Can I use a rotary dimmer switch on a lamp?

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Old 07-07-06, 11:25 AM
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Can I use a rotary dimmer switch on a lamp?

Is it possible to use a rotary dimmer [wall] switch for a table lamp? I intend to affix the lamp to a table, running the cord through a hole I will drill through the table. I'd like to attach the switch to the side ore top of the table. I've looked at "table-top" dimmers, but don't like that you must plug the lamp into the dimmer's plug, creating a double-length plug which then plugs into the outlet. The wall-switch rotary dimmer I'm thinking of using has just two wires coming out of it, which I assume I would wire into one side of the 12-2 lamp cord on my lamp. Am I insane?
 
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Old 07-07-06, 11:44 AM
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I don’t know about insane, but you're not in the right ballpark if you think your lamp has 12-2 cord. The cord is mot likely 18-2 or possibly 16-2, but most assuredly NOT 12-2.

What you propose to do is to modify the lamp. Electrically this will work. However, you will lose any UL or other safety rating of the lamp, and likely void any warranty that might exist (not that I've seen warranties on table lamps, but…).

You will have to be careful that you use proper clamps on the junction box you mount the dimmer switch in. If the lamp does not have a polarized plug then make sure that you install one, and them make sure that you switch/dim the HOT wire, not the return wire.

Personally, I would suffer with the extra cord that a commercial device causes and be done with it.
 
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Old 07-07-06, 01:28 PM
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lamp dimmer

Seems to me, if my memory serves, there is available a lamp socket with a built-in dimmer device. This would replace the original socket and you're good to go.
 
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Old 07-07-06, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by eddieo45
I've looked at "table-top" dimmers, but don't like that you must plug the lamp into the dimmer's plug, creating a double-length plug which then plugs into the outlet.
Why don't you just run an extension cord to the receptacle, plug the tabletop dimmer into the extension cord, and plug the lamp in as intended? Bunch up the excess cord with a velcro strap or whatever.

You can also cut out some cord between the dimmer's control and plug-receptacle, but then you'll need at least a handybox, and as stated before you lose the rating.

If you use the flush-mount wall dimmer you are going to need at least a deep switchbox or wiremold box. Then you have to mount that box on your table or cut a big hole in your table.

If you're just planning to cut a round hole in the table for the rotary dimmer shaft, remember the shaft is only intended to poke thru a wall plate, so it's not long enough to poke thru most quality furniture which would be 1/2" or thicker. I've checked on extensions for thicker decorative wall plates and haven't had any luck.
 
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Old 07-09-06, 12:34 PM
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You can also make a professional soldering station using this method.
Don't put in the LED though, unless you plan to add a resistor)

http://www.afrotechmods.com/cheap/iron/iron.htm
 
  #6  
Old 07-09-06, 07:18 PM
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They make a number of lamps with a touch dimmer feature. All you do is touch anywhere on the lamp and it dims or brightens or turns off (keep touching it). You could incorporate one of these into your design.

Or, I found this touch dimmer tabletop switch with a quick search:

Link
 
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Old 08-12-06, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
(1) The cord is mot likely 18-2 or possibly 16-2, but most assuredly NOT 12-2.

(2) you will lose any UL or other safety rating of the lamp, and likely void any warranty that might exist (not that I've seen warranties on table lamps, but…).

(3) make sure that you switch/dim the HOT wire, not the return wire.

(4) I would suffer with the extra cord that a commercial device causes and be done with it.
Good advice from all, thanks!

(1) I'm sure you're right about the 18-2; my mis-speak.
(2) I don't care about UL listings or warranties (it's a $10 Ikea lamp), just safety with a 40 watt bulb.
(3) it DOES have a polarized plug, but which is hot and which is return? I did a test using a different lamp, and on that one, I removed the in-line on/off switch, and inserted the wall dimmer in the wire that was already cut for the in-line switch (it was the narrow plug blade, not the wide one) and the dimmer seemed to work fine.
(4) "suffering the extra cord" could be the best advice of all, but I'm still stubbornly optimistic!
 
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Old 08-12-06, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by eddieo45
(3) it DOES have a polarized plug, but which is hot and which is return? I did a test using a different lamp, and on that one, I removed the in-line on/off switch, and inserted the wall dimmer in the wire that was already cut for the in-line switch (it was the narrow plug blade, not the wide one) and the dimmer seemed to work fine.
That's correct. The narrower blade should be hot and the switch should be on the HOT side. You want the "center" conductor on a standard lamp base to be "HOT" and the "shell" to be "neutral". Note however that installing the switch on the neutral (wide blade) wire will work but is more unsafe.
 
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Old 08-13-06, 02:39 PM
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You may not care about the UL listing, but your insurance will.
 
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