Wiring an Outlet with Dimmer and Switches

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Old 01-31-07, 01:12 PM
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Wiring an Outlet with Dimmer and Switches

My electrician left an unfinished 3-slot outlet in my basement that consists of 2 switches to control 2 separate sets of lights, and a dimmer switch that controls 1 set of those lights. (I also have a 2-slot outlet across the room with 2 switches that turn these same 2 sets of lights on and off, which is wired fine and works perfectly). Each of the three wire masses in the unfinished outlet consist of two black wires capped together and a single red wire capped (obviously 14-3 wire and obviously capped so a passerby doesn't bump it and get shocked). All of the white and ground wires are pushed back deep in the box except for one ground wire. One of the wire masses is distinctly marked for the dimmer switch while the other two masses look the exact same. The dimmer switch I have has 1 green wire, 1 red wire, and 2 black wires. My questions are these:

1) How do I connect the dimmer switch?
and
2) How do I connect the two basic switches?

The end result should be two sets of switches that turn two separate sets of lights on and off, and also a dimmer that controls one set of lights. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
 
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Old 01-31-07, 01:40 PM
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You have a 3-way dimmer switch, which is good because that is what you need.

Just in case you care, "2-slot outlet" is properly call a 2-gang box.

You'll need to attach enough grounding pigtails to that one grounding wire to have a connection for each switch. I'm a bit surprised the the electrician didn't do that for you.

The rest of your description is a bit fuzzy for me.

Do you have two sets of lights, or three sets of lights in all?

I'm not quite sure what a "wire mass" is.

Not counting the grounding wires, each 3-way switch needs three connections. So you should have, again not counting the grounding wires, three individual wire ends per box per switch. Do you?

Regular switches are typically wired with screws, but dimmer switches typically have wires coming out of them. That means that you can only connect a switch screw to one single wire, but you can connect a dimmer wire to a several wires at the same time.

Your terminology is nonstandard and a bit entertaining, but I can mostly tell what you mean anyway. But if you could help clear things up a bit more, it would leave less chance for error.
 
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Old 01-31-07, 01:49 PM
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I will step in here for a min but please get some words clear up with outlet it can get confusing here.

1 ] if you have any repectales [ outlets ] that will be controlled by dimmer by the code it is not allowed unless a specal repectaile [ something you dont find in the house ]

2 ] the red wire you see there you can hook up the dimmer but before i get the rest of details.,
I will like to know if this willbe a single location or two location where you can control the lights aka 3 way switch[s]

3 ] the dimmer you got i am not sure if you got the wrong kind unless you have two location to control the lights. if two location then it is ok other wise may end up swapping to get the correct dimmer [ single pole if only at one location ]

4 ] the dimmer typically hook up the red wire on dimmer is " common " and two black wire is travaller i will show you a outline real breif

dimmer / swich box wires
red Red {*}
black Black
Black white [ or marked traveller wires{s}]


* note this one of few 3 way wiring connection there are at least 9 ways to do this so please becarefull and make a note of how it hook up

if you dont understand this then please do post it back here we will try our best to explain to ya

Merci , Marc



[qoute] Each of the three wire masses in the unfinished outlet consist of two black wires capped together and a single red wire capped [/qoute]

ok now i can understand it clear after i reread this forum again

ok two black wire capped that is trallaver if that is correct
one red wire for "common " you hook up the dimmer the same way as i described above
 
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Old 01-31-07, 02:14 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. Sorry for the terminology slang...you can tell I'm brand new to this electrical stuff!

Anyway, as for the grounding wires, I can take a closer look to see if the extras are buried in the back of the box, but from first glance, I only saw the one.

I'll try to be more clear. I have two sets of 6 canned lights. When I enter my basement, there are two switches (one for each set) that turn the lights on and off. Also, across the room is where the outlet in question is located and ideally I would like to be able to turn the same sets of lights on and off with two more switches. Additionally, at that same box, I would like a dimmer switch to control the lights. I honestly can't remember if it will control both sets at the same time or just one set (will it matter given my description below?).

By wire mass, I mean that two black wires (capped) and one red wire (capped) are wound around each other to show that those three wires go to each switch. In other words, to answer your question, yes, I have 3 individual wire ends per switch.

Maybe my illustration below will help:

One side of room, which currently works and turns each separate set of lights on and off.
__________
|_s1_|_s2_|
|_s1_|_s2_|

Other side of room:
_______________
|_s1_|_s2_|_D_|
|_s1_|_s2_|_D_|
G
BBR BBR BBR

B = Black
R = Red
G = Ground

There may be more ground, but again that's what I initially noticed. The white is stuffed in the back of the box pretty tight, so I'm guessing it's there for a reason.

The dimmer has 2 Black, 1 Red, and 1 Green wire.
 
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Old 01-31-07, 02:18 PM
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You don't need both a dimmer and a regular switch in the same box to control the same set of lights. I can think of no good reason to have a 3-gang box with three switches (two regular and one dimmer) if you only have two sets of lights.

When you say two black wires (capped), you mean that they are individually capped (i.e., two separate caps), right?

Things are getting clearer, but I'm still confused by why you have a 3-gang box. Are you sure the third switch isn't for something else--something other than the two banks of lights?
 
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Old 01-31-07, 02:22 PM
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The two black wires in each box are capped together and the individual red wire is capped all by itself (3 boxes, 6 caps total). My electrician recommended me doing it this way so that I could either turn the lights on or off completely from both locations or just simply dim them if I want.
 
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Old 01-31-07, 06:37 PM
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Is the dimmer supposed to set the light level for both sets of lights together, and then the switches to turn them on or off?
 
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Old 01-31-07, 07:41 PM
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Did you have a falling out with the electrician? Why didn't they finish?

they never should have left the job without wall plates, Finished walls or not.
 
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Old 02-01-07, 12:44 PM
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Question: Is the dimmer supposed to set the light level for both sets of lights together, and then the switches to turn them on or off?

Answer: YES!

Question: Did you have a falling out with the electrician? Why didn't they finish?

Answer: No, he lives out of state and was in state when he did the electrical work last year. I just finished putting up the drywall and was connecting all the other outlets myself, but this last one has me stumped.

Other Note: I do have a ground wire for each outlet in that box. So, now i just need to know how to wire the two outlets and dimmer.
 
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Old 02-01-07, 12:59 PM
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You are going to have to tell us ALL thew wires in each box and how they are connected. I don't want to make any assumptions. I would prefer a complete inventory and a complete description.
 
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Old 02-01-07, 02:50 PM
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From what we've learned so far, this is not a typical installation. In fact, I think there's a pretty good chance that you incorrectly understand how the electrician intended this to work.

If the electrician will be back in state any time in the next few months, I strongly suggest you wait for him. It appears he's the only one who understands this wiring.

A second choice is to have another electrician come over and see if he can figure it out.

Even if I was standing in your house, it might take me a couple of hours to figure it out. I'm afraid it might take an awful lot of exchanges for us to figure it out in this forum.

Another choice is to do this by trial and error. As long as you don't connect any neutrals to any of the switches, it's not too dangerous. There are, however, mathematically a lot of combinations to try (hundreds). I would suggest you do all your experimenting with a standard 3-way switch instead of the dimmer. No sense burning out the dimmer before you get it working.

It's also possible that your out-of-state electrician messed up this job and there's no way to get it right.
 
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