How to Install a Dimmer Switch

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How to Install a Dimmer Switch

Staff Writer · Jan 12, 2011

Adding a dimmer switch to a room is a great do it yourself project. It is a cost effective way to change the mood to any room in the house. This is a project for beginners, intermediates and advanced do it yourselfers. However, depending on your skill level, it may take longer. For a beginner, set aside at least an hour to perform this project. A person who is advanced may be able to complete this type of project in 15 to 20 minutes.

There are several dimmer switch styles to choose from. You can purchase these kits at major home improvement stores. When compared to other methods of creating a soft light, the dimmer switch is a smart investment in time and money.

Preparation and Caution First

  • To begin it is best to gather all the needed tools for your dimmer switch project. Work with insulated tools to prevent shocks of electricity. You will need a Phillips and flat head screw driver, a wire cutter and a dimmer switch.
  • Turn off all circuit breakers to avoid getting electrocuted. If you have a fuse box instead, take out the fuse to the light switch that you are working with. This is a project that should be done in the daytime to allow plenty of natural light in so that you can see what you are doing.

Old Switch

  • Remove screws and light plate. This plate will be replaced with the new dimmer switch plate when you are done.
  • Remove the switch from the wall and the wires from the switch. It is as simple as taking the wire off the two screws.

Strip the Wire

  • Make a clean exposed wire. Use the wire cutters to strip and remove the top plastic portion of the wire. This will leave an exposed wire that will be used in the next step.

Line Up Hot Wires

  • Line up one black wire from the dimmer switch with one black exposed wire from the wall. Twist the exposed wires together and place a wire cap or wire nut on it. Repeat with the other black wire from the dimmer switch and the wall. Match the white wires in the same way and cap with a wire nut. It is important to match the correct wire by color to make sure the dimmer switch will work properly. Doing this now will save time in the end as you will have to start over if it doesn’t work properly.

New Dimmer Switch

  • Position the wires in a dimmer box snug so that no wires are sticking out. Line the dimmer switch up to match the screw holes on the wall where you removed the previous light switch. Screw in place.
  • Place the new dimmer plate over the top of the dimmer switch and replace the screws.

The Test

  • Turn circuit breaker on or return fuses to box.
  • Test to see if your dimmer switch works.
  • Note: If lights don’t dim, you must start back at the beginning to check to see if you lined up the black wire to black wire, white to white and green to green. Oftentimes this is an easy fix.

Now your project is complete and you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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