switch is hot to the touch

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  #1  
Old 05-25-09, 03:55 AM
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switch is hot to the touch

I recently installed a new set of lights, using 14 guage wire on a 15 amp circuit. On the circuit, I have a set of 4 lights, each drawing 150 watts (for a total 600W). I have the fixture at the start of the run, followed by a 3-way dimmer switch (rated for 600W) and then finally a 15amp 3-way single switch. When turned on, the dimmer switch heats up tremendously, so that I can feel it in the switch plate screw heads, within about 3-4 minutes. Very hot. The end of run switch is fine. Does this sound like simply the switch can't really handle the 600W it's rated for?, or does this indicate a different problem? I have a 1000W dimmer switch I can use, but wanted to make sure nothing else is going on that I need to address. Thank you.

* follow-up: I tried the 1000W switch - same issue.
 

Last edited by itselectric; 05-25-09 at 04:30 AM. Reason: more info
  #2  
Old 05-25-09, 06:48 AM
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This can be normal. One time we had a customer complaint about the temp of the Dimmer thinking it was wrong. We contacted the manufacture and they said the the dimmer can be up to 70 degrees above ambient temperature. Meaning, if it is 70 in your house the dimmer can be as much as 140 degrees!

Is this a new dimmer that you just bought? The dimmer from the above story was over 10 years ago. Newer dimmers might not have this issue.
 
  #3  
Old 05-25-09, 10:58 AM
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As Tony stated, newer, or higher quality dimmers are a bit better at both dissipating heat and producing less of it. The less heat generated means less power being lost.

Regardless, you should be good to go. I believe most/all dimmers do have internal thermal cutoff switches to prevent overloading/overheating anyway.
 
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Old 05-25-09, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
Is this a new dimmer that you just bought? The dimmer from the above story was over 10 years ago. Newer dimmers might not have this issue.
Yes, both dimmers are brand new. The 1000W one is a Leviton, and the 600W is Lutron. Wow, I can't believe that kind of heat is normal!? Good that it's not a fire hazard though.
Thank you!
 
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Old 05-25-09, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Zorfdt View Post
Regardless, you should be good to go. I believe most/all dimmers do have internal thermal cutoff switches to prevent overloading/overheating anyway.
Ah, good to know. I was worried that it would lead to meltdown or fire hazard. Thank you!
 
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Old 05-25-09, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
Meaning, if it is 70 in your house the dimmer can be as much as 140 degrees!.
I live in Hawaii, where ambient temp is usually 80 degrees. So, if the dimmer goes to 150, is that high enough to melt the switch box, or vinyl tape, or anything... or not a problem?
 
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Old 05-25-09, 05:43 PM
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70 degrees above ambient temperature would likely be the max is would be. If it really got that hot it could do some damage over time depending on the age of your wiring. You could buy a cheap non contact temp probe to find out how hot it is really getting but if you can hold your hand on it for any length of time I would bet it is not much more than 110 degrees. In comparison a hot tub is around 104 degrees.
 
 

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