If we forget about the banality of the statement that our life consists of little things, and think a little about its meaning, it turns out that the quality of the little things determines the standard of living. Andthis is fully true in relation to electrical installation devices that modern man encounters many times every day.
Our home is literally crammed with electrical appliances that need to be connected to electrical networks. Moreover, in addition to the usual power voltage of 220In, we should also talk about the so-called low-current networks. Tothese include, for example, computer networks of leased Internet lines, telephone lines and cable television networks. To connect such diverse devices, a mass of special devices called electrical installation products is required. ATcatalogs of companies under this name hides a whole world of devices, from sockets to smart home control systems. We do not set ourselves the task of immediately describing all the representatives of this class. First, let’s talk about groups of switches and sockets.— albeit small, but the most common electrical installation products.
Indirect evidence that these devices are not «trifles» but require the work of high-class engineers and designers for their creation is a solid list of their manufacturers, among which there are many world famous ones. Companies such as ABB, GIRA, ELSO, MERTEN, JUNG, KOPP, successfully operate in the domestic market of electrical installation products, SIEMENS (all Germany), ELJO, LEXEL (Sweden), ANAM, DAEWOO (South Korea), SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC, LEGRAND (France), BTICINO, VIMAR (Italy), PRODAX (Hungary), SIMON, BJC (Spain), STROMFORS (Finland) ), PLASTELECTRO (Russia) and others.
The range of possibilities of modern switches is so wide that one marvels at the ingenuity of the human mind. It would seem that after the black wall boxes, replaced by a cunning design with a «pull cord» raised to the ceiling, it is already difficult to come up with something new. But no! The line of designs of current switches has hundreds of positions. In addition to the main function— close and open, or, in a special language, switch electrical circuits,— the devices began to perform completely new. It can be saving electricity, improving electrical safety or ease of use, and much more. Of course, the designs of such devices have changed so much that it would be wrong to call them simply switches. Therefore, in addition to the group of switches, their closest relatives appeared: dimmers, motion sensors and twilight switches.
All switches can be divided into three groups according to the type of switching mechanism: balancing, push (self-resetting) and push-button independent. We have to talk about this because some confusion in terminology has begun on the market.— Devices of the same type are called differently by different sellers. The bulk of the devices are long-known balance switches. The mechanism is switched by a lever and works on the principle of a swing. Andno matter how such a lever element is designed (inin the form of a rectangular button, a round button or a semi-button), after pressing it in any case remains on until a new, reverse switching. There can be one, two, less often— three, four and even six (for example, in switches from DAEWOO). Undoubtedly, it is much more convenient to turn on several lamps or some household appliances from one place, rather than specifically approaching each of them.
In pressure gauges, the circuit remains closed as long as you hold down the key or button. Such devices are used, for example, for doorbells.
Relatively recently, push-button switches (ABB, JUNG) appeared on the market. The first time you press the button (round or square) they close the circuit, the second— open. According to manufacturers, such devices operate almost flawlessly, which is ensured by their special «floating» mechanism: the closure of contacts does not depend on where you press the button— incenter or edge.
Switches of all types are manufactured, as a rule, on the basis of a modular principle. ATAs a result, the devices contain one or more switching mechanisms and a decorating frame that unites them (it is also called an assembly). This is how hundreds of devices of the same type appear, differing in finish and fineness of lines, elegance of forms and small details, which together determine the preferences of the buyer.
When choosing a suitable device, the consumer first of all pays attention to the frame. It can be made not only from plastic. If you are a fan of natural materials, check out BTICINO products, which in the Living International and Light series offer 11 decorative frames made of solid wood (cherry, walnut, maple, pear, mahogany, ash, ebony and rose hips). Product price— from $30 to $35. SIEMENS for the Delta natur series, he uses decorative frames made of beech, oak, maple and cherry. Similar but cheaper products ($10-15) produced by a not so well-known company in our area KOPP. ATits products use less valuable wood, such as pine. GIRA one of their 5series— Esprit has built on the use of environmentally friendly materials: ceramics, glass and brass, and the Edelstahl series— with frames made of alloyed steel. If you are a «metal worker», you may like switches from the German company ELSO. ATClassic series to give the product a metallic look, not paint or even spraying is used, but real sheet metal.
