A Must Have For Any Light Kit

So I recently found one of the best gadgets to add to my lighting kit. While some lights like my JTL have built in dimmers most PRO light kits do not and require the use of ND gels, diffusion cloth, a focusable fresnel, or physically moving the light to control the light output. The other option is an external dimmer pack which typically runs about$90-$150/ each. Standard household dimmers are ineffective for pro applications in that they were never designed to handle 500-1000Watt lights. They way the cycle the current also can create interference with mics and audio gear. Enter the Harbor Freight Router Speed control.
A small compact switch with 15Amp fuse protection and variable speed control. These things work like a charm and are capable of handling up to about a 1500W light, the switch will let you select full on, off, or variable where you dial in the amount of light you want specifically. Recently I was on a shoot where a practical light had been on in the background and at the right levels in my wider shots but I found when I moved in closer it was over-exposed, however because of continuity reasons I couldn’t just eliminate it. With my dimmer I could have just ran the practical lamp through the dimmer and brought it down to the correct levels. Anyone who routinely uses lighting should have a couple of these in there kit. The total cost of this handy unit is $12.49, and while there may be applications and uses for the more expensive dimmer packs, for most light kits this should work fine. I immediately bought 4 and will probably pick up a few more to keep in my kit.


6 Responses to “A Must Have For Any Light Kit”  

  1. 1 Anonymous

    Admittedly, $12.99 is a nice price for a complete unit, but the flat wire coming out the bottom leads me to believe that it is not grounded.

    Better would be:


    But that’s $40.

    Also, I have found 1k dimmers at Home Depot and 2k dimmers can be ordered. Be sure you get the ones witht he heat sinks as the lighter/cheaper ones are the “switching” ones that cause buzz.


  2. 2 freshdv

    It’s grounded. But it does cause a slight buzz or hum sometimes. Still a heck of a deal.

  3. 3 diane

    I use regular home 600W home depot dimmers which I wire up myself – never any interference unless I use them on fixtures over 100W or so. I think you should include your comment about “slight buzz” in the original blog entry. Clearly (for most people) this unit is not suitable for video use

  4. 4 diane

    should have said “over 1000W” not 100

  5. 5 freshdv

    Thanks for the comments, Diane. We actually used 4 of these dimmers extensively over the last three days, and they were invaluable. Will be posting more details after the Holidays, but I can tell you now that at any given time our set had nearly 10K watts of lights in use, and each dimmer was loaded to it’s max. The buzzing didn’t crop up with these lights (had a few ARRI kits, 350, 650, and 1-2Ks). The buzzing issue I had appears to only be affecting one of my softboxes, a 250watt Photoflex. Anyway, we’ll repost with more details on the lighting setup at a later date. Stay tuned! And thanks for your input and concern.

  6. 6 Kendal Miller

    Ok as Matt mentioned we used these on a recent shoot and they were invaluable. There really isn’t any hum at all, we put up to a 1300W load on each one and they handled it fine. We used 2 different wireless systems over two days and never had any interference or hum from these units at all. I stand by my original review I love them.

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