Dimmer Smoked, Cannot Upgrade, What To Do Now?


Five years ago, I had an electrician installed a dimmer switch that controls 8 flood lights in the finished basement. A couple hours ago, when I tried to turn off the dimmer switch, the button got stuck and I could not switch it off. When I tried to turn it off, I found a little smoke coming off from the switch. As mentioned above, I could not turn off the switch; I had to turn it off by turning off the breaker in the main panel.
According to past posts, the smoky situation means that the dimmer switch may be overloaded. But I cannot see why it is overloaded. The Skylarks dimmer from Lutron is rated as 1000W, and the total load of those 8 flood lights is only 520W that is only slightly more than 50% of the rating of the dimmer switch (each flood light is rated as 65W and 130V). Why did the dimmer switch become overloaded?
Based on my past review of all the circuits in my house, that dimmer switch circuit should only support those 8 flood lights and nothing else.
I cannot upgrade the dimmer switch because 1000W is the highest that I can get according to Lutron web site: http://www.lutron.com/skylark/?s 000&t200 This means I will have to stick with 1000W dimmer switch. What should I do to prevent this problem from coming back?
Thanks in advance for any info.
Jay Chan
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A device letting its smoke out does not necessarily mean it was overloaded. Sometimes things just fail.
Why not install a new switch just like the last one? The new one may last 20 years, but it'll eventually fail too, because that's what electrical things do.

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Kyle Boatright wrote:

Sounds like the switch is a rotary type? The switch contacts wore out(pitted) and caused an arc or simply it had it. Always mechanical moving parts is the weakest link in any electric/electronic circuits. If I were you, I'd replace the dimmer with same kind but I'd installed arc suppressor across switch contacts. A resistor and a cpacitor in series across the contacts will do.
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Glad to hear that this is just a simple "device wore out" kind of thing, and is not a case of "dimmer switch got overloaded". This means I can swap out the old one and replace it with exactly the same model, and don't need to go around replacing all the light blubs with a lower power version.
Thanks.
Jay Chan
Kyle Boatright wrote:

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I'm going to guess that the switch part of the dimmer just plain failed. Usually, the mechanical switch in dimmers, is made from cheap plastic an will break easily. The smoke may have been from a little arcing on the contacts.
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

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Sounds like a resister burned out - happens all the time in circuits. Doesn't imply the circuit is overloaded, just that the switch is toast.
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Eigenvector wrote:

If resistor was burnt it'll stink bad.
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A simple thing like a bulb blowing can take out a dimmer. If this dimmer is not ganged with other switches, there is no need for a 1000 watt dimmer, save yourself some money and just get a standard 600 watt model

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On 29 Oct 2006 18:43:25 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

5 years old? Maybe it is at the end of its life expectancy. If you think not, send it back to the manufacturer for QA'ing. You might get a free replacement for being a helpful customer. ;) Just guessing.
later,
tom @ www.CarFleaMarket.com
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