A decorative frame and a shell of an unusual shape, made of stainless steel with a velvety tint that gives products a dull sheen that is not conspicuous, is offered by JUNG in the series LS-Stainless Steel. ATanother series— Technoline she uses metal frames with a chrome finish (shiny or matte) and even gold plating 24carat, and the keys of the switches are made of anthracite, blue night and ruby Venetian glass.
Well, there are many quite skillful imitations of bronze, silver and gold from different companies. To make it easier to find devices in the dark, in some models miniature neon backlights are installed on the keys (they come in different colors). A narrow frame around the key (SIMON) or a ring near the round plug (BUSCH-JAEGER, Germany) can be illuminated.
It looks like control (control) switches with pilot illumination (for example, the Decora series from ELJO or from BTICINO). But such devices operate in a different way than conventional switches, and a light on them means that the circuit is closed (the diagram of the device is shown on the back of the case). This is convenient if you need to know if any device remote from you is turned on, for example, a lamp at the gate, in the basement, etc.P.
Finally, it should be noted that there are switches on the market in anti-vandal design (made of durable metals and composite materials), as well as designed for operation in wet rooms and are not afraid of abundant water splashes (protection level P44) and even water jets (BTICINO, degree of protection IP55). The family of conventional switches is complemented by devices called switches. Sometimes in advertising booklets they are also called walk-through and cross switches. They work in pairs or groups: one can turn on the circuit in one place, and the second (orthird) disable it in another. For example, in the hall, turn on the general lighting, and after going into the bedroom, turn it off. Othat the circuit is closed, the burning signal light will “tell” you. The connection diagram of such devices is indicated on their case. An additional benefit to the consumer can be derived from the fact that their use often makes it possible to simplify the wiring diagram and, accordingly, reduce the overall length of the wires and the amount of work on wall gating.
And do not forget that all the devices listed above are designed for a certain current strength, for example 10 or 16A. Therefore, before going shopping, you need to find out the current loads for your circuits.
Many devices are designed specifically to help you save energy. ToThese include motion sensors (bio switches), dimmers (dimmers) and twilight switches.
The light at your entrance to the room can turn on by itself, for this you just need to install an automatic infrared switch. It is a combination of an electronic switch and a passive infrared detector. The latter reacts to the appearance in the zone of its action of any warm object, including a person, and gives a signal to turn on the light. True, he notices only moving objects. If you stand still for a while, the light will go out. This time is different for different models. For example, for the Sagan bioswitch manufactured by LEGRAND, it varies from 6seconds to 6minutes, for ABB’s Alpha Nea— from 2seconds to 32minutes. The motion sensor sensitivity zone is a sector of a thin horizontal «disk» (forSagan— 130, Alpha Nea— 180). The range of sensors intended for indoor installation is 10-12m. BUTsince the «disk» is approximately at the level of human growth, pets do not fall into the sensitivity zone and the device does not react to them. The dimensions of the moving object to which the sensor reacts, as well as the field of view of the device, can be adjusted. To prevent the light from turning on when you appear during the day, the illumination is adjusted. It can be stepped (modes «day» — «twilight» — «night») or smooth, ranging from 5 to 5000lx (independing on the model). There are devices that also provide a manual control mode. It should be used if you want the light to be on all the time or, conversely, not turn on automatically.
There are motion sensors on the market designed to switch on fluorescent or low-voltage halogen lamps, as well as universal ones (for example, the InfraControl series from KOPP). However, the cheapest devices are only designed to work with incandescent lamps. The German company GIRA has released a motion sensor (inEsprit series), which can be adjusted «viewing angle». This is done with the help of plastic overlays that play the role of limiters. Fashion motion sensor of the German company ELSO (costs about $94) is remarkable in that the elements for adjusting its modes are displayed on the front panel. This allows you to make adjustments quickly and without opening the case.
It is useful to take into account that sensors designed for outdoor and indoor operation have different designs and different limitations on the power of the switched on lighting. The use of these devices in the house and on the site provides a high level of comfort and significant energy savings. For example, it is very convenient to use a similar device to illuminate the paths on the site or to adjust the brightness of the night lamp in the bedroom.
To change the illumination of rooms, switches were invented with built-in dimmers (dimmers)— devices for smooth adjustment of the brightness of the light bulb. Not only do they create a pleasant lighting atmosphere, but they are also cost-effective, as they reduce lighting costs and prolong the life of the lamps due to the reduced voltage applied to them.
