vintage-switch-plateBirgitta writes: “I am wondering if this was a common feature in the 1950’s?  It turns on/off nine lights and there is another one in the back of the house.”

Well, this a new one to me. I have never seen this feature in person, or in a magazine. What do you think, retro renovators?

  1. Kingola says:

    Birgitta, yours is a low voltage system made by Sierra Electric originally.

    They went out of business, but were bought by Pass and Seymour who still make the switches and, I believe, the straps needed to install them.

    The shape of the switches is called “Despard”.

    In the master bedroom at our place, we have a switch with the rotary just like you have, its very cool.

    As the relays have gone south, they have been replaced by GE RR7s, which do the job just fine.

    One place to seek wall plates and switches would be here:

    If you were to find an online Pass and Seymour catalog, simply type “despard” in the search and the proper section will come up.

    They are still making the switches in a variety of colors, too…



    1. pam kueber says:

      Thanks, Kingola, for these tips and for sharing your experience. However I do want to add to Birgitta and others: Consult with licensed professionals when dealing with environmental and safety issues in your homes — and I would put electrical issues squarely in this category.

  2. mcjunkie says:

    If you are looking for replacement switches and relays, they can still be had…just google pass and seymour low voltage switches or relays. Don’t let the electrician tell you that he can’t find them. Mine ordered them from his supplier. They are lots more expensive that regular line voltage switches, but much less than tearing into your walls and rewiring your house.

  3. philq says:

    I never saw this post before! That is a master control for a low-voltage lighting system. I have the GE system in my house with three separate master controls – one at the garage door, one at the front door and one in the master bedroom. Thankfully, the previous owners left detailed “maps” of all the gang boxes/relays and what contols what. My master controls have nine positions to contol various sequences of lights, such as lighting a path from the bedroom to the kitchen and another position – I refer to as “panic” – which turns on or off ALL the lights in and outside the house. Very high-tech for the time. Yes, cadman, some parts are still available. The low-voltage systems are used mostly in commercial applications and are computerized nowadays (do the have an “app” for it?).

  4. Linda says:

    HOOLY COW!!! This was a great post I have this same swithch and never could find out what it was for, after reading this I got my hubby involed and found out what lights it works in our house lol this was GREAT Thanks a bunch!!

  5. Ray says:

    I have the same switch in my bedroom as Brigitta. Mine is missing the switch plate, anyone have a clue where to find a replacement? The selector knob is different, but its a nine-cicruit controller.

  6. RetroRuth says:

    We have this exact same thing in our master bedroom! Your switchplate is much better than ours, which has been painted a time or two. And our switch is in milk chocolate, not pink. Our place was built in ’56 and was pretty high-end, so I am thinking this was probably expensive!

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