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Is it normal for a dimmer light switch to be slightly warm even when turned off?

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2005-09-09 14:47:15
2005-09-09 14:47:15

Most dimmer switches are nothing more than a large in-line variable resistor. Turning the switch down only increases the resistance on the line and there by reduces the volage to the load, which in this case is the light. If the RESISTOR is turned down all the way, even though the light may appear to be completely off, there may still be a small amount of voltage at the load (light) resulting in a resistor that is turning whatever is left into heat. If this is the type of dimmer, check the switch to see if there is an "off" position that completely cuts the circuit. The other type of dimmer switch is far more complex and is used for motors, florescent ligting and other equipment that will not function on reduced voltage. These types of dimmers use a concept called "pulse width modultion" to supply full voltage to a device but the voltage is sent in pulses that correspond to the amount of current used to provide the necessary intensity of the load. If it's a florescent light, the pulse width would be adjusted to provide the light that you want. If it's a motor, the pulse width would control the speed of the motor. These types of dimmers may use a small current to continue operation of the switch even though nothing is really on. In my opinion, this type of dimmer is not designed well, but then, I didn't have to build it. So in general, the answer is "No, a dimmer switch shouldn't be warm if it has been off for a long time." After the switch has been turned off it should cool to room temp after a while.

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