Fixing a broken dimmer switch is a very simple task which you can do in a matter of minutes. Instead of calling in a professional electrician, you can do the job yourself. With this guide and the right tools, you will be able to fix that broken dimmer switch in a jiffy and save yourself some money. Here’s how you go about doing the job.
Step 1 – Turn off the Power Supply
The first and most important step in working with electrical fittings is to turn off the power supply at the mains. Once you have turned off the main breaker assigned to that circuit, double-check with the circuit tester to make sure there is no power coming into to the switch.
Step 2 – Remove the Plate
Remove the switch plate by unscrewing the screws that hold it in place on the wall. Once you have removed the screws, you will be able to extract the dimmer switch that needs to be fixed.
Step 3 – Remove the Switch
Slowly pull out the dimmer switch but do not hold the metal parts of the switch. Pull the switch out far enough to expose the wires.
Step 4 – Remove the Wires
Use the screwdriver to remove the wires connected to the switch.
Step 5 – Buy a New Switch
Buy a new switch from the hardware store; you can take the old dimmer switch along with you to get a new one that is the same as the one you removed. While you are at the hardware store, buy the wire nuts for the wires.
Step 6 – Connecting the Wires
Connect the new dimmer switch to the wires that you removed from the old switch. Make sure you match the colors of the wires while connecting them together.
Step 7 – Wire Nuts
Place the wire nuts onto the wires you connected to help it stay secure. The wire nuts must be properly screwed on and make sure that there is no bare wire exposed.
Step 8 – Check the Wires
Tug the wires lightly to make sure they are properly connected, you do not want to have loose wires in your switch. Loose wires cause sparks and increase the risk of electrical fires.
Step 9 – Mounting the Switch
Gently push the wires to the back and fix the new dimmer switch back into its box, make sure no wires are sticking out.
Step 10 – Fix the Switch Plate
Fix the switch plate by driving the screws back into the wall.
Step 11 – Turn the Power On
Once you have finished replacing the switch plate, turn the power supply on from the main circuit breaker.
Step 12 – Check the Switch
Check the switch to see if it is working properly. If you find the switch is not working, check your connections once again.
That’s all you need to do to fix a broken dimmer switch in your home.
Timothy Thiele is an IBEW Local #176 Union Electrician with over 30 years of experience in residential, commercial, and industrial wiring. He has an associate degree in electronics and completed a four-year apprenticeship. He’s been writing for The Spruce on residential wiring and home installation projects for over eight years.
Larry Campbell is an electrical contractor with 36 years of experience in residential and light commercial electrical wiring. He worked as an electronic technician and later an engineer for the IBM Corp. is a member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board.
Mike Clarke / Getty Images
A wall switch is a mechanical device with moving parts that gets thousands of uses over the course of its lifespan, so it’s no surprise that switches eventually wear out and go bad. The first sign of trouble is when the switch begins to behave in a fashion that is abnormal in any way. For example, if there’s an audible crackle, snap, or popping sound when you flip the lever, then it’s pretty clear that your switch is defective and it’s time to replace it.
Some other warning signs are a little more subtle, and some are even more obvious. Here are some of the most common signs of trouble.
Temperamental Light Fixture
You’ve likely had this experience: When you flip the toggle lever on a light switch to the ON position, it takes a moment for the light to go on, or the light fixture flickers momentarily before turning on. This often indicates that the metal parts inside the switch are wearing out and that its contacts are failing to make the connections needed to complete the electrical path and allow the light to illuminate. Sometimes (not always) this symptom occurs at the same time you notice that the toggle lever has loosened and has lost its “snap” when you flip it.
Even if this happens only occasionally, it’s still time to replace the switch. It is also possible that the light fixture or switch has loose connections or a short circuit that causes intermittent failure, so if the problem persists after you’ve replaced the switch, have a look at the light fixture next.
It’s not uncommon to see a small spark coming from inside a switch when you turn it off. This is normal in most cases, and it doesn’t indicate a problem. It’s caused by a load arc that occurs when the electricity jumps between the contacts as they pull away from each other. It stops as soon as the contacts are far enough apart. That said, a large spark or a spark that makes an audible noise can indicate a faulty light switch.
But if the sparking causes smoking, or if you notice scorch marks on the cover plate or switch toggle, then it is definitely time to replace the switch.
Faulty light switches can make a variety of electrical sound effects, but most can be described with one of the following words: clicking, sizzling, popping, or buzzing. Sometimes this can be caused by loose wire connections, so make sure to check these. But more likely, these sounds are warning signs of a worn or defective switch. Time to replace it.
However, if it’s a dimmer switch that buzzes, investigate the light bulb first. The dimming effect can make some light bulbs buzz as the filament structure vibrates. Try a different type or brand of bulb, not just a new bulb of the same type. If that doesn’t help, take another hard look at the switch.
Switch Is Warm to the Touch
It is natural for a dimmer switch to generate some heat that can be felt when you operate the switch (normally you’ll feel it when you turn it off). This occurs because a dimmer operates by dissipating some of the heat of the full current flow in order to dim the illumination of the light fixture. If the switch feels genuinely hot, though, the dimmer may be going bad, requiring replacement.
But standard toggle-type wall switches generally should feel cool to the touch. If you feel warmth in a standard switch, it’s a sign that the electrical flow is not proper, which can mean the switch is failing. Another possibility is that the switch is undersized for its application. A switch rated for 15 amps installed on a 20-amp circuit may heat up if it’s controlling a number of light fixtures or devices that draw more than 15 amps of power. If so, then you should replace the switch with a properly rated 20-amp switch. A warm switch can also be caused by loose wire connections, so check these. But if you continue to feel warmth in the switch, it’s time to replace it.
Switch Doesn’t Feel ‘Right’
Often your fingers are the best detectors of a faulty light switch. If the switch toggle lever starts behaving differently—losing its “snap” or becoming stiffer than usual—the switch mechanism is worn and should be replaced before there’s trouble.
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Dimmer switches can be a convenient, simple upgrade to your lighting, and they can have far more uses than you think. While you might think dimmers are just for “mood lighting,” they’re also great for movie nights, dinner parties, or simply not blinding yourself when you turn on the light at night. But how difficult is it to upgrade to a dimmer switch? Read this article to see just how simple it can actually be.
Step 1: Selecting a Dimmer Switch
First, you’ll need to choose the right dimmer switch for your needs. To do this, you’ll need to determine three things: the type of light you’ll be using with the dimmer, the number of switches that control that light, and the number of lights connected to each dimmer switch:
- Type of light – All dimmers are rated for a specific kind of light, and choosing the wrong one can cause issues. So, if you’re using an LED lightbulb, make sure you choose an LED dimmer; if you’re using CFL bulbs, get a CFL dimmer. And when you buy new lightbulbs, make sure you’re selecting ones that are compatible.
- Number of switches – If you have one light switch that controls the fixture you want to convert to a dimmer, you’ll need a single-pole dimmer; if it’s controlled by two separate switches, you’ll need a 3-way dimmer in both locations, or a 3-way dimmer in one location and a 3-switch in the other.
- Number of bulbs – Add up the wattage for all the bulbs in the fixture you’re upgrading. Check the rating on the dimmer switch you chose to make sure it can handle the total wattage.
Please also note that not all fixtures can be upgraded with a dimmer. For example, dimmer switches don’t typically work for fluorescent lights with ceiling fans that are operated on the same switch as the lightbulbs.
Step 2: Removing the Old Switch
Now that you’ve chosen the correct dimmer, turn off the power to that switch at the breaker box. Remove the wall plate and gently pull the switch away from the wall. If replacing a 3-way switch, you’ll see one wire connected to a screw that is colored differently or labeled “common.” Label this, and disconnect all wires from the switch.
Step 3: Connecting the Dimmer Switch
Connect the ground wire in your new switch to the green or bare copper wire in the switch box. Connect the dimmer wire from your switch to the common wire you marked earlier. If connecting a 3-way dimmer switch, you’ll also need to connect the two traveler wires separately to the remaining wires in the wall box. Screw the switch into place with a screwdriver, replace the light switch covers, and turn the power back on to test out your new dimmer switch.
I want to replace the dimmer switch in my kitchen with a conventional light switch. However I could use a little guidance.
I understand the two black wires are the hot wires, and the green is ground. I understand how to wire those into the regular switch, but in all the videos I have watch online no one ever seems to have the red (I believe it is the neutral wire). How do I go about wiring this?
The new light switch I have only has 3 screws.
2 Answers 2
That is a 3-way dimmer, so you’ll have to replace it with a 3-way switch. The new 3-way switch will have 4 terminals (screws), 1 black (Common), 2 brass (Travelers), 1 green (Ground).
When working with 3-way switches, the Common terminal will always be the odd color (odd man out). For example, on your current switch the Red wire is the Common. On a regular 3-way, the black (odd color) screw is the Common.
To prevent confusion, it’s often a good idea to work with one wire at a time. Rather than disconnecting all the wires from the old switch, then trying to remember what went where.
- Start By turning off the power at the breaker, and verifying it’s off with a non-contact voltage tester.
- Disconnect the bare copper wire from the old switch, and connect it to the green terminal on the new switch.
- Disconnect the black wire (the one connected to the red wire on the old switch), then connect it to the black (Common) terminal on the new switch.
- Disconnect the black and red travelers, and connect one to each brass terminal on the new switch.
- Turn the breaker on, and verify proper operation.
- Turn the breaker back off, and mount the switch in the box.
- Turn the breaker back on, and again verify proper operation.
Dimmer Switch To Single Pole Light Switch Replacement Guide
How to replace a dimmer light switch with a standard single pole on/off electrical switch in order to use CFL light bulbs.
