Dimmer Switches...do I need to discuss it NOW while eletrical

jean61August 19, 2012

Dimmer Switches... Do I need to discuss it now with the builder while the electrical is being ran--or is this something that is finalized when we pick out the electrical covers and hook up the boxes?? Builder is telling me he doesn't need to know about dimmer switches at this point....is that true?

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I don't think what kind of switch you want matters. What does matter is how many 3-way or more circuits you have. Meaning, say you have two entrance pathways to the kitchen, you'll probably want to be able to turn the overhead cans on (or even more of the circuits) from either entrance - that changes the wiring.

Sometimes people will put switches for task lighting at the entrance, and also at the task station. For example, you could have a switch near the sink to turn on the pendants, as well as having a pendant switch near an entrance point. Having multiple switches does affect the wiring.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 1:04PM
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Actually it can affect it during the rough in. If you know where you want dimmers exactly they should make sure that it's going to work at the location.
The most common run of the mill dimmers are rated at 600w and 1000w.
Say you have a three gang box and you want all three switches to be dimmers. If the load of all three switches requires you to use 1000w dimmers at each location, it could be impossible. The dimmers have "fins" on the sides of them that act as heat sinks. In order to get three dimmers to fit correctly side by side some fins have to be removed. Removing them, lowers the load that each switch can handle. So some planning should be thought out and some switches may need to be moved so they are not side by side other dimmers.

Also if you are doing smart switching, some require a neutral. If you're under the 2011 code this shouldn't be an issue as it's now required at every switch.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Ron Natalie

HEXUS is 100% right. Even if the dimmers all fit without ripping fins off, you'll often find manufacturer derates them if multiples are installed together.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 7:10AM
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If you are expecting to put up any flourescent lighting,
then you should talk about it with your contractor now.
Even dimmable CFLs take a different type of dimmer
than incandescent lights. But those don't need any
special type of wiring.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 2:49PM
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I would discuss dimmers now. Guys are right in that you may need bigger switch boxes to allow for cooling fins etc.

The other thing you may want to consider is to have all switch boxes to have (a) Live, (2) Neutral and (3) Grnd access directly. The cost is some work and extra wire. The upside is you can, at some later date put in dimmer controllers which are Z-Wave controlable. These typically need to be powered all the time independently of if the light is on or off.

Best, Mike.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Ron Natalie

Almost all of the smart dimmers / Home AUtomation things require a neutral connection which is why the code now requires neutrals in the switch boxes. I spec'd it even before the requirement strictly existed in our area.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 2:44PM
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