wiring-a-dimmer-switch-pic1Is wiring a dimmer switch something you can do? Maybe the switch