How to install a two-way dimmer switch

Written by darcy logan
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In order to install a two-way dimmer switch, you need to understand a little bit about different types of switches. Most switches are single-pole switches. This means that it is the only control for the light. Some switches are called "two-way" switches. Technically, "two-way" switches are called three-way switches. This means that the light can be controlled at two different locations. However, when people talk about a two-way dimmer switch they are often referring to a dimmer switch that you tap on and off and hold to dim or brighten lights. Depending on the type of two-way dimmer switch, it may or may not be able to be installed at a three-way switch. But no matter the type of light switch you have, they are all installed pretty much the same way.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Neon voltage tester
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Dimmer switch

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Instructions

    First Steps

  1. 1

    Look at your existing light switch to identify if it is a single pole switch or a two-way switch. A single pole switch will usually have the words "off" and "on" written on it. A two-way switch will not.

  2. 2

    Locate your circuit breaker and turn off the power going to the switch. You may want to place a note on the box indicating that you are working on it to prevent someone else from turning it on.

  3. 3

    Remove the screws from the switch plate cover.

  4. 4

    Remove the screws that secure the current switch to the wall and gently pull out the switch from the wall box.

  5. 5

    Test the switch with your voltage tester. Place the black wire on the hot wire (either red or black wire) and the white wire on the neutral wire (either a white wire or the copper grounding wire). If the light glows, there is electricity running to the switch. Repeat Step 2 and then try this step again until the light does not glow.

    Installing a Single Pole Two-Way Dimmer Switch

  1. 1

    Unscrew the wires from the switch. You should see three wires: one black (hot), one white (neutral) and one copper or green (grounding).

  2. 2

    Connect the wires to the new dimmer switch. Depending on the switch, there are different ways to do this. If there are wires leading from the back of the dimmer switch, you will want to connect them to the wires by twisting the wires together and securing with a wire nut. Otherwise, follow the directions that came with the dimmer switch to connect the wires.

  3. 3

    Gently tuck or fold the wires into the box and replace the switch. Make sure the switch is turned the proper way (so on is up).

  4. 4

    Attach the new switch to the box with screws and replace the switch plate cover.

  5. 5

    Turn the power back on and test your new dimmer switch.

    Installing a 3-Way Two-Way Dimmer Switch

  1. 1

    Unscrew the wires from the switch making sure to label which wire is on the common terminal. The common terminal is usually noted by an odd-coloured screw.

  2. 2

    Connect the wires to the dimmer switch. It is important that the common wire is connected to the common terminal or the switch will not work correctly. Depending on the switch, there are different ways to do this. If there are wires leading from the back of the dimmer switch, you will want to connect them to the wires by twisting the wires together and securing with a wire nut. Otherwise, follow the directions that came with the dimmer switch to connect the wires.

  3. 3

    Carefully fold the wires back into the box and secure the switch with the screws. Make sure the switch is turned the proper direction so that "on" is at the top.

  4. 4

    Replace the switch plate cover.

  5. 5

    Turn the power back on and test your new dimmer switch.

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