How to Install Electric Dimmer Switches

Written by dave donovan
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Replacing a traditional wall switch with an electric dimmer switch allows the ability to customise the level of light in a room. From kitchens to living rooms and even bathrooms, dimmer switches make it possible to have the perfect amount of ambient lighting without the cost associated with installing accent lights.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Electronic dimmer switch
  • Screwdrivers
  • Voltage tester
  • Wire strippers
  • Wire connectors
  • Electrical tape

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  1. 1

    Toggle the wall switch so the light comes on.

  2. 2

    Turn off the circuit breaker that powers the lighting circuit. When you hit the right breaker, the light will go off.

  3. 3

    Remove the switch plate and the two screws that secure the switch to the wall box.

  4. 4

    Pull the switch out of the box by carefully pulling on the top and bottom tabs. Do NOT touch the sides of the switch until you test for voltage.

  5. 5

    Use the voltage tester to double check that the breaker is definitely off.

  6. 6

    Loosen the screw terminals on the side of the switch and remove the two wires. If the switch has a ground wire attached, remove it as well.

  7. 7

    Cut off the exposed ends of the wires if there is enough available to work with. Use the wire strippers to remove 3/4 inch of new insulation from the end of each wire.

  8. 8

    Connect one of the wires on the dimmer switch to one of the wires from the previous switch. Then, connect the other wire on the dimmer to the second wire from the switch. If the dimmer switch has a ground screw or ground wire, connect the ground wire in the ceiling to it. Make sure that the wire connectors are on tight, and wrap each connection with electrical tape.

  9. 9

    Push the wires back into the wall box and secure the dimmer switch to it using the top and bottom screws.

  10. 10

    Install the cover plate and turn the circuit breaker back on.

  11. 11

    Test the dimmer switch by turning it on and dimming the lights.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are looking to add a dimmer switch to a circuit that has fluorescent lights, you need to get a special switch designed exclusively to dim that type of fixture.
  • Never wire an electronic dimmer switch while the power is on. Not only can you get hurt, but it will damage the dimmer switch as well.

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