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Installing a 3-way Dimmer Switch, Terminating a Dryer Power Cord and Supplying Power to a Water Softener

April 23, 2010

Question Eric asks:
Regarding a 3-way dimmer on a four-way circuit, I have a similar issues. My mechanical (standard) switches work perfectly but I can’t get a 3-way dimmer (to replace one of the 3-way switches) to work right. That is, it will not work in all switch positions. According to the vague user information published by the manufacturer (Lutron), it seems you need to use an accessory dimmer with a “Multi-location” 3-way dimmer. This seems completely ridiculous…but it has to be the case. The circuit works perfectly…but not with a dimmer. The dimmer only seems to work with power on the common. When on the runner – no go. Using the same exact wiring with the mechanical 3-way – no problem!
This is very frustrating…I guess I’ll have to buy an overpriced “accessory dimmer”. Unbelievable!!! What a scam.

Eric you don’t need the accessory dimmer. First check to ensure that you wired the new switch correctly. One of the screws on the dimmer is a different color that the other 2. This is the common and you will terminate either the power supply wire or the wire which goes to the light fixture to this screw. The other 2 wires are your travelers. These will connect to the brass colored screws. If you mix up one of the travelers and the common the switch won’t work in all positions.

Lutron also makes a dimmer switch which requires a master and slave combination. This will allow you to install 2 or more dimmers and dim the lights from all switch positions. I believe this is their Maestro series. If you only need to dim the lights from one switch then you may have the wrong Lutron switch. Try their Ariadni or Skylark series. These will work for you.


Randy Kelley asks:
I have a newer home with 4 wire outlet. My dryer played out mom gave me her 3 wire one. I removed my 4 wire cord to put on older dryer. When I removed 3 wire cord the colors are red, white and l blue. Colors on 4 wire plug red, black, white and green. So I guess red to red white to white. Where do black and green go?

The black should terminate to the terminal with the blue wire and the green will terminate to the dryer’s frame. If the neutral and ground or dryer frame are connected on the dryer with the 3-wire cord, then you need to separate them by either removing the bonding strap or the green wire connecting between the dryer’s frame and the neutral position on the terminal block. The article at the link below should be a little more helpful.

Changing an Electric Dryer’s Power Cord from a 3-Prong Plug to a 4-Prong Plug


John Reiss asks:
I have a 220v well away from my house. The water softener need a 110 volt source to power it. How can I wire 110v off of the 220v pump switch?

You can’t! The 200v pump circuit is probably 2 hot wires and a ground. The 110v circuit requires 1 hot wire, 1 neutral wire and 1 ground wire. You can’t tap 110v off of a 220v circuit without overcurrent protection. The 220v breaker will probably never trip if there is a problem with the 110v line. You also need to be concerned about overloading the circuit by adding the water softener.

If you have 2 hots, 1 neutral and 1 ground and adding the water softener won’t overload, then use the pump circuit to supply power to a sub-panel ahead of the pump and switch. Then use the correct size breaker to re-feed the pump and install a new single pole breaker for your 110v circuit.

If you do not have a neutral or the water softener will overload the circuit, then you need to install a new, dedicated 110v circuit.


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