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  1. #1

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    How to wire a dimmer switch?

    I have bought a small red bulb to try out developing Ilford Ortho+ by inspection and I want to wire it up through a dimmer switch to minimise the risk of fogging. But I can't get it to work!

    The dimmer switch has 3 terminals marked L1, L2 and Com. All I need is a simple circuit with switch, bulb holder and mains plug. Can anyone help?

    Bill

  2. #2

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    Looks to me like you have a 3 way dimmer switch (i.e. 2 switches controlling a single light). Here's the first reference I found googling "3 way switch single light": http://www.ehow.com/how_6196311_wire...ngle-pole.html
    "Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer

  3. #3
    mr rusty's Avatar
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    I have to say, if you don't know how to wire a dimmer switch, you shouldn't be attempting it - messing with mains can have unforseen consequences!. Having said that, its a 2 way switch. common is the main feed and L1 and L2 switch alternately when the switch is pressed in and out, so wire neutral to one side of the bulb and live to the other with the dimmer switch in series in the live feed connected to common and either L1 or L2 - it doesn't matter which.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr rusty View Post
    I have to say, if you don't know how to wire a dimmer switch, you shouldn't be attempting it - messing with mains can have unforseen consequences!
    Totally agree. Since you're in the UK, I assume you have 230V, and I would think twice the idea of messing with the wiring. I've had my share of incidents with circuits, and if you don't know what you're doing it can be dangerous. And AC works slightly different to DC (which is a bit easier to work with, at least in my opinion). Also, I hope you bought an incandescent bulb, as most CFLs won't work with dimmers.

  5. #5

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    Hi....

    Dimmers are just like switches except it's not ON and OFF. There are infinite "in between" between fully on and fully off. As already stated by previous posters, you appear to have a 3 way dimmer. You have a choice. You can either cap one of the "L" terminals or you could buy a regular dimmer. They'll both do the same thing.

    Imagine a simple circuit. You have 2 wires coming from your plug. They both connect to a light socket. It's always ON. Now, imagine cutting one of the wires and splicing in a switch. You can turn it on and off. Now imagine, replacing that switch with a dimmer. You can adjust it from off to on and in between. There you have it. Typically COM (common) goes to the plug side and the other part you called L1 and L2 goes to the lamp1 and lamp2.

    Now, you are dealing with a house-hold voltage. While it is not lethal in most situations, you must take special care since you'll be using it in darkroom where you can't really see and you have water/fluid. It CAN kill you in these situations. You'll need to be careful with wiring, take care to ground anything metal (if you use metal case for it), and depending on situations, use GFI (ground fault interrupter).

    If you aren't sure of what you are doing, I caution you and hope you get some local help. You may even be able to get some help from a place you purchased your parts. I do have an electrical license but I'm not able to see what you have exactly and I'm guessing what you have from your descriptions.

    But in a nutshell, what I said above is how you'd wire it.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  6. #6

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    Thanks, everybody. I had already tried exactly what you have described and will now conclude that the old dimmer switch I found in my garage is just faulty! I was just wondering if I was missing something. Re-reading my original question, it does look a bit as though I shouldn't be messing with wires doesn't it? I'm fine - honest!

    Bill

  7. #7
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tkamiya View Post
    Imagine a simple circuit. You have 2 wires coming from your plug. They both connect to a light socket. It's always ON. Now, imagine cutting one of the wires and splicing in a switch. You can turn it on and off. Now imagine, replacing that switch with a dimmer. You can adjust it from off to on and in between. There you have it. Typically COM (common) goes to the plug side and the other part you called L1 and L2 goes to the lamp1 and lamp2.
    No.

    To use as a simple switch, use connections COM and L1. Ignore L2 as this is only used when you use a second switch for two way switching. It is not for a second lamp.

    Two way switch wiring (you don't need this!): http://www.electronics-project-desig...itchWiring.GIF



    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  8. #8

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    Steve,

    I believe I said that in preceding paragraph.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  9. #9
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Yes. It was suggesting that L1 and L2 referred to Lamp one and Lamp two which I was disagreeing with.


    Steev.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by N467RX View Post
    Totally agree. Since you're in the UK, I assume you have 230V, and I would think twice the idea of messing with the wiring. ...
    Out of curiosity, what is the typical amperage on a household circuit in the UK?
    "Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer

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