Installing a Single-Pole Dimmer Switch

9 Oct 2014
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Dimmer switches enable you to control the varying brightness of a light fixture. Dimming of lights can help to make lamps last longer and can even set the mood. Here's how to install one yourself.
What's needed
Flathead Screwdriver
Electric Voltage Detector
Needlenose Pliers
Twist-on Wire Connectors
Dimmer Switch Plate
Dimmer Switch Plate Cover

What dimmer switches do, is basically give us the ability to control the varying brightness of a light fixture. Dimmers are most often installed in dining rooms, to create a certain type of atmosphere while having dinner; recreation areas such as TV rooms and living rooms, to dim lights while watching that favourite movie or bedrooms, where a calm and relaxing mood is needed to encourage sleep and other types of activities. Any standard single-pole switch can be replaced with a single-pole dimmer switch. Single-pole dimmer switches control one fixture from one location, as long as the switch box is of adequate size installation should be a breeze. Dimmer switches look different from ordinary switches, they tend to have larger bodies. They also generate a small amount of heat that must be allowed to escape, it is for this reason that dimmer switches should never be installed in undersized electrical boxes or in boxes that are crowded with circuit wires. Dimmer switches are available in several styles, for example, toggle-type, dial-type, automatic and slide-action. When installing, remember to carefully follow the manufacturer’s specifications.  

Now that you’ve been briefed,  here’s how you can go about installing a single-pole dimmer switch. 

Turn Power Off
testing electrical wires before installing dimmer switch

When working with electricity, you must always turn the power off at the main service panel before you start any work. Go ahead and remove your old single-pole switch by removing the cover plate and mounting screws. Hold the switch plate with care and pull the switch from the box. Now that your wires are exposed, be careful not to touch them until you use your voltage tester to ensure that the power is indeed off. Remove the twist-on wire connectors to expose the copper inside.

Connect Wires
connecting electrical wires to dimmer switch

Get your dimmer switch plate and attach it to the exposed copper of the wires inside the housing. You can attach them using a needlenose pliers or you can use your fingers, if you think your fingers are strong enough. Connect the wires according to the colour codes, red goes with brown, green goes with copper and black goes with blue. It doesn’t matter which you attach first. When you have attached them replace the twist-on wire connectors.

Attach Dimmer Switch Plate
securing dimmer switch to box

Fit the dimmer switch plate over the connected wires and push them securely into the housing. Place the dimmer switch plate in the screw position and secure it with the mounting screws, top and bottom, using your flathead screwdriver. 

Final Stage
finishing installing a dimmer switch

Place the dimmer switch plate cover over the switch plate and using your flathead screwdriver, screw it in place. Turn the power back on and test out your newly installed single pole dimmer switch. If your lights are being controlled properly, you have installed it successfully!

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Dimmer switches save energy and prolong bulb life. Here are the energy savings you can expect from using your dimmer switch. 

You may also be interested in "Cool Tools: Electric Voltage Detector"

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