Construction of a Dimmer Switch

Topics: Fluorescent lamp, Electric current, Incandescent light bulb Pages: 8 (2065 words) Published: April 5, 2013
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Ever want a room that has multiple purposes? That’s what a dimmer switch is made for. From it being a meeting room to a romantic dinner room, it all depends on how much light there is. A dimmer switch is a helpful electrical component that lets you adjust the light levels from nearly dark to extremely bright by simply turning a knob or sliding a lever. When you're decorating a home, light is everything. The light level in a room controls what you can and can't do. It can also make a big impact on how you feel. For example, a romantic dinner for two isn’t so romantic under a 1,500 watt light bulb. Also for some people, it may not be too easy to read with a single light bulb either. We will be conducting experiments testing which variable resistor has the most and least resistance to the electricity. Now, instead of having one specific shade of light, we can adjust it to however bright or dim we want it to be to help in different situations.


What materials can be used to make a dimmer switch?


If we replace the pencil lead with a piece of rubber tubing or an insulated copper wire, the brightness of the light bulb will decrease.


Dimmers were first introduced by Granville Woods in 1892 for theater use. The early dimmers were made for commercial purposes like theaters and halls. They were produced using heavy transformers and resistors. The quality of these early dimmer switches was not very good and made static-like noises in the circuit. In the 1960’s, Lutron made the first electronic solid state dimmer. The dimmer switch was made from solid state components which were more “capable”. The Dimmers’ life span increased greatly from months to years. As the electrical world developed, the image of dimmer switches changed. Instead of large heavy dimmers, small and light dimmers were introduced and began to take over the market. In the past, the main component of a dimmer switch was a variable resistor. A variable resistor is made of a movable contact arm and a still contact arm made of resistive material. The movable arm is connected to the electrical source and the still arm is connected to the bulb. By moving the movable arm further from the wires, it makes the electricity go through more of the resistive material, thus the electrical charge loses energy. While the closer it gets to the wire, the less resistive material it has to go through, so more energy goes to the bulb giving more light. The problem with this is that the energy that’s lost through the resistive material turns into heat. Energy is being wasted because there is no use for the extra heat, therefore it also wastes money. At the same time, the still arm could be dangerous because it could release so much heat that it fire or explode. The thing the electricity is used to power is also considered a resistor because it takes energy from the charging and uses it. The main difference would be that the thing being powered by the electricity has a purpose so not all of the electricity is not being wasted.

The resistive material used to make the still arm differ depending on how much energy you want to block. They use some of the energy passing through and control the amount of electricity in a circuit. There is some resistance to the current. Some of the best conductors are minerals and metals because they have electrons that are loose and could share atoms easily. Air, wood, glass, plastic, and rubber are the direct opposite of conductors. They have tightly bound electrons that can...

Bibliography: Frank, David V. Focus on Physical Science. Needham, MA: Prentice Hall, 2001. Print.
Miu, Karen N. "Electric Power." The World Book Encyclopedia. 2007 ed. Print.
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