Replacing a Light Switch with a Dimmer

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated March 21, 2016)

One of the best ways to help set a romantic or relaxing atmosphere in any room is to dim the lights, use softer lighting. Unfortunately, while many homes may have a dimmer switch or knob for the lighting in one room, they are not usually found in all of the rooms, or it may not be in the room that you want it to be in. So how does the home electrician go about replacing a light switch with a dimmer? Luckily, this is a fairly easy electrical job, and one that you can do yourself without having to resort to calling in a professional electrician to accomplish.

Begin by gathering together all of the equipment and materials that you are going to need. For this job you need to get a set of screwdrivers, masking tape, pliers, colored markers, three wire nuts and a dimmer switch. If you do not have these items, you can purchase them at any local home improvement store. Once you have all the items together, you are ready to begin replacing that old light switch with your new dimmer.

  1. Begin by turning off the power to the affected room using the circuit breaker. This ensures that no current is going to be going through the lines you are working on. After you have shut off the power, make sure that you clearly mark the circuit with some type of sign that says something along the lines of "man at work" since you do not want someone to come along and turn it back on while you are working.
  2. After power has been shut off, you need to remove the faceplate from the light switch. You do this by removing the screws that are holding the plate in place with a screwdriver. Some plates have more than two screws, so just be sure that you have removed them all. Set aside the plate and screws. Now, remove the screws that are holding the switch in place within the mounting box, and set those aside as well.
  3. Once the mounting screws have been removed, simply pull the light switch out of the mounting box. The switch should come out only far enough to expose the wiring. You are going to want to disconnect the wiring, but before you do, please note the color-coding and where everything was attached. I would suggest using colored markers and masking tape to help with this. Note that there should be three wires total, one red, one black and either a bare copper or green wire. That green or copper wire should be disconnected last since it is the grounding wire, and you really don't want to get shocked.
  4. Once you have disconnected all the wires you can set aside your old light switch and replace it with the dimmer switch. Reconnect the wires in the opposite order that you disconnected them. Be sure to reconnect the wires with their corresponding places on the dimmer switch, using a pair of pliers to help gently tighten the wires together and secure them with a wire nut.
  5. Put the wires back into the electrical mounting box, and screw your new dimmer switch into place. Cover and secure the switch with the faceplate, making sure that you have completely tightened the screws into place. Turn the power back on, and test your work. You should be able to tell quite easily if everything was done properly.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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