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Adding a Dimmer to a switch controlled Outlet


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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Adam Sanchez

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Posted March 04 2010 - 02:36 PM

Hey guys

Though my question isn't about a Home Theater exactly, I was still hoping I might get some help on this subject. You guys have always helped me with anything else I've asked. =)

I first googled what I am trying to do and did find somewhat of an answer, but I wanted to post still and really clarify what I'm looking to do, and find out most importantly, if it's safe.

In my room I have a simple 3 light track I bought at Home Depot, it's a Hampton Bay Brand. Since we are in an apartment, it's simply mounted on the ceiling, but as there is no ceiling light outlet, I am using this: http://www.homedepot...catalogId=10053 to simply plug it onto a wall outlet.

The wall outlet has a switch on my wall that controls it, on and off. It only controls ONE of the 2 plugs on the wall, which is where I have the track light plugged in of course. I got to thinking that I would like to change that switch to a dimmer switch to dim the lights when needed. So like I mentioned about, I want to know if this is even really possible? When I googled what I want to do, the only hit of note I got was saying to not install a dimmer on a switch that controls an outlet. The example they gave was because it can blow certain things you plug into it if the switch isn't at full, like say a Vacuum.

In my case though that switched outlet will only EVER have my light plugged into it and it's not even an easily accessable plug, it being behind my desk which is a beast. You have to move a mini-fridge I have to even get to it.

So could I install a dimmer on that switch and is it even a good idea? Safety first!

Thanks.

EDIT: Fixed Link



#2 of 7 OFFLINE   soundprogress

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Posted March 04 2010 - 04:18 PM

A dimmer doesn't really reduce the voltage going to the outlet but changes the sine wave so they aren't smooth (in fact removes parts of it).  This place has a good visual, www.electricalknowledge.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=455 .

Anything with a transformer: a TV, printer, audio gear, clock radio or others will not work properly and potentially will overheat when the dimmer is dimmed even a little.  It's kind of like a really dirty electrical brownout.   Most neon bulbs won't work either.

EVER is just not a good enough reason because people move, some one else wants to plug something in when you're not there and etc.

You might want to try an X10 dimmer and X10 dimmer module.  You install the X10 dimmer into any light socket and plug the the X10 receiver module into an outlet.    



#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Adam Sanchez

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Posted March 04 2010 - 05:03 PM

The X10 works in the light socket itself? Like a normal bulb type light socket? The tracking lighting in my room isn't usual normal bulbs, it's track lighting. Tried to find my exact model, but I can't. The bulbs are these 2 pin type jobs.

Maybe EVER is too strong a word, but it is accurate in my case. No one will ever plug anything else into that plug as long as we live here, for sure. When we move someday, I'd just put the wall switch back to the old one.

Would a dimmer even work on an switched outlet like mine anyway?


#4 of 7 OFFLINE   soundprogress

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Posted March 05 2010 - 02:59 AM

I'm always about safety first.  If it wouldn't meet code I don't do it, so I used the word ever. 

Yes, a dimmer can be used anywhere a switch used to be as long as it has the same current rating as the wiring.  You can find X10 controls on this page at Amazon.  Some receivers even screw into a light sockett itself.

I assume your new lights are dimable according to the manufacturer.  


#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Adam Sanchez

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Posted March 05 2010 - 08:59 AM

Yeah they are, though probably they assume you're wiring them into a ceiling fixture. Actually had these lights for a few years though, they aren't new.

I'm a little fuzzy on the X10 dimmers. What is different about them anyway? Looks like they go into a light switch outlet like any other dimmer wired in, unless I'm looking at it wrong.

So a dimmer switch controlling an outlet wouldn't meet code?



#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Leo Kerr

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Posted March 05 2010 - 10:38 AM

Here's what I would do.

1. Get a decent switch-replacing dimmer, and install in-place of the existing switch.

2. With a label-maker, or a sharpie, or something like that, plainly mark on the outlet itself which outlet is dimmed, and which outlet is not dimmed. 

3. In the future, make sure you only plug things like conventional incandescent lights and/or magnetic-low-voltage lights into that outlet.  I'm being overly specific here.  Some low-voltage fixtures with electronic power converters care about being dimmed or not.  Some dimmers are made that work better with these than others. 

Note also that just about ANY LED-based light will probably not dim properly.  Dimmers allow leakage-current through them, and often times that's enough for them to light. 

Leo


#7 of 7 OFFLINE   soundprogress

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Posted March 05 2010 - 10:54 AM

X10 controls use your house electrical wiring to send signals to X10 receivers as well as use your house wiring for power.  You aren't changing how your house wiring works just adding a control signal that rides on it. The work is done in the modules. 

You chose a code number on the dimmer and then set the receiver/module to the same number.  That's it.  They use your wiring for power and send their control signals.