Installing a dimmer switch is great way to get the most out of your lighting fixtures. Whether it’s a simple can light or an expensive and extravagant chandelier, a dimmer switch can help set the mood using any existing or new light fixture you already have or are ready to install. Use these directions for installing a dimmer switch and you’ll be sure to have the bright and white light you need or a dim and soft night light—and all at the touch of a switch.
Shutting Down the Power
It’s only logical to prevent damage to the equipment and harm to yourself by turning off the power supply to the switch. This can usually be done by flipping off one of the breakers at the breaker panel that controls the switch you wish to replace. If you can’t find which one it is safely, it’s best to shut the entire supply of power off to the house.
Safety Tip: No matter if you’re installing a dimmer switch for a wall sconce or a pendant light, it’s always a good idea to get a flashlight or other battery powered light to help you see when the power is shut off.
Take it All Apart
Removing the switch plate and switch from the housing is the next step in the process. Remove the switch plate and set aside with the screw for later use. Remove the switch by unscrewing the top and bottom screw in the outlet box. Pull out the switch and wires. Disconnect the two black wires from the switch. Remove the grounding screw last.
Some switches have screws on the side to remove the switch easily. Others have a small hole in the back the wire attaches into. It cannot be pulled from the hole unless a small nail or screwdriver is pressed into the square release hole above the wire. This will release the inner clamp from the wire and allow it to go free. Never cut the wires from the switch.
Disassembly Tip: Some ceiling fan lighting fixtures might not work well with a dimmer switch. Check manufactures specifications before installing any dimmer switch.
Reassemble the Dimmer Switch
If all goes well, you should have two bare black wires, two white wires in a wire nut and a bare or green wire that is the ground. Some dimmer switches have pigtails or wires attached to the switch. These must be twisted together with another black wire with a wire nut. Other dimmer switches have holes or screws that accept the copper hardwires into the switch.
Wires should be straight and uniform to fit into switch holes correctly. You may need to cut the wire if it is bent too badly to fit into the hole. Ensure there is enough wire to reach the switch before making any cuts, and then insert the ground wire followed by the two black wires.