It may also be useful for those who’d like to replace a faulty dimmer switch, a faulty single pole wall switch, or just install a decorative wall plate or light switch.
Our new home had a dimmer wall switch installed in one of the bathrooms. Since we prefer to use our collection of energy saving CFL (compact fluorescent) light bulbs that are not dimmable, I had to replace the switch. A new standard single pole on/off electrical wall switch was just a few dollars at Home Depot.
Test the dimmer switch that you’d like to replace to be sure that it no longer has power. Then use a screwdriver to remove the plastic wall plate. Set the wall plate aside for re-installation later unless you are replacing it.
Either unscrew the wire nuts on the dimmer switch wires, or loosen the screws holding the wires in place.
Slip the curved ends over the power connection screws on the side of the new wall switch and tighten them with the screwdriver.
Restore power to the room by switching the breakers to “on”.
Test the new light switch and enjoy your lower power utility bill.
We eventually hope to replace the old CFL bulbs with new LED bulbs as they burn out over the next few years.
Furthermore, can I replace a dimmer switch with a regular switch?
Replacing a standard single-pole or three-way switch with a dimmer switch is no different than replacing a standard switch. Remember: Dimmer switches don’t work on most fluorescent fixtures, and low-voltage lighting requires special low-voltage dimmers. Turn off the power to the switch at the circuit or fuse panel.
Additionally, how much does it cost to install a dimmer switch? Dimmer Switch Prices – $100-$200 Dimmers average $10-$25 each, though there are styles that cost up to $50. Installing new or upgrading to this type will range from $100-$200. With these, light can be adjusted to soft or bright according to the needs of the homeowner.
Similarly, it is asked, do you need special wiring for a dimmer switch?
Most dimmers are designed to fit a standard wall box opening, which makes it easy to replace the switch for any incandescent or halogen light with a dimmer. Dimmers come in two basic wiring configurations: standard single-pole dimmers and three-way dimmers. You will need a three-way dimmer and a three-way switch.
Do I need special Dimmer for LED lights?
While most LED bulbs are now dimmable, not all of them are and not all of them dim in the same manner Since LEDs consume such a low wattage, many types of dimmers do not function with LED in the same way that they do with high wattage load incandescents.
Hello. A particular dimmer switch in my abode broke the other day, I decided to just buy a standard switch from wickes as a replacement. The switch only operates the one and only light in the room so I thought a pretty basic switch would do the job, when I was looking on the shelf they only had one plastic single switch, it didn’t say anything special, so I bought one, brought it back home, killed the power at the fuse box, unscrewed the old dimmer switch and was presented with a problem.
It appears I’ve bought, no thanks to wickes for completely failing to put it anywhere on the packaging or the label in the store, an intermediate switch rather than what should probably be a simple one-way switch with the same terminal Layout of L1 and C.
The dimmer switch has three terminals, L1, L2 and C. Inside the wall mounting are three blue neutrals terminated, three earths also terminated, and three brown wires; one was in the C terminal, the other two in L1.
The new switch I have bought has four terminals, L and N out and L and N in as well as a couple of earth points (which I believe I don’t need to use as the plate isn’t metal). I tested the wires with the power on and found only one of the two that was wired into the L1 terminal on the Dimmer had the AC voltage and the rest didn’t have any voltage (actually they did but it was
- 21 Jan 2018
Yes, you are correct.
It doesn’t matter which way round (in or out) in your case.
- 21 Jan 2018
- 21 Jan 2018
No, it is a 1-way switch, but it’s a double pole one, not single pole.
What did it say on the packaging?
- 21 Jan 2018
Nothing on the packaging from what I could see, just that it’s a 20amp switch, but on closer inspection of the little leaflet that it came with, you’re right as it does say it’s double pole.
I’m going to have to take it off the wall again now anyway as something’s gone wrong. I wired it up after my last post, and it worked fine. So I went off to do another job I had lined up which was to replace the transformer on a downlight in the bathroom as changing the bulb didn’t fix it (tried three different new bulbs, even tried scraping the contacts). I went off and did that, and I’ve successfully fixed that light as it’s now working. So then I came back in here where my dimmer switch used to be to sit down with a cuppa and flicked the new switch on and the lights flicked on for about a tenth of a second then went off. Now they won’t turn on at all. They were working fine before I went off to do the transformer but this surly can’t be because I’ve changed the transformer on the downlight in the bathroom can it? It’s not the RCD either and all the other lights on this circuit work, bulbs don’t appear to be blown either.
Edit: Correction, all the other lights on this circuit don’t work, only the bathroom lights work and the bedroom. This room where the dimmer switch and now the other room I’ve found are not responding, even though they were working fine before I changed the transformer in the bathroom.
A dimmer is a win-win-win situation: it enables a range of light to play with, helps the environment by conserving electricity, and lowers your electric bill.
To begin, make sure your light bulbs can be dimmed, which should be stated in the packaging. If you have incandescent or halogen bulbs, you’re good to go. However, most modern, low-wattage bulbs — such as compact fluorescents or LEDs — cannot be dimmed. A few compact fluorescent bulbs are dimmable but generally have a very limited light gradient and tend to hum. Recent LED light bulbs are more likely to be dimmable, but they require a specific kind of dimmer due to their lower wattage, said Nathaniel Garber, owner of Garber Hardware, a family-run hardware store standing since 1884.
Once you’ve decided whether your lighting is appropriate for a dimmer, you’ll need to buy one that fits your switch. Most light switches in the city are standard single-pole switches, meaning that only one switch controls one light.
Some switches, however, are two-pole or three-way switches, meaning two switches control one light fixture (e.g. a switch at the top and bottom of a staircase). Make sure you buy the type of dimmer you need. Since single-pole switches are the vast majority, we will be focusing on them in this guide, but If you have a two-pole or three-way switch, check out full instructions here.
Dimmer at hand, go to the breaker box in your house — the metal box in your house that controls the electrical flow. Shutting off the correct circuit breaker is a precaution you should always take before starting a home electrical project.
Turn off the circuit breaker that controls your light fixture. Garber recommended turning each breaker on and off to figure out which breaker controls which appliances, even if the breakers are labeled, for the utmost accuracy.
YouTube/The Home Depot
To begin, unscrew the external wall plate.
YouTube/The Home Depot
To figure out if you’ve fully shut down the electricity on your line, you may want test the wires with a voltage tester, which you can find instructions for here.
YouTube/The Home Depot
After all is safe, unscrew the light switch from the electrical box.
YouTube/The Home Depot
Gently remove the two house wires attached to the switch. They’re likely solid copper wires, Garber said.
YouTube/The Home Depot
If the ends of the house wires are bent or frayed, cut them off with a wire stripper. If the ends are not exposed, use the wire stripper to remove about 3/4 inch of the insulated casing.
YouTube/The Home Depot
The light dimmer should have three wires attached to it, usually two black or white ones and one green wire. Braid the exposed ends of the black or white wires to the house wires that you just detached from the switch. If you can, match the wires by color, but if not, you can generally pair the wires however you want — order shouldn’t matter. Verify with your instructions though, as some dimmers have specific requirements.
YouTube/The Home Depot
Screw on the supplied plastic wire nuts over the braided wires for insulation. Garber recommended wrapping the wire nuts with electrical tape to secure the nuts more tightly.
Then attach the green wire — called the ground wire — to either the ground screw or ground wire in the electrical box and screw on a wire nut as well.
YouTube/The Home Depot
Screw the light dimmer switch back onto the electrical box, gently pushing back the nest of wires, trying not to undo the fastenings you’ve made. Now go through the beginning steps in reverse, screwing the dimmer back and reattaching the external wall plate. Turn on the circuit breaker, restoring the power, and move your dimmer up and down. Now enjoy that soft romantic lighting.
In this regard, can I put a dimmer on a 2 way switch?
Installing the Two-Way Dimmer Switch Traditionally, you cannot dim a light from two different switches, as it will cause a conflict in the circuitry. Any electrician will tell you that this will not work for a regular double switch three-way circuit.
Also, can you put a dimmer switch on a 3 way switch? When using a 3–way dimmer switch, you should only have one dimmer on the circuit. The other switches (you can have more than one) must be on-off switches only. In this setup, the light level is controlled from a single location, whichever light switch you replace with the dimmer switch.
Just so, what does 2 way dimmer switch mean?
The single switch controls a single light (or lighting circuit). 2 Way Switches: A ‘2 way‘ switch means there is another switch controlling the same light. These are often used on a stair case, large room with switches by each door.
Why do I have 3 black wires on my light switch?
If the light turns on, the second black wire you connected to the switch is the switch feed and the unconnected black wire is the feed to the other loads. If the light doesn’t turn on, then it’s the other way around: the connected wire feeds the other loads and the disconnected wire is the light feed.
Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile. Read more.
When you have Philips Hue lights all across your house, physical light switches become less useful. If you want, you can hide them and use a Hue Dimmer Switch instead.
Hue lights are awesome, and while you can control them from your phone using the Hue app, Philips makes the Hue Dimmer Switch for people who want a physical control option. It even comes with a mounting plate so that you can stick it to the wall and make it look like a real light switch.
The only problem is that you still have the existing light switch to deal with, and since the switch needs to always be in the “On” state, there’s really no reason to have it easily accessible anymore. You don’t want to get rid of it altogether, because if you lose Wi-Fi, you might want a physical switch for turning off your lights. However, you can hide it so that you get a cleaner look and prevent people from accidentally switching it off.
The Easiest Method
Perhaps the cheapest and easiest method for hiding an existing light switch is to cover the switch itself with a light switch guard and be done with it. We’ve even already written a guide on how to do that.
