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Light Dimming Options: Control Different Lights From One Switch?

I am installing new lighting in my bathroom, to include a pair of side lights and an overhead light. I would like to control the lights from a single switch to get the following results

  • All off
  • Only sides are on
  • Only overhead is on (optional)
  • All on

My weak recollection of electronics is this requires an SP3T (or SP4T) switch but I am not seeing anything like this available for home lighting. Is there some way to do this?


I guess alternatively I could install a dimmer that impacts the sides and the overhead. In that case, what is the current recommendation for dimmers that operate on CFLs?

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Posted 2012-07-22T23:53:49+0000  by holadaa holadaa

Hi holadaa,  You're making this installation a lot more complicated than it needs to be.  Simply plan on two switch.  One for the side lights and one for the overhead.  Then a dimmer can be used for each and you can have them all on or choose only one on.  Also cfl dimmers for each can be used. 

Skylark Contour 150 Watt Single Pole/3-Way CFL/LED Dimmer, WhiteGo to and enter CFL dimmer. I hope this helps.  Stukas

I am a Master Trade Specialist with the home depot

Best Answer

Posted 2012-07-23T19:23:32+0000  by Stukas

Hello holadaa,


Thanks for your question and welcome to the community!


It sounds like you have a background in LV/electronicsso this will assist you in getting the right control for you.

Let's get started.


Before you continue reading, the sequence of illumination you want isn't a typical application. Our in-stock options shown below would be easier and way more affordable than the special order/installation options. The simplest option would be opting for Stuka's reponse on this post, and use 2 dimmers to get them controlled separately. However, to get what you want on a single gang switch, refer to the remainder of this post....



In terms of our in-stock itemswe are only going to carry simple single throw switches and specific rated dimmers

that can work on CFL bulbsThe thing that is going to be against you in all options is that the switch you want would

be in one single gang boxThis usually presents an issue with wiring and product availabilitysince most switches

and dimmers for separate devices are generally put on 2 or more gang devices


This is especially true for dimmerssince the components inside even for one control has only enough room for

inside 1 gang boxIn the simplest form of a dimmer to control everything that would work for a CFLour in-stock C•L dimmers can control all lights at once for CFL or LED lampsThe end result would be all lights being controlled by

one dimmerTo get them separated as you wantedyou'd need to use 2 dimmers that would control them



With that saidthe only switches similar to what you want that we carry (not dimmersin stock is one shown and

linked belowIt is sold with the standard Leviton switches and can control 3 devices on a single gang switch

Leviton Decora 15-Amp 3-Rocker Combination Switch


All this switch would do is turn the power off and on to 3 separate devicesA 2 device rocker would be essentially

the samebut the 3rd switch could control each individual side lightAll in-stock items mentioned won't give you a

master override  to have all on or offit would need to separate dimmers for the side and overhead lights


As stated earlierwe sell no dimmer in our store that can carry more than one light circuitsave for our ceiling fan

combo (which wouldn't workdimmers or the one shown belowBe aware this can separate both the side lights and

overhead lightbut it would not control them both at the same timeAdditionallythe bottom device is a timer,something you may or may not want...

Lutron Combination Dimmer Timer Maestro


Everything I posted above was for in-stock options in our storeEvery item that was linked or shown won't give you

the exact specs you wantbut it is what we carry.


Now....let's talk about what you can put in there to get what you wantThis will be done through special orderand it

may need to be done by a licensed electrician. I say this because Miguel told me of software needing to put into the systems, something that an electrician trusted by Lutron could do.


I did a little research for you in product availability given your demandsFirstI started with the Leviton L-200 catalogto see if we had any devices that would best suit your dice.


The next step was checking one of our partners in dimmersLutronto see if we could get the item for youI called

their number @ 1.888.LUTRON1 and spoke to technical support member Migueland he gave me some options for you.


There are 2 systems that they carry on their website that may be some of the best options for youthe

 Lutron Spacer System or the RadioRa2 System.


In the RadioRa 2 systeman IR-driven control system that can be customized . Here is a screenshot of it 

below to find out more.

RadioRA 2 by Lutron

The other option would be more specific to youwhich is the Spacer SystemMiguel told me that this system would

 NOT be compatible with CFL bulbsIt would take at least a 2-gang box to make this work in the sequence you

wantedAlsomake sure your bulbs are dimmable before purchasing any as wellFrom what he told me about the

system without getting into too much detailthis was the closest thing I found that would best suit what you wanted

(sans the CFL incompability).


Lutron Spacer System


I would strongly advise you to call their customer service number shown above and linked above to get more 

information from Lutron


Unfortunatelythe SP3T switches you are referring to are used typically for motor control systemssuch as a ceiling

fan in a homeI have not seen a switch of this type ever in my storebut that is not to say there are other lighting

systems out thereThese are the options all shown and listed above that we or an professional electrican get for you


I hope this has helped you outand good luck with your project.




Posted 2012-07-23T20:08:38+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
You're right, I am over thinking this, probably because my wife bought some fancy (read: expensive) hammered bronze plates before we had the circuitry figured out and I was trying to fit a switch solution around them. Ah well! I will probably go for two circuits with a dimmer on each. Thanks!
Posted 2012-07-23T22:05:21+0000  by holadaa
@aboveaveragejoe, I really appreciate the detailed response. Lots of good ideas here!
Posted 2012-07-23T22:06:16+0000  by holadaa
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