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Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: PeterB
Date: August 29, 2020 05:47PM
Hi everyone,

I have a bathroom which has a combo GFCI outlet / light switch, for which I'd like to be able to dim the lights. Currently the light fixture has GU10 base halogens, which I'd also like to swap out with dimmable LED's equivalents.

I have zero experience replacing switches (I'm not an electrician, but I am pretty handy), so I have no idea how difficult this is, or even if it's possible. (If it weren't a GFCI outlet as well, I would assume it's possible, but with that also having a GFCI outlet, I have no idea.)

Edit: as soon as I posted this, it occurred to me... I suppose I could also buy dimmable LED's which have their own remote, and do the dimming that way... that would save my having to rewire the switch, but of course then I'd have to buy those specific LED's if they ever needed replacement. These lights don't get a lot of use, so it might be something for me to consider.

TiA




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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/29/2020 05:48PM by PeterB.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: August 29, 2020 06:00PM
Not being an electrician, but somewhat handy myself, I'll offer that getting dimmable LEDS to work with a dimmer can be the luck of the draw.

A lot of one don't play nice with the other.

Getting LED bulbs with their own remote could be a quicker way to go, avoiding trying your luck with LEDs.

A pricey version of that are the Hue bulbs, available in 2700K (White) or 2700-6500K (White and Ambience). There is a two-bulk kit with a standalone dimmer switch that mounts with adhesive, magnet, or screws.

But there are now a lot of BT bulbs on the Zigbee platform that will most likely interchange, so you're not necessarily locked into one brand once you buy.





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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: mattkime
Date: August 29, 2020 06:25PM
While the outlet and the light switch is in the same box they're almost certainly on different circuits - reason being its code because tripping a breaker AND being in the dark is a lot more dangerous than just tripping a breaker.

Dimmable bulbs often say which dimmers they work with. Just pick up a compatible dimmer and you should be good. There are different leds out there and different methods of dimming but the compatibility overlap is pretty big.

This should be an easy job.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/29/2020 06:25PM by mattkime.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: PeterB
Date: August 29, 2020 06:48PM
matt, so I just buy a dimmer switch and then swap that part of the outlet out? Is it really that easy?

I've actually never swapped out a switch, or an outlet, or anything like that, so other than obviously making sure the power is out before you do it -- I have no idea how it's done.

I'm also noticing that the price difference between dimmable LED's and dimmable LED's with their own remote is pretty minor ... so if I have to buy a switch too, it may make more sense both from a money AND time/work perspective to go with the dimmable LED's with remote. Plus, with remote ... you get the option of mood lighting, since you can also change color and have effects in addition to intensity. cool smiley <cue> Barry White music </cue>




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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: MrNoBody
Date: August 29, 2020 07:04PM
Smart LEDs that work with the Smart Life or Kasa apps, both work with Alexa and
(I believe) Google. No hub required & the switch isn't touched.

That's how I handled the same situation.



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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: PeterB
Date: August 29, 2020 07:09PM
Quote
MrNoBody
Smart LEDs that work with the Smart Life or Kasa apps, both work with Alexa and
(I believe) Google. No hub required & the switch isn't touched.

That's how I handled the same situation.

I have neither Alexa nor Google ... only Ring, and don't plan on having ANY devices inside my home that listen to anything I'm saying. grinning smiley ... plus, I would NOT want anything that would require any sort of internet connection or an app or anything of that kind.




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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: August 29, 2020 07:12PM
Quote
mattkime
While the outlet and the light switch is in the same box they're almost certainly on different circuits - reason being its code because tripping a breaker AND being in the dark is a lot more dangerous than just tripping a breaker.

Dimmable bulbs often say which dimmers they work with. Just pick up a compatible dimmer and you should be good. There are different leds out there and different methods of dimming but the compatibility overlap is pretty big.

This should be an easy job.

