Dimmer Installation Help


Old 11-15-09, 12:39 PM
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Dimmer Installation Help

I have a wall receptacle that houses two Leviton light switches. I want to replace both with dimmer switches. But the instructions that came with my dimmers are written in some language not exactly English, and I want to make sure I wire this correctly.

Each of the original regular switches were wired to four wires. One is obviously the ground; there are also TWO wires with black insulation coming from the box, and ONE wire with red. All these wires are copper. The original wall switch has three screws (not including ground) in the left and right sides. The top right had the red wire connected to it. The bottom right had one of the blacks. The other black went to the screw on the top left of the switch. Both top screws are gold colored. The bottom right screw is black.

My Lutron dimmer switch (from Home Depot) has a ground wire, with green insulation. And it has two silver wires covered in black insulation, which I am supposed to connect with twist-on marrettes. There is no indication on the dimmer switch which is hot and which is not, or which dimmer wire I’m supposed to connect to which wire coming from the wall. Again, the instructions are vague and ambiguous.

The Lutron dimmer switch instructions have a section called “3-way wiring,” which is impossible to understand.

My guess is that with the original switch red is hot and black is ground, and that these are the wires coming to the two screws at the top right and left of the switch. But what is this second black wire on the bottom right? What is a “3-way” switch”? As far as I know, this switch has only ever been ON and OFF.

Is it possible that I don’t have the right dimmer switch and I need a true 3-way dimmer switch?

Thanks for any light you can shed (no pun intended).
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Old 11-15-09, 12:54 PM
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It certainly sounds like you are replacing at least one 3 way switch. A 3 way switch allows for a light to be controlled from 2 locations. A common application is the top and bottom of steps.

A ground on a switch is only connected to the green screws on a device. It is never connected to a brass or dark colored screw and would not be switch controlled.

Before you attempt to change your switch to the dimmer mark or identify the wire connected to the odd colored screw. This is the COMMON. The other 2 wires are the travelers.
Old 11-15-09, 12:54 PM
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3 way set up

you have a 3 way switch all right, the black screw terminal is either the hot incoming to the 3 way switching or the switch leg side going to the lights, the other 2 wires on the brass terminals are called the travelers, and so as long as they are on the brass screws, you're ok.

but you need a 3 way dimming switch for your set up
you did not mention which Lutron dimmer switch you have
weather it's a diva series, maestro series and so on
a standard dimmer will not work properly in a 3 switch way set up

the instruction for 3 way wiring pertains only to 3 way dimmers, as you see on the sheet the instruction sheet covers many Lutron models

Lutron DVW-603PH-WH Diva 3 way in white at HD, allows dimming control at one end ( where the dimmer is installed ) in the 3 way run

Lutron MAW-603-RH Maestro 3 way dimmer, include accessory dimmer for the other 3 way switch, also at HD

and for normal Lutron ( non 3 way ) dimmer, it does not matter which side is hot, and which side is load ( dimming side )

Last edited by mikerios; 11-15-09 at 01:01 PM. Reason: more info added
Old 11-15-09, 01:33 PM
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Thanks, guys. My Lutron is a Skylark S-600P, single pole preset dimmer. I guess I need to take another trip to Home Depot.

And yes, there are switches at the top and the bottom of the stairs controlling the same lights.

I guess the Internet does serve a purpose.

Thanks again.

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