How to Install a Dimmer Switch

April 5, 2018 7:10 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Want more control over the levels of light you have in your home? You can get a much wider range of lighting options by installing a dimmer switch. Most dimmers you’ll find have been designed to fit in a standard wall box, so it’s relatively easy to replace any switch for incandescent or halogen lights in your home with a brand new dimmer switch. Many times you can do this without the help of an electrician in Forsyth County, GA.

Dimmer switches come in single-pole and three-way varieties. A single-pole dimmer has a single switch that controls the light, but a three-way dimmer uses two switches. For that you’d need both a three-way dimmer and a three-way switch. You should not use a regular dimmer switch with a ceiling fan.

Before you begin making the installation, be sure to cut off power to the switch at your circuit breaker box. Gather your tools (including screwdrivers, long-nose pliers, wire strippers, voltage testers, wire cutters, new switches and wall plate) and get started.

Remove the existing switch

After you’ve cut off power to the switch, it is safe to remove the existing switch. Take off the wall plate and the screws that mount the switch to the wall box. Carefully pull the switch out from the wall box. If there are white wires at the back of the wall box, those can remain in their place.

Do not touch any wires until you know for sure they do not have an electrical current. You can test the circuit with a voltage tester to make sure there’s no power reaching the circuit. If the circuit tester determines there is voltage present, you have not flipped the correct circuit in your breaker.

If replacing a three-way switch, there will be a wire connected to a screw that is either a different color than the rest or marked “common.” Tag this wire with electrical tape so it’s easy to identify when putting in the new switch. Then, disconnect all wires from the old switch.

Connect the new switch

If the wires have been bent, you may need to use a wire stripper to cut off the twisted ends and reveal “fresh” wire. Connect the ground wire from the dimmer switch to a green or bare copper wire found in the wall box, and twist them together clockwise, connecting them with a wire connector nut. Connect each dimmer wire to house wires by twisting them together with a pliers. Dimmer wires will usually be black, and the house wires may be red, black or white with black markings. Put wire nuts over every pair of wire ends.

If you are using a three-way switch, the process is similar, but you’ll need to find the common wire and connect the black dimmer wire to that. Then you can connect the remaining two wires.

Once done, you can put the wall plate back on, turn on the power and begin using the switch.

For more information about dimmer switch installation, contact an electrician in Forsyth County, GA.

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