Please cite in the electric code where a gfci and light can't be on the same circuit. I have never heard of or read this in the National Electric Code (NEC), also known as NFPA 70. Some local jurisdictions may have requirements that exceed the NEC.

If you kill power to the GFCI at the breaker, does the light still work? If not, same circuit. If separate circuits, make sure that you shut both circuits off before working on the switch to be safe. I would use a voltage tester to check that nothing in the box is hot before working on it as there may be multiple circuits that go thru the box.

That being said, is this a combination switch and outlet or a two gang box (separate switch and separate outlet) arrangement? If the later, replacing a standard switch with a dimmer switch is a simple swap. There should be a connection for power (hot) in, switched hot out, and a ground connection. Most dimmers have wire coming out of them in lieu of screw connections. So, you will need appropriately sized wire nuts, which may come with the switch. The ground (typically green insulation) wire need to be connected to either the metal box or the bare copper wires within the box. Depending on the number of ground wires, you may need a larger wire nut.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: PeterB
Date: August 29, 2020 07:19PM
Quote
macphanatic
Quote
mattkime
While the outlet and the light switch is in the same box they're almost certainly on different circuits - reason being its code because tripping a breaker AND being in the dark is a lot more dangerous than just tripping a breaker.

Dimmable bulbs often say which dimmers they work with. Just pick up a compatible dimmer and you should be good. There are different leds out there and different methods of dimming but the compatibility overlap is pretty big.

This should be an easy job.

Please cite in the electric code where a gfci and light can't be on the same circuit. I have never heard of or read this in the National Electric Code (NEC), also known as NFPA 70. Some local jurisdictions may have requirements that exceed the NEC.

If you kill power to the GFCI at the breaker, does the light still work? If not, same circuit. If separate circuits, make sure that you shut both circuits off before working on the switch to be safe. I would use a voltage tester to check that nothing in the box is hot before working on it as there may be multiple circuits that go thru the box.

That being said, is this a combination switch and outlet or a two gang box (separate switch and separate outlet) arrangement? If the later, replacing a standard switch with a dimmer switch is a simple swap. There should be a connection for power (hot) in, switched hot out, and a ground connection. Most dimmers have wire coming out of them in lieu of screw connections. So, you will need appropriately sized wire nuts, which may come with the switch. The ground (typically green insulation) wire need to be connected to either the metal box or the bare copper wires within the box. Depending on the number of ground wires, you may need a larger wire nut.

Ummm, translate to English please?

I can verify at this point that if the GFCI outlet is tripped, the light does still work... haven't checked it at the breaker. To answer the first question in the last paragraph, it appears to be a single panel with both a GFCI outlet and a light switch, looks like this:


(except my outlets are oriented 180 degrees compared to this photo...)

Edit: for bulbs, I might be thinking of these:

[www.amazon.com]
(Dimmer: [www.amazon.com])

vs.

[www.amazon.com]




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Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/29/2020 07:40PM by PeterB.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: Speedy
Date: August 29, 2020 07:43PM
Quote
PeterB
I have a bathroom which has a combo GFCI outlet / light switch, for which I'd like to be able to dim the lights.

She will be more impressed with candles.



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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: PeterB
Date: August 29, 2020 07:47PM
Quote
Speedy
Quote
PeterB
I have a bathroom which has a combo GFCI outlet / light switch, for which I'd like to be able to dim the lights.

She will be more impressed with candles.

Actually the dimming is for me, not anyone else. But any woman I'd have over to my place is more likely to be impressed with the lights having adjustable colors and a remote, than candles ... which are a fire hazard. nono smiley




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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: Carm
Date: August 29, 2020 07:50PM
Regarding GFCI in a restroom, they are usually only for outlets on counter (20 amp) and an outlet near a water source. Lights and outlets are usually not mixed on the same circuit leading to the panel.

