Selecting a Dimmer – Lighting Types and Wattage Concerns

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,355
    Home Maintenance Expert Steve McCurdy discusses lighting types and wattage concerns for a lighting dimmer switch.

    Steve McCurdy: Hi, this is Steve McCurdy from Leviton Manufacturing, and we are here today to talk to you about selecting the proper dimmer for your home. Now one of the most important things when selecting a dimmer, is the type of lighting load that it's going to be used on. I think most of us are well familiar with the typical incandescent type light, it comes in various wattages and sizes, and so do the dimmers that you use. So when you have an incandescent lighting like this, you want to make sure that the dimmer you use, is designed for incandescent lighting. The second thing that's important, specific to the dimmer, is the amount of load or the wattages that, that dimmer will use. Now electromechanical dimmers have a range typically, 600 watt or 1000 watt dimmers are available for incandescents. When you have digital dimmers, though you have to be careful because several digital dimmers have low wattage requirements. Therefore they can't be used on loads, that are lower than say, 40 watts. So if you have a house, and you have a group of down lights in the house, and they are 75 watts each. You have to make sure that, you don't exceed the rating of the dimmer that you purchase. So if you have 600 watt dimmer, or 1000 watt dimmer, make sure the load itself is less than than the dimmer that you've purchased.

    Now very important is, as well as I just mentioned is, the types of dimmer that you use. For example, even though an incandescent lamp is one of the most popular light sources in the house. There are several other that are out there today in modern homes. For example, low voltage lighting, low voltage lighting comes in two different basic flavors. There is a magnetic low voltage lighting, and electronic low voltage lighting. So make sure that the dimmer that you're selecting, for those types of loads, specifically say on the instructions, that they are used for magnetic or electronic low voltage lighting.

    Now one other thing, I really want to comment on is, the use of compact fluorescents, it's become a very popular energy saving mechanism in the home. But be aware that a normal compact fluorescent cannot be dimmed with a basic dimmer. So if you are going to use compact fluorescent lamps in the home in areas, you need to select the compact fluorescent, that is dimmable, and then you can have the proper dimmer that goes with it.

    Again, lots of choices on the lighting loads but please pay particular attention to the size of the load and the type of the load, that you use. Next, we're going to talk about the locations, whether it's a single pole location, or what we called a multi-location, or 3-way.