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  1. #1
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    Nov 2010
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    Default Power surges when operating dimmer lights/fans

    We have a brand new home, and I am having some wacky power surge issues in our bedroom. The bedroom has a ceiling fan whose speed is controlled by the "fan" section of a combo fan-light dimmer, and the recessed lighting in the bedroom is controlled by the "light" section of the combo dimmer.

    There are a number of other appliances connected to the wall sockets in the room. One is a WiFI radio, and there are two bedside touch lamps. Here's the problem. Whenever I do *anything* with the fan section of the combo dimmer, there are power surges in the room. The touch lamps turn on arbitrarily, and the WiFi radio experiences enough of a surge to reset itself (lose clock settings, Internet settings etc).

    I know this is a convenience issue at its best (and I certainly want it fixed for at least that reason), but is this something I should worry about and fix immediately --- is this a dangerous situation? We have had this problem ever since we moved here over a year ago. Can someone here explain what might be going on? Is this something I can fix (can turn of power downstairs before I open up the wall plates)? Is this something I can call an electrician for? If so, what kind of charge should I expect?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Power surges when operating dimmer lights/fans

    if you are asking whether you can fix it yourself, you probably can't.

    Your house is out of warranty by now, but contact the builder and try to find the electrician who did your electrical on your house to address these issues.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Power surges when operating dimmer lights/fans

    Is every thing in the bedroom on one 15 amp circuit? If it is the solution would be to upgrade to 2 circuits. You need a load analysis to be sure if 15 or 20 amp circuits are needed.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Power surges when operating dimmer lights/fans

    Everything is on one 15 AMP circuit, but should that matter? The WiFi radio is hardly blasting away every hour, and the fan and lights are off most of the time (the fan is only on in the night). We never turn on the recessed lights (admittedly a power hungry 75x8W ~ 6A). The most concurrent use the room sees is a total pull of 6 AMPs (at night before going to bed: two bedside lamps = 2A, one ceiling fan = 1A, max radio = 2A, and misc (phone(s) etc = 1A). No more!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Power surges when operating dimmer lights/fans

    Motors draw a great deal more power during start up.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Power surges when operating dimmer lights/fans

    Quote Originally Posted by dylanthomasfan View Post
    We have a brand new home, and I am having some wacky power surge issues in our bedroom. The bedroom has a ceiling fan whose speed is controlled by the "fan" section of a combo fan-light dimmer, and the recessed lighting in the bedroom is controlled by the "light" section of the combo dimmer.

    There are a number of other appliances connected to the wall sockets in the room. One is a WiFI radio, and there are two bedside touch lamps. Here's the problem. Whenever I do *anything* with the fan section of the combo dimmer, there are power surges in the room. The touch lamps turn on arbitrarily, and the WiFi radio experiences enough of a surge to reset itself (lose clock settings, Internet settings etc).

    I know this is a convenience issue at its best (and I certainly want it fixed for at least that reason), but is this something I should worry about and fix immediately --- is this a dangerous situation? We have had this problem ever since we moved here over a year ago. Can someone here explain what might be going on? Is this something I can fix (can turn of power downstairs before I open up the wall plates)? Is this something I can call an electrician for? If so, what kind of charge should I expect?

    Thanks!
    Quote Originally Posted by dylanthomasfan View Post
    Everything is on one 15 AMP circuit, but should that matter? The WiFi radio is hardly blasting away every hour, and the fan and lights are off most of the time (the fan is only on in the night). We never turn on the recessed lights (admittedly a power hungry 75x8W ~ 6A). The most concurrent use the room sees is a total pull of 6 AMPs (at night before going to bed: two bedside lamps = 2A, one ceiling fan = 1A, max radio = 2A, and misc (phone(s) etc = 1A). No more!
    I'm not convinced there is an issue with the bedroom 15 amp circuit being over taxed -- rather I'm suspecting the fan/dimmer being the issue. Especially if it is upstream of the receptacles in the circuit.

    Typically those combo switches would be used for controlling the fan and a fan light. In your case that combo switch is used for dimming 600 watts of lighting plus the draw of the fan.

    More common units have a rating for 300 watts of lighting plus the fan, unless that dimmer unit is rated for at least 600 watts of lighting plus the ampacity of the fan, then it's likely the combo switch unit is cooked.

    You mentioned you "never turn on the recessed lights" but at some point I'd guess they had been on at the same time as the fan.

    2 cents worth.
    Last edited by canuk; 12-29-2011 at 09:49 AM.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Default Re: Power surges when operating dimmer lights/fans

    Both fan and light dimmers use a "chopper" to reduce the voltage. These are notorious for putting out electrical "noise" or interference. Usually shows up as buzzing or static on AM radios. Touch switches are sensitive to this interference. The best sulution is to get another circuit to the bedroom. One way to find out if that would fix the problem is to use an extension cord from another room (another circuit) and plug the lamps and WIfi into a strip connected to the extension cord. If the problem goes away, you've found the solution.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Default Re: Power surges when operating dimmer lights/fans

    Thanks for the well informed responses, all. I did check the ground and neutral in the wall plate, and note the comment about how touch lamps work (I learn something new everyday ). So far, I can report that the power surges that reset my WiFi radio constantly have not been observed at all. The touch lamp thing is still going on.

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