When Joel Spira first invented dimmer switches in the 1960s, he wanted to “create a nice environment.” Today, dimmer switches come in numerous types with several purposes to help you create the ambiance you want. Not only that, they help you save energy, too.
While dimmer switches aren’t a huge investment, there are some basic things your electrician in Southlake, TX wants you to know. Read on to learn about the types of dimmer switches, the different features, and other important factors to find out which is best suited for your needs.
Types of Dimmer Switches
There are several basic types of dimmer switches you can choose from. The main difference between these is the light fixtures they are controlling.
- Single-Pole Switches
These switches have two terminals for turning the circuit on or off. Single-pole switches cannot work for lights that are controlled from different places.
- 3-Way and 4-Way Switches
If you need two switches for one light, for example, at both ends of a staircase, you need 3-way dimmer switches. Similarly, you need a 4-way dimmer system if you want three switches.
The number indicates how many terminals it has and can allow you to add more controls to the circuit. With these systems, you can only have one dimmer switch on the circuit.
- Multi_Location Switches
This system enables you to have several switches and dimmers on the circuit, allowing you to have both dimmers and regular on-off switches. These switches can be used with 3-way dimmers, remote controls, and smart lighting systems.
You will need these to enable voice control and still have manual switches. Some systems let you control several lights simultaneously, independently adjusting the brightness for each fixture.
Multi-Location switches have complicated wiring, and you will need to hire an electrician to install these for you.
- Plug-In Dimmer Switches
These devices allow you to dim a standard lamp plug into an outlet. You plug the dimmer into the outlet, then the lamp or fixture into the dimmer switch. A remote, smartphone, or other smart devices can control some models.
Dimmer switches can also be categorized by the way you operate them.
- Toggle Switch
This is a standard on-off switch with a slider for dimming the lights.
- Rotary Knob
These switches have a knob that you can turn in either direction to regulate light intensity. Pressing the knob will turn the lights on or off.
- Rocker Switch
Like a toggle switch, rockers have a slider to adjust the light. The difference is that they are larger and have a sleek, modern appearance.
- Smart Switches
Innovative dimming systems have the usual manual knobs or switches but allow you to control the lights from wherever you are.
You can program the lights to go on or off, bright or dim, depending on the time of day. Many of these switches also feature voice control and are often part of a smart home system.
- Tap Dimmers
You control the lights by tapping on the switch to turn it on or off and adjust the brightness. Some of these feature a touchpad with which you can program the lights.
While dimmer switches can work with almost any bulb, not all bulbs can be dimmed. When purchasing bulbs, ensure that they are dimmable. Using incompatible light bulbs with dimmers will reduce their lifespan, damage the switch and cause flickering or buzzing.
Almost all incandescent light bulbs can be dimmed, but they are not as energy-efficient as other bulbs. LED lights last up to 25 times longer and use 75% less energy but can’t be dimmed as low as incandescent bulbs. Be sure to choose bulbs that offer a wide dimming range and are compatible with the dimmer switch.
All dimmer switches have wattage ratings. Please ensure the switch can safely handle the load it must carry. Overloading the switch can cause it to overheat, leading to electrical fires. If you are unsure what size you need, call your local electrician.
Other Things to Consider
Though most of these dimmer switches come with detailed installation instructions, having a licensed electrician do the job is still a good idea.
DIYers sometimes make the mistake of interchanging the wires in a switch, leading to short circuits and malfunctions. Also, switches that control more than one circuit are more complicated to install.
Whether you are planning a kitchen remodel or want to upgrade your home’s lighting system, you should get the help of your local electrician. Sometimes the new installs may require wiring a new circuit so as not to overload the electrical system.
Depending on the size of your project, you might need to obtain a permit from local authorities in Southlake, TX.
Choosing the Right Switch
Ultimately, choosing the right switch will depend on how many lights you want to control, where you need to place the switch, and how you want to control it. While big knobs or toggles are easy to adjust, some prefer a more aesthetically pleasing design.
As for smart homes, they wouldn’t be complete without a smart lighting system that you can control from the comfort of your couch or from far away. Whatever your needs and preference, an electrician can help you through the process. Many electricians will also give you a free estimate, so you can compare costs and decide accordingly.
Light Up Your Home with Buffalo Electric
From lighting installs, electrical repairs, surge protection, and code compliance to home rewiring, we got you covered.
Additionally, our emergency electricians at Buffalo Electric are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to serve businesses and homeowners throughout Southlake, TX and surrounding cities. For more information, call us, and our electricians will gladly help.
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