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Have a great invention to help with gardening? Are you the self-reliant type that prefers Building It Yourself vs. buying it? Share and discuss your ideas and projects with other members.

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Old March 8, 2014   #1
Salsacharley
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Default Bargain Thermostat

I got a 24" x 48" heat mat this year, and when I plugged it in it went over 100 degrees F. I went to Home Depot and got a light dimmer switch, and after jacking it back and forth a few times I was able to stabilize the temp on the mat at 80 degrees. The dimmer switch only cost about $11. So far I think I'm pretty clever.
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Old March 8, 2014   #2
Worth1
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Amazing what free thought grade school science and common sense will do.

Keep in mind if you have a motor that has brushes the dimmer will work as a speed control.
You just have to have one that will handle the amperage draw of the device.

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Old March 8, 2014   #3
Cole_Robbie
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You just have to have one that will handle the amperage draw of the device.

Isn't that usually the problem, though, that a lot of people fail to follow that advice? Lights tend to not draw much amperage, so light dimmers are made for low amps, right? I have never wired one, thus all my question marks.
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Old March 8, 2014   #4
luigiwu
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So you plug your mat into the dimmer switch cord and then you plug the dimmer switch cord into the wall
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Old March 8, 2014   #5
Salsacharley
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Affirmative. The switch feels a little warm to the touch, but not much, and so far I haven't burned down my house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by luigiwu View Post
So you plug your mat into the dimmer switch cord and then you plug the dimmer switch cord into the wall
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Old March 8, 2014   #6
luigiwu
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awesome. gonna try this.
What temp would be ideal for peppers? I have peppers in a wet coffee filter that's been in a 86 degree setting for 2 weeks now. Only one thing has a little sprout leg. Was it too hot, do you think or should I wait a little longer before I re-start/plant??

Last edited by luigiwu; March 8, 2014 at 03:22 PM.
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Old March 8, 2014   #7
Cole_Robbie
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Farmtek's 48x20 heat mat pulls 107 watts. If yours is the same, it's probably fine.
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Old March 8, 2014   #8
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
You just have to have one that will handle the amperage draw of the device.

Isn't that usually the problem, though, that a lot of people fail to follow that advice? Lights tend to not draw much amperage, so light dimmers are made for low amps, right? I have never wired one, thus all my question marks.
The common household dimmer switches I found on line at Lowes will handle 15 amps.
One 150 watt light bulb will draw about 1.5 amps.

Yes many people dont follow the advice and cook their wiring in the fixtures.

The 15 amp dimmer will burn out before the main wire coming to it will or or trip the breaker.
For a modern home all wiring should be 12 gauge which is rated for 20 amp service.
The breakers should be 20 amps for no less than 12 gauge wire.
In other words dont put a 20 amp breaker on 14 gauge wire.
Another common mistake.
Then there is wire length to contend with.
To make it simple the longer the wire the bigger it needs to be.
But inside a regular poor man sized house this should not present a problem.

I hope I got all of this right and answered your questions.

Worth
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Old March 8, 2014   #9
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
Farmtek's 48x20 heat mat pulls 107 watts. If yours is the same, it's probably fine.
It draws 0.9 amps you should have no problem on a 15 amp dimmer.

Bear in mind that the dimmer wastes energy it has to go somewhere and in this case it would be heat.

Worth

Last edited by Worth1; March 8, 2014 at 03:31 PM.
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Old March 8, 2014   #10
Cole_Robbie
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I had no idea dimmers were rated for 15 amps. That's as much as any common household appliance will pull. I can't think of anything that pulls more than 1500 watts that is meant to plug into a typical residential outlet. Most houses I know of are wired with 15-amp circuits.
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Old March 8, 2014   #11
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
I had no idea dimmers were rated for 15 amps. That's as much as any common household appliance will pull. I can't think of anything that pulls more than 1500 watts that is meant to plug into a typical residential outlet. Most houses I know of are wired with 15-amp circuits.

I stand corrected some are and and some are 5 amp and so on.
Some are rated at 700 watts which would be 5 amps. I found a 15 amp Dimmer on line some place else and is was over $100.

http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=C...1z0yt1r%252Fpl


Worth

Last edited by Worth1; March 8, 2014 at 04:53 PM.
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Old May 2, 2014   #12
luigiwu
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I tried this and for some reason, my heating mat stopped working when it was hooked up to the dimmer. The dimmer was purchased at Ikea. Initially it worked great. Then I adjusted it and then the mat wasn't hot at all. I readjusted over the period of the day and nada. When I took the dimmer off, it worked fine again. I have the hydrofarm mat - purchased this year.

Last edited by luigiwu; May 2, 2014 at 05:29 PM.
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Old May 2, 2014   #13
Doug9345
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First question is there someway that you don't realize that exists to turn the dimmer off completely. I'm thinking along the lines of pushing it in to click it on and off.
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Old May 2, 2014   #14
luigiwu
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Yes. the control is a slider. all the down is off-ish. all the way up is way full-on. There is a red pinhole light that supposedly reflects the intensity I think. I tried different positions on the sliding scale. the mat never came back on again... until I took it off the dimmer...
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Old May 3, 2014   #15
loulac
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I’m pleased to see American inventiveness is still alive and kicking. Buying American from the shop next door is a plus, but if you feel more adventurous why not sail to China on e-bay, another proof of American inventiveness?
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trks...at=0&_from=R40
If times are not too hard for a few extra $$ you will find reliable WH series.
They should have directions for use written in English. If it is not the case all is not lost, see a demo on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mGT4av5n3o and directions for use translated into English on http://www.e-bookspdf.org/download/wh7016-manual.html free loading of documents.
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