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How To Guides: Dimmer Switches

Installing a dimmer switch for a light fixture is one of the easiest ways to achieve versatile but functional lighting in a room. A dimmer switch can alter the lighting to reflect various moods from energetic to romantic. However, few people are aware that they can easily install a dimmer switch on their own without the help of a professional. Here’s a basic guide on how to install a dimmer switch for your light fixtures.

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Tools and Materials for Installing a Dimmer Switch

Aside from purchasing the actual switch itself, there are a surprising number of tools and materials you’ll need to install a dimmer switch for your light fixture. You will need a flat head screwdriver, a crimping tool, a circuit tester and needle nose pliers. You will also need barrel crimps and wire nuts Wire Crimp Tester.

Installing a Dimmer Switch

Note: Prior to installing a dimmer switch, be sure to check that your existing light fixtures are safe for use with it. If not, you may need to purchase and install new fixtures prior to installing the switch. Failure to do so could result in damage to the home, including fire due to electrical issues.

To begin, always shut off the power to the room you are working in. Use your circuit tester to ensure that the electricity has been shut off. Never work with live electricity running through the wiring and light fixture.

Using your screwdriver, remove the switch cover plate of the existing switch. Use your circuit tester to check that the wires are not live. Once you are sure the electricity is off, you can disconnect the wiring for the existing switch.

Take a wire from your new switch and attach it to the matching wire in the wall. Twist the two ends together and then use your needle nose pliers to ensure they are attached. You can use a barrel crimp if your local building codes require it. Remember to follow local codes, as it could lead to trouble (including various fees and fines) down the road if you don’t.

Using a wire nut, cap the connections. Repeat this process until all the wires have been connected and capped. Insert the entire fixture back into place and secure it accordingly. Be sure to place the switch upright, as installing it upside down could result in reverse operation when you attempt to switch on your light fixtures. Then, reinstall the cover plate or install a new cover if needed.