Adjustable overhead lighting is a great improvement that adds appeal to any home. And since installing a dimmer switch is just as easy as installing a single-pole switch, creating mood lighting has never been easier!
- Flathead screwdriver
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Needle-nose pliers
- Voltage detector
- Dimmer switch
- Switch plate
Step 1: Turn off the power to the circuit at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Double check to ensure the power was turned off by flicking the switch, and by using a voltage detector to confirm that the wires in the box are not charged once the switch plate has been removed.
Step 2: Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the switch plate, and a Phillips head screwdriver to disconnect the light switch from the box.
Step 3: Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws holding the electrical wires on the side of the light switch, and then detach the wiring from the switch. Remember to keep track of the different colored wires and their attachment points on the old light switch, as this will be important in the next step. Keep the wires separated by bending them to opposite corners of the box. If the light switch is grounded, remove the grounding wire last. If the space is too small to fit your hands in, try using needle nose pliers.
Step 4: Notice the dimmer switch has three wires; one black, one white and a separate ground wire that may be bare copper or is sometimes wrapped in green. Attach the wires to the dimmer in the same way they had been attached to the previous switch. If your wires are solid copper, create a loop in the end of the wire with the pliers and guide it around the screw on the side of the dimmer. Tighten the screw, making sure the wire is securely held beneath the screw and is not extending to the perimeter of the screw. If your wall wire is made of a group of smaller wires, use the pliers to gently twist the ends of the wires together, making them whole, and then follow the same direction to connect with the dimmer wires.
Step 5: Once all the wires are attached, gently fold any excess wire and position the dimmer into the electrical box. Move slowly to ensure the wires don’t loosen or break. Tighten the screws to secure the switch to the box, and then fit the switch plate. If you’re having trouble fitting the switch plate over the box, try tightening or loosening the switch screws in the box until you’re able to find a good fit. Once the cover is in place, turn the breaker or fuse back on to test your new light switch.
Be sure to check the light bulb’s packaging to see if your light bulbs are dimmable. If they’re not, you will need to purchase light bulbs that are intended for dimmer switches, as the wrong combination could cause damage to the bulb as well as the dimmer.