While it’s normal for a dimmer switch to be warm to the touch when in operation, at no point should it feel really hot, like it’s overheating. Pinpointing the exact cause of your dimmer being too hot can be tricky. Keep reading to learn how hot your dimmer can be, and the steps you can take to determine why your dimmer is too hot.
Signs That Your Dimmer Switch Is Too Hot
- Your Dimmer Exceeds the Recommended Temperature
The safety organization Underwriters Laboratories (UL) says dimmer switches are safe when operating at or below 195 degrees Fahrenheit. The average dimmer typically operates at around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you think your dimmer switch exceeds this recommended threshold, it may be time to contact an electrician.
- The Dimmer Switch Is Overloaded
Dimmer switches can usually handle up to 1500 watts of electricity at a time. If you have 16 light bulbs at 100 watts each being controlled by one dimmer, this would equal 1600 watts, which means that the dimmer switch is overloaded.
A hot dimmer switch can pose a fire risk and can cause the switch to break down. The heat can cause the thermoplastic coating that covers the wires to crack and lose their insulating ability, leading to dangerous short circuits and arc faults.
How an Electrician Would Figure Out the Maximum Load for a Dimmer Switch
The wattage rating for a light fixture is usually printed on a sticker on the light fixture. A dimmer switch’s wattage rating is normally stamped into its mounting bracket. To determine how much of the dimmer switch’s wattage rating is being used, you’ll need to:
- Determine all the light fixtures controlled by the hot dimmer switch.
- Add each light fixture’s wattage rating together.
- Compare the total to the dimmer switch’s wattage rating. If the total fixture wattage exceeds the dimmer wattage rating, this is the likely reason why your dimmer switch gets hot.