Dimmer Switches

Does turning down the lights to low with a dimmer switch save electricity? My husband is sure it does, so he leaves all our lights on very low all the time. I thought I remembered reading somewhere that having the lights on low uses just as much energy as having them turned up higher.

By the way, my husband is an electrician of sorts, but he routinely forgets to turn off the breaker before fixing the wiring; he’s been zapped a few times and I no longer trust his judgement. :slight_smile:

Your hubby is correct. The dimmer lowers the voltage, thereby lowering the current. But maybe he’s just romantic. :slight_smile:

I only know two things;
I know what I need to know
I know what I want to know
Mangeorge, 2000

I do hope he has life insurance.

Modern dimmers lower the voltage, therefore lower the current and the wattage. Old-fashioned ones (decades and decades ago) worked by sucking up watts, but as far as I know they were only used in theaters, and are illegal nowadays, since they dumped the power they used as heat, and were therefore fire hazards.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Here ya go. All about how they work. http://www.ghgcorp.com/jevans/MyHomeRepair/DimmerSwitch.htm
And here’s one for you. http://www.parasolemt.com.au/afa/afa12a.html
No problem. :smiley:

Ahhh, I hate to lose a good argument. At least my opinion on the matter wasn’t completely off base since old fashioned dimmer switches did waste energy. Presumably, although my house is old (1914) my dimmer switches are not. I hope. :wink:

Thanks for the links. And yes, I do have a life insurance policy on my husband- he’s worth more dead than alive. Once he was electrocuted while on the top of an 80 foot utility pole but survived with only some minor heart damage.

“Once he was electrocuted while on the top of an 80 foot utility pole but survived with only some minor heart damage.”

Christ, Holly. Tell him Home Depot is always looking for help. :wink:
BTW; I’m also an electrician.

How the hell do you afford that much life insurance on him considering the line of work he’s in (assuming the insurance company knows what he does for a living)?


“Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.”~~G.K.Chesterton 1908

Gee, Holly, you’re going to be sorry you included that one line in your post but …

Technically, the word electrocuted means that he did, in fact, die. I think it gets misused alot because there’s not a real good word for becoming an unintended conductor – “He got shocked” doesn’t quite convey the possibly-fatal consequences; “He got a good jolt” sounds flippant; “He received 12,000 volts” is a little too technical for conversation. The best I can suggest is that he was “nearly electrocuted” – technically accurate and still sufficiently alarming, although it telegraphs the punchline.

“To do her justice, I can’t see that she could have found anything nastier to say if she’d thought it out with both hands for a fortnight.”
Dorothy L. Sayers
Busman’s Honeymoon

I stand corrected (again). Sheesh. Okay, he was nearly electrocuted.

Insurance was no problem because he doesn’t work for the electric company anymore; he’s a postman. The most dangerous aspect of his job now is dog bites. :wink:

Has he ever been bitten to death by a dog and survived?

Sorry, couldn’t help myself! ::snort::

There’s at least one more type of dimmer: a variable transformer. I’m not sure how efficient they are; I’d guess somewhere in between the rheostat and the chopper-type (they do get warm when operating).

The main advantage this has over a chopper is that the voltage varies smoothly (like full line voltage AC) instead of having two mini-surges every cycle. If the equipment you’re controlling is sensitive to power surges, this can be a significant benefit.

A transformer dimmer would also be much quieter in terms of radio inteference. A standard SCR dimmer sometimes spew out radio interference. This can often be picked up on a radio phone, etc. In fact, some of them can even cause audio inteference- I can hear a high-pitched whine with some dimmers. A transformer shouldn’t produce any of these effects due to the smooth 60Hz waveform (as opposed to the chopping of an SCR).



Yes, and you can hardly see the scars. :stuck_out_tongue: