Light Switch is Very Warm to Touch, How Fix?


Have a dimmer light switch that controls 12, 60watt light bulbs in our kitchen ceiling. The switch gets very warm to the touch. I assume this is not good, what are my alternatives? Are there different levels of dimmer controls that can handle higher wattage? If I put in different types of bulbs lower wattage, or fluorescent, would that be a good quick fix? Thanks.
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Changing to lower wattage bulbs will also affect the quality of the light in ways you might not like. And, it'll cost more for the bulbs than a new dimmer. The first thing to do is shut off the breaker to the circuit, and pull the dimmer out enough to see what it's rated for. Actually, it might be on the front of the thing, so you won't even have to pull it out of the box. If it seems you need one with larger capacity, replacing the old one is not that big a deal. Eyeball and measure how much space you have in the box around the existing dimmer, and find a Leviton dealer.
Incidentally, all dimmers will get warm to some extent.
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On Mon, 05 Mar 2007 19:28:03 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

Most standard home dimmers are rated at 600Watts. 12 -60W bulbs is 720W. Either you got a higher capacity dimmer or you're living on the limit where it could burn out anytime. So, of course it's hot. I am not all that up on what they sell for wattage rated dimmers, but I think after 600 there are 800W and 1000W (and up).
I'd replace it with at least a 1000W. Get one with a large finned heat sink that replaces the cover plate. -OR- rewire and put in a second dimmer (6 lights each).
I'd buy a industrial grade dimmer with the load you are running.
You CAN NOT use dimmers on florescent or compace florescent bulbs. Dont even try it, something wiill burn out. most likely the ballast in the fixture.
You must have a huge kitchen to have 12 lights !!!!!
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If your dimmer is in a single gang box, it is a pretty safe bet that you have a 600W dimmer.
You have 720W of load. The only thing you can do is lower the wattage.
You can get a larger dimmer but it won't fit in a single gang box. You can change the box, but probably not without doing a little sheet rock work.
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wrote:

Leviton makes an 1100watt dimmer that fits in a normal box.
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12 x 60 = 720 are not some of those dimmers especially the cheap ones rated for maximum 600 watts? Or less? Best to run at maximum of say 80% of maximum capacity IMO.
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All dimmers get hot, some more than others. Standard dimmers are rated for 600 watts when installed in a single box. You require a 1000 watt dimmer for your kitchen, which incidentally will fit in a single gang box, as will dimmers up to 2000 watts

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As other posters have said, dimmers normally run warm. I recently installed a 600 watt dimmer in my bathroom that runs about 450 watts worth of lights. The cover plate will feel warm after 5 or 10 minutes, the dimmer the lights, the less heat.
Also, as others have said, you're running too big a load for a 600 watt dimmer. If that's what you have in there, you should change it.
Jerry
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In addition to what others have said, i.e. being over the dimmer spec, putting in a higher rated dimmer will not fix the heat problem. You are still dissipating the same amount of heat in the same amount of space regardless of the rating of the dimmer. The only way to cool things down is to reduce the wattage of the bulbs or buy a more efficient dimmer.
dickm

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Albert wrote:

Why do you have a dimmer for the kitchen? That's about medium weird.
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Cooking, cleaning, you want it bright. 5:30 in the morning, you don't want "Jeezus fuckin' christ - why is it so bright in here???"
Think about it.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

After thinking about it, the answer seems to be: "because I flipped the frickin' light switch!"
Why would anyone be lurking around in the dim at 5:30 am?
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Some people get up early. Either that, or my clock's wrong.
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wrote:

Getting a drink of cold water?
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
  Click to see the full signature.
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maybe...........Sleep walkers need light too? Or..............................The home owner is blind, so whats the difference?.........Good question! :-)
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One thing to remember--dimmers use a solid state device called a triac to control the power. Triacs have a voltage drop of about 1 volt when conducting. Thus for your situation where you are drawing 6 amps at full current the triac will be producing about 6 watts of heat plus a small amount of heat from the other components, so it is not surprising that the switch should feel warm. Changing to a higher power rated dimmer will not change this amount of heat. If you can find lower wattage bulbs that look ok would help. I would ignore it and if the dimmer dies buy higher power rated one.

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unscrew 2 bulbs. this gives you 10x 60 = 600 watts, the most likely size dimmer hiding in the box. then see if it still heats up after an hour. if so, replace the dimmer. but explore other lighting before you go dimmer shopping. i wish i was smart enough to hire dimmable kitchen fixtures it must be great for food prep, great for night lights, and helps avoid stepping on the dog. i'm using a variety of 4 watt nightlights and motion activated nightlights with 20 watt undercounter fluorrescent at sink, plus ceiling fan with all its bulbe replaced with brightest twist fluorescents i can find. unfortunately not the dimmable kind. when light shopping, over 40 needs more light to read by.
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