You can buy switch guards for either regular toggle switches or the fancier “decorator” paddle switches. The guard hides the actual switch (while still making it accessible if you need it), but it doesn’t completely hide the entire light switch and the cover. And if you want to install the Hue Dimmer Switch on the wall, you have to install next to the existing light switch and just kind of let the two peacefully coexist.
The good news is that there are some better options, but they require a bit more work and money.
Use a Switch Cover with Magnets
If most of your house uses decorator-style paddle switches, there’s a really neat method for hiding the switch by placing the Hue Dimmer Switch over it. This provides a cleaner, more natural look.
You’ll need a decorator-style switch guard, some strong thin rare earth magnets, and some super glue. Since the Hue Dimmer Switch has a small metal plate on the inside, it can stick to any magnet that’s strong enough—that’s how it sticks to its own mounting plate. You’re pretty much doing the same thing here, but substituting a switch guard for the mounting plate.
All you have to do is glue a magnet on the inside of the switch guard halfway between the top and bottom (you might have to double-up on magnets if one isn’t quite strong enough).
From there, install the switch guard over the existing switch and then just place the Hue Dimmer Switch on top of the switch guard—the magnets will grab onto the Dimmer Switch and it will look like it truly belongs there, rather than something that looks a bit out of place.
Yes, it makes the regular switch a little harder to get to if you need it, but you can still pull the dimmer switch away and access the regular switch pretty quickly.
3D-Print a Custom Switch Cover
If you’re really dedicated to finding a good solution for this, you can download 3D plans for a switch cover for your Hue Dimmer Switch or design your own if you have the creative chops for it.
This one, for instance, is really nothing more than a spacer that you can then install your Hue Dimmer Switch on top of, completely hiding the original light switch.
Of course, the hard part is getting the thing 3D printed if you don’t already have a 3D printer. Luckily, there are plenty of ways around that, as there are many services that can 3D-print things for you for a fee, whether it’s a pre-made plan or something you designed yourself.
If you’re in the market for a light switch, be aware that several types are available. Some dual-pole switches, which control one light from two or more switches, have three or four terminal screws and a ground terminal. Single-pole switches, which control one light from one location, have two terminal screws and a ground terminal. If you’re replacing a dual-pole switch, make note of the existing wiring, and if you’re at all unsure of how to proceed, hire a licensed electrician to perform the job.
Here’s how install a switch yourself:
Remove the old switch
1. Shut off the power at the circuit-breaker box.
2. Remove the cover plate and test the terminals with the circuit tester. If the tester doesn’t light up, there’s no power going to the switch.
3. Remove the screws that hold the switch in place, and pull the switch from the wall.
4. Loosen the screws holding the wires to the switch, remove the wires, and remove the switch. In newer switches, the wires may go directly into the switch, where they are held in place by clamps inside the switch. These switches usually have a slot into which you can insert a small screwdriver to loosen the clamps.
Install the new switch
1. Begin by bending the end of the ground wire into a small hook, placing the hook over the ground terminal of the switch and tightening it in place.
2. Attach the remaining wires to the terminals and tighten them in the same way. Your new switch may have holes that allow you to insert the wires without using the terminal screws. If so, straighten the wires, press them into the holes as far as they’ll go and then tug on them to make sure they’re held securely in place.
3. Gently press the switch back into position and secure it in place with screws. Replace the switch cover and turn on the power at the circuit-breaker box.
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I have been trying to replace a double dimmer switch with a double standard switch but not having any luck. Can someone kindly give me directions with the following options please.
Unless you recorded which wire went where on the old dimmer, I think the answer to your question is “no”.
Someone will need to trace where each of those wires goes, in order to work out how to wire it up again.
You will also need to connect the circuit protective conductors to the Earth terminal on the switch. This is vital.
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Installing a three-way dimmer switch on an existing three-way switch circuit is not only a simple job, but it will add flexibility to your lighting design and improve the overall atmosphere of your living space. The primary thing that confuses most do-it-yourselfers is the fact that only one of the three-way switches needs to be replaced with the dimmer switch. If you replace both current three-way switches with two three-way dimmers, the circuit won’t function properly.
Your first step is to think about which of the two switches you use the most. This is the one that you should replace with the dimmer.
Follow these steps to replace an existing three-way switch with a three-way dimmer switch.
Step 1 – Turn Off Power
Turn off the power to the circuit.
Step 2 – Take Off the Cover
Remove the cover plate from the switch.
Step 3 – Unscrew
Remove the two screws that secure the switch to the wall box and gently pull the switch out. Double-check with a voltage tester that the power is off.
Step 4 – Remove Wires
Remove the wires from the existing three-way switch. It is imperative that you note or label which wire is on the dark/black colored screw. This is the common wire.
Step 5 – Connect Wires
The common wire must be connected to the dark screw or common wire on the new dimmer switch. The other two wires are travelers and can go on either screw terminal or wire lead.
Step 6 – Connect the Ground Screw
Connect the ground wire to the ground screw on the dimmer switch.
Step 7- Add Cover Plate
Install the new cover plate and turn the circuit back on.
That’s all it takes to replace an existing three-way light switch with a more innovative three-way dimmer switch
I’ve recently installed smart (ZigBee) LED bulbs in my kitchen. These lights are on a dimmer switch, and even when I have the dimmer all the way up, the bulbs flicker when their internal dimming is set to anything other than 100% brightness. I was told I need to replace the dimmer switch with a standard one. If this is already bad information, please stop me. If not.
I have a non-dimming 3-way switch in another room. I was just going to swap these switches since I’m not using LED bulbs in the other room, so the dimmer won’t be a problem there. The wiring of these switches doesn’t look similar to me, though, so I’m unsure how to wire it up. I have pictures of both switches which I hope someone can help me decipher.
3-way dimmer switch
What is confusing me is that one switch has a white wire, and the other doesn’t. Also, the second black wire on the dimmer switch is looping around the screw rather than terminating at it. If swapping these switches is a bad idea, I can just go buy a second non-dimming 3-way and leave the other one alone. I was just trying to make use of what I already have, and being able to dim in the bedroom would be kinda nice. Thanks for any assistance.
A dimmer control enables you to brighten or dim the light level in a room. Some higher-end models can be programmed with one or more light levels, allowing you to quickly jump to a preset level. Some models offer a remote control feature, particularly nice for integration into a home theater.
When replacing a dimmer or a switch, make certain you select a dimmer that is suitable for the power demands and type of lighting it will control. Low voltage lighting requires a dimmer designed specifically for that type of lighting, as do line voltage fixtures. Add up the total wattage of all lights that will be controlled by the dimmer, then select a simmer that is rated at or higher than that requirement. Most dimmers are rated for 600 watts, higher wattage dimmer controls are also available. Use of a dimmer to control wattage that exceeds it’s rating is a fire risk.
Caution: Please read our safety information before attempting any installation or repair.
Electrical work requires safe practices. Always turn off power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Post a note that work is being done, to avoid someone turning the power back on. After turning off the power to the circuit, test the circuit to be certain that there is no power. Always use insulated tools for added safety. Check with your local building department for regulations and permit requirements before beginning work.
Turn off the power. Test circuit for power.
Remove the cover plate.
Remove the retaining screws at the top and bottom of the switch.
Pull the switch straight out from the box.
Note the position of the wires and transfer them over to the corresponding terminals on the new dimmer control.
We recommend using the terminals instead of the slip connectors found on the back of some devices. If the dimmer has wire leads, then twist the leads to the corresponding wire from the switch box and secure it by screwing on a wire cap.
If the wire is stranded, twist the strands together.
Create a “U” shaped loop of bare wire about 3/4″ long.
The screw tightens in the clockwise direction. Hook the loop under the terminal screw so that tightening the screw pulls the wire tightly under it, rather than pushing it out.
Gently fold the wires into the box as you push in the dimmer.
Secure the switch at the top and bottom with the retaining screws.
Created on: 2016-09-14
How to repair, install, fix, change or replace a damaged, worn out, faulty, shorted interior dimmer light switch on 2001 Ford Ranger
step 1 : Removing the Center Dash Panel 0:43
- Remove the three 7mm bolts on the top side of the dash bezel
- Remove the two 7mm screws on the center trim bezel below the radio
- Pry out the center trim panel with a flat blade screwdriver wrapper in tape
- Disconnect all of the electrical connectors and antenna
- Pry the 4WD selector out with a flat blade screwdriver
- Remove the 7mm bolt left in the center dash panel’s frame
step 2 : Removing the Knee Panel 2:15
- Remove the four 7mm bolts on the knee panel
- Slide the panel forward and off its hooks
- Remove the 7mm bolt nearest the steering wheel
- Remove the three 8mm bolts from the metal pan
- Remove the 7mm bolt near the steering wheel
- Pull the column down with the tilt option
step 3 : Removing the Upper Dash Panel 3:28
- Put the key in and turn the vehicle on
- Shift the vehicle to first gear
- Pull the panel out
- Disconnect the electrical connectors
- Remove the panel
step 4 : Removing the Interior Light Dimmer Switch 4:08
- Remove the two Phillips screws from the dimmer switch
- Remove the dimmer switch
step 5 : Installing the Interior Light Dimmer Switch 4:26
- Insert the dimmer switch into place
- Tighten the two Phillips screws to the dimmer switch
step 6 : Installing the Upper Dash Panel 4:45
- Turn the key on
- Shift the vehicle into first gear
- Insert the dash panel into place
- Shift the vehicle into Park
- Remove the key
step 7 : Reinstalling the Center Dash Panel 5:30
- Tighten the 7mm screw to the corner of the upper dash panel
- Tighten the 7mm screws near the instrument cluster
- Reconnect the center dash connectors
- Insert the center panel into place
- Tighten the two 7mm screws to the center panel
step 8 : Reinstalling the Knee Panel 6:53
- Reinstall the 7mm screws at the bottom of the upper dash panel
- Reinstall the three 8mm bolts to the steel knee pan
- Insert the knee panel into place
- Tighten the 7mm bolts to the knee panel
Flat Blade Screwdriver
Phillips Head Screwdriver
Brought to you by 1AAuto.com, your source for quality replacement parts and the best service on the Internet.
