Setting the Mood: How to Install a Dimmer Switch in 6 Easy Steps

rotary dimmer light switch

Overhead lighting is the best way to illuminate a lot of space. But, if your lights run off of a standard two-setting switch system, there's no way for you to adjust the light to fit the situation or time of day.

Light has a lot of control over how our brains work and being able to dim your lighting fixtures could be the answer to leading a healthier, happier life. Fortunately, you can transform your lighting by installing a dimmer switch.

Swapping out your On/Off switch for a dimmer is a pretty easy and straightforward task -- once you know how to do it.

Interested in installing a dimmer switch but don't know where to start?

Here's everything you need to know about how to install a dimmer switch.

1. Power Down

The first step with any electrical work is to shut off the power to the area.

If you've never had to shut off your power before, you can do it by flipping the switch in your fuse box that corresponds to the room or area.

Once you've done that, give the switch you will be replacing a flick to make sure the power is off.

2. Remove the Old Switch Plate

Once the power is off, you need to remove the switch's cover plate.

The cover is only there to protect the switch, cover any openings, and make the switch look more like part of the wall.

Switch covers are pretty easy to remove and are usually only attached with one or two screws.

Using the appropriate screwdriver, unscrew the screws holding the plate in place, then pull the plate from the wall.

3. Unhook the Old Switch

Removing an old light switch is a relatively simple two-part process. First, you'll need to unscrew the switch itself from the wall.

Next, you'll need to remove the wires from the switch, which is why it is vital that you turn the power off before beginning the process.

Before removing the wires, make a note of how they attach. You can simplify things by just taking a picture you can refer to later.

Loosen the screws that are holding the wiring in place, then remove them from the switch. Make sure to bend the wires slightly so that they do not come into contact with each other.

4. Attach the Dimmer Switch

Now it's time to install your new dimmer switch.

Using needle-nose pliers and working one at a time, attach the wires to the dimmer exactly how they hook up to your old switch.

Make sure to hold each wire in place while retightening the screws to ensure nothing slides out of place. Once the wires are securely in attached, screw your new dimmer switch into the wall.

5. Install the New Switch Plate

Next, you'll need to screw the new switch cover into place.

Align the switch plate over your new dimmer switch and screw it in. If you'd like to paint or cover your plate to match the rest of the room, you can always unscrew it later on after you make sure everything is in working order.

6. Test Out Your New Dimmer

Finally, go back to your fuse box and restore power to the area. Then all that's left to do is test your new dimmer.

If your dimmer isn't working as its supposed to, you may have gotten the wires crossed. Make sure you turn off the power before unscrewing the new switch and reorganizing the wires.

While installing a dimmer switch may sound easy on paper, any electrical work can be tricky and potentially dangerous. If you're worried about taking on the job yourself, you may want to consider hiring a professional.

If you're looking for new construction electrical services to help install switches and fixtures, you can find help here.

How to Install a Dimmer Switch

Now that you know how to install a dimmer switch, it's time to get to work.

Are you looking for more helpful how-to guides? We can help! We have dozens of guides on everything from electrical work to interior design guides.

Have a question or comment? Contact us today!


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