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ByDave Rongey © Ask the Electrician 2017 Author, Licensed Electrical Contractor
» Home Electrical Wiring Guide Book

Dimmer Switches That are Warm to the Touch – Is This a Problem?

Correctly Sizing Dimmer Switches – Understanding the importance of properly sizing a dimmer switch…

Correctly Sizing Dimmer Switches
Electrical Troubleshooting Question: I have a dimmer that was previously installed before buying. I am now selling and during the home inspection it was noted that the dimmer switch was warm to the touch (I have yet to feel it warm). However, it was recommended to get a correct switch with a wattage rating to support the recessed lighting. The switch is a Leviton 800watt 120vac switch. I have four lights in the room and am using GE Reveal 65w BR40. With that info, is it required to get a new dimmer?

This home electrical repairs question came from: Alex, from Woodbridge, Virginia

See more about Home Electrical Repairs for Virginia

Additional Comments: Lot of good useful info for the amateur in me. Thank you.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting question Alex

Warm Dimmer Switches

Sizing Dimmer Switches

Understanding the importance of properly sizing a dimmer switch is essential to prevent the dimmer switch from overheating. As with most electrical components it is best to load electrical devices to 80% of their rated capacity. Lets take a look at this question and see if the 800 watt dimmer should be replaced: 65 watts time 4 = 260 watts total load. So we can see that we are actually far below the 50% load of this dimmer switch, so with that I would ask the home inspector to reevaluate their request. It should also be pointed out that due to the electronic circuit components of the dimmer switch they normally do produce a small amount of warmth.

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