Hi, I’m Mike from 1A Auto. I hope this how-to video helps you out, and next time you need parts for your vehicle, think of 1AAuto.com. Thanks!
In this video, we’re going to be working with our 2001 Ford Ranger. We’re going to show you how to remove and reinstall the dimmer switch for the interior lights.
If you like this video, please click “Subscribe.” We have a ton more information on this truck, as well as many other makes and models. If you need any parts for your vehicle, follow the link in the description over to 1AAuto.com.
Here are the items you’ll need for this repair: 7-8mm sockets, ratchet, extensions, flat blade, and a Phillips head screwdriver.
Remove the three 7 millimeter bolts along the top side of your dash bezel with a socket and ratchet. Remove the two 7 millimeter screws on the center trim bezel below the radio. We use a small flat-blade screwdriver, with some tape on it to keep from marring our dash services, to pry out on this center trim panel. Reach back and disconnect all of the electrical connectors. The antenna pops right back and out. This last connector for the four-wheel drive selector is going to have to be pried up on with our flat-blade screwdriver. Remove this 7 millimeter bolt that was covered by our center dash panel.
Remove the four 7 millimeter bolts: one here, two below the hood release, and one all the way by our left foot, using a 7-millimeter socket and ratchet. Slide the knee pan forward toward you to release the hooks and remove it from the vehicle. Remove this 7 millimeter bolt through the access hole in this steel reinforcement behind the knee pan. Remove these three 8 millimeter bolts using a socket and ratchet. Pull back the knee panel. We’ll remove this last 7 millimeter bolt.
Now we’re going to put our column all the way down, if you have a tilt option. Put the key in, and shift the vehicle to first gear to get a little more room around the stick. Pull out on the dash, and lift up.
Using a flat blade screwdriver, remove this electrical connector for the interior dimmer switch. Push down on the tab. Release the other connector from the headlight switch.
To remove the interior light dimmer switch, I’m going to flip our panel over and remove these two screws. Remove the dimmer switch from the dash.
Install the dimmer switch with your two Phillips head screws. Now our dash panel is ready to go back into the truck.
We’ll shift our truck down into first gear again, so we can lay our dash panel back in. When you get pretty close to getting it lined up, take a second to reconnect the electrical connectors for both the headlight switch and the interior dimmer switch. Lay the upper dash panel back into place and you’ll see the metal clips and their holes. Line them up, snap them back in.
Shift the truck back into park. Remove your key. Reinstall the gold 7 millimeter screw at the top right corner of that upper dash panel. Reinstall the three black 7 millimeter screws into the top of the dash panel just before the instrument cluster. Reconnect the four-wheel drive selector connector. Reconnect the cigarette lighter. There’s two wires there. Reconnect the radio harness, the antenna, the fog light switch, and the AC power outlet connector. Push the center panel back into place. Then reinstall the two 7 millimeter screws at the bottom of the panel. Reinstall two 7 millimeter screws at the bottom of the upper dash panel. Reinstall the three screws for the steel knee pan. Tighten them up with an 8 millimeter socket and ratchet.
Snap in the top of the plastic knee pan. Reinstall the four 7 millimeter screws along the bottom. Remember to reinstall the hood release and the two screws that go in there.
I want to replace the two way light switch in my front room for a two way dimmer switch. In my front room are two seperate switches, one is a single switch that controls the left ceiling light the other is a double switch, one side controls the left ceiling light, the other controls the right ceiling light.
Here is the problem I have. I have taken off the double light switch and wired the double dimmer switch exactly how the original double switch was wired. But this doesn’t seem to work correctly. Only one ceiling light will work (the one that can only be controlled from the double switch).
Here is how the original double switch was wired.
on the left side of the double switch RED=L1, BLUE=L2, BLACK=COM.
on the right side of the double switch RED=L2, YELLOW=COM.
Does anyone know how I can sort this out please?
- 20 May 2009
Altered any wiring to the ftgs or the other switch?
What is the wiring like in the other switch?
- 20 May 2009
I think you have made a mistake there.
Did you assume that on the old switch, the line of terminals across the top of the browm bit at the rear was for one switch, and the row of terminals across the bottom was for the other switch?
Are there just two cables at this switch? One being a three core and earth, and the other being a twin and earth cable?
- 20 May 2009
Thanks for your swift reply. I’ve attatched a link for some images that I have taken of the current wiring. And yes I did assume that the top row of wires was for one side of the switch and the bottom row was for the other.
Image 1 2 and 3 are of the current switch and wiring which is working fine.
RED=L1, BLUE=L2, BLACK=COM.
These next images are of the new dimmer switch. I tried wiring the dimmer switch in the same way as the original switch but it just won’t work correctly, and that is why I have put the old switch back. I hope this is a little more clearer. Cheers.
Video Playback Not Supported
Replacing a dated light fixture with a beautiful ceiling medallion and chandelier is a great way to improve the look of a room. Adding a dimmer switch is a perfect way to control the level of lighting when entertaining.
There are several methods of determining the proper size of a chandelier:
- Room Size: The length and width of the room added together in feet should equal the diameter of the chandelier in inches. Example: a 12′ by 12′ room should have a 24″ diameter chandelier (12 + 12 = 24″).
The height of the chandelier is based on the ceiling height and location:
- Entry Hall: The lowest point of a chandelier should be a minimum of 6½’ from the floor. If possible, or with higher ceilings, hang it 7′ from the floor.
Hanging a Chandelier
- Start by determining the height of the chandelier.
Installing a Dimmer Switch
- Select a dimmer switch that has a rated capacity high enough to handle the combined wattage of all the bulbs in the chandelier added together.
CFLs and Dimmer Switches
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) can’t be used with a dimmer switch unless they specifically state that they are designed to work with a dimmer switch.
For more on different types of lighting for your home, see our article
Interior Lighting: Adding a Pleasant Atmosphere.
A double light switch is used to turn two separate light sources in one area on and off. The wiring, in this case, is pretty much the same as a single light switch, but there are some fundamental differences. Here’s how to replace a double light switch, either because the original one is old or you want a new style.
Step 1 – Shut off the Power
Working with electricity is not something to take for granted; if you’re not careful, you can be seriously hurt. It doesn’t matter if you’re wiring something simple like a double light switch or as complicated as a junction box, as the seriousness is the same.
Locate the main electrical panel that feeds the entire home. If you’re lucky, the breakers in the panel will be identified, so you can easily switch the power off to the area you’re working in. If the box isn’t properly labeled, turn the main power off for safety.
Step 2 – Access the Double Light Switch
Use a screwdriver to remove the screws that are holding the switch’s faceplate in place. Before you start working, put the grounding strap on and connect the other end to the bare metal in the box. Then, the circuit tester to make sure the current is actually turned off. Press the contacts to each wire and each space between each wire. If the current is not present, you can continue.
Step 3 – Identify Wires
There are hot wires, neutral wires, and a grounding wire in nearly all electrical wiring. The hot wire is usually red, but can also be black. A wire that is bare, green, or yellow (or green with a yellow stripe) is the grounding wire, and the white wire is the neutral wire.
In a double light switch setup, you will have multiple wires including one set each light fixture and one set that goes to the breaker box. Place a strip of electrical tape around the hot wires so that you can identify them easily later.
Step 4 – Connect the Double Light Switch
Take and group the rest of the like-colored wires coming from the wall box, bare wires with bare wires or white with white as needed; only the hot wires should be left without a group. Next, cut and strip the insulation from the ends of each of the grouped wires. Twist the bare ends together and cap the ends with a wire nut.
Loosen the screws on the double light switch. Then, mimic the wire connections on the old double light switch by wrapping the ends of the hot wires around these screws. Generally, you’ll want to attach the breaker box hot wire to the black terminal screw on the common side of the switches, and then the hot wires leading to the light fixtures to the other two terminal screws. When you’re done, tighten the screws and secure the switches to the switch box. Finally, replace the faceplate and turn the power back on to test out the results of your work.
How to Install a Dimmer Switch
Have you ever thought about replacing one of your light switches with a dimmer switch? It’s very easy to do, and the ability to dim your lights will reduce your energy consumption as well as energy costs!
Any time you work with electricity you must be very careful! Before you start, you will need to either cut the power to the light switch at the main panel or remove the fuse entirely. Additionally, make sure you flip the light switch ‘off’ just in case!
First, you will unscrew the screws to the cover plate as well as unscrew the screws that anchor the switch in the electrical box so that they can be removed. The switch will be attached by 3 wires (either 2 black or 1 black and 1 white, plus a green or bare copper ground wire). Use a circuit tester to once again check that the wires are not live! First loosen the screws that hold the 2 similar wires and remove those wires – leaving the ground wire for last. Cut the ends of the 3 wires coming from the wall and strip and inch of insulation off the wires. Use a twist on wire connector to attach the green wire from the dimmer switch to the ground wire coming from the wall. To attach the connector, hold the wires next to each other and screw on the connector in a clockwise direction. Always make sure all bare ends are covered by the connectors. Then, connect the remaining 2 wires from the dimmer switch to the wires coming from the wall.
Once all wires are connected, screw the dimmer switch into the electrical box and reattach the cover plate. Lastly – attach the knob, restore your power again, and start reducing your energy costs!