Dimmers are distinguished by the power and types of lamps with which they are able to work. For incandescent lamps, thyristor or other electronic devices for adjusting the output voltage are now mainly used. The brightness of halogen and fluorescent sources can also be adjusted, but in a completely different way. ATresult produced 3type of dimmers: for incandescent and halogen lamps rated at 220AT; for low-voltage halogen lamps fed through transformers; for fluorescent lamps. A different principle of operation allows the use of some dimmer models only with winding (ferromagnetic) transformers, while others— only with electronic ones. Therefore, when buying a dimmer, be sure to tell the seller for which and how many lamps you need this device.
The cheapest dimmers of the first type at 500W is offered by the Korean company ANAM (model AHW3502 costs about $13). There are universal models, for example 6590U BUSCH-JAEGER. Such a device can be used (of course, not simultaneously) with incandescent lamps, «halogens» at 230B and low-voltage lamps fed through transformers of both types. BUTall due to the fact that a microprocessor is built into the device, which, when a load is connected, tests it for some, rather short time, determining the type, and accordingly adjusts to the required control algorithm.
Universal dimmers are rotary or touch. ATin the first case, the brightness of the light is adjusted by turning the round button, and in the second, only a light touch on the top or bottom of the key is required. The touch controller can also be equipped with an infrared receiver (for remote control).
Remote control of light— an ideal solution for people suffering from insomnia, as well as for the sick and elderly who find it difficult to move around the house. The simplest one-key version with a remote costs about $50 (ARS model1324T from ANAM). There are models with a lot of additional features. Such switches allow you to control the lighting both with the help of pseudo-touch keys and from the remote control from a distance of up to 10m. More complex devices of the same company ANAM have a programmable shutdown after 30, 60 and 90minutes (Bedtime function), step-by-step light control (Dimmer function), are able to simulate the presence of the owner in the house, turning the light on and off according to a given program in order to mislead intruders (Crime Prevention function). More serious Busch-FerncontrolABB’s IR with IR remote control and a range of unique features. Remote control with a range of about 15m makes it possible to manage several (up to10) switches. Moreover, for comfort, the fixtures can be pre-set to the desired brightness levels, which are subsequently set by pressing just one button. That is, this system is especially convenient where simultaneous individual adjustment of several light sources is required.
The twilight switch includes a light sensor and a control relay. When the illumination falls below a predetermined level, the sensor sends a signal to the relay, which turns on the lighting. When the illumination level rises above the set level, the relay turns off the lighting by a signal from the sensor. You can supplement this sensor with a motion sensor: then the light, for example, in the area will turn on only at dusk and only when a person appears.
Electrical outlets are used to connect electrical appliances. It must be borne in mind that in our country electric plugs of two standards are used: Russian (pin diameter— 3.5mm) or «euro» (pin diameter— 4.5mm). Accordingly, sockets are “euro” and “non-euro”, although there are also universal samples.
Almost all modern appliances are equipped with a plug with a grounding contact. But this does not guarantee the protection of a person from electric shock. Moreover, even if both the socket and the plug connected to it have a grounding contact, this is also not enough for safety. The main thing is that the contact in the outlet is really grounded. ATthis is provided for in new houses, and how to achieve the same in buildings of an old building, you should find out from an electrician.
Such, at first glance, an insignificant thing as a socket, with the wrong choice, can lead to a fire. Especially if you have installed «Euro sockets» in your apartment, and some powerful device (for example, an iron, a toaster or a refrigerator) has a Russian standard plug. Not better and vice versa— a Russian-style socket and a Euro plug. Are you trying to plug it in?— do not climb. If you push it, the lining of the socket will crack. Of course, there are adapters. But, firstly, there are quite a few adapters that equally well cover the plug and enter the socket, secondly, these are additional contacts, additional connections that can also hang out, and, finally, thirdly, these designs are unattractive in appearance. Therefore, it is still desirable to install universal sockets.
What should I look for when choosing an outlet (besides whether it matches the color of the wallpaper)? First of all, on the strength of the current for which it is designed. This indicator depends on the materials used and the design. The socket consists of three parts: base, conductive elements and front panel. Foundation (toto which conductive and fastening fittings and the front panel are connected) can be ceramic or plastic. Ceramic is preferred because of its incombustibility and ability to better dissipate heat. The disadvantage in this case is the increased fragility of the material, which requires careful handling during installation. True, ceramic bases are now used mainly by Turkish manufacturers. Almost all European companies prefer plastic bases made of polycarbonate with special additives that do not support combustion.
