How do I make a dimmer for my christmas lights?

I have some x-mas lights(the incandescent kind, not LEDs) hanging on the ceiling in my bedroom but they are a little too bright sometimes, so I thought it would be fun to attach some sort of dimmer switch to them. Do I need anything special or can I just hook up any old potentiometer I can find in my junk bin?

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Goodhart8 years ago
even if you could do it with just a potentiometer, you get a lot of ring from the bulbs (maybe not audible if they are tiny bulbs, buy you may get a reaction from any pets ;-)

However, if you use a properly rated one in combination with a triac and choke, you should be able to do this without much heat or ring.

here is one place that describes how it works

and for a slightly more complicated but safer dimmer, try here
Berkin8 years ago
I'm guessing it has to do with high-voltage potentiometers...
. A properly sized pot (high-power pots are often called rheostats) will do the job very well, but will generate a lot of heat (wasteful and possibly dangerous) when the lights are dimmed.
Haha, yes, I'm sure they do. Haven't you seen my Exploding Resistor video?
. Yes I did. And the exploding cap, too. Both are very interesting, but nothing I haven't done accidentally more than once. heehee
vodo8 years ago
lemonie8 years ago
Like NachoMahma said "no", you can't hook-up any old potentiometer. What will happen is either nothing until you turn the knob, and then the pot' will burn out (possibly quite violently), or the pot' will burn out immediately (possibly quite violently). If this is a mains operated set of lights I'd also recommend finding a mains dimmer switch.

cannedham160 (author)  lemonie8 years ago
what is a "mains operated set of lights"?
Like you see here in this Instructable

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