By Kit Stansley | Updated Sep 22, 2020 4:22 PM
Photo: Kit Stansley
I like mood lighting as much as anyone, particularly first thing in the morning when the full blast of light from a 100 watt bulb makes me scream like a vampire at high noon. Could be that I’m just not a morning person. Regardless, I like to be able to adjust the brightness in a room, and installing a dimmer switch is a pretty easy way to get control over your lighting.
Before You Begin
Before you go around ripping switches out of the wall, there are a couple of things you should know about wiring and dimmer switches:
- Not all dimmer switches are compatible with Compact Fluorescent Lights. If you have CFL bulbs you will need to go with one of the newer varieties, like those from Lutron.
- Check to see if the switch you want to replace is a single pole (one switch) or three-way (can be turned on/off from multiple locations) switch—that too will determine the type of dimmer you need.
- Some dimmer switches use resistors so you’re paying for the electricity even though you’re seeing less light. Newer dimmer switches will actually conserve energy when you’re not lighting the bulb at full capacity.
Photo: Kit Stansley
How to Install a Dimmer Switch
Step 1: Power Down
Not at the switch—at the breaker. This is always at least a three-trip ordeal for me… down to the basement, flip the breaker, up to test the switch, over and over again. However, it beats sticking your hand into a live circuit any day. I always use a voltage detector before touching any wires.
Photo: Kit Stansley
Step 2: Out With The Old
Once everything is shut off, unscrew the old switch and pull everything out so you can get a good look at it. For a toggle switch like this, the wires are more than likely wrapped around the connector screws. Either loosen the screws or use the wire strippers to snip the ends off and remove the old switch.
Step 3: Install the Dimmer
To install the dimmer, read the instructions to make sure you’re clear on what wires go where and which is the top and which is the bottom. As always, green denotes the ground or copper wire. Unlike installing a light fixture, both wires going to the dimmer will be black and usually can be placed on either gold screw. There shouldn’t be any silver screws.
Photo: Kit Stansley
If the switch can be used for either a single-pole or three-way, there may be an extra screw so make sure to look at the wiring diagram. (In this case it was covered by tape so it was very clear which was the “extra” connection.)
Note: On this dimmer’s directions it said you could just insert the wire straight under the screw, rather than loop it around, and tighten the connection. But an electrician friend of mine says he always loops the wire if possible, as he’s seen too many cases where the wire pulls loose. So looping it is!
To connect the wires, strip 3/4″ of casing off the end, loop it into a U shape, hook it around the screw, and then pinch the ends together before tightening the screw down.
Photo: Kit Stansley
Step 4: Putting It Back Together
Once the wires are attached, you will want to re-fasten the switch to the electrical box with two screws top and bottom, and then re-attach the switch plate.
Photo: Kit Stansley
Turn the breaker back on, and there you have it… ultimate control over the brightness in one small section of the universe!
Light switches are easy to take for granted. They get used thousands of times over the years, until one day they start to fail and need to be replaced. Some signs of a bad light switch are clear. For instance, if there is an audible snap, crackle, or pop when you flip the switch, it’s pretty obvious the switch is defective and it’s time to replace it with a new one.
Are you concerned about one or more of your light switches? Keep reading to learn how to diagnose light switch issues and what to do next.
Need light switch help – fast? Call your local Mr. Electric ® at (844) 866-1367 for immediate assistance.
Why Do Light Switches Go Bad?
Just like any other type of simple machine, light switches have several moving parts. Over time, they wear down. Connections can become loose and plastic parts may break. Someday, each of your light switches will need to be replaced.
Four Signs It’s Time to Replace a Light Switch
When you’ve put a fresh light bulb in the fixture but the switch still doesn’t turn it on, that’s a clear sign that the light switch has died. Here are four more signs that a light switch has gone past its prime.
- Finicky light fixture
We’ve all had that one light switch that just doesn’t work right. Sometimes it turns on, sometimes it doesn’t. Occasionally it flickers for a second before turning on. And putting in a new light bulb doesn’t fix the flicker. If this is happening, the proper connections are not being made within the light switch and it’s time for a new switch.
- The switch sparks
On occasion, you may see a small spark when you flip the light switch off. This is called a load arc, which happens when the connections within the light switch are pulled away from one another. If, however, there is a large spark that makes an audible “snap,” the light switch has gone bad. If this happens and you see smoke or scorch marks, it is definitely time to get a new light switch.
- Noisy switch
When working properly, light switches don’t make any noise. So, if you start to hear any clicking, buzzing, or popping coming from the switch, something within the switch is not working properly. It’s time to replace that switch.
- Switch is warm to the touch
When turning a dimmer switch off, you may notice that it feels a little warm to the touch after having been on for a while. This is normal. However, it is not normal for a standard toggle light switch to warm up. These light switches should always feel cool. If a switch feels warm, it’s time for a new one.
How to Use a Multimeter to Test a Light Switch
A multimeter is a handheld testing device used to measure electrical voltage. Electricians and contractors use them to troubleshoot problems on motors, appliances, circuits, power supplies, wiring systems, and more. You can use a multimeter to verify whether a light switch is functioning normally.
To test a light switch with a multimeter:
- Turn off the circuit breaker that delivers power to the light switch being tested.
- Uninstall the light switch.
- Turn on the multimeter and put it on the Continuity or Ohms setting (depending on the model you have).
- Determine whether you have a single-pole switch or a three-way switch. Single-pole switches have two side terminal screws and may have a ground screw near one of the ends. A three-way switch will have a dark-colored screw (the “common” terminal) and two normal side terminals (the “travelers”).
- To test a single pole light switch, touch one multimeter lead to each of the side terminals. When you flip the switch on, the multimeter should show a reading of 1.
- To test a three-way switch, hold one multimeter lead to the common screw, and touch the other lead to one of the travelers. When you flip the switch on, the multimeter should show a reading of 1. Then touch the second lead to the other traveler to test it as well.
If your switch fails this test, it must be replaced.
- Once you have a functional light switch, carefully install it while the power is still off. Don’t forget to turn the circuit breaker back on!
Count on Mr. Electric to Replace Bad Switches
Replacing a switch can sounds simple enough but can be tricky if you’re uncertain about the status of your wiring, the electrical load on your system or the age of the last work done in this part of your house. If you have ANY doubts, it’s best to schedule an appointment with an electrical service professional, even for a ‘simple’ light switch install. Not sure you’re ready to take on this DIY project yourself? No problem! The professionals at Mr. Electric are ready to diagnose and resolve any problems you’re having with light switches. Are you ready to upgrade to dimmer switches or perhaps even smart light switches? We can help with that too. Call your local Mr. Electric today at (844) 866-1367 or request an appointment online. Curious how to tell if your toilet flange is going bad? Mr. Rooter ® Plumbing has some tips to help you troubleshoot it. As another Neighborly ® company, Mr. Rooter is your go-to source for all plumbing issues and questions.
We have a 3 button light switch in my kitchen. 2 of the switchers are dimmers controlling ceiling LED spots, and the other is just an on/off switch for under cabinet lights.
One of the dimmer switches is broken (it will only turn on if you press really hard and ping it out a couple of times). Looking inside, the dimmer switches are BG DM400AP modules ( https://www.arrowelectricals.co.uk/. -1-gang-leading-edge-push-on-off-switch-p3731 ).
Is replacing one of these dimmer modules straightforward, and am I (not a qualified eletrician) allowed to change it?
- 25 Nov 2020
Usually easy to do and yes you are allowed.
They are good dimmers i have them myself and work well with led.
Ensure the power is off and note what wires and colours go where before taking off, even on the other two switches, take pictures if possible, being a 3 gang there will be a lot of wires so if wary dont try.
There may be numerous wires of the same colour, but each has different purpose, so important you mark whats what.
Likely only two terminals on use on the dimmer your changing
You will likely need 4mm screwdriver for the plate and a 3mm for the Terminals, plus a pair of pliers
Isolate power, remove plate from wall.
Pull the knob off,
To release the dimmer you need to turn the metal ring, without the tool, carefully use a pair of pliars, but try not to scratch the surface of the plate.
A good tip is mask up the plate with tape around the nut bit so if you slip you dont damage the finish
- 1987 OLDSMOBILE 88
- 6 CYL
- 142,000 MILES
If the vehicle is not equipped with an air bag, skip Step 1 and simply disconnect the negative battery cable. Also, disregard all instructions below related to air bags.
If equipped, disable the SIR system, as outlined in of this repair guide.
If not already done, disconnect the negative battery cable.
Remove the left side sound insulator.
Lower the steering column trim plate.
Remove the steering column-to-dash screws and lower the steering column.
Remove the inflation restraint (air bag module) and the combination switch assembly.
Position the ignition switch in the OFF-UNLOCKED position. With the cylinder removed, the rod is in LOCK when it is in the next to the uppermost detent; OFF-UNLOCKED is 2 detents from the top.
Remove the mounting screws and disconnect the electrical connectors. Remove the ignition switch assembly along with the dimmer switch.
Adjust the dimmer switch.
Install the dimmer switch and attach the mounting screws. Put the ignition switch in OFF-UNLOCKED position; make sure the lock cylinder and actuating rod are in OFF-UNLOCKED (third detent from the top) position.
Install the activating rod into the switch and assemble the switch on the column. Tighten the mounting screws.
Connect the electrical connections at the dimmer switch.
Install the combination switch and replace the air bag module.
Position the steering column in place and install the column mounting screws.
Install the column trim plate and replace the sound insulator.
If equipped with the SIR system, properly enable the system, as outlined in of this section.
If not already done, connect the negative battery cable, then check the turn signals for proper operation.
For any confident do-it-yourselfer, it’s easy to replace a dimmer switch. But as for any project involving electricity, it’s important to exercise vigilance. Read on for the info on getting the job done safely and efficiently.
