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Dimmer switches

lv

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,019
i have about 8 of these light switches with separate sliders in my finished basement - even when fully on, they create noise which seems to be reduced by turning the switch off.

Since we never use the dimmer functionality, I'm considering replacing them all with conventional non-dimmer switches - can I expect an even greater drop in noise with the non-dimmer switches vs dimmers turned fully off?

Thanks
 

Kyle B

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,092
When a dimmer is 'off', it's 'off'. You shouldn't be getting any noise. Possible they're only getting really close to 'off', in which case yes, you would get noise.

You could remove the bulbs to test, instead of swapping out all the switches. That would tell you the same thing with ALOT less effort!
 

ylo

Member
Messages
789
... can I expect an even greater drop in noise with the non-dimmer switches vs dimmers turned fully off?

Thanks
Probably not . . . with a dimmer all the way down (IME) it is essentially off and out of the circuit. Some new dimmers have been redesigned to better work with LEDs, so you could try one of these first; maybe the new circuitry reduces induced line noise. While you are doing the install, check for proper ground (bare copper) and neutral (usually white).
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,192
When a dimmer is 'off', it's 'off'. You shouldn't be getting any noise. Possible they're only getting really close to 'off', in which case yes, you would get noise.

You could remove the bulbs to test, instead of swapping out all the switches. That would tell you the same thing with ALOT less effort!
Isn't it the dimmer itself (triac if I recall), chopping up the waveform, that creates the noise...presumably with bulbs installed or not?
 

Jeff Gehring

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,355
Isn't it the dimmer itself (triac if I recall), chopping up the waveform, that creates the noise...presumably with bulbs installed or not?
Yup. Depends on the primary coupling mechanism. If it's electric field coupling (say capacitive coupling between wire runs in a tray), the load current being there or not is less relevant. If it's magnetic field coupling, different story. Probably a mixture of both. I hate triac dimmers. If I want a light dimmer, I just build a new amp...
 

Bruce Gerard

Member
Messages
136
Yup. Depends on the primary coupling mechanism. If it's electric field coupling (say capacitive coupling between wire runs in a tray), the load current being there or not is less relevant. If it's magnetic field coupling, different story. Probably a mixture of both. I hate triac dimmers. If I want a light dimmer, I just build a new amp...
The only thing I hate more than Triac dimmers are compact fluorescent lights ( CFL ) I think they should be banned
 

jay42

Member
Messages
7,055
I have one of these things in my house...it has both a slider and an on/off switch...any chance of this OP?
 

lv

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,019
I have one of these things in my house...it has both a slider and an on/off switch...any chance of this OP?
Mine also has both a slider and an on/off switch - looks like this:

 

ylo

Member
Messages
789
My understanding is that the new dimmers do not use the old triac circuits, which do not work with most LED bulbs. So, worth a try. Just make sure the dimmer is LED qualified.
 

lv

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,019
Thanks guys. Even fully on, its amazing ho wmuch noise these switches cause. When I switch them off (using the switch, not lowering the slider) I get an amazing reduction in noise. I thought it was my rig but its the damn switches. In my last house (no dimmers) when I went to the dimarzio areas, my strat was quieter than my humbucker guitars.
 

BOBSMITH

Member
Messages
87
Since you don't use the dimmers anyway, replace them with conventional on/off light switches. You will be
glad you did :D
 

Geetarpicker

Member
Messages
2,959
I've seen and used dimmers that had both a full on bypass position and a full off bypass. The ones I found looked like a traditional wall switch, however the switch toggle was clear with a neon bulb lighting it, and there were two solid click positions full up and full off. I'm not sure if you can still get these but they worked well. If all else fails I would then suggest to make the entire house dimmer free. I used to live in a townhouse where I could always tell (by the noise pickup on my tele) that our neighbors were having dinner. I'm pretty sure dimmer noise is airborn and will still cause problems even from a totally different AC circuit.
 

J M Fahey

Member
Messages
2,673
Most cheap dimmers do not go **fully** ON or OFF but, say, 5% and 95% duty cycle, which is fine as lighting is concerned but not too kosher as far as interference.
In any way triacs have to be turned ON to pass current so need a few volts across them to do so, there you have a residual noise built in.
Even 2 or 3 V , relative to a 120V line is already *some* jump.
So yes, if you don't need them, a conventional ON/OFF "copper" switch will be better.

I suspect (might be wrong, of course) that your home type dimmers do not have a real metallic contact shorting them when set to ON but simply are fully triggered "as soon as possible" which is not the same.

Or: "why do it in harware when it can be simulated in software for less $$$ ?"
 




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