Multi-location dimming, LEDs, minimum load...

doofusDecember 15, 2009


We like the dimmers, but several rooms have light-switches at multiple locations.

It appears, Lutron are currently the only ones, offering "true multi-location dimming" Â where the light can be dimmed up or down from any of the locations, rather than only from one.

However, it seems, Lutron's minimum wattage is 40W. We are using the 12W LED lights, which can be dimmed down to 25% (or 3W). Am I right suspecting, Lutron will not be able to dim that low, unless there are 13 such lamps on the circuit?

In fact, if I'm reading this right, it will not even work at all, unless there are 4 such lamps on each circuit... Or am I misinterpreting something?

Thanks! Yours,


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Which model Lutron dimmer are you investigating?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 4:42PM
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Which model Lutron dimmer are you investigating?

Oh, I don't really care, which one  whatever works... Apparently, the MAELV line is what I need for the "master" dimmer (the one, that, actually, controls the light). It is named "low-voltage" (ELV stands for Electronic Low Voltage) which is a misnomer: it should read "low-wattage".

Apparently, MAELV's minimum load requirement is only 10Watt (not 40 as with the rest of of Lutron's Maestros) and so it can deal with the small number LED fixtures. It is expensive, though.

Unfortunately, Lutron would not state, that it will work with CREE's CR6C lights, although a nearly-identical Cooper/Halo ML706830 downlight is listed as compatible with MAELV-600 (and some others). The Halo's color temperature is only 3000K, and my most significant other wants CREE's 3500K (or even more)...

Going from the other direction, CREE's own compatibility list doesn't mention Lutron at all, even if CREE people on the phone are quite adamant, that it will work just fine.

Everyone you speak to, points out, that the state of the LED-lighting industry is currently still in a flux and the only way to ensure compatibility is for manufacturers (or even consumers!) to test it for themselves...

Crazy, is not it? doofus

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 6:16PM
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Maybe you should wait a bit on the LED lamps for the technology to stablize before migrating. At $80+ a pop, it seems it would take quite a while to reach break even. Regular incandescent dimmers are cheap enough to toss them (or sell them on eBay) after you're through with them.

I looked briefly at Luton's site and it seems you need a special module for LEDs. Maybe not.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 11:33AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

funny I came to this forum with a somewhat related question...
Does anybody make a "smart dimmer" that can detect when the load is not a standard dimmer load (i.e., incandescent bulbs) and give up dimming them?
I have a ceiling fan that was put on a dimmer - probably a bad idea period. I never use the fan. With incads. bulbs, the dimmer worked of course. I've converted to CFLs. With the dimmer set at max, they worked reliably.
I recently had a new heat pump put in and it seems to be kicking back some harmonic noise or DC into the house lines. (yeah I should probably have that checked out...) Basically the CFLs go berserk at the "full" dial position when the AC/HP runs. They start flashing and making a high pitch humming sound. I have to adjust them down to the 1/2 position and they are steady again. When the HP turns off, the 1/2 position makes them go crazy! It's a no-win situation LOL.

The obvious solution is to replace with a switch...yes...I know and will probably do that...I just wonder if there's some kind of fuzzy-logic controlled, fault-detecting dimmer for these situations.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 4:07PM
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Tom Pultz

We have Leviton Acenti master and remote dimmers in many locations so I would not say Lutron is the only one that does this. The kitchen lights are a 5-way circuit with 4" magnetic low voltage MR-16 Halogens which can be dimmed down to the point they are barely on. We are using 3500K bulbs in the dining room and family room and 4100K bulbs in the kitchen, which makes everything nice and sparkly.

I'm not about to change to LEDs just to save a few watts of power since the cost of the magnetic LV lights and dimmers was considerable. Our lights are generally dimmed most of the time anyway unless we are working in the kitchen, so the power use is minimal. I doubt we'd save that much. I certainly did NOT notice any savings going to CFL bulbs in other locations.

I hope the LEDs work out for you as they will probably be forced down our throats eventually.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 4:16PM
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