So How Do You Fix A Broken Dimmer Switch?
Step 1: Turn off the breaker panel control and double-check that no power is available.
Step 2 Take the plate out of the screws, slowly pull the dimmer switch, show the wires to make them visible.
Step 3: Using a screwdriver, cut the wires that connect to the switch.
Step 4 In addition to the existing cables, add the new dimmer switch to ensure the cord colors match and the light switch.
Step 5 Pull the wires carefully to make sure they are attached because loose cables lead to a broken dimmer switch and pose a risk to life.
Step 6: Reconnect the cables to the wall and activate the new dimmer switch.
Switch on the energy source and check the room’s illumination to ensure it works. Double-check the wire ties if it still doesn’t work.
The Common Dimmer Switch Issues
The dimmer switch regulates the amount of light in the room, Dimmer switches are becoming more popular to achieve a silent or bright environment in a home.
The dimmer switch can be obtained with a single-pole switch. One of the main benefits of dimmer switches is that they are of good environmental quality, and that the management of automated light in the room saves energy. They are also prone to having issues which include:
When your lights are controlled by a dimmer switch, they utilize less electricity when you have dimmed the lights. In the long term, this will reduce your consumption of electricity which in turn lowers your electric bill.
Changing out your old light switch is a quick and easy task that most anyone can do. If you follow all of the steps below (especially step 1) we can guarantee you a clean and painless installation. A variety of light dimmers can be purchased at your local hardware store. They range in price from – or more. Be sure to read the instructions below before you buy one so that you make the right choice.
STEP 1: Locate and turn off the Fuse or Circuit Breaker that controls electricity to the light switch you are changing out.
If the fuse or breaker is not labeled, you can locate the proper fuse/breaker by turning the light switch on and flipping each fuse/breaker off and then on again, one at a time. When the light controlled by the switch you are replacing goes off, you have found the right one. Leave that fuse/breaker turned off and make sure the rest are turned on. *tip, if you tripped a few breakers before locating the appropriate one, be sure to check if your alarm clock needs to be reprogrammed.
STEP 2: Remove the wall plate and pull the switch from wall.
Unscrew the two small screws holding the cover plate to the wall and remove the plate. Next, remove the screws that hold the switch to the electrical box in the wall. Gently pull the switch out of the box so that you have access to the terminals on the switch and the wires in the wall.
STEP 3: Determine your switch type.
This step is very important. You need to take note of how the switch you are removing is wired, in order to correctly install the new one. The wiring will be either a single pole configuration or a 3-way configuration. A 3-way configuration is used when more than one switch is used to control the same light source. Even if your light source is controlled by a solitary switch (more common) you should still check the wiring configuration.
A single pole switch will have two insulated wires connected to two screws of the same color and should be replaced with a single pole dimmer.
A 3-way switch will have three insulated wires connected to three screws. One of these wires is connected to a screw of a different color or labeled COMMON. Label the wire in order to identify it when wiring the new switch. Replace with a 3-WAY dimmer.
STEP 4: Remove the wires from the switch in the wall.
Simply unscrew the terminals and remove the wires.
STEP 5: Wire in your new dimmer.
Connect the green ground wire (fig. 1 a.) to the green wire in the wall box or to the grounding screw inside the box. Next, connect one of the black wires on the dimmer to either of the wires you removed from the switch. Connect the other black wire on the dimmer to the remaining wire you removed from the switch. If you are installing a 3-way dimmer, attach the black dimmer wire to the wire you labeled, and attach the red wires as described above for the single pole installation.
STEP 6: Attach dimmer to wall and install cover plate.
Make sure that all the wires in the wall are taped and or covered with wire nuts (provided with dimmer). If any wires are left exposed, it will likely cause a short. Carefully tuck the wires inside the box so there is room for the dimmer. Screw the dimmer to the wall box. After the dimmer is screwed in place, attach the cover plate.
STEP 7: Turn power back on.
Go back to your apartment’s electrical source and turn the breaker/fuse back on. If you don’t smell smoke, your new dimmer is ready for use!
Now that your home is equipped with light dimmers, cook a romantic dinner for your beloved and set the proper mood by dimming the lights.
Timothy is the founder and editor of Charles & Hudson and former editor at Popular Mechanics, This Old House, and Lifehacker. His work has been published on Wired, Bob Vila, DIY Network, and The Family Handyman. He is also the founder of the Webby-nominated Built by Kids and host of the popular Tool Crave podcast.
Installing a dimmer switch for your recessed lighting is one of the simplest ways to dramatically increase the flexibility of your lighting. It’s also a fairly simple DIY project that almost anyone can do.
This post will show you how to install a typical dimmer switch for recessed lighting.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- New dimmer switch and cover plate.
- Medium screwdrivers – Flat and Phillips
- Wire cutters/strippers
- Live wire tester (Non-contact type recommended)
When purchasing your new dimmer switch, you’ll need to know whether the lighting circuit is a single-pole (lights controlled from one location) or a three-way (lights controlled from two locations). Some dimmers are universal and will work for both single-pole and three-way circuits, but read the packaging to be sure.
Once you have your new dimmer and tools, this project should take 20-minutes or less depending on your level of experience.
I’ve listed the steps below, and included a video by the Home Depot that walks you through the process. I recommend watching the video first so that you are familiar with the overall process, and then refer to the steps listed below it as needed.
Here’s a summary of the steps to install a dimmer:
Step 1. Turn off the power.
Step 2. Remove the old switch and use your live wire tester to be sure the power is off.
Step 3. Remove the wires connected to the switch. If it’s a 3-way switch, label the wire that is connected to the “common” screw (usually a black screw) before removing the wire.
Step 4. Strip the insulation on all the wires about 3/4 of an inch.
Step 5. Connect the ground wires.
Step 6. Connect the remaining wires. If it’s a single pole circuit, the order of the wires usually doesn’t matter. If it’s a 3-way circuit, connect the wire that you labeled “common” to the common wire on the dimmer. It is usually the black wire. Then connect the remaining two wires, the order doesn’t matter.
Step 7. Fold the wires into the switch box and use your screwdriver to install the dimmer and cover plate.
Turn on the power and enjoy the flexibility of your lighting!
Replacing a standard light switch with a single dimmer is a pretty simple do-it-yourself project. In about 15 minutes you’ll have the ability to adjust the light in a room for any activity – and you’ll save energy. Use the tool below to help you install a single pole, 3-way, or multi-location dimmer, switch or sensor.
Terms and Conditions
Warranty on your Lutron dimmers and products will be void if installed outside of the guidelines and instructions provided in the Wiring Wizard tool [the “Wizard”].
NOTE: The Lutron Wiring Wizard tool is for use and guidance in installing Lutron retail products only and is not for the use or installation of any other manufacturer’s products. Lutron disclaims all liability whatsoever for improper use of the Wiring Wizard, including use of the Wiring Wizard with another manufacturer’s products.
This tool provides step-by-step instructions and guidance, including installation videos, a walk-through of installation instructions, and a PDF wiring diagram, for a home-install of Lutron products, dimmers and switches. The installation guides and materials contained within the Wiring Wizard are intended for use in personal and residential installation only. The Wizard is not currently compatible with neutral-based controls, fan/light combination controls, or Grafik T products. An electrical professional should assist with all large scale and complex commercial installation projects. Purchasers should ask appropriate questions and request references before buying any products and/or entering a contract with any party. The information contained in this document is intended for illustrative installation guidance and comparative purposes only, and is subject to change at any time. Wire variations, including color, may vary from wall-to-wall set-up or installation. Lutron does not warrant that (a) the information is complete, up-to-date, accurate and/or error-free; (b) the Lutron controls listed and the install guidelines provided will always be compatible with your project; and (c) that the information provided will be a viable or appropriate solution for your project needs. You are entirely responsible for and assume all risk for the use of the information.
This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read my Disclosure Policy.
Up the cozy factor in any room by adding an inexpensive dimmer switch socket to any table lamp or floor lamp – no electrical skills needed!
The right kind of light can change the way any room in your home feels.
Did you know you can have the option to make any room feel cozy one night with the soft glow of a dimmed lamp to another night of needing the same lamp brightly lit to read, do hobbies or play games?
In my house, I like every wall switch to have a dimmer switch wired to an outlet. Any lamp that gets plugged into these outlets becomes controlled by a wall switch. Dimmable by turning or sliding a dial on the wall switch.
Wall dimmer switches are common in the dining rooms of most homes so a chandelier over the table can be dimmed when entertaining.
But what about lamps not near an outlet that has been wired to do this?
Did you know even an existing lamp you have can become dimmable without the need of an electrician or connected to a wall switch? All that is needed is a small tweak to the fixture’s socket.
I added one to this floor lamp.
I also added the same style socket dimmer to the table lamp I recently makeover.
Having the option to dim both these lamps in my living room, allows me to up the cozy factor.
Dimmed lamp light is the best light for watching TV, to enjoy candle glow and for sitting by a fire in the fireplace while snuggled under a comfy throw.
Think how nice it would be to dim any lamp when you don’t need it to be bright all the time.
Dimmers on lamps = instant room ambiance!
Can You Make Any Lamp Dimmable?
Most of these dimmer sockets will work with any standard incandescent bulbs up to 150 watts. For LED bulbs – you may need specialized dimmers.
4 Types of Dimmers You Can Use to Dim Any Lamp
Making a lamp dimmable is an easy process.
Option 1 – Replacement Dimmer Socket – no electrical knowledge needed. Simple change-out of the lamp socket. This is my go-to. See how-to video below.
Option 2 – Screw in Dimmer Socket – These are the fastest and easiest dimmer sockets to add to a lamp. No tools needed.
