Broken GE Z-Wave Dimmer Switch: Did I do that?

Hello All, been a while.

I have a SmartThings hub and about a dozen of the GE Z-Wave toggle-style dimmer switches in my home. Today I think I broke one of them. I’m looking for confirmation that I did, or barring that, what I might do to troubleshoot.

Long story short, before installing a new (definitely not automated!) garbage disposal, I tested it by plugging it in to a outlet controlled by a switch that has worked great for years. I turned it on and it started, but within a second I heard a “click” and the disposal stopped, along with floor lamps in similarly controlled outlets. The switch doesn’t respond to presses. The blue light is out. The SmartThings app says the switch is unavailable. Still, nothing else on the same fuse is out. It’s not the fuse.

What do you think happened? The disposal says it’s 8.1 amps, but does it spike early? The switch admittedly has been there several years. Did it just decide to fail?

All considerations welcome. TIA

Edit: typos and clarity

One should never, ever put an inductive load (i.e. a motor) on a dimmer switch. Yes, you most likely fried the switch.

Edit: just realized you were only running a test, and not trying to automate the disposal… Thank you for placing safety above convenience! :slight_smile:

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Dimmer switches should not be used to control regular wall outlets for exactly this reason. It’s normally a code violation in most US jurisdictions, whether the switch is smart or dumb.

It’s also a violation of the NEC (national electrical code) 406.15

Dimmer-Controlled Receptacles. A receptacle supplying lighting loads shall not be connected to a dimmer unless the plug/receptacle combination is a nonstandard configuration type that is specifically listed and identified for each such unique combination.

There are some outlets which can take either motors or dimmers depending on which socket you use (and the lamp socket has to be labeled) , but you would know if you had one of those.

As for why it’s against code, physics. :wink:

Real pictures from a situation where somebody plugged a small appliance into an outlet controlled by a dimmer. They didn’t try to dim the appliance. They just plugged it in and turned it on.

If you want to control outlets with switches, use regular on/off switches, not dimmers, and check the ratings to make sure they can handle 15 A and a 1/2 HP motor. ( that’s a standard outlet in most US jurisdictions.)

If you want wall switch dimmer control of a floor lamp, use a battery powered or battery free wall switch and either a dimmer pocket socket plugged into the outlet or a smart bulb in the lamp.

The new Lutron Aurora dimmer switch cover works great with smart bulbs connected to a hue bridge, for example: we are using these at our own house.

But there are lots of other safe options as well. :sunglasses:

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