Why is my Leviton Motion Switch Getting Warm?

Here is a question regarding the installation of a motion switch. How many lights can be controlled without exceeding the maximum rating?

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Here’s a question from a site visitor regarding the installation of a Leviton motion sensor switch.



The question reads:

I installed a Leviton, PR 180 motion sensing switch.  I hooked it up to seven light fixtures.  Its load rating is 40W/VA Min 500W/400VA Max.   What does this mean?

The switch gets quite warm when the lights are on for a while.   Is that too many lights for the switch?  How many lights can I run off the switch?  What watts can they be?

Answer:

The most important piece of information here is the maximum watt rating of the device.  It is rated at 500W, 400VA maximum, so the main thing to concern yourself with here is the 500W.

If you are trying to run seven fixtures on this switch, the maximum wattage that each fixture can be is about 70 watts, with the total of all seven being equal to or less than 500W.  Looking at the VA rating, assuming that you have a supply voltage of 120, then the maximum current that you can switch with this device is 3.33A  (120V x 3.33A = 400VA).

I would venture to guess that you have more than the 500W maximum rating connected to this switch.  Just add up the wattages of all the bulbs in all seven fixtures to see if you have exceeded the 500w.  If so, you have three choices:

1.  Reduce the wattage of each fixture to get under the 500W
2.  Reduce the amount of fixtures that you want to control with this switch.
3.  Buy another switch with a higher maximum rating.

With most electronic lighting control devices such as motion switches and dimmers, being a little warm to the touch is normal, but getting noticeably warm is a sure sign that you have overloaded the maximum rating of the device.

Remember – Safety First!

Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician

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