Did I kill my red dimmer switch? :-(

Well, I love my my smart dimmers, they work great with HomeAssistant and my existing Z-wave network. The one related to this post powers a carriage light outside my garage and a plug on the same circuit.

Today, I decided to wash my car using a power washer which draws a bunch of current. I plugged it into the plug associated with the dimmer. (The plug was turned on.) I turned the power washer on and it ran for a moment and then stopped. I thought, “hmmm, maybe the breaker tripped”; I checked and it was on. However, then I realized that the smart dimmer appears to be dead. No LED light, nothing.

This brings me back to my original question. Did I kill the dimmer? Is there anything I can do resuscitate it? If not, then does this mean that I can never use that plug for the power washer if I want a smart plug there? I am troubled because my old manual switch, just worked at all voltages and now it seems that I have to very careful with these nuances. This is also the plug that I need to use for my power washer and so could be challenging too.

Also the plug is maybe a month old. Do we think that a replacement would be covered under the warranty?


Dimmers are not rated for motor loads like fans, pumps, etc… and it is against the NEC to control an outlet with a dimmer. The dimmer may be dead. I’d try air gap or cycle breaker. If no response, probably dead.


Following up on what @harjms said and on your question about using a smart switch.

As James pointed out, you cannot control a receptacle with any dimmer, either smart or otherwise. There are safety reasons which is why the NEC prohibits it in the US.

It’s strange that the receptacle and the light are on the same switch leg i.e both controlled by the same switch. A reputable electrician wouldn’t have wired it that way, but you can’t discount what homeowners and handymen do sometimes. Your best course of action would be to separate the two, leaving the switch/dimmer to control the carriage light and optionally adding a switch to control the receptacle (if you even need that . . . it’s questionable in a garage). Not sure how easy or difficult that would be, but things tend to be easier to get to in garages.

If you absolutely must use a switch on that leg, it has to be a switch and not a dimmer. You can use a smart switch, but you have to look at the power rating of the switch. The ratings will typically vary by load type. IIRC, the Inovelli switch is rated for about 3 amps motor load. That’s so it can operate something like a bathroom fan.

Electric power washers have a hugh draw. I just looked up specs for a 2300 psi electric power washer and it draws 15 amps. So cutting to the chase, I doubt you’ll find any smart switch that will handle the load from an electric power washer. So the best thing to do if you want to keep using a smart switch is to remove that receptacle from that switch leg.

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@harjms and @Bry - thank you both for your perspectives. I understand the situation now. To be clear, I had the switch configured for on/off mode, but regardless, I get the point that I was drawing way more than the switch could handle.

This plug/light/switch setup was installed when my house was built many years ago and so either the electrician was lazy or codes were different. Either way, it sounds like I need an effective and permanent solution. I will look at my options to address the situation. Thank you again.

I believe there was a period of time where dimmers were allowed to be connected to receptacles, but they required a specific receptacle that only lamps could connect to. In any event, I don’t believe it’s ever been code to connect anything but a light to a receptacle.

I personally would keep the dimmer for the light, remove the receptacle from the switch and just cap it to hot so it’s always on.

@jl_678 Yea sorry for the bad news. I really like the dimmer with the larger LED and had hoped/commented the on/off had same sized LED. But it would be hard to differentiate the two and ppl would try to dim but only on/off.

I’d look at installing a new switch and break the tab on the outlet to make it a switched hot. You may have to pull another cable though.