New Switches and Dimmer Upgrades
At Cutrona Electric, we have decades of experience installing new switches and dimmer upgrades for both commercial and residential projects.
Instead of diverting energy from the light bulb into a resistor, modern resistors rapidly shut the light circuit off and on to reduce the total amount of energy flowing through the circuit. The light bulb circuit is switched off many times every second.
The switching cycle is built around the fluctuation of household alternating current (AC). AC current has varying voltage polarity -- in an undulating sine wave, it fluctuates from a positive voltage to a negative voltage. To put it another way, the moving charge that makes up AC current is constantly changing direction.
In the United States, it goes through one cycle (moving one way, then the other) 60 times a second.
A modern dimmer switch "chops up" the sine wave. It automatically shuts the light bulb circuit off every time the current reverses direction -- that is, whenever there is zero voltage running through the circuit. This happens twice per cycle, or 120 times a second. It turns the light circuit back on when the voltage climbs back up to a certain level.