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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    45

    Lightbulb 3 way dimmers. I'm feeling pretty dim.

    I have new a circuit that I put in during a basement remodel that has a pair of fixtures on a 3-way switch. there is a normal 3-way switch at one end and a 3-way dimmer at the other end.

    Installed, everything works fine. Several weeks later, and the solid 3-way only works if the dimmer 3-way is in the ON position. the position of the dimmer slider does not impact things. If the dimmer 3-way is in the OFF position, the solid 3-way does nothing.

    I figured that one of the 3-way went bad, so I replaced both switches - and everything is back to normal. I didn't troubleshoot which switch was bad, but I suspect it was the dimmer.

    Now, exactly the same problem just occured on a different circuit in the basement.

    What gives? Is it really possible that I had two dimmers go bad? These are both the same model lutron switches from Home Depot. Are 3-way dimmers notorious for burning out or something? I did notice that the dimmer switch appears to feel warm to the touch when on.

    Before I go our and brute-force another replacement, I'd love a better theory than two bad dimmers

    Oh - and I carefully marked the common and travellers at install-time, and as this worked for a period then failed - I'm pretty sure the wires aren't mixed up

    Cheers,
    -Brett

    this is the specific model of dimmer:

    http://www.lutron.com/ariadni/?s=17000&t=17200

    I'm using the 600 watt incandescent one. The first circuit that burned out had 7 x 50 watt incandencet can lights on it. The second circuit had 2 x 35 watt halogen bulbs.
    Last edited by brettmarl; 05-20-2009 at 09:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: 3 way dimmers. I'm feeling pretty dim.

    do you have a continuity tester? if so check and be sure your travelers are correct. you might try puting the dimmer in the box with the switch leg. the warmth from a dimmer is normal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: 3 way dimmers. I'm feeling pretty dim.

    for the last one that died, i used my multimeter in resistance mode to ensure the travelers were correct.

    any recommendations for validating a bad dimmer using a multimeter? i assume in OFF mode, there would no continuity on either traveler terminal.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,627

    Default Re: 3 way dimmers. I'm feeling pretty dim.

    I'm not sure that you can use a multitester to evaluate a dimmer switch. Dimmers use "silicon controlled rectifiers" which chop the current -- that is, they rapidly turn on and off -- instead of presenting a varying resistance.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: 3 way dimmers. I'm feeling pretty dim.

    brett ..... Lutron has a 24/7 tech support line 1-800-523-9466 . They will work with you from home to resolve things by providing them with all the numbers from the dimmer and exactly the wiring setup.

    The output from those electronic dimmers are from a Triac.
    An ohm check really will only verify the conductors and the mechanical toggle switch.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: 3 way dimmers. I'm feeling pretty dim.

    oddly enough, everything is working fine again this morning. i'm suspicious that the dimmer is mis-behaving when overheated. i'm going to leave the lights on again for a while and see if i can reproduce the problem.

    perplexedly yours,
    -brett

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