- The downfall is most of these are made of plastic and are wide which may interfere with the lampshade harp.
- They also add about 1 and 1/4 inch to the height of the bulb. If using a shade that is connected to the bulb, the shade may become too high from the lamp base and not look in proportion.
Option 3 – Corded Plug-In Dimmer Switch. These are easy to plug-in, but you will have a separate switch and cord hanging from the lamp. Too many cords to deal with.
Option 4 – Wired in the Wall Dimmer that is connected to a ceiling mounted fixture and controlled by a light switch.
- These can also be wired to an outlet so that a lamp with a dial control that is plugged in the outlet can be dimmed. Electrical knowledge is needed.
Adding any of these dimming option to a room will add “instant cozy” to any space with the turn of a knob.
How to Install a Dimmer Socket on a Table Lamp or Floor Lamp
Always remember to unplug your lamp before changing out the socket.
To view the above video, select the arrow in the center.
No Dimmers in a Room? When you don’t have a dimmer on a lamp and want to add the cozy dimmed light feeling to a space, use one or more 15 watt lightbulbs to simulate candlelight. Works like magic when you don’t have a dimmer switch or socket on your light fixtures and lamps.
Do you have dimmers on your light fixtures and lamps?
Removing a dimmer switch is not too difficult. The first thing you will want to do is turn off the power to the switch. Put a piece of tape over the breaker so that no one inadvertently turns it back on.
This happens when the stereo quits working and your children don’t know you’re working on the power. In fact let everyone in the house know that you will be working on the electric. Check with the tester to make sure that it is dead.
Before you start removing a dimmer switch, see the article ‘Electrical Safety Tips’, for added information on electrical safety. Electricity is dangerous, don’t take chances.
Remove the cover plate and then unscrew the switch from the box. Light switches interrupt the hot (Usually Black or Red) that goes to the light. Inside the box the neutrals (White) will be connected together. So you should have a black wire on both sides of the switch. A ground wire may also be connected to a green grounding lug. Check one more time to make sure that the power is off.
Remove the wires from the old switch. Put the wire nuts back on for now just as an added precaution. For single pole switches, one light, one switch the wiring is simple. You break the current for the hot wire going to the light. Should be two black wires attached to the switch.
Installing the New Dimmer Switch
With the proper wires located, you can begin installing a dimmer switch. Take note of the orientation of the switch wires. It is likely that the dimmer switch that you purchased needs to be turned a certain way. Check the instructions. I know you hate to do that, but go ahead, wait until no one is looking. Turn the switch the right way.
Bend a hook in the wires or strip them the proper distance if the switch has hold down plates on the lugs. The ground wire is always wrapped around the green screw. Check the installation instructions for the switch you purchased to be sure.
Hook the wires up to the lugs on the switch. Turn the power back on to make sure it is working properly. Does the light work? Yes, great! You’re almost done wiring a light switch. Turn the power back off and wrap some electrical tape around the lugs. Screw the switch back into the box and install the cover plate. That’s all there is, congratulations!
Dimming non-dimmable LED lights is possible but not easy. Most people dim them using a simple light switch, but this will only work for incandescent and halogen bulbs.
When you’re looking to dim a light that actually can’t dim, for that reason, you’ll need some extra hardware and know-how.
This blog post will provide you guidelines on how to dim non-dimmable led lights in many ways so they don’t make sleeping difficult for those with migraines or other sensitivities.
10 Ways to Dim Non-Dimmable Led Lights
1. Upgrade the Dimming Circuit
Install a dimming device called an “LED driver” or “controllable power supply.” Doing this will turn the power to the LED lights on and off at different levels giving you more control over your lighting.
2. Use Dimming Wire
You’ll need to install a visible-light sensor, which will allow you to plug-in dimming wire and dim your non-dimmable led lights. It will then control the light through a power cord or wireless remote control.
Some newer and more advanced versions of this technology are available, including WiFi-enabled lamps that you can control with your phone!
3. Use Dimmer Switches
If you’re looking to dim lights in a room with an existing light switch, you can install a dimmer to control the lights.
It will allow you to set the brightness of your room without altering the color or feel of your lights.
4. Use Motion Sensors
If you have ceiling lights in your room that doesn’t already come with their own remote, consider adding sensors that will dim the lights when there is consistent movement in the room.
Of course, this type of dimming isn’t going to give you as much control over the brightness of your lights, but it’s a great option if you don’t want to add extra hardware to your home.
5. Use Motorized Shades
Motorized shades can be used with dimmable light-bulbs but will also work with your non-dimmable led lights. You’ll need to install a switch or dimmer to get the most out of this functionality, though.
6. Use Static Dimmers
If you don’t want to add wiring or new switches for dimming, consider static dimmers attached to the top of your lights.
These are great for places like bedrooms or living rooms where you want to set the mood with lighting.
7. Add Filters to Your Non-Dimmable Led Lights
Look for decorative filters attached to non-dimmable led lights that will allow you to change their appearance while keeping the brightness consistent.
This method may make more sense if you’re trying to match your non-dimmable led lights to the lighting in a room that already has dimmable bulbs.
8. Add a Floor Switch
You can add a floor switch, but it’s not ideal for most people because you’ll have to get up every time you change the light level.
However, if you choose this method, remember that your power consumption will also go up.
9. Use a Remote Control
The remote control is an excellent option if you want to be able to change the light levels when you’re out of earshot from your lights.
It’s also suitable for when you have visitors who might not know how to dim non-dimmable led lights or trying to find other hardware in your home.
10. Install an Electronic Ballast
The ballast controls the voltage and current provided to the lights. Look for the type of ballast that provides better dimming capabilities, but this is not an option for most people because they are difficult to install and costly.
You should also note that many of these options are only available if you’re using LED bulbs from a reputable brand.
Difference Between Leading Edge vs. Trailing-Edge Dimmers
The difference between leading and trailing edge dimmers is the method of controlling the light.
Most common dimmer switches use a leading-edge switching system that opens and closes very fast to control the intensity of the lights on and off.
Trailing-edge dimming systems, which are usually more expensive, uses a slower pulse technique to control the intensity of the light.
As most dimmer switches that are sold for home use leading-edge dimmers, so you’ll need to find a device that’s specifically designed to work with trailing-edge systems.
The best way to dim non-dimmable LED lights is by using an integrated trailing-edge dimming system, which will allow you to control the intensity of the light in real-time.
While you can control the brightness using switch/dimmer combinations, it’s often become slow and challenging to work.
Integrated trailing edge dimming systems make controlling lights easy, allowing you to dim down the brightness without causing any discomfort.
In conclusion, you can not dim every LED light. Still, if you have the opportunity to install a lighting system with intelligent controls or replace your current fixtures, this is worth considering.
It will save money on energy and create a more welcoming environment for those who want to work in warm spaces.
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to dim your LED lights without buying new ones, this blog post on how to dim non-dimmable led lights should work just fine.
We hope this article has been helpful. If you have any questions or need help with your LED lights, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Need to remove your old switch to put in your new fancy one? Well, you’re in the right place. Here, I’m going to run you through how to install a dimmer switch as clearly as possible.
I’ll give you the quick and dirty guide, then run through all the different types of wires and how they correlate to a light switch. Finally, I’ll give you a more in-depth guide for both single-pole and 3-way light switches.
DISCLAIMER: Electricity go zap
The Two-Second Version
Turn off the power for the switch via the circuit breaker. Take out the switch, test for electricity with a voltage tester, and then remove the two main wires (plus the green ground wire, which could also be bare). Connect the two wires to both of the copper screws on the new dimmer switch and then connect the ground wire to the green screw. Screw the dimmer into the wall.
That’s basically all you need to know if you just want to replace your switch and be done with it. But if you want to replace your switch with confidence, it may be helpful to know what exactly goes on behind your walls. Also, this assumes you have a single-pole switch and not a three-way, but we’ll get into that later. And then most dimmer switches just have wires that come out of the back instead of screws, but that’s basically the same thing.
Anyways, let’s talk about wire colors!
The Different Types of Wires
There a few different colors of wires you’ll find behind wall faceplates and they usually correspond to specific roles (there’s some inconsistency, so you may need to use your thinking cap to make sure what wire is what). Here are the different colors:
-Hot Wire (usually red or black, connects to copper or black screw): this is the wire that the electricity flows through first. If you touched it, the electricity could flow through you to the ground.
-Neutral Wire (usually white, connects to silver screw): this is the wire that connects to the hot wire so electricity can flow. If you touched it, nothing would happen because it has no potential by itself.
-Ground Wire (usually green or bare, connects to green screw): this is an extra wire that connects the circuit to the ground. This isn’t necessary for the circuit to work–it’s just a backup plan. If there’s an excess of electricity, this is the escape route.
If you aren’t sure if a wire color is telling the truth, the best thing to do would be to call an electrician, but you can also just check what terminals (screws) the wires are connected to when you pull the faceplate out.
However, the only wire that’s needed for a light switch is the hot wire, so you won’t really need to worry about any of this for a dimmer switch. There should also be a ground wire, but some older switches don’t have that.
Now that you know about the different types of wires, let’s put on our x-ray goggles and see what exactly is going on behind those walls.
The Circuitry Behind Your Drywall
The simplest practical circuit you can have is a hot wire connected to a device (like a light bulb) that’s connected to a neutral wire all the way back to the source. If you were to install a switch, you would put it in the middle of the hot wire. When attaching wires to the switch, it doesn’t matter which wire is on which terminal because they’re both part of the same hot wire.
