Dimmer switches and lack of room


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Old 12-28-16, 07:16 AM
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Dimmer switches and lack of room

Hi Everyone...

So, I'm not a professional electrician, but with a lot of practice and reading I've been doing my own electrical work for around 15 years now, and I consider myself to be a fairly experienced DIYer. I'm comfortable with the basics...replacing switches/outlets, installing lights, even some more advanced things like installing a new box and running Romex cable / branching off of an existing outlet. I'm an IT guy by trade so, I have a high comfort level with electronics and gadgets in general.

That being said, I feel like dimmer switches are my mortal enemy. How concerned do I need to be that when I'm putting these back in the wall, no matter how hard I try to do tidy job, I always feel like I'm having to "cram" it all in there? Yes, I fold the wires...I'm pretty anal retentive and I like things to be clean and neat regardless. But whenever I install a dimmer, I feel like things look like a mess in there. And then I read all of this stuff online about "cramming too much in a box could cause problems / start an electrical fire" etc. etc., but maybe my definition of "too much" and others' definition of "too much" are two different things anyway.

I'm in the process installing a bunch of Leviton "smart" switches in my house. I just finished replacing a 4-gang box's worth of switches. Two of them are regular switches, and the other two are dimmers. I feel like I had a hell of a time getting all the wires back in there, and while I'm confident my connections are good, I'm not confident things aren't "stuffed" in there. It was a real pain, since dimmers don't have screw terminals (why, I don't know...I hate this about them), and since these are "smart switches" which also require a neutral connection, each dimmer meant 4 or 5 wire nuts to cram back in there (one of them was a 3-way switch so...5 wirenuts just for this one switch!!!).

Maybe I'm just being overly paranoid...I don't feel like this is an issue of "that's why a professional should do this" because it's not like a professional wouldn't have as much crap to cram into this stupid box.

Thoughts/tips/suggestions? If my connections are good and everything is wired correctly, do I just need to put it out of my mind and accept the fact that dimmers = more crowding in the box, and it doesn't need to look "pretty" to function correctly?
 
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Old 12-28-16, 09:32 AM
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Stuffing a box isn't easy, but a 4-gang should make it a little easier.
You should have room for 2 dimmers and 2 switch wiring.

With your experience you should be able to disconnect everything and re-stuff the box.

I start with grounds (crimp instead of wire nut), then neutrals, and hot wires last, stuffing them also and leaving the pigtails out and pre-bent if needed.

Try to keep any large wire nut connections behind the regular switches. The neutrals can be bundled in groups with a jumper if that helps.
 
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Old 12-28-16, 04:44 PM
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I gave it another shot and I think I'm a bit more comfortable with how things are looking now. Still a lot in there but what can you do. Hopefully it's all safe.

Normally yes, I'd agree that in a 4-gang box there'd be plenty of free space...but, with these Leviton Vizia smart-switches, even the non-dimmer ones take up pretty much the same amount of real estate, sans the wire nuts (the standard non-dimmer ones are screw-terminal). They take up a lot more space than a traditional switch.

I still think it's monumentally stupid that these manufacturers continue to make dimmer switches without screw-terminals. I'd imagine there must be a reason for this, but regardless it'd sure make life easier not having to deal with packing all that extra wire and nuts into the box when installing these..
 
 

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