Small dimmer for ceiling light

I live in a 60s house with a problem. Normal dimmers will not fit the switch boxes as they are too large or the the electrical box is too small. Any idea where I might find a super slim dimmer switch. I am in Canada so that makes it a more difficult solution. Thanks
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Leviton makes one, it's called "Trimatron". It's a fairly crappy dimmer, but it is thin. Here is a link: http://www.onestopbuy.com/leviton/6683-IW-5458.asp
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What about a remote control:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41Hi8QldvkL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
Tape the remote to the wall. ;-)
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On 05/23/2011 03:48 PM, hamish wrote:

I'd personally bust out the old box and replace it with a new 3-1/2" deep box. If you are careful you can do this w/o having to patch and paint. If you use Madison hangers and the dimmer has terminals on the side (rare, most of the ones I see now use fly leads) make sure to wrap the device w/ tape.
nate
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I'd sure rather spend $25 on a "pricey" dimmer that fits the existing box instead of trying to change the box. How much is your time worth? And that's assuming you might be able to get the old one out and a new one in without having to do patching/painting.
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wrote:

I've managed to do it before w/o too much trouble, at least with the old style gem boxes. just push it back into the wall with a bar and hammer and then pry off the stud. Usually it'll break into two pieces making it easier to fish the busted pieces out of the wall (unless they just fall down to the bottom in which case just let 'em go, man.)
NB: my house had (I say had, because I just got a good offer on it yesterday so it's apparently not really "mine" for much longer) plaster walls, not drywall.
nate
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I'd sure rather spend $25 on a "pricey" dimmer that fits the existing box instead of trying to change the box. How much is your time worth? And that's assuming you might be able to get the old one out and a new one in without having to do patching/painting.
The only dimmer I've ever seen that would fit in a shallow box, or a packed box, is the Leviton "trimatron". It's half the thickness of every other dimmer, and it's cheap.
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My house was built in 1930. The switch boxes are small (most are not even rectangular in cross section, side to side)
These dimmers fix & seem to work ok. I use the nightlight style to provide navigation aids & keep the walls cleaner. :)
Lutron AY-600PNL Ariadni Single Pole 600W Dimmer w/ Nightlight Item #: AY-600PNL
cheers Bob
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Ummm... Sounds like you should call an electrician out to install some larger electrical boxes...
Sometimes if the electrician is good enough the old box can be removed without making a huge hole in the wall to remove it... It all depends on how the original box was attached to the structure...
~~ Evan
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Thanks for all your responses,
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Yeah, get an electrician to change not only the one problem box, but also other boxes too that are perfectly fine, instead of simply finding a dimmer that will fit. I don't know where some of you come up with your advice.

Yeah, and if it isn't possible for a variety of reasons, now he can call the painters in too.
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wrote:

you do realize that a house built in the '60s likely has 2-3/4" (or thereabouts) deep gem boxes and therefore wouldn't even meet current NEC wire fill requirements unless used as a switch box on a switch leg?
nate
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I realize that I don't know what the national electric code in Canada says about box size when simply replacing a switch with a dimmer. I do know that in my own house, if I found a dimmer that fit, I'd use it instead of tearing out the old box and creating a lot of potential work, eg wall repair, painting, etc.
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wrote:

the dimmer makes no difference. 2x 14/2 WG in a box with a device is overfull according to current code with box sizes typical of those used in the 60s. AFAIK Canadian code is roughly equivalent to NEC.
The fact that the dimmer doesn't physically fit just reinforces the need to install a new box.
I've had no problems replacing existing boxes in existing walls. The plastic old work boxes are physically larger than the metal ones, if the hole in the wall is oversized.
nate
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Roughly equivalent doesn't mean you just apply the US NEC. Bottom line is no one here knows the size of the box, how many conductors are in it or the CA applicable code.

Who knows what size dimmer they had? RBM provided a link to a potentially smaller one. I'd bet that if that one fits, almost everyone faced with that situation would just use it instead of installing a larger box. I would not force fit one in, but if he can get it in with a reasonable fit, that's what I'd do.

And what happens if the cable that's stapled to studs now isn't long enough to meet the minimum conductor length? Apply the NEC and figure out how to extend the wire?
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wrote:

the dimmer makes no difference. 2x 14/2 WG in a box with a device is overfull according to current code with box sizes typical of those used in the 60s. AFAIK Canadian code is roughly equivalent to NEC.
The fact that the dimmer doesn't physically fit just reinforces the need to install a new box.
I've had no problems replacing existing boxes in existing walls. The plastic old work boxes are physically larger than the metal ones, if the hole in the wall is oversized.
nate
It's easy to say, just replace the box with a bigger one. From my experience, shallow boxes were usually used when larger boxes wouldn't fit. Since the op talks about more than one box with this situation, it's entirely possible that it's a masonry house with just furring strips between the masonry and the wall covering. If that's the case, it's really no easy task to replace the boxes with bigger ones. FYI , the metal boxes from the 60's are the same sizes as they are today. Leviton made the trimatron dimmers just for this purpose. If a toggle switch fits, so will a trimatron.
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A "standard" single gang box sold @ big box stores or supply houses don't meet current code w/ more than 1 14/2 cable and a device in it. They used to be code compliant w/ two cables however... e.g. in my house the recep. boxes I want to say were all 2-1/2" or 2-3/4" deep which doesn't meet current code with two cables and a receptacle. But it must have been acceptable when the house was built. in any case if there is a mechanical issue with fitment "it won't work."
An easy way for the OP to discover his particular situation is to simply poke a piece of stiff wire through one of the small holes in the back of the box and see how far he can go before hitting something. nate
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wrote:

A "standard" single gang box sold @ big box stores or supply houses don't meet current code w/ more than 1 14/2 cable and a device in it. They used to be code compliant w/ two cables however... e.g. in my house the recep. boxes I want to say were all 2-1/2" or 2-3/4" deep which doesn't meet current code with two cables and a receptacle. But it must have been acceptable when the house was built. in any case if there is a mechanical issue with fitment "it won't work."
An easy way for the OP to discover his particular situation is to simply poke a piece of stiff wire through one of the small holes in the back of the box and see how far he can go before hitting something.
nate
Assuming the wiring was done properly, when installed, it has no relevance to current requirements. For whatever reason, the guy has shallow boxes. Leviton makes a dimmer that fits shallow boxes. Sometimes, people just want a dimmer. Sometimes people want a project.
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About 5 years ago I added a 4th switch to a 3 gang by tearing out the old 3 gang box and replacing it with a 4 gang box. Wasnt that bad of a job. Worst part was getting out the old box since it was nailed in to the stud. Old work box went in easy. Added a 4 way switch near the garage entrance of the great room.
Jimmie
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