Technically, even outlets don’t need to distinguish between neutral and hot terminals, though there is a difference. As long as the circuit makes a complete loop, any device plugged into the wall will usually power on. The main trouble with flipping the hot and neutral wires is safety. If you were to flip the wires and then plug in an incandescent lamp, the metal sheath that holds the bulb would be electrified and could shock you.
And in the same spirit, light switches could be put on neutral wires, but then you’d have more wire with the potential to shock you and that’s a little more dangerous. So, it’s best to follow the rules.
Now let’s talk about the difference between single-pole and three-way light switches and how to recognize them. (This is important because both types have a different number of terminals on the back, so they are not interchangeable–well, technically a three-way could be used as a single-pole, but that’s probably dangerous).
Single-Pole or Three-Way?
Basically, single-pole switches control a light by itself, but a three-way switch teams up with another three-way switch to control a light from two places at once (it’s called three-way because there are three main wires connected to each switch).
Single-pole switches receive one wire and send out one wire. When you turn the switch off, it prevents electricity from flowing through it, which turns things off.
The first three-way switch in a circuit receives one wire and sends out two wires. When you flip it, the course of the electricity changes from one of the outgoing wires to the other.
The second three-way switch in a circuit receives the two outgoing wires from the first switch and sends out one wire. When you flip it, the incoming electricity is received from the other wire and blocked from the original.
The two connecting wires in a three-way switch circuit are usually different colors, like red and black (they’re also called traveler wires). When the first switch sends electricity through the red wire, the second switch must accept electricity from the red wire for the circuit to be complete. If their colors don’t match up, the circuit is broken and electricity doesn’t flow.
Simple enough, right? And if you aren’t sure if the switch on your wall is one-pole or three-way, just try all the other switches in the room to see if any of them control the same light. If you find any matching pairs, then you have a three-way. Otherwise, it’s single-pole.
Now that you have some basic household-wiring knowledge, let’s actually get that old switch out of the wall and put that fancy-shmancy dimmer in its place.
Dimmer switches are one of the many great inventions which we have seen being integrated into smart home technology.
For those of you who are unaware of what a dimmer switch is, it is basically a device through which users are allowed to be able to control the brightness of their light.
How to Fix Dimmer Switch Turns On But Doesn’t Dim?
A dimmer switch looks just like a normal switch that you may have in your house. In order to get it to work, all the user has to do is to turn on the switch. Unfortunately, a number of users have reported that their Dimmer switch turns on but doesn’t dim properly.
This is why today; we will be giving you a list of ways on fixing this problem. So, without wasting any time, let’s take a look!
- Ensure that You Have Installed It Correctly
If you notice your dimmer not work like it’s supposed to, one of the first things we recommend that you check is whether you have installed the dimmer correctly. For instance, it could be that your dimmer is not really connected to your lights.
Because of this, you are able to turn on your dimmer but it isn’t dimming your lights. To fix this, you will have to go through the installation procedure again. Ensure that you do install the dimmers correctly after which your lights should start dimming through the dimmer switch.
- Bulb Isn’t Compatible
It is also possible that the reason why your bulb isn’t dimming could be due to the fact that your bulb simply does not support the feature at all. In order for you to be able to successfully dim your lights, you will have to make sure that your bulb does support the dimming feature.
Ordinary light bulbs don’t usually come with the feature, whereas most smart bulbs do support the use of dimmers. What you have to do is to determine whether your bulb supports it or not. If it does not, then you will have to get one that does.
- Faulty Dimmer
Another reason leading up to this issue could be that your dimmer is faulty. We have seen plenty of cases where users end up frying their dimmer which results in them facing issues with the dimmer.
We strongly recommend that you check your dimmer. The same could be the case for you. You can check your dimmer by using it in a different place with a different smart bulb that supports dimming. Alternatively, you can try installing another dimmer at the same spot to see if it works or not.
- Could Be Time to Replace Your Dimmer
Most users don’t know this, but dimmers tend to run on a rheostat which may wear out after an extended amount of use. Whenever that happens, you will notice certain effects to start appearing which also includes you not being able to dim your lights.
In these cases, the only viable solution is to replace your dimmer with a newer one. Just like many other smart accessories, dimmers don’t really have that much durability and they may need to be replaced after a while.
- Ensure You Are Using Correct Dimmer
One thing we highly suggest you check is the means through which you are controlling your lights. If there is only a single switch responsible for controlling the light, then you will need a single-pole dimmer. On the other hand, if you are controlling your lights through two or more locations, then you will have to make use of a 3-way dimmer.
The Bottom Line:
Are you experiencing an issue where your dimmer switch turns on but doesn’t dim? If so, then all you need to do is to follow the instructions that we have given in this article. Doing so should result in a quick and easy fix to the issue.
Lost your old light dimmer knob? Find plastic dimmer knob replacements for GE, Pass & Seymour, Lutron, and Leviton rotary buttons, plus Lutron knobs for slide dimming controls and options for vintage dimmer knobs.
When replacing a round dimmer knob, be sure to look at the back to see which type of stem is compatible.
We carry replacement knobs for 4 brands:
- GE (the old type of GE knob has been discontinued, and can be replaced with Pass & Seymour)
- Pass & Seymour
Leviton dimming devices have a “D” shaped stem, which fits easily into round replacement knobs with a “D” shaped stem opening.
Lutron dimmers have stems with ridges that align with ridges in Lutron brand replacement knobs.
Back of old GE knobs.
Pass & Seymour knobs fit both P&S devices, as well as GE dimmers.
To attach a new P&S knob to a GE stem, note that the back of the P&S knob has 2 wings. Simply slide the GE dimmer stem into ridged opening on the knob, making sure one of the knob’s wings is aligned with the slit in the GE stem. The other wing will sit between ridges, keeping the fit snug.
The correct replacement knob for old low voltage GE lighting contollers like the one shown here is Lutron.
Order here by selecting “Lutron” as the “Stem Type”
Here is a vintage farmhouse Lutron dimmer with light bulb behind the knob that glows all the time.
Replace the knob with Lutron brand, replace the cover with this round opening wall plate for illuminated knobs.
These are Ideal Industries dimmers, which were discontinued in the 1990’s. Replacement dimmers & knobs are not available.
If you need a new round Ideal Industries dimmer knob, you will need to replace the dimmer itself. Choose a new rotary dimmer or update to a modern dimmer style.
Leviton L6620 fan control knobs are not sold separately.
You’ll need to replace the device if you no longer have the knob or control switch underneath.
Here is another type of dimmer knob stem, an unidentified brand and type. We do not carry replacement knobs with this cutout on the back.
Here is another example of dimmer knob with attachment to reach the stem, which is sunken inside a wooden cabinet.
Knobs that reach back into a recessed stem hole are not manufactured.
You’ll need to drill a larger round opening into the cabinet that is big enough for the dimmer to sit sunken into the wood.
Depending on how deep you must go for the knob to properly reach the stem, you may need to create an even larger cutout to give you enough room to access and spin the knob.
The correct plate for a dimmer with a rotary knob is a toggle cover plate (the screw holes for installing the cover will line up and the round knob will cover the small rectangle opening in the plate).
How far does the stem push into the knob?
The dimmer’s stem pushes into the back of the knob 5/16″ of an inch.
The knobs are about 1/2″ deep.
If your slider dimmer or fan control needs a new knob, find replacement knobs for Lutron slider devices.
How to fit a dimmer switch; advice and wiring instructions for fitting or installing a dimmer light switch and swapping an existing light switch for a dimmer switch. Understand how to safely wire in a dimmer switch and find out about the regulations that cover this sort of project.
Warning: To complete electrical works you must comply with Electrical Regulations – Click here for more information.
Please also see our project on the New Wiring and Cable Colours.
PLEASE SEE OUR PROJECT ON PART P BUILDING REGULATIONS FOR INFORMATION ON DIY ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS. Make sure you have isolated any circuit you are working on.
How to Fit a Dimmer Switch
Dimmer switches are the name used for plate switches which allow you to control the brightness of a light. This is achieved by regulating the amount of current flowing through the circuit.
The most basic, and consequently, the least expensive variety of switch, is the simple dial that you turn to click on, and turn further to make the light brighter. Obviously the reverse is true to dim and turn off. To replace an ordinary, one way, on/off switch with a dimmer is easy. Simply (TURN OFF THE LIGHTING CIRCUIT FIRST) remove the face screws and pull out the face plate.
Existing one way 1 gang light switch
Inside wiring of an existing 1 way 1 gang light switch
Dimmer Switch mechanism
You will find a red and black wire connected to the switch (or a brown and blue wire for new wiring colours). Both of these wires are live wires when the circuit is reconnected. (see lights and switches) Although there was none there, we have added a red indicator to the black wire. If you have a metal face plate for your switch there should also be a green and yellow earth wire to a small terminal on this.
This earth wire should be connected to the metal box in the wall called a pattress box. If the face plate is plastic there is no need for this short length of earth wire. The small screws are undone to release the wires and they are reconnected in the dimmer switch to the appropriate terminals.
If you have more than a red and black wire in your switch, then you are involved in two or three way lighting. This is very complicated and if you cannot work out what you are doing from our diagrams on two and three way lighting in the see lights and switches then call an electrician.
1 gang dimmer switch
More expensive types allow the dial to be pushed for on/off operation.
2 gang rotary twin dimmer switch
There are also remote control dimmer switch units available, easily replacing a standard switch or existing dimmer switch. Most are remote or manually controlled. Remote operation can take place from up to 15m away and the last light level is stored in the memory. The unit below is suitable for a 40W to 300W loading.
Remote control dimmer switch
For regulations governing heights of sockets etc, please see our socket height information project
Electric Wiring Domestic book available from Amazon
Wiring and Lighting Book from Amazon
All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards , founder of DIY Doctor and industry expert in building technology.