What Is A 3 Way Dimmer Switch?
When dealing with light switches, it’s worth appreciating that there is more to their on and off functionalities. For example, a 3 way dimmer switch save energy and helps create the perfect mood in the target room by controlling light levels. In addition, you get the convenience of turning on or off lights and adjusting their brightness with a slide of a button from one spot.
3 Way Dimmer Switch
A 3 way dimmer switch is an electrical appliance that allows you to control the amount of light in separate spaces from one point. As a result, you can achieve distinct lighting variations in two rooms without installing multiple switches. The essence is that 3 way dimmers bypass the on and off the functionality of current lighting systems with two switches controlling the same lighting fixture. 3 way dimmer switch is ideal for places where you need to turn on or off your lights from two locations, such as the top and bottom of a stairwell.
Types of 3 Way Dimmer Switches
The following dimmer switches are available to control dimmable LED, Halogen, and incandescent light bulbs:
Electronic low voltage switch
The electronic low voltage switch uses a transformer to convert 120 volts to 12V and 24 volts current that powers LED and CFL bulbs. It reduces line voltage to a safe level for electronic low voltage light bulbs.
Magnetic low voltage switch
The magnetic low voltage switch uses a step-down transformer to convert 120 volts down to 12V and 24 volts for use in incandescent and halogen bulbs.
Multiple load switches operate a combination of CFL, halogen, and incandescent bulbs. They are suitable for other technologies, including table lamps, ceiling fans, exterior lights, etc.
How a 3 Way Dimmer Switch Works
A 3 way dimmer switch operates by replacing one of the light switches that control your light fixture. The remaining switches will also control the same light fixture. So when you install a 3 way dimmer, you will, in effect, have one dimmer switch adjust the bulbs’ brightness in the circuit and one or more switches that turn the lights on and off. Of course, you don’t want to render the other switches useless by turning off the dimmer. You will play with the on/off toggle switch and push button.
Adjusting Power Supply Voltage
A 3 way dimmer switch adjusts the voltage supply to the light fixture. You can turn down the lighting level by turning the knob on the switch to reduce the power supply to the bulb. Using the 3 way dimmer switch ensures your bulbs last longer than with a standard non-dimming switch.
Compatibility With Bulbs
A 3 way dimmer switch works with regular bulbs and LEDs. It’s essential to check that your bulbs are compatible with a 3 way dimmer before installing one in your home. You will need to purchase a specific bulb type for your new dimmer switch that is compatible with dimming functions. You can scrutinize your bulb packaging or the product description to determine this.
How to Set Up a 3 Way Dimmer Switch
There are two methods of wiring a 3 way dimmer switch, including conventional and the newer CFL/LED compatible method.
The traditional wiring method for a 3 way dimmer switch involves pulling the power from the panel to one of the switches, then to the light from the switch, and then from the light to the other switch.
The newer wiring method for LED and CFL loads uses an extra wire to pull power from the panel to both switches and connects a special neutral connection at each switch location, thus allowing both switches to work independently.
3 Way vs. Multi-Location Dimmer Switches
A 3 way switch controls one light fixture from two different locations and commonly applies in hallways or stairwells where you want to turn the light on/off from either end. You turn your light on at one location, and when at the other spot, you can turn it off and vice versa.
A multi-location dimmer allows you to control the same light fixture from multiple locations. Instead of using just two switches, you can use as many switches as possible in any combination of single pole and 3 way switches. You can also integrate multi-location dimmer into intelligent home devices as it allows any device in the circuit system to control the dimming.
A 3 way dimmer switch adjusts the intensity of light from a single light source and allows you to create more ambiance in a room and save energy. It is helpful in a room where you want overhead light but occasionally need more subdued lighting. A 3-way dimmer switch controls a single light source from two different locations, such as at either end of a hallway or stairwell.
The switch commonly applicable in stairwells and hallways allows someone at either end of the hall or stairwell to control lights without going down to the other end and back again. You can get a 3 way dimmer that matches your regular lighting fixtures for a consistent look or give them decorative covers for an aesthetic look.