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Old 11-28-2009, 11:30 AM   #1
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Dimmer switches


Three novice questions about 3-way dimmers

1) Estimating capacity I want the dimmer to handle six flush-mounted high-hats/pot-lights/indoor floods. I typically put 75 watt bulbs in these units but I cannot determine their actual maximum wattage (its not indicated anywhere on the fixtures when they are extracted from the ceiling). Is there a standard wattage for such residential lights? Is it safe to assume the maximum is 150 watts each? (Thereby calling for 6 X 150W, or @ 1000 W dimmer?).
2) One dimmer or two currently two switches control the lights in question (hence need for a 3-way dimmer). I assume its acceptable to swap out only one standard switch for the 3-way dimmer and leave the other standard switch in place?
3) The dimmer switch would be replacing one of two standard switches in either a 2-gang or 4-gang wall box. Is it acceptable to swap out a standard switch from such gang boxes and replace with a dimmer, or do I need a whole replacement gang box thatd be larger?

Thanks!


Last edited by brokenknees; 11-28-2009 at 11:41 AM. Reason: clarify title
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:44 AM   #2
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1) thats pretty unusual that a fixture doesnt have a wattage rating, but anyway your dimmer is really based on what bulbs your using not necessarily the fixture, if you plan on using 6 75 watt bulbs get a 600 watt dimmer, unless you see yourself possible using something much larger than go ahead and get the 1000w up to you...

2) Yea you can do that, with 3 way dimmers, only one switch will dim UNLESS you get the slightly more expensive dimmers with the addition control wire between the two, but yes just swapping out the switch is fine

3) Nope you can just switch it out no need for a larger box if theres a switch already there

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Old 11-28-2009, 12:24 PM   #3
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Scott - thank you so much for your reply; that's helpful (and reassuring) information.

Perhaps you could enlighten me about 4-way dimmers. I have a chandelier controlled from three locations. As I understand it, even the standard switch configuration would need to havea 4 way swtich in the "middle" between two 3-ways ( 3 - 4 - 3). I also assume it would be easy to idenitfy which is the 4-way by counting the screw terminals (i.e., the 4-way should have 4), correct? If I want to install a dimmer, then, do simply need to put a 4-way dimmer switch in place of that current 4-way non-dimmer switch? Something I Googled suggested I would need a need to have dimmers at each switch - a 3-way, then a 4-way, then a 3-way again.

Ignorance is bliss, except in this case!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-28-2009, 01:03 PM   #4
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Unless you get special dimmers they are only installed in one location in the switching arrangement. Otherwise the dimming will never be any brighter than the lowest setting.

You will not find a regular 4 way dimmer.
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:45 PM   #5
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If you want to control the dimmer from three or more spots { switch locations } we have this type of dimmer it called mulitlocation dimmers they wiring is somehow little more trickier to deal with it and each manufacter and the models are pretty tricky so the installament instruction do come handy and read the installment instruction before you do the actual hook up.

The key issue is you have to find where is the power source is at 1} at the first switch or at the luminaire or one of the switch box in middle of run etc etc.

Merci,Marc
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokenknees View Post
Scott - thank you so much for your reply; that's helpful (and reassuring) information.

Perhaps you could enlighten me about 4-way dimmers. I have a chandelier controlled from three locations. As I understand it, even the standard switch configuration would need to havea 4 way swtich in the "middle" between two 3-ways ( 3 - 4 - 3). I also assume it would be easy to idenitfy which is the 4-way by counting the screw terminals (i.e., the 4-way should have 4), correct? If I want to install a dimmer, then, do simply need to put a 4-way dimmer switch in place of that current 4-way non-dimmer switch? Something I Googled suggested I would need a need to have dimmers at each switch - a 3-way, then a 4-way, then a 3-way again.

Ignorance is bliss, except in this case!

Thanks in advance!
And in many others. But regardless of how many other locations your particular light fixture is controlled from. If you have another dimmer (for another light fixture) in the same (multi-gang) box your dimmer has to be derated by @ least 100 Watts. (No matter what) Don't Drink and Drive, Ever!!!
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:19 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
And in many others. But regardless of how many other locations your particular light fixture is controlled from. If you have another dimmer (for another light fixture) in the same (multi-gang) box your dimmer has to be derated by @ least 100 Watts. (No matter what) Don't Drink and Drive, Ever!!!
Thanks for this - I may in fact be installing two dimmers for two different set of fixtures in the same switch/gang box, so this is helpful. Except ... I don't know what derating means exactly! Do you mean if I would otherwise have a 600watt rated dimmer controlling six (6) 100watt lights that I should opt for a higher rated dimmer (i.e., 1000watt)?
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:30 AM   #8
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Derating a dimmer just reduces its capacity. This may mean you would need to install a higher rated dimmer to account for the loss of capacity.

The dimmer will have side tabs that will need to be removed to allow the dimmers to sit side by side. Check to see how much removing each fin affects the capacity.

The fins on the dimmer help to disapate heat.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:08 AM   #9
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There's another thread on this forum about dimmers getting hotter than what seems normal.
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokenknees View Post
Thanks for this - I may in fact be installing two dimmers for two different set of fixtures in the same switch/gang box, so this is helpful. Except ... I don't know what derating means exactly! Do you mean if I would otherwise have a 600watt rated dimmer controlling six (6) 100watt lights that I should opt for a higher rated dimmer (i.e., 1000watt)?
Precisely! The accurate definition of DE-RATING is; "rating", counting @ a lesser value than determined by the manufacturer. (or using a piece of equipment rated by the factory as a higher value for a smaller load.) The reason being Heat dissipation. There are Two factors involved. When (switching) equipment gets too hot it is less efficient. Secondly. If the heat in an enclosed space dissipates at a slower rate, the enclosure can overheat and cause a fire. (No matter what) Don't Drink and Drive, Ever!!!

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