Problem with single pole dimmer switch

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  #1  
Old 12-18-05, 12:00 PM
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Unhappy Problem with single pole dimmer switch

I am having an issue with installing a dimmer switch.

I installed two sconces in my living room. I ran Romex wiring to the two lights and tapped into the power at a bank of three light switches (two control the fan lights/blades and the other is wired to an outlet).

I hooked up my ground and black wires from the sconces at the switch bank and ran my white wire down to a nearby outlet for the neutral wire. I turn the power on and everything is fine.

I ran Romex wire from the switch bank into a new j-box for the dimmer (black, ground, and white [hot]).

I wired up the switch (which was in the ON position), and the lights worked, but I fried the switch and tripped the breaker when I turned the switch to the OFF position.

The installation directions indicated that it didn't matter which of the 2 black wires on the switch was attached to the black and white wire in the j-box. The guy at Home Depot said the same thing.

Where did I go wrong? Should the white wire going into the dimmer switch be hot or neutral? Right now, it's hot.

These switches are making this do-it-yourself project costly! Please HELP!

Frank Miragliotta
 
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  #2  
Old 12-18-05, 02:24 PM
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problem with single pole dimmer switch

Basics: The black is hot, the white is neutral or grounded, and the bare is grounding, note the differences in the suffixes. All a switch is doing is breaking the hot wire. The neutral does not come into play at all, except to connect continuously to the neutral buss bar in the panel. From your source, the black wire should be connected to one side of the switch. From your load (light) the other black wire should be connected to the other wire or terminal on the switch. All the white wires should be bundled together as neutrals, and the bare wires should be bundled together, with one long one to connect to the grounding terminal on the switch.
Hope this helps.
 
  #3  
Old 12-18-05, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fmiragliotta
...ran my white wire down to a nearby outlet for the neutral wire
Are you saying that you connected hot from one j-box (the existing switches) and neutral from a different nearby receptacle? If so, this very much the wrong way to do it and you need to start back from scratch. The hot and neutral for your new lights must come from the same circuit and the same j-box in the same piece of romex.

Should the white wire going into the dimmer switch be hot or neutral?
The hot wires are switched.

These switches are making this do-it-yourself project costly!
Use a standard toggle switch until you have verified that the wiring is correct. Then put the expensive dimmer in later when you have a lesser chance of toasting it.

---

This is how one would typically add two lights and a switch drawing power from an existing receptacle. It's not the only way to do it, but it one correct way of a couple possibilities.

1) Run romex from the existing receptacle to the new switch box. At the existing receptacle, connect black to black, white to white, and grounds together. Make certain to match the existing gauge wire of the circuit; i.e. don't use #14 wire on a 20A circuit.

2) Run romex from the new switch box to the first light box.

3) At the switch box, connect the two grounds together with a ground pigtail to the switch, connect the two whites together, and connect each of the blacks to the terminals on the switch/dimmer.

4) Run romex from the first light to the second light.

5) At the first light, tie all three of the blacks together (including the pigtail to the light fixture), all three of the whites together (including the pigtail to the light fixture), and all three of the grounds together.

6) At the second light, connect black to black, white to white and ground to ground with the light fixture.
 
  #4  
Old 12-18-05, 06:50 PM
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You cannot get your neutral and hot wires from different places. They MUST come from the same circuit and the same place.
 
  #5  
Old 12-19-05, 04:15 PM
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Problem solved.

I fixed it. Of course, thanks to all of your responses and input.

I ran the black wire to the outlet receptacle that the white wire was originally wired to and wired the switch. Now the power is coming one source and everything is working!

I think I'll stick to computers from now on... Well, after I patch up the holes in my wall...

Thanks again for the wealth of knowledge that this forum brings to us do-it-yourselfers!

- Frank
 
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