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Old 11-19-2011, 06:32 PM   #1
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Dimmer Switch questions


My dining room has a 3-way switch with a dimmer. The dimmer gets warm and the heat can be felt through the plate. Opening it up, it has no brand name, two backstabbed black wires (no screws), and the ground was not connected. Trying to remove it without cutting the wires, I turned and twisted the wires, but they would not come out.

Should it get hot? Is it a lousy switch? Must I cut the wires to replace it?

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Old 11-19-2011, 07:12 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by sweaty View Post
My dining room has a 3-way switch with a dimmer. The dimmer gets warm and the heat can be felt through the plate. Opening it up, it has no brand name, two backstabbed black wires (no screws), and the ground was not connected. Trying to remove it without cutting the wires, I turned and twisted the wires, but they would not come out.

Should it get hot? Is it a lousy switch? Must I cut the wires to replace it?

Dimmers get very,very warm, but they should not be hot.

Are sure it is backstabbed? The romex goes straight to the device or are there pigtails in the box?

You should have 3 wires plus ground for a 3-way.

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Old 11-19-2011, 07:30 PM   #3
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Dimmer Switch questions


I suspect the dimmer came with wire leads out of the body of the dimmer.
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:53 PM   #4
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I suspect the dimmer came with wire leads out of the body of the dimmer.
I agree, I have not seen a direct wire resi dimmer. I got I pic for the OP.

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Old 11-19-2011, 08:02 PM   #5
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I agree, I have not seen a direct wire resi dimmer. I got I pic for the OP.

Just noticed, my pic has two violations of 200.7(C)(2).



(2) Where a cable assembly contains an insulated conductor
for single-pole, 3-way or 4-way switch loops and
the conductor with white or gray insulation or a marking
of three continuous white stripes is used for the
supply to the switch
but not as a return conductor from
the switch to the switched outlet. In these applications,
the conductor with white or gray insulation or with
three continuous white stripes shall be permanently reidentified
to indicate its use
by painting or other effective
means at its terminations and at each location
where the conductor is visible and accessible.
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Old 11-19-2011, 08:06 PM   #6
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Dimmer Switch questions


Dimmers get hot because they become part of the load. If you have 300 watts of incandescant lighting on a dimmer, and you dim it to about 1 /3.... the other 2/3 becomes becomes heat at the dimmer. And dimming lights does not save energy, it merely converts light to heat.
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Old 11-19-2011, 08:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
Dimmers get hot because they become part of the load. If you have 300 watts of incandescant lighting on a dimmer, and you dim it to about 1 /3.... the other 2/3 becomes becomes heat at the dimmer. And dimming lights does not save energy, it merely converts light to heat.
The older dimmers did not save energy, but I believe many of the newer ones do.
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Old 11-19-2011, 11:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
Dimmers get hot because they become part of the load. If you have 300 watts of incandescant lighting on a dimmer, and you dim it to about 1 /3.... the other 2/3 becomes becomes heat at the dimmer. And dimming lights does not save energy, it merely converts light to heat.
WRONG !!!
It does not convert the other 2/3s to heat.
It simply switchs the light off during the other 2/3s of the cycle.
Some heat is generated, but NOT 2/3s.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:26 AM   #9
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Dimmer Switch questions


After another look, this switch has two attached wires that go to wire nuts.

I have two concerns:

I don't want to use electricity to just generate heat.

I want to use the available ground wire.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:41 AM   #10
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Newer dimmers are supposed to save energy.

Connect the ground wire to the new dimmer.

Enjoy.

Newer dimmers are coming without the wire leads and are using screw terminals.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:22 AM   #11
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The posts are generally spot on. Old dimmers used a variable resistor to reduce the circuit voltage, and effectively wasted the unused energy by converting it to heat. Most new dimmers use a triac, which effectively shuts the voltage off for periods of the cycle, thereby reducing the effective power to the bulb without wasting much energy at all. Low quality triac dimmers have the odd effect of making the lightbulb buzz, while higher quality dimmers include various additional circuitry to reduce the buzzing effect.

Not all lightbulb types are compatible with dimmers, for example some CFLs are not suitable for dimming, I don't know about LED's. Make sure the bulbs you use are rated for use with the dimmer you buy.

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