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Old 01-24-2012, 10:48 PM   #1
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Hot Dimmer Switches


I just installed (2) 600W 3way dimmer switches in the same box. (see photo) One switch is carrying 6 recessed lights the other is carry 7 recessed lights on different circuits.
When the lights are on, the metal around the switches gets really HOT!
Should I be concerned?
Should I get 1000W dimmer switches to reduce the heat on the dimmers?
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:16 PM   #2
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It appears I have also derated the capacity of the dimmers by removing the fins. Each bulb is 65 watts. Should I go with the 1000W dimmers to be on the safe side?

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Old 01-24-2012, 11:27 PM   #3
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Yes!
When doing this I use deeper boxes and use high heat boxes, The tan colored ones.
More room for the heat to disapate.
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Old 01-25-2012, 01:49 AM   #4
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First thing first ., you are allready derated the dimmer due you took both cooling fins off so that is pretty much on the border line.

Going with a 1,000 watt dimmer that will do not much if you yank the cooling fins off as well.

So I did dig up the specs on that and what you did yank both side of cooling fins that really derated the wattage it will go down to 400 watts max on 600 watt verison.

So therefore there is a soluation but I know you may not like it too much but this I done for long time get a metal switch plate with metal screw that will act like heat sink so they can do help a bit.

Merci,
Marc
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:27 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by frenchelectrican
First thing first ., you are allready derated the dimmer due you took both cooling fins off so that is pretty much on the border line.

Going with a 1,000 watt dimmer that will do not much if you yank the cooling fins off as well.

So I did dig up the specs on that and what you did yank both side of cooling fins that really derated the wattage it will go down to 400 watts max on 600 watt verison.

So therefore there is a soluation but I know you may not like it too much but this I done for long time get a metal switch plate with metal screw that will act like heat sink so they can do help a bit.

Merci,
Marc

Thank you Marc for all your help!
If I got 1000W dimmers and removed the fins it would go down to 800W or 650W depending on how many I took off. Would this not help at all to keep the dimmer cooler than it currently is?
I plan to get the metal switch plate as well.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:35 AM   #6
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Thank you Marc for all your help!
If I got 1000W dimmers and removed the fins it would go down to 800W or 650W depending on how many I took off. Would this not help at all to keep the dimmer cooler than it currently is?
I plan to get the metal switch plate as well.

Try led lights or dimmable CFLs. That will reduce the current such that existing dimmers will work. Saves you utility cost and helps the ozone layer....

Since the box is still exposed put in a metal one and trash the plastic one. That will radiate the heat better on all sides.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:54 AM   #7
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Try led lights or dimmable CFLs. That will reduce the current such that existing dimmers will work. Saves you utility cost and helps the ozone layer....

Since the box is still exposed put in a metal one and trash the plastic one. That will radiate the heat better on all sides.

Thanks CuriousB!
Joecaption above suggested getting a heat box (the tan ones) . Would metal work better or do you think the tan box would be better?
Also, I thought I saw this in the store, but do LED lights need special dimmers?
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:25 AM   #8
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Thanks CuriousB!
Joecaption above suggested getting a heat box (the tan ones) . Would metal work better or do you think the tan box would be better?
Also, I thought I saw this in the store, but do LED lights need special dimmers?
I am not as familiar with plastic boxes as we require EMT in IL for all wiring so that mandates steel boxes with mud rings. It stands to reason though if it is for a dimmer the metal box will radiate the heat more efficiently whereas plastic will contain it.

I'd go with a 4"x4"x2.125" deep steel box with a 1/2" mud ring. You'll have maximum volume and surface area to help with power dissipation.

I'd also buy one of each dimmable CFL and LED lamp and see if I like them. Sometimes these bulbs have strange color temperature that is too "industrial" for home lighting. Stick with warm white if they have them. I'd try one before buying a bunch.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:40 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Red Truck View Post
I just installed (2) 600W 3way dimmer switches in the same box. (see photo) One switch is carrying 6 recessed lights the other is carry 7 recessed lights on different circuits.
When the lights are on, the metal around the switches gets really HOT!
Should I be concerned?
Should I get 1000W dimmer switches to reduce the heat on the dimmers?
Define "really hot". It's not unusual for dimmers to get quite warm as they work through simple resistance. Do they get to 120 degrees? If so, that's not a problem at all...heck, it gets that hot in parts of the country and no one's house bursts into flames.

I don't know what a de-finned 600w dimmer is derated to, but a 1000w dimmer with one side of fins removed is derated to 800w. If I were you I would just replace them with 1000w dimmers and be done with it. The cost of going to LED for all those bulbs will be hundreds of dollars. Do it if you like, but replacing the dimmers is in the short term the cheaper solution.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:56 AM   #10
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Define "really hot". It's not unusual for dimmers to get quite warm as they work through simple resistance. Do they get to 120 degrees? If so, that's not a problem at all...heck, it gets that hot in parts of the country and no one's house bursts into flames.

I don't know what a de-finned 600w dimmer is derated to, but a 1000w dimmer with one side of fins removed is derated to 800w. If I were you I would just replace them with 1000w dimmers and be done with it. The cost of going to LED for all those bulbs will be hundreds of dollars. Do it if you like, but replacing the dimmers is in the short term the cheaper solution.

Ironlight,
I don't know about the temperature, but if I hold my finger on it for 5 seconds it gets hot enough to pull away but not hot enough to burn.
I like the idea of going with 1000W dimmers but nobody except you has voiced it as their first option.
Is there any reason I should know about why I wouldn't go with 1000W dimmers?
Do they use more energy or are they just able to handle a bigger load without burning out?
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:35 AM   #11
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If you can touch it for 5 seconds that is not very hot but different people can take more heat than others. 1000 watters have more robust electronics but you are still going to generate the same amount of heat. Get a metal box or a bigger box if you can but it may work OK as is.
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:56 AM   #12
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Resistance is resistance and so for a given circuit load the 1000w and 600w dimmers are going to generate exactly the same amount of heat. The 1000w is as mentioned more robust and better at dissipating heat.

You don't need a different box. The one you have is not going to melt, it's not going to catch fire, it's not going do anything bad. It's not uncommon to have three or four dimmers in a gang and it's not a problem.

The issue is whether your dimmers are going to fail because they overloaded. If you have 6 or 7 lamps and your running 75watt bulbs, you're probably exceeding the capacity of the units that you have. Upgrading the switches will solve your real problem, but it's not going to reduce the temperature of the switches by a huge margin.

I have a gang of four dimmers in my renovated kitchen that control recessed lights with 2, 2, 3, and 7 lights on them respectively. They get a little warm but they are to code and just fine:

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Old 01-25-2012, 10:40 AM   #13
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Resistance is resistance and so for a given circuit load the 1000w and 600w dimmers are going to generate exactly the same amount of heat. The 1000w is as mentioned more robust and better at dissipating heat.
For future reference, dimmers don't work by resistance. A metal or larger box will keep enviroment at a lower temperature by adding a heat sink or more air flow.

Just saying.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:06 PM   #14
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For future reference, dimmers don't work by resistance. A metal or larger box will keep enviroment at a lower temperature by adding a heat sink or more air flow.

Just saying.

True they are solid state switches that turn on for a portion of the 60 Hz waveform. That said the only difference between a 600 and 1000W unit is the size of the heat sink (effective surface area) and the peak current capability of the triac (the solid state switch).

For the same load, dimmed to the same level, the 600W and the 1000W dimmers will dissipate the same amount of heat. One is just better equipped (more surface area) to dissipate that heat so it doesn't get as hot.

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