Installing a dimmer is pretty simple. Make sure you do your homework on them(brand etc.,) my lLutron didn’t have an issues with dimmable LED lights.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: PeterB
Date: August 29, 2020 08:01PM
Quote
Carm
Regarding GFCI in a restroom, they are usually only for outlets on counter (20 amp) and an outlet near a water source. Lights and outlets are usually not mixed on the same circuit leading to the panel.

Installing a dimmer is pretty simple. Make sure you do your homework on them(brand etc.,) my lLutron didn’t have an issues with dimmable LED lights.

Yep, this is one of two GFCI's in the bathroom, which are not too far from the sinks. The Lutron I linked above... some of the comments on the bulbs I also linked above, say they used with Lutron and it worked, but they don't specify this particular Lutron. Still, I'm looking at this from the price perspective: $15-20 for bulbs, plus $25-30 for dimmer (and the work of wiring up), versus $25 or so for LED's with remote (with no work involved).




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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/29/2020 08:01PM by PeterB.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: MrNoBody
Date: August 29, 2020 08:03PM
I have neither Alexa nor Google...
You need neither to control compatible devices with Smart Life or Kasa apps.
Just a iOS or Android device with the app installed & a wifi connection.



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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: space-time
Date: August 29, 2020 09:09PM
combo GFCI outlet / light switch

I think these are different things, and I see you already posted a picture. leave the GFCI alone, installed the dimmer.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: Carm
Date: August 29, 2020 09:11PM
Quote
MrNoBody
I have neither Alexa nor Google...
You need neither to control compatible devices with Smart Life or Kasa apps.
Just a iOS or Android device with the app installed & a wifi connection.
Can confirm, the Kasa line works well with Alexa or just the Kasa App. Installed Kasa three way and single switches in my kitchen, dining room, hallway. I hate having to get up because someone left the kitchen/hall/dining room lights off. My kids was like “what!” After she heard me ask Alexa to turn off the lights.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: mattkime
Date: August 29, 2020 10:33PM
Quote
macphanatic
Please cite in the electric code where a gfci and light can't be on the same circuit. I have never heard of or read this in the National Electric Code (NEC), also known as NFPA 70. Some local jurisdictions may have requirements that exceed the NEC.

Apologies, I stand corrected. Seems like I hit a nerve.



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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: August 30, 2020 09:03AM
Quote
mattkime
Quote
macphanatic
Please cite in the electric code where a gfci and light can't be on the same circuit. I have never heard of or read this in the National Electric Code (NEC), also known as NFPA 70. Some local jurisdictions may have requirements that exceed the NEC.

Apologies, I stand corrected. Seems like I hit a nerve.

No, you didn't. I was wondering if you were aware of something I wasn't. The codes are horrible to read even if you do so for an entire career. Most people, especially code enforcement, spout criteria as facts but can't point to the actual code requirement.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: PeterB
Date: August 30, 2020 12:52PM
OK guys, tentatively I've gone with the dimmable LED's with remote. I figure if they don't work or are no good, I can always return them and go with the more expensive/more work alternative.




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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: mattkime
Date: August 30, 2020 05:20PM
Quote
macphanatic
No, you didn't. I was wondering if you were aware of something I wasn't. The codes are horrible to read even if you do so for an entire career. Most people, especially code enforcement, spout criteria as facts but can't point to the actual code requirement.

I read the code about 6 months ago - apparently enough time for me to misremember most bits. Where I live, they don't seem to look too closely behind wall plates.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: Carm
Date: August 30, 2020 08:09PM
PeterB just get the right light base. The one you linked is for twist lock GU10. Two metal pins with head.
Never mind - I see the option for e26/e27



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/30/2020 08:12PM by Carm.
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Re: Question about installing a dimmer switch
Posted by: PeterB
Date: August 31, 2020 08:07AM
Quote
Carm
PeterB just get the right light base. The one you linked is for twist lock GU10. Two metal pins with head.
Never mind - I see the option for e26/e27

Yep, what I need is indeed twist lock GU10... that's what the fixture has.




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