Dimmer Switch Selection

Gold 1 Gang 1 Way Wall Touch Switch Wireless

While having dinner at a friend’s home the other night something hit me. The evening was great; good food, fabulous hosts, and an overall perfect time. But what finally struck me was the ambient lighting within the dining room. Sure, I had seen dimmed lighting before, but at this moment I came to appreciate what a subtle change in lighting can do for the mood of an evening. So what in case you too would like to put in a dimmer switch in your house? This article will help you choose what style and features to look for in a dimmer. Our previous article addresses dimmer installation, and the next installment sums it all up with easy installation for the suitable application.

We’ll cover the alternatives available here for incandescent or halogen bulbs (commonest). You need a specialized dimmer switch for fans, compact fluorescent bulbs, or the tube style fluorescent bulbs and in a future article we are able to explain those choices. But never use an everyday dimmer switch for these applications.

The first step is selecting the style and sort of dimmer switch that fits your private home. Color choices are similar with white, ivory, or brown being the most typical colors. Usually you want to also match the style of switches you have already got. Some homes have the traditional small toggle switch that sticks out. Others have the more modern Decora style switches that are large rectangles almost flush with the switch plate that toggle back and forth from finger pressure at either end. These styles are interchangeable given you get the appropriate switch plate cover, so it’s a matter of private taste and typically choosing to match the remainder of the home.

In the normal style, dimmers come in round buttons that you twist to dim the lights and push to toggle the lights on and off. Another style has an everyday on off switch but at the side is a small little slide that can be moved to set the light level. Both of these types are nice in that you can set the lights at a level you like normally and then just flip the lights on and off and never have to regulate the dimming each time. One other style is offered in any such traditional switch that appears exactly like an everyday switch except it doesn’t snap on and off. Whenever you go to move the switch to turn the lights on, instead of clicking on and off it moves smoothly between the two going from full on to full off and anything in between. My preference with these though is the mix switch and sliders as being most convenient to use.

The Decora style switches have even more options. The simplest have a vertical slider that goes up and down similar to the continuous range from the on to off type described above. Next is my economical favorite which looks like an everyday switch but has the added slider on the side. With the help of some additional electronics contained in the box, the choices can get even fancier. One just uses the touch of your finger and continuously dims or brightens until you remove your finger. Others you push and hold down either end of the switch and a series of indicator lights on the side will show the facility level. An alternative choice that may be handy is a backlight on the switch so it glows orange when the switch is off. This becomes useful when using a dimmer switch to manage a night light in the bathroom. You can control how bright the light is and if someone forgot to turn it on before going to bed you’ll be able to at the least find the switch!

Be certain that you know how large an electrical load the switch will likely be connected to after which look on the rating on the dimmer switch you are considering. You might have to get a high watt rated switch. For instance if a switch is rated for 350 Watts, you’ll be able to have a chandelier that has 5 60 Watt light bulbs (5×60=300) but 5 75 Watt light bulbs would require a higher rated switch.

The one other choice you need to pay attention to is whether you need a two-way, three-way, or in rare cases a four-way switch. Two-way are the most common and that is when just one switch controls the sunshine. Three-way switches are needed when two switches can turn the light off an on, typically seen when there is a switch for the light at two entrances into the room. Four-way switches are used for a really large room that has three or more switches controlling the identical light. If you want to know the way to attach up a three-way or four-way switch, you’ll be able to read our previous article on that topic.

Now you might be practically an expert on dimmer switch styles. If simple is what you may have in mind, the local hardware store has you covered. I’ve also had great luck buying dimmer switches online. They have an inclination to offer better pricing and more number of color and style, and good online stores can assist you with the installation over the phone.


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