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Discussion Starter #1
With Canadian Tire and Lowes having had ridiculously low prices on LED bulbs the last few weeks, I went about replacing all the incandescent and CFL bulbs in the house with dimmable "daylight" LED bulbs (the "daylight" ones have a bluer-whiter light than the "soft white" ones, which tend to be a little yellower to my eyes and more like incandescent in some ways).

One of the fixtures, in the kitchen, now has the equivalent of 300W of very white light over the kitchen table, which, in the darkness of winter morning is a little intense for eyes that have just opened. So, I wanted to install a dimmer to take the edge off but still preserve the capacity for decent illumination when needed/desired. One of the nice things about the LED bulbs is that the dimmer can have a much lower wattage rating, because the bulbs are not drawing as much current.

I had an unopened Leviton dimmer (rated for 600W) that I thought I'd install. I cracked open the package, and thought I'd measure it before attempting to install (and yes, I read the instructions thoroughly). There seems to be no discernible resistance between any two leads from the dimmer, no matter how or what it is set to. Nothing wrong with the meter. Works just fine. But whether the dimmer control is up full or not, whether the push switch has been pressed or not, and no matter whether I look for resistances as high as 20meg between either of the black leads, or black and green leads, I'm reading open circuit.

My sense is that, for whatever reasons, the dimmer itself is shot, even though it was ostensibly new. On the other hand, one learns new arcane facts every day, so I'm wondering if there is something I didn't expect about such dimmers that maybe some of you might know. Is it actually functional, and for some reason I'm not reading any electrical continuity when there will be once everything is connected properly? I.E., is my otherwise trustworthy meter misleading me?
 

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The dimmer is probably fine, just hook up line and load and see if it functions, no need to even mount it just yet. Dimmers these days are a lot more involved than they used to be back in the rheostat times. If by chance the dimmer has a selection switch on what type of bulbs you are using, incandescent, cfl or led, make sure you have it set correctly. Although most new ones are plug and play.
 

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I don't know why, but in my house the old style bulbs last for years, while the CFL's and LED's last for only a few months at best.
 

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I don't know why, but in my house the old style bulbs last for years, while the CFL's and LED's last for only a few months at best.
I love the simplicity of the incandescent bulb but it needs to be rugged and efficient, unfortunately most times they are not. CFL is pure garbage and a waste of money, ban them altogether. LED has come a long way and will continue to get better. The difference in savings is noticeable, especially over time, if you switch a house over from incandescent to LED. As for your bulbs not lasting, it could be a multitude of issues, fluctuating or dirty power from the utility, grounding issues, too many renos and some weird circuits, etc. Is it an old house?
 

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I thought TRIACs were used for light dimmers. Make sense why you aren't seeing anything with the multimeter.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The dimmer is probably fine, just hook up line and load and see if it functions, no need to even mount it just yet. Dimmers these days are a lot more involved than they used to be back in the rheostat times. If by chance the dimmer has a selection switch on what type of bulbs you are using, incandescent, cfl or led, make sure you have it set correctly. Although most new ones are plug and play.
It's as simple a dimmer as can be had, with no settings for anything. One of these: Leviton Trimatron 600-Watt 3-Way Incandescent Rotary Dimmer, White-R62-06683-0IW - The Home Depot
What I don't understand is why there is no measurable continuity between any of its leads under any circumstances.
 

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I love the simplicity of the incandescent bulb but it needs to be rugged and efficient, unfortunately most times they are not. CFL is pure garbage and a waste of money, ban them altogether. LED has come a long way and will continue to get better. The difference in savings is noticeable, especially over time, if you switch a house over from incandescent to LED. As for your bulbs not lasting, it could be a multitude of issues, fluctuating or dirty power from the utility, grounding issues, too many renos and some weird circuits, etc. Is it an old house?
I think the house was built in 1989 or 1990 and we've been the only ones who have ever lived here.
 

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It's as simple a dimmer as can be had, with no settings for anything. One of these: Leviton Trimatron 600-Watt 3-Way Incandescent Rotary Dimmer, White-R62-06683-0IW - The Home Depot
What I don't understand is why there is no measurable continuity between any of its leads under any circumstances.
I don't know the inner workings of most dimming switches but I know they've changed over the years, especially recently. I'm sure if you took the one you have apart you could find something in it to give you a potentiometer like result but I'm sure the circuit will have a few other things that will prevent it from being that simple. If you want to see the numbers run up and down, hook up your meter in series between the dimmer and light and set it to amps.
 

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I don't know if you missed my previous comment, but this is what I would expect for a circuit inside your dimmer:

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks. I did see your previous note, but had just received a call from my son to pick him up so I likely did not process the content deeply.

Thanks for the schematic, as well. Such circuits would not likely show any stable DC resistance, but would show a brief fluctuation in resistance through the pot, fixed resistors, and caps. Admittedly, one would have to pay attention to notice it, because it would be brief. But I saw nothing of the sort.

I did buy another dimmer at Lowes, and once tonight's CFL games are not commanding my attention, I'll crack that one open and see if it shows the same behaviour. The odds of both being defective are slim to none, so I'll assume that if it behaves/measures similarly then that's what they do.
 

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You need a special dimmer for LED lighting, and the LED's themselves also have to be dimmable. Most are not. I had to switch 2 dimmers in the house when i went to LED lighting and I made sure the boxes said they were dimmable
 

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I'm no expert on dimmers but I bought it, installed it, and it works fine. Like a calculator, I don't need to know how it works. After all the effort your putting in to figure this out Mark, you'll soon be the expert your looking for.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So you didn't even try to connect the first one you had?
The diagram says "Black goes to this, and black goes to that". I figured I would like to know if there is any difference between this and that black; particularly given that the colour coding of the wiring in our house does not seem to conform to what the instructions with the dimmer indicate. The previous owners did a bunch of renovating. All of it reasonably well, but not particularly well-documented.

I bought a second similar dimmer at Lowe's yesterday. The staff were not very helpful. The guy they connected me with didn't know much about his stock or electrical matters in general. At least the dimmer was cheap, and the accompanying instructions seem to be clearer than the older one I opened up.

As a side-note, this one "measures" the same as the other one, so I guess a) they are both triac-based (welcome to the 21st century, Mark! :rolleyes: ), and b) the small bump in resistance I expected to see is probably too fast to register on my meter.

The LED bulbs are all designated dimmable, so I should be okay.
 

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I don't know why, but in my house the old style bulbs last for years, while the CFL's and LED's last for only a few months at best.
Same here. In the last 3 or so years I've replaced 1 incandescent bulb and that was the one in the shed. There is 1 led on the front porch which takes quite a while to light when it's cold.
 
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LED lights are supposed to emit a blue light that is annoying to humans on a subconscious level.

If you and you wife argue at the table more after the LED is installed try switching back to an incandescent bulb.
 

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Same here. In the last 3 or so years I've replaced 1 incandescent bulb and that was the one in the shed. There is 1 led on the front porch which takes quite a while to light when it's cold.
That's a CFL on your porch, they behave like that when it's cold.
 
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