The conductive parts of the socket can be made of unplated brass, tin-plated brass or bronze. Sometimes there are also brass elements with other coatings. Perhaps the worst should be recognized as brass contacts. They look really great— while new, they shine like samovar gold. But that ends pretty quickly. ATIn the presence of the slightest amount of moisture, especially when in contact with aluminum wires, brass contacts quickly fade and even turn green, which adversely affects their conductive properties. Tobesides, they do not spring well, because of which, after a while, the sockets become loose. To avoid this, some sockets use spring washers to prevent the contact petals of the socket from moving too far apart. This is usually how universal sockets are arranged. Tinned contacts, which look like matte white metal, behave somewhat better. They are less susceptible to corrosion and, if necessary, are easier to solder. The tinned surface of such contacts is soft enough to fit snugly against the pins of the plug. The best, though rare, are the bronze contacts. Outwardly, they resemble brass, but are usually matte and darker in color. Their main advantage— excellent spring properties that allow you to firmly hold the plug in the socket.
As a rule, the fastening of wires to the contact part of the socket is carried out with a screw connection. BUThere are the ABB companies and JADO most of their products use a pressure-type contact assembly, without screws. People who are accustomed to working with screw contacts are confused. ATAt the same time, it is known that in metal contact parts, the screw fastening weakens over time, and as the electrical load increases, the socket begins to heat up. It’s easy to fix it— You just need to tighten the screws from time to time. The clamp-type contact assembly is a self-adjusting mechanism and constantly holds the wire tightly, thereby providing the necessary contact throughout the entire service life of the product. The Spanish company BJC is following the same path. ATDue to the special shape of the clamping element, its sockets provide maximum contact area and reliable fixation of the wire, regardless of whether the flexible or rigid type of cable is used during installation.
The third component of the outlet is the front panel. Until recently, there were panels made of phenol-formaldehyde resin, usually dark brown or black. They were strong enough, practically non-combustible, but under the influence of high temperatures they released harmful substances and, moreover, they were distinguished by an unattractive appearance. Modern products owe their color variety to the appearance of low-flammable polycarbonate, from which most of the front panels of modern products are made.
Many companies provide colored decorative elements in the design of installation devices that are easy to replace without interfering with the design of the product itself. Inserts or frames can be purchased separately. Now, having re-pasted the wallpaper, you do not have to lament that the old switches do not match them in color. If there are small children or overly curious animals in the house, sockets with covers are offered for their additional protection. For example, such an ARN socketANAM’s 1225N stands $3-4.5. Its convex hinged lid can be locked in closed, open and semi-open positions. The lid is equipped with a rubber gasket, tightly closes the socket with a plug inserted and quite reliably protects the device not only from the pranks of the child, but also from water ingress. Therefore ARN1225N is recommended by the manufacturer for use in rooms with high humidity (kitchen, bathroom, etc.).P.).
Other useful models include a socket with an ejector, which provides additional security when removing the plug. After all, if the plug does not have a convenient grip, they tend to pull it out by pulling on the wire. BUTdoing so is strictly prohibited. The Hungarian company PRODAX offers a socket with an original plug ejector (according toprice $four). The mechanism is designed so that when you press the key in the corner, you thereby press one arm of the lever, and the second is located in the depth of the socket. The lever turns and pushes the fork out. By installing such an outlet, you can not touch either the plug or the wire at all.
A functional analogue, but of a different design, is supplied to the market by the German company Busch-Jaeger, which is part of the ABB concern. We mean the Schuko socket from the Reflex seriesS.I. ($9). FROMthis device also does not have to apply a lot of force to the plug, risking pulling it out «withmeat.» It is easily pushed out if you turn a graceful lever around its axis with your finger. In this case, the ejectors will move in the side slots, which are used as guides.
A socket can serve as a kind of safety option, which will not allow a slight excess of voltage in the network, and will burn out in case of a stronger failure. Of course, a burnt outlet will have to be changed, and yet it is incomparably cheaper than repairing an air conditioner or computer.
For open and hidden wiring
Let’s go back, as they say, to the origins— by the time when you are just going to install all these products, that is, to repair. Almost all electrical installation devices are made in two types— for open and hidden wiring. With open wiring, which is usually used in country wooden houses, all these switches, sockets, etc.etc. are usually just fixed on the wall. Well, maybe to improve the interior it is worth disguising the wiring with plastic boxes.
