What you'll need

  • Philips screwdriver
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Wire stripper
  • Wire cutter
  • Dimmer
  • Dimmer wallplate (if needed)
  • Mounting hardware
  • Wire connector nuts
  • Electrical tape
  • Masking tape

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How to Install a Dimmer

Installing a dimmer is really quite simple. It can be accomplished in four separate steps. First, you turn off the power, then disconnect the old switch, connect the new dimmer switch and replace the wall plate.  Then if you’re so inclined, set the mood.

Video: How to Install a Dimmer


Step 1: Turn off the power

  • Remember you are dealing with electricity, so turn off the power at the breaker or fuse box. (WARNING! Shock Hazard: To avoid risk of serious personal injury or death, turn power off at circuit breaker before installing dimmer.)
  • Confirm power is off by flipping the switch on and off.
  • Remove wallplate and switch mounting screws so the switch can be pulled from the wall and the wires exposed.
  • Be careful not to touch any of the wires until you’ve confirmed they aren’t carrying any electrical current.


Step 2: Disconnect the old switch

  • Use masking tape to mark the wires that are connected to the switch. These are the wires you need to connect to your new dimmer.
  • If you have a digital camera, take a picture of the existing wiring, in case you need to refer to it when installing the new switch.
  • If you’re replacing a three-way switch, use masking tape to mark the common wire. This will usually be connected to a darker terminal on the switch than the other two wires.
  • Disconnect all wires from the old switch by loosening the screws and unhooking the wires.


Step 3: Connect the new dimmers switch

  • For a single-pole application, which means the light is only controlled by this switch you are replacing, connect the green dimmer wire to the bare copper ground wire in the box using a supplied connector.
  • Twist clockwise to tighten.
  • For a 3-way application, which means the light is controlled from this switch and another switch location, connect the common wire from the dimmer, which is typically black, to the common house wire that you marked off earlier with masking tape.
  • Connect the other two house wires, called traveler wires, to the other two dimmer wires, as with a standard switch. In a typical three-way switch configuration, the traveler wires will be red, or white with black markings.


Step 4: Replace the wallplate:

  • Carefully tuck the wires back into the electrical box.
  • Mount your dimmer to the wall.
  • Align the dimmer and tighten the screws.
  • Mount the wallplate on to the dimmer.
  • Secure with the wallplate screws.
  • Turn the power back on at the circuit breaker panel or the fuse box.



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