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Old 09-01-2010, 07:18 PM   #1
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Is this normal for a dimmer switch??


I installed one of those dimmer switches with an on and off click button and a slider for dimming. It also has an LED light that is on when the switch is off.

So I wired it up and to test it, attached my multi-meter to the switched-hot from the switch and neutral wire (the leads that would attach to the load). I got a reading of 90 volts. So clicked the button, no effect, still around 90 volts. The line has no load on it. This was very strange to me so I replaced all wires in the path and tried again and the same thing. So eventually I attached a light to the end of the line. The light worked 100% and dimmed as it should. With the light attached testing with my multi-meter at the light socket, I get 120 volts when it is on and 0 volts when it is off.

So to sum it up the switch works 100% when there is a load on it (whether on or off).

I did check the output lines by touching them together when there was no light attached and I got no spark or anything, so the 90 volts that I am reading must be very low amps.

Is this normal for a dimmer switch???

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Old 09-01-2010, 07:32 PM   #2
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Is this normal for a dimmer switch??


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Originally Posted by slipgate View Post
I installed one of those dimmer switches with an on and off click button and a slider for dimming. It also has an LED light that is on when the switch is off.

So I wired it up and to test it, attached my multi-meter to the switched-hot from the switch and neutral wire (the leads that would attach to the load). I got a reading of 90 volts. So clicked the button, no effect, still around 90 volts. The line has no load on it. This was very strange to me so I replaced all wires in the path and tried again and the same thing. So eventually I attached a light to the end of the line. The light worked 100% and dimmed as it should. With the light attached testing with my multi-meter at the light socket, I get 120 volts when it is on and 0 volts when it is off.

So to sum it up the switch works 100% when there is a load on it (whether on or off).

I did check the output lines by touching them together when there was no light attached and I got no spark or anything, so the 90 volts that I am reading must be very low amps.

Is this normal for a dimmer switch???
Yes, this is normal. The dimmer switch powers its internal electronics by leaking a small current through itself even when it is off. Since your multimeter has very high resistance, the "off" dimmer switch appears like a near short circuit and you read almost full line voltage in series with it. It behaves normally when you have a load on it, though, because the load resistance is much less than the dimmer's off-resistance.

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