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Thread: 3 way with a dimmer

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    DIY Senior Member rockycmt's Avatar
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    Default 3 way with a dimmer

    3 way with a dimmer

    I want to wire a new 3-way circuit with a dimmer. I have done 3-way circuits before and know there are different approaches depending on where the switches are vs the fixture. Can I simply swap out the standard 3 way switch with a 3 way dimmer is any of the layouts? Are there any restrictions?

    Any oppositions to a 3-way dimmer?

  2. #2

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    Just make sure you put the common wire in the right place.

    Generally it is the odd colored wire on the dimmer.

    Put it on either end.

  3. #3
    DIY Member edlentz's Avatar
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    I installed a 3 way dimmer this summer and it replaced ONE of the 3 way switches. It works fine. The other 3 way switch turns the lights off, the dimmer dims and turns off the lights as well.

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    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    You can also have one on each end. Double your cost & time, but well worth the convenience, IMO.
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  5. #5

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    Just make sure that the dimmer is rated for the total wattage of the bulbs you will be controlling. Leave the heat sink tabs on the dimmer.
    http://www.inspectpa.com/forum/forum.php
    My answers are based mostly on the ICC codes. Advice given is my personal opinion and every person performing work should acquire a permit from his/her jurisdiction and get the work inspected. My opinions are not directions to follow for DIYs or professionals

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    DIY Senior Member rockycmt's Avatar
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    Jar,
    You bring up a good point I think. Or something I did not know. What consequences would I expect if the dimmer is not rated for the total watts of the fixtures?

  7. #7

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    You can also have one on each end. Double your cost & time, but well worth the convenience, IMO.
    It will WAY more than double the cost and time.

    A standard 3way dimmer is about 15 bucks. An electronic master/slave set up is well over 50 bucks and requires a bit of rewire.

    Rarely worth the convienience IMO.

    Rocky, Dimmers get hot in normal installations. If the watts exceed the dimmer it will get really hot and burn out quickly.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Depending on how far apart the switches are, it can be a real convenience to be able to dim from either end...it's up to you whether it is worth the price. Some of them are great if you need more than just two, as you can daisy chain up to 8 switches, each can turn on and off plus dim. The wiring is easier, too, but different. The hot and neutral are chained, and the third wire is the dimmer interconnect. Imagine trying to get 8 switches all working to control the lights without that technology...messy. A good electronic dimmer also saves bulbs since they perform a soft start which doesn't shock the filaments as much.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9

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    It will overheat and burn out quicker and not work properly. It would be a fire hazard.
    http://www.inspectpa.com/forum/forum.php
    My answers are based mostly on the ICC codes. Advice given is my personal opinion and every person performing work should acquire a permit from his/her jurisdiction and get the work inspected. My opinions are not directions to follow for DIYs or professionals

  10. #10
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    My guess is that a metal electrical box with a dimmer might also help act as a heat sink and help the life of a dimmer verses a plastic box.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    My guess is that a metal electrical box with a dimmer might also help act as a heat sink and help the life of a dimmer verses a plastic box.
    As long as I know ahead of time, I use metal boxes where dimmers will be going.
    http://www.inspectpa.com/forum/forum.php
    My answers are based mostly on the ICC codes. Advice given is my personal opinion and every person performing work should acquire a permit from his/her jurisdiction and get the work inspected. My opinions are not directions to follow for DIYs or professionals

  12. #12
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
    It will WAY more than double the cost and time.

    A standard 3way dimmer is about 15 bucks. An electronic master/slave set up is well over 50 bucks and requires a bit of rewire.

    Rarely worth the convienience IMO.
    Point taken on the materials, but why would it call for any rewiring?
    Master Plumber Mark:

    there is nothing better than the
    manly smell of WD 40 in the air
    while banging away on brass with a chisel and hammer...

    it smells like......victory......

    do not hit your thumb...
    __________________
    Just so everyone's clear: I'm the POODLE in the picture ("french", get it?) The hot woman is my wife.

  13. #13
    Electrician Chris75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    My guess is that a metal electrical box with a dimmer might also help act as a heat sink and help the life of a dimmer verses a plastic box.
    Since the heat is directed to the front, a metal box does nothing. besides, the dimmer is rated what it is. what gain would you get from using a metal box?

  14. #14

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    Point taken on the materials, but why would it call for any rewiring?
    The master/slave units I have seen needed power at both ends and one traveler between them. It's not complicated rewiring but it is rewiring.....(edit) if it's a retro install. If you've prewired for it, no problem.

  15. #15
    Code Enforcement codeone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris75 View Post
    Since the heat is directed to the front, a metal box does nothing. besides, the dimmer is rated what it is. what gain would you get from using a metal box?
    Metal to metal contact causes heat disipation, not that it would necessarly help in this paticular application to make a differance.

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