Dimmer and Dumber

Fellow Inspectors.

20 year old townhome on slab, was apartment housing, now sold as single family home. Entire place is being updated, new kitchen, carpet and HVAC…
Three bedrooms on the second floor, each with a brand new ceiling fan and light with separate dimmer controls for each, placed in the switch box by the door.

As I normally do, I turned off the switch and checked all of the outlets. One came up with no power. I see this all the time for a floor lamp. I turned on the dimmer switch and sure enough my tester lit up. I looked at the ceiling lamp and sure enough it was working with the dimmer and so was the outlet.

All 3 bedrooms were wired exactly the same.
I explained to my client that having the dimmer control the outlet was not a good idea and recommended repairs.

Also had 3 outlets in the kitchen with open grounds, 2 were gfi.


Good catch. I wonder what a digital clock would do with less power…

Paul, do you know?

In case you need a little code backup, this has been in the NEC for years and years:

404.14 Rating and Use of Snap Switches. Snap switches
shall be used within their ratings and as indicated in
404.14(A) through (E).
(E) Dimmer Switches. General-use dimmer switches shall
be used only to control permanently installed incandescent
luminaires (lighting fixtures) unless listed for the control of
other loads and installed accordingly.

And for reference, there are no residential grade dimmers on the market that are listed for control of receptacles. Such dimmers are darned special (and accordingly expensive), intended for theatrical, motion picture and television studios, and similar locations.


I think Marco-polo has this one covered fairly well…:)…ah, the device attached to it if on a dimmer would more than likely simply turn off once it is below it’s operation voltage level…seems like a neat controlled test…lol

And NOPE…a light that the home owner plugs into a dimmer controlled receptacle and they PROMISE they will never move it…is not considered permanently installed…no matter WHAT they tell you…:wink:

Good catch. On a couple of occasions I have found the wrong type dimmer installed. There are different “dimmers” (rheostats) for fans and light fixtures. The homeowner will often go for the cheaper dimmer instead of the correct one.

The digital clock is the one I would worry about the least. Troubling would be something as simple as a lamp with a CFL in it or a fan. TVs would be interesting on a dimmer too. I imagine it would start out OK, develop a lot of interferance as the dimmer was dialed down, eventually dropping out or burning up. Modern TVs have a pretty wide mouth from the switching power supply but eventually it will reach a point that it can’t keep up.

Also…even if it DID function…drop the voltage down…WHAT goes UP…

won’t stay up…

Ask any female!

Sorry to hear that Barry…they do make a PILL for that problem fella…:wink: