1

I have a fixture (on a normal switch currently) I would like to control with a new dimmer switch. The fixture holds 16 bulbs which I have installed 16 60W Edison lights. So a total of 960 watts. Is it safe to use a 1000W Lutron dimmer with this setup? Or is that 960 wattage to close to the max of the switch to be considered safe?

11
  • One 60 watt light might not cost that much in electricity to use, but 16 do add up costs fast. Is it possible to use LEDs instead and only need maybe 10% of the wattage used?
    – crip659
    Dec 15, 2022 at 17:33
  • 2
    Yes, but not as pretty! And it's never on except for a couple of hours at night. A dimmer setup would add versatility to the mood of the space while saving electricity. I really only want to run it at full tilt at the start of a big party, etc. Dec 15, 2022 at 17:43
  • 3
    "Not as pretty" has changed a lot. First of all, you can pick a nice looking color temperature (so it doesn't look like a workshop) and CRI (so people and clothes look "right") - both have improved in recent years. Then you can pick bulbs that have the LEDs in a "filament style" rather than just in a flat area in the base - really makes a difference in the look. Dec 15, 2022 at 18:19
  • And, many LED bulbs now have a selectable CRI built in - you twist the base for a different color. That way you get to set up in the actual space and see what looks best. Smart bulbs may also mean you don't need the dimmer, you just tell them what to do...
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 15, 2022 at 18:52
  • You'll go broke on smart bulbs for a fixture this big. The newer 'fine filament' LED bulbs look really good IMO and are available in several color temperatures. Cost is a factor but the payback period is likely just a couple of years.
    – KMJ
    Dec 15, 2022 at 18:55

3 Answers 3

4

For full current usage there may be rules around how the device has to be installed in the box. Read over the documentation carefully. If there's no listed rules for usage at full load, go ahead and use it that way.

Do be aware that you're also adding a significant amount of heat to the room with this setup. Common space heaters are 1500W. This is two-thirds of that amount at full tilt, and potentially a significant load on air conditioning or enough heat to throw off any nearby thermostats.

2
  • Interesting about how the installation might be different. I'll pay attention to that for sure! Dec 15, 2022 at 17:46
  • 1
    @JohnLivermore as an example, the instructions for a 1000w Lutron dimmer I just pulled up say that you can use it at 1000w if it keeps the two ears that prevent installation of adjacent devices, i.e. if it's alone in a box or spaced out in a larger box as in two devices in a three gang box. If installed with devices on each side that rating is dropped to 650w.
    – KMJ
    Dec 15, 2022 at 18:53
1

Safe? It should be. Wise? No!

Assuming 4 hours on per day, that's 1,460 hours. Let's round to 1,500 for simple math.

Current average cost in the US ~ 16 cents per kWh.

1500 x 960W = 1,440 kWh x $0.16 = $230 per year

Typical replacement LED for a 60W incandescent is 10W.

1500 x 160W = 240 kWh x $0.16 = $38 per year, a savings of $192 per year.

In addition, while the heat generated would be equivalent to electric resistance heat in the winter (useful, but not great compared to more efficient systems), in the summer that would be a double-cost because you have to remove the heat.

If you are used to older LEDs and don't want to use them in this fixture because of light quality or the look of the bulbs, there are plenty of great bulbs with varying color temperature, high CRI and different styles.

Of course, with LEDs you need to make sure the dimmer and lights are compatible with each other, but Lutron has a tool for that.

8
  • 1
    With that many lights LEDS do make sense and they probably come in designs that do look good.
    – crip659
    Dec 15, 2022 at 18:01
  • 1
    And will not be running the dimmer almost at max wattage.
    – crip659
    Dec 15, 2022 at 20:35
  • 2
    Yeah really... OP if you were put off LEDs by a) the early LEDs that were f'n harsh, b) the early LEDs that had ugly bases, or c) cheapo LEDs.... they've really come along. The options are unbelievable when you get out of the dollar store. Dec 15, 2022 at 22:27
  • 2
    Yeah and I didn't even start on the options available to home-brew fixture Makers. The design options are over the moon, and better yet, you can do the whole shebang in 12/24V which is not only safer but the dimming is better than incandescent ever was. (using PWM dimming). Dec 15, 2022 at 22:31
  • 1
    I am a luddlite and don't use LEDs in the house yet, but only use one or two lights at a time so cost savings not that big of a deal. If I needed to use 16 lights you can bet I would be running to a store to buy LEDs, unless you gave me more than half of your major lotto prize(in Canada since it is tax free).
    – crip659
    Dec 16, 2022 at 0:13
0

That's a lot of lamps.

generally lamps are hard to start so I'd be looking to exceed their running current by a factor of 10, so you want a switch. that's good for supplying 80A.

Here in 240V land a 40W lamp measures 102 Ohms when cold, so that's 560W when it's starting.

If the lutron dimmer is designed to control 1000W of incandescent load you should be fine. if not you may be lucky if it lasts a week.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.