In city apartments or stone cottages, in most cases, wiring hidden in the walls is used. Hidden wiring is the most common and safe to use. Their main disadvantage— the impossibility of connecting new pantographs without additional efforts. Hidden wires are brought out to the surface of the walls (for connection to lamps, non-recessed switches, socket outlets and others) through insulating tubes, funnels, porcelain or plastic bushings. For recessed products, installation boxes are used (until recently they were usually tin, but now there are already a large number of plastic ones on the market). ATa recess is made in the wall for their fixation, subsequently the box is held either with cement mortar or with special fasteners provided for in its design. For example, ABB offers spacers for this purpose, fixed with screws. If you are sure that you will never have to repair the wiring, fixing the box with cement mortar seems to be more appropriate, but if there are doubts about this, then fasteners are preferable.
Presented on the market of mounting boxes and domestic manufacturers. For example, the Russian company PLASTELECTRO offers the PE model031007, designed for installation in plasterboard walls of electrical installation products of Korean production. An additional bushing allows this model to be used in two socket mounting options. The PlastElectro junction box can be supplied complete with high-quality Spelsberg terminal clamp. In addition (andthis is very convenient!), by cutting the stepped plugs at the inlets, it is possible to obtain a hole that exactly corresponds in diameter to the diameter of the cable or pipe being inserted.
Do you think, sitting in front of the TV or sitting down at the computer, how to properly and aesthetically connect these devices to power sources? For this, there are specialized sockets that can be used not only for supplying electricity, but also for connecting low-current circuits (such as telephone, radio, Internet, cable TV, Hi-Fi equipment).
Cable television, radio and audio outlets allow you to hide assorted cords and cables, usually sloppy hanging or pinned to the wall. If you provide in advance such sockets in all rooms, then when rearranging furniture, you will not be bound by the need to keep a computer or TV set in only one corner. When selecting radio and television sockets of the type TV-FM you should pay attention to the version of their execution (through passage or terminal). Passage means that the cable after the outlet will stretch further to another point. This allows you to save on cable and simplify the connection scheme if there are several TVs in the apartment, but slightly reduces the image quality, especially if there are more than three TVs. There should also be sufficient telephone sockets in living rooms. ATRecently, socket blocks have come into fashion, which can contain, in addition to network, all the types of sockets listed above in different combinations. This facilitates and speeds up repairs, since when using them, all cables are usually laid in parallel either in boxes or in strobes in the walls. However, in the latter case, additional problems may arise. The fact is that long wires running parallel to each other cause interference. This is especially important for computer lines. For them, it is advisable to use special computer sockets with the possibility of cutting the cable screen. ATOtherwise, the screen, on the contrary, will play the role of an antenna for interference. Therefore, it is better to lay electrical cables separately from television cables, as well as cables for connecting the Internet or wires for Hi-Fi equipment.
By the way, about combinations, combinations and permutations. If you have not yet lost interest in designers, pay attention to the Iris series offered by BJC. You have the opportunity to combine installation frames with decorative trims that are easily and securely fixed to the frames. The covers are available in the following colors: matt gold, bright gold, matt nickel and bright nickel.
The Italian firms BTICINO and VIMAR went even further, their products are built using modular technology and are compact. Each of the proposed electrical installation devices (andit can be everything from banal sockets and switches to a stereo system or an access control system) is made in the form of a small module (sizes 4422 and 4444mm), equipped with spring latches. ATThe installation box provides for fastening the mounting frame, which has protrusions and holes for snapping the modules. From above, all this is covered with a decorative overlay. Modules can vary in appearance and space occupied during installation. Their number can reach7 (BTICINO), and the number of instrument clusters and their color schemes is in the hundreds. In a similar way, the ABB concern made the Stylo series. If it is not known in advance how many devices you need to connect, you can put a wide installation box and a long frame, but for now, close the empty spaces with plugs, which will look quite aesthetically pleasing. Subsequently, if you need to install an additional switch, socket or other device, just remove the plug and snap something else in its place. Andno need to hollow out the walls for additional boxes. The modular principle allows you to design in a single style not only the lighting control system (switches) and the power supply (sockets), but also security systems, sound transmission systems, telephony, etc.all the way to an aesthetic global whole-home automation network solution.
But we will discuss this in more detail in a separate article.
The editors would like to thank REAL OIL, ELECTROMATERIALY, REAL R, OPTICOM-ELECTRO, PRESTIGE ELECTROMATIALY, Electroengineer, BTICINO and SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC for their help in preparing the material.