical system are cheap crap, so inferior in fact they don’t pass for contractor grade in a house. It’s my understanding you will need to add a half width/height box in the wall to change to a better type of switch/receptacles, but I have not changed any of them, and cannot be sure this is the case, but a reliable RV person who had done these repairs assures me that is the case.

If they are 12VDC, my guess is lose wires to the switch, or someplace within the circuit, WRV is famous for not leaving any slack in the circuits when the MH's were made, and as this is the case, your connections to those switches, might be lose at the crimp on connection due to being pulled free partially when unit is going down the road bouncing, etc. I had to fix two of my bullet reading lights (halogen bulbs got the fixture so hot, it melted the plastic parts holding the reflective shield in place and it broke-which is one reason I went to LED lights throughout the coach), and in both cases, I had to add some wire to fix them since there was not enough present. In a previous post about a year ago, I listed the type of push on connectors I used in place of a crimp on wire nut. They won’t vibrate out of this type of connector, which Home Depot sells.

Sometimes, you can feel the fuse and if it is warm as well, then it's a wiring problem, not just the switch problem. If you don't feel comfortable doing this repair, please get qualified person to make this fix.

I have never noticed any warm switch in our coach, but then I have checked every electrical connection I can get too in this coach, because so many were lose or sized incorrectly when we purchased it.
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:24 AM   #8
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Another thought: If you replace the Incandesceant lamps currently in the room with LED's

Major current reduction will result in major reduction in heat in the switch.
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Old 02-11-2012, 10:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EngineerMike View Post
Jerry- IIWMI'd take the switches off the wall & check the wire contacts.
Does the switch cover, e.g. next to the bathroom sink, just pry off?
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Old 02-14-2012, 01:36 AM   #10
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Yes it does, the switches then can be checked or taken out by gently unsnapping them from the housing they are in, that is if it's like mine. Be careful, if the wires are not long enough, they might come off the terminals and fall down into the wall, getting them back might take some work. So try to hold the wires as you remove the switch so you don't lose them.
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