Use of dimmer switch

j-ykOctober 20, 2011

I guess it's a personal choice but I was curious and need some inout for my electrical renovation... Where is a useful place to put dimmer switches installed?

We are doing some electrical updates in our 1928 house we just closed. We had many many pull switches and sconces with the switch right under them that kids cannot reach. So we have hired an electrician to install ceiling lights, ceiling fans, wall switches and man other (costing us a fortune!!!)

Now we have him working anyway, where is a good place that dimmer switch gets used? Kitchen will have a recessed lights - there? Kitchen island pendant light? Bedroom ceiling lights?

Can you tell me where you have dimmer switches and love it or where you just never use it?

Thank you for your input!

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"Kitchen will have a recessed lights"

One of the poorest ways to create overall lighting available.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 12:43PM
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brickeyee that you for your input. Would you suggest multiple flush mount instead? We have two sets of windows and an island in the middle, making it hard to put an central flush mount to illuminate the whole kitchen if I were to go with a separate island light...

I am open to suggenstions~ (for both dimmer idea and kitchen lighting!) Thank you.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 1:15PM
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If the kitchen is a small galley, a central flush mount would work very nicely.

Larger kitchens will have the counter tops further from the center. Centrally located flush mounts would not work so well.

Centrally located fixtures (lightbox, flush mount) are typically cheaper than utilizing multiple recessed cans. Some would just put in a "light bomb" (recessed light box containing a large number of t8 tubes) and be done with it.

Some people also do not like having multiple holes in the ceiling as required for recessed cans.

You will need to know the layout of whatever obstructions exist above the ceiling - the joists, duct work, wiring, pipes, ... as those will impact the placement of the cans.

The typical incandescent and CFL based recessed light cans do not have a very good spread of light.

Recessed CFL cans with the integrated ballast could be problematic to service when the integrated ballast needs to be replaced as you need access to the top part of the can.

On the other hand
Recessed cans give the flexibility of locating lights near or directly over countertops to provide illumination where needed.

LED recessed lights such as the CR6 and LR6 have a spread of light that is superior to a standard incandescent or CFL recessed light. In addition, there is no ballast to worry about and they are dimmable.

If you decide on recessed lighting, the general rule is to place the lights in a regular pattern (as far as possible) and ~ 26 - 30 inches away from the wall (depends on the cabinet depth, crown molding). ~ 3 ft - 4ft apart

One could also utilize other forms of lighting such as cove, track, wall wash lighting to supplement the general lighting.

Regardless of the light type, the kitchen should be lit brighter than the living room ( ~35 lumens per sq ft vs 20 lumens per sq ft for the living room)

Dimmers are typically employed in areas that are heavily used and which could use different moods depending on the occasion.

For the kitchen, for example, one could use dimmer control to reduce the amount of light in the early morning vs full brightness when preparing for a special occasion.

In an entertainment room, dimmers would be used to dim down the lighting just before the screening of a blockbuster.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 4:19PM
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Wow, davidtay, thank you so much for your input. That was very educational for a remodel novice like me. It was super helpful!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 5:46PM
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No problem.

Dimmers are not absolutely essential and they come with their own attendant issues
1. Need to be matched to the load type (electronic low voltage, magnetic low voltage or incandescent).
2. The min load must be met for incandescent dimmers.
3. Most fluorescent ballasts cannot be dimmed.
4. The list of dimmers that work with LED modules is relatively small.

However, they have their place and use.

An alternative to dimmers is to have layered lighting - sets of lights controlled by different switches.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 6:52PM
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"Larger kitchens will have the counter tops further from the center. Centrally located flush mounts would not work so well. "

Use under cabinet lighting fr the counter task lighting.

The shorter distance to the fixture allows lower power (even if you use incandescent) and allows the possibility of LED and fluorescent.

Even 60 W if halogen puck lighting makes for great counter top illuminating.

The source is less than 24 inches from the counter.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 8:23PM
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brickeyee, thank you for your inour. Definitely going for the under cabinet light,.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 8:26PM
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'Definitely going for the under cabinet light,."

Under-cabinet is probably one of the best ways to reduce the overall lighting load in the kitchen.

Get the light on the work space.

I left behind a kitchen with a 4-bulb T8 fixture and great under-cabinet lighting.

Often we never toured the overhead light on.

The preset house has 6 cans with 50 w halogen PAR bulbs ad inadequate under-cabinet lighting.

300 w of halogen and the counters are still not lit up adequately.

there is one counter section that back up to a half bath on the other side of the wall. The tiled back-splash limits how much damage I want to create trying to get under-cabinet power feeds in. or that section I went through the bathroom wall to install the feed.

That section has 60 W of halogen under cabinet that covers the corner sink and about 4 feet of counter.

It is the preferred work location.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 3:42PM
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Personally, I love dimmers and put them basically where ever I can. In our new kitchen, the pendants, ceiling can lights and chandeliers will all have dimmers. We put them in both of our kids bedrooms - which makes setting the mood for bedtime easier and if I have to go find something in the middle of the night, I can have it low so as not to hurt my eyes or wake them up. We actually have one in my son's closet but not my daughters and I wish we did. In this same vein, I three sets of lights in our remodeled bathroom - vanity, ceiling cans and a can in the shower - all of them are on their own dimmer. Love, love, love that if I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or if I want to take my time waking up in the morning. Oh and our closet too (but it is a really lone space so we kind of had to do that if me or the hubby is sleeping while the other person is in the closet.) HTH.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 9:35PM
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