test Do dimmer switches get hot? It’s a common question that a lot of people have been wondering about, especially after reports of overloaded dimmer switches causing fires. We will explore why they feel warm, when they are too hot and also discuss what to do if you think your dimmer switch might be overloaded.
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Yes, dimmer switches can get hot, they have a lot of electronic components inside them that generate heat when they are in use.
However, if your switch is uncomfortable to touch there could be an issue to resolve, and can even be dangerous. If in any doubt do turn off the electricity to that lighting circuit and call an electrician.
Provided you feel it is safe to investigate further, let’s look into why dimmer switches get hot with some tips on possible options to help reduce the heat.
Dimmer switches get hot because of the management of electricity that passes through them on its way to your lighting.
The reason why dimmer switches get hot depends on a variety of potential reasons:
Generally, a dimmer switch should operate at around 140°F (60°C). However, some switches can be designed to tolerate up to 195°F (90°C).
A hot dimmer switch is not necessarily dangerous but some of the reasons why they run with heat will reveal if a potential hazard is forming.
An overloaded dimmer is the most likely reason you are worried, and this happens when too much electricity is passing through the switch. This can be for a number of reasons, but most commonly it is because the wrong type of light bulb is being used with the dimmer switch.
A few signs of electrical overloading a lighting circuit are:
If you have too many bulbs on a single switch, you have a few options:
Some potential fixes will require qualified help:
If the total wattage of the bulbs and lighting fixtures exceeds your dimmer switch’s wattage rating, you run the risk of burnout. This means that if too many bulbs are connected to the switch, it will have been working too hard, run too hot, and eventually caused it to break. When a dimmer switch stops working because of overloading it will do so without warning.
If this occurs, the dimmer is beyond repair. When you buy a new switch, make sure it is a higher wattage than your total bulb wattage.
If you use a lower wattage dimmer switch with too high a wattage of bulbs and light fixtures, you risk burning out the dimmer switch and the bulbs as well.
When a bulb is overloaded with too much current, it damages the filament inside the light bulb or overruns the semiconductor LED causing them to fail early too.
If your dimmer switch is hot, turn it off, and don’t use it again until you have checked it. If your dimmer switch is overloaded, disconnect any appliances or light bulbs that are drawing too much power. You may need to replace the fuse or circuit breaker with a higher-rated one. If this doesn’t work, call a qualified electrician.
If you have any doubts about your ability to safely investigate or repair your dimmer switch, please don’t hesitate to contact a qualified electrician for assistance. Hot dimmer switches can be dangerous and cause fires, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
For more tips we look at What is Dimming. Methods for dimming LED Lights
Thanks for reading and stay safe!
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