Light “switch” that is a button instead of a switch
February 5, 2018 8:36 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been trying to find a replacement for my house light switches but I don’t know how to google what I’m looking for. My house has several light switches where there is a light switch at each entrance to a room. Either can turn on the lights and either will turn off the lights. However, because of this turning the light on one side means the “off” position on the other side is the opposite direction. Where as a normal light switch is off in the down position, this switch is off in the up position. I want to find light switches that are, instead of an actual switch, just a button. That way the indicator of on and off is the light itself rather than switch position. Do these sort of light switches exist?
posted by ArthurBarnhouse to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Something like this or this? I googled "3-way-switch button"
posted by cgg at 8:43 AM on February 5, 2018

What you are describing, where two switches control a single light, are called "three-way switches." A little googling showed me one vintage set of 3-way switches where each switch uses a single button, and a bunch of switches where there's an on-button and an off-button (but I don't think that's what you want).
posted by adamrice at 8:44 AM on February 5, 2018

One option is the Lutron Digital Switch. It's a simple button with no physical indicator of its state. There may be a tiny LED that tells if it's on or not. You can use one by itself, and it looks like you can have up to 10 controlling the same circuit. This is a fancy and expensive version of a hard-wired three-way switch. It uses some sort of digital signaling instead of the extra wiring in the walls required for a three-way switch.
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

One possibility would be to fit a dimmer switch instead. They are push for on off. Plus they dim. You’d need to get one appropriate for the kind of lights you have.
posted by rongorongo at 8:57 AM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

They did in the '70s. A house my parents built had these. It was single push-button switch that used the same plate cover as a regular toggle switch (so, a rectangular vertical button). We had both 3-way and regular on/off versions. They were made by one of the major switch manufacturers, Leviton, I believe. I'm with you wanting a switch where on/off position doesn't change depending on another switch's position.

I've looked for these myself in the last few years and had no luck finding them. It must have been a '70s thing.
posted by ShooBoo at 9:20 AM on February 5, 2018

I think what you want is called a momentary switch. I did a little bit of googling, and I really only found them for electrical projects, not in-wall light switches. I've also found things called retractive switches that might be what you want, but that's mostly returning results from the UK.

Similar to the Lutrons, we've installed a number of GE Z Wave 3 way switches in our house, and they work like you describe, but it's probably overkill unless you want a 3rd way to control them.
posted by natabat at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2018

I have Lutron Caseta dimmers, in the same multi-way setup you have, and they work just as you describe. Note that these are "smart" switches, but don't actually need the wireless bridge to work (in which case, they're just fancy switches). For muli-way situations, you actually only replace one switch with a dimmer, and the other switches get replaced with a remote and a special bracket that holds it into a normal faceplate.
posted by noneuclidean at 10:16 AM on February 5, 2018

I have Leviton Devora smart switches (I actually have some switches and some dimmers) and they're great. They sort of just work like regular switches - push the top to turn them on and the bottom to turn them off, but they don't "stick" in that position so they're perfect as a 3-way switch since the top is always on and the bottom is always off from either switch.

Also, you don't need a hub or anything to use their smart features, so you get the ability to control them from your phone for free.
posted by brainmouse at 10:48 AM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

(I should add, if you go that route, you probably want the wifi version, which will connect to your home network with no problem. If you're deep in the Apple ecosystem you might want the HomeKit version, but that doesn't work with Alexa or Google Home. If you are somewhere without wifi you want the Bluetooth version.)
posted by brainmouse at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2018

I believe Hubbell still makes these Push switches in regular, 3-way and even 4 way.
A PDF spec sheet is here. Or do a web search for HBL 1283I.
posted by tronec at 11:12 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Looks like on Amazon you can get a touch-activated 3-way light switch replacement here. I'm sure other similar products exist if you do some research.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:17 PM on February 5, 2018

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