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Thread: Maestro Dimmer refuses to operate where other dimmers work fine

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by az1324 View Post
    Do the lights all share a common HOT wire? If so, what happens if you add the non working string of lights in parallel with a working string of lights (on the same dimmer, assuming it won't exceed max rating)?
    I am not an electrician so i'm not certain whether they share a common hot wire. And I also won't be removing all of the switches myself to do any testing as it's a challenge to stuff everything back in the box. I learned that the hard way. But again, exercises like this don't do me any good, unless an explanation is included for what it would mean if it did or didn't work? I can't have someone take it out, then let's for example sake, say that they do share a common hot wire and we do add the non working lights in parallel and they still don't come on? what does it mean? and what if they do come on then? What would that mean? What would the fix be? And why are we referring to them as 'non working' lights when they work just fine! That's the baffling part. And I hate to keep repeating it, but if they work with four other kinds of switches, 3 of which were dimmers and the current switch that is on it, a standard on/off, then why would we think that the lights are non-working? When we put back the dimmer we removed which was over 15 years old, it works fine too!

  2. #12
    Oh ok I will refer to non working as reluctant and working as copacetic.

    1. Not all dimmers work the same way
    2. Not all circuits are wired the same way
    3. Not all fixtures are the same (even if they look the same superficially)
    4. Humans err

    Clearly there is some non-obvious issue here so it is going to take thorough investigation and documentation to resolve it. Otherwise it is just the blind leading the blind.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by az1324 View Post
    Oh ok I will refer to non working as reluctant and working as copacetic.

    1. Not all dimmers work the same way
    2. Not all circuits are wired the same way
    3. Not all fixtures are the same (even if they look the same superficially)
    4. Humans err

    Clearly there is some non-obvious issue here so it is going to take thorough investigation and documentation to resolve it. Otherwise it is just the blind leading the blind.
    I appreciate any and all input from anyone trying to help. Heck, that's why I reached out in a forum. And don't mean to convey otherwise. But I'm somewhat limited to what I can physically investigate due to location of lights (height and pitch of ceiling). So in order to do that kind of work, I would have to pay an electrician to come back on what could be a wild goose chase that ends up costing a lot of money. I was hoping for some 'ideas' on what the issue could be so that as steps are taken, I know what other steps to take next, rather than finding out what didn't work, coming back to forum to report that, and then wait for the next reply on what should be tried next. :-) Hope that makes sense! i understand completely if that approach doesn't work for everyone. Doesn't mean I don't appreciate the effort.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by violetta View Post
    I appreciate any and all input from anyone trying to help. Heck, that's why I reached out in a forum. And don't mean to convey otherwise. But I'm somewhat limited to what I can physically investigate due to location of lights (height and pitch of ceiling). So in order to do that kind of work, I would have to pay an electrician to come back on what could be a wild goose chase that ends up costing a lot of money. I was hoping for some 'ideas' on what the issue could be so that as steps are taken, I know what other steps to take next, rather than finding out what didn't work, coming back to forum to report that, and then wait for the next reply on what should be tried next. :-) Hope that makes sense! i understand completely if that approach doesn't work for everyone. Doesn't mean I don't appreciate the effort.
    It is always possible someone who had a similar experience will see the thread and post the magic answer.

    Otherwise, I suggest you start by documenting the wiring in the switchbox with clear photos. For the reluctant set of lights, document a working dimmer installed w/ clear photos of the wiring and list make/model, document the non-working maestro dimmer installed w/ clear photos of the wiring.

  5. #15
    Wild guesses: The Maestro was wired backwards (repeatedly?). Or the wiring is oxidized and doesn't make a good connection with the screw terminals on the maestro but works with wire nuts.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by az1324 View Post
    Wild guesses: The Maestro was wired backwards (repeatedly?). Or the wiring is oxidized and doesn't make a good connection with the screw terminals on the maestro but works with wire nuts.
    Thank you for the wild guesses. ;-) Everything helps. Again, will log these ideas until electrician can come back. But wasn't sure what you mean by wired backwards repeatedly. Because the electrician did multiple swaps of the adjoining dimmers, trying each one and switching them up to see that they all work on every set of lights but that last one. Unless you meant the Maestro to be wired backwards INSIDE the unit itself? meaning the exterior connections would be backwards? is that possible? I can't speak for wiring not making a good connection, as again, the wiring is the same on all of them. Appears to have all been originally installed at the same time and ends were clean looking and worked fine with all other dimmers. So the mystery remains unsolved. ;-) If we ever figure it out, I will post here!

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by violetta View Post
    Thank you for the wild guesses. ;-) Everything helps. Again, will log these ideas until electrician can come back. But wasn't sure what you mean by wired backwards repeatedly. Because the electrician did multiple swaps of the adjoining dimmers, trying each one and switching them up to see that they all work on every set of lights but that last one. Unless you meant the Maestro to be wired backwards INSIDE the unit itself? meaning the exterior connections would be backwards? is that possible? I can't speak for wiring not making a good connection, as again, the wiring is the same on all of them. Appears to have all been originally installed at the same time and ends were clean looking and worked fine with all other dimmers. So the mystery remains unsolved. ;-) If we ever figure it out, I will post here!
    Hi violetta,

    This is the problem:

    You have older, Halogen PAR lamps with DIODES in them. The Maestro usually works with these bulbs without problem. Usually.

