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Make an electric switch from a plumbing valve? Answered


Does anyone know how I would go about making a simple switch from a plumbing valve? Some examples of what I mean:

Thanks in advance,


I do not know the way you would go about making an electrical switch from a gate valve.

However, if I was going to make a valve-looking switch of this kind, I would seek out one of these valves, and disassemble it, so that I might get an idea of how its internal parts move, and how much room there is inside to work with.

By the way, the kind of valve in the pictures you linked to is called a "gate valve", so called because it has a  "gate" that slides up, or down, as the handle is turned to open, or close, the valve. The Wikipedia, article,
has a little video clip of someone turning the handle on a gate valve, and moving the gate up and down, if you have not seen this before.

Anyway, sort of the easiest way to do this would be to find an electrical switch that will physically fit inside the valve housing, if you can find, or make,  a switch small enough for this.

It might be the case that you can find, or make, a momentary switch, and somehow mount it under the gate, so that when the gate comes down it pushes the switch closed.

Another possibility is to find a rotary switch, one that will fit inside the valve body, and then figure out a way to connect it directly to the handle.
that would probably involve taking out the gate, and also the screw that drives it up and down, but that's easy because all that stuff comes apart.

All you need to take it apart is a couple of wrenches.

Final note:  you probably want to have your wires, and switch contacts, insulated from, NOT connected to, NOT touching the metal of the valve body, or the pipes.  Also if the wiring inside your lamp is connected to the AC mains power, grounding the metal pipe body of the lamp, I mean connecting the body of the lamp to the ground of the outlet where you plug it in,  via a plug including a ground wire, is a good idea.

It won't have the same effect as turning a knob, but you could always use a touch-sensitive switch such as this.

When wired correctly, the entire lamp (metal parts) become the switch.  

Good luck!


Sure, I believe these work by detecting a change in capacitance. A touch sensitive switch has a certain capacitance when untouched, meaning that a certain number of electrons are charged inside it, although not enough to flip. When a person touches the switch (or metal of your lamp which is connected to ground), part of the electronic charge stored in the body is passed to the switch. An electrical circuit detects the rise in capacitance and then acts accordingly to the previous state, turning a certain device either off or on.

Just make sure that the one you get has on/off in addition to the dim functions. I noticed that some do not have that or if they do, they don't specifically call it out as a feature.

Have fun! - John

Going on the same concept, you could also use something like this which won't require any special wiring. Also, I'm not sure if the device mentioned in my first link actually has a "on/off" function (it may just dim). This one has on/off and dimming. - John