    Diodes are polarity-sensitive (Yes, I know the house current is AC, but trust me on this). This only happens when there are two or more fixtures on the dimmer.

    The only way to resolve this is to start swapping out some of the halogens. The diodes lamps were made at the factory without any attention paid to polarity because it doesn't matter (until you try using more than one PAR lamps on a micro-processor style dimmer).
    You can swap out with spare diode bulbs (if you have any) until you find the right combination of bulbs that will work together.
    The easiest way is to purchase new PAR halogen lamps. They won't have diodes in them. I'm going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling you will find the the lamps up there are old Sylvania Capsylite branded bulbs.
    I know this sounds silly, but this is exactly what's happening.

    I had a job about ten years ago where this exact thing happened. It makes no sense because everything works to turn the lights on except the one dimmer but that dimmer works fine everywhere else! My job involved a stairway (why is it always the hard-to--reach areas?) that had five recessed cans. They worked fine if you wire nutted the wires together.They came on with a standard switch. They worked with a rotary dimmer. But the Maestro? Not until I changed just one of the five bulbs.

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  9. #18
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    Lightbulb

    Hi David,
    I'm immensely thankful for your insight and help. I have a feeling just from reading your solution, that it's likely to be the answer. And I'm very grateful for you taking the time to share your thoughts on this. As you can see the thread was quiet for a long time with no one offering any answers, least of all anyone at Lutron. I tried tech support a few times and no one had a single theory on what it could be. It will require a tall ladder for me to 'test' the theory but I will do it and when I do, I'll let you know if it did the trick!
    Thank you again.



    Quote Originally Posted by David C. View Post
    Hi violetta,

    This is the problem:

    You have older, Halogen PAR lamps with DIODES in them. The Maestro usually works with these bulbs without problem. Usually.

    Diodes are polarity-sensitive (Yes, I know the house current is AC, but trust me on this). This only happens when there are two or more fixtures on the dimmer.

    The only way to resolve this is to start swapping out some of the halogens. The diodes lamps were made at the factory without any attention paid to polarity because it doesn't matter (until you try using more than one PAR lamps on a micro-processor style dimmer).
    You can swap out with spare diode bulbs (if you have any) until you find the right combination of bulbs that will work together.
    The easiest way is to purchase new PAR halogen lamps. They won't have diodes in them. I'm going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling you will find the the lamps up there are old Sylvania Capsylite branded bulbs.
    I know this sounds silly, but this is exactly what's happening.

    I had a job about ten years ago where this exact thing happened. It makes no sense because everything works to turn the lights on except the one dimmer but that dimmer works fine everywhere else! My job involved a stairway (why is it always the hard-to--reach areas?) that had five recessed cans. They worked fine if you wire nutted the wires together.They came on with a standard switch. They worked with a rotary dimmer. But the Maestro? Not until I changed just one of the five bulbs.

  10. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by violetta View Post
    Hi David,
    I'm immensely thankful for your insight and help. I have a feeling just from reading your solution, that it's likely to be the answer. And I'm very grateful for you taking the time to share your thoughts on this. As you can see the thread was quiet for a long time with no one offering any answers, least of all anyone at Lutron. I tried tech support a few times and no one had a single theory on what it could be. It will require a tall ladder for me to 'test' the theory but I will do it and when I do, I'll let you know if it did the trick!
    Thank you again.
    Have you ever seen the long poles with a device on the end that grabs the light bulb? They're made for changing light bulbs on high ceilings without using a ladder. They may sell them at your local big box store. Make sure the end is designed for the size & shape of your bulbs.

    And here's another trick: You won't have to completely remove the light bulbs to test this. As long as you start unscrewing them enough so they no longer make contact with the socket base you'll be fine. Wire in the Maestro, turn it on to full bright, and start unscrewing bulbs one at a time until the remainder come on. They might come on with just one bulb unscrewed. It will definitely light up if there's just one bulb left unscrewed (Unless the last one is burned out!)

    I remember at some point seeing a technical bulletin regarding this. I'll search through my computer and online to see if I can find it and if I can I'll post it here.

    Good luck!

  11. #20
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    Thanks again. Yes I am aware of the device that grabs the bulb. Sadly I invested in one years ago only to discover when I first tried to use it that the size of the suction cup was just a tiny bit too large and I've yet to find one small enough. Even at Home Depot have not seen one that would work for these smaller bulbs. But I'm sure one exists. The pitch of the ceiling is also so high, that a typical extension pole may not even reach them. But I'll get to them one way or another! And all understood about loosening of the bulbs first. I will need the electrician to come back, because while I'm a pretty good do it yourselfer... this panel of light switches was so extremely tightly wired inside the box that when I once opened and attempted to do work, I spent a very long time trying to put it back together. And I don't want to mess with the other switches which all work fine. Thankfully this bank of lights is the least used so I've lived without the dimmer for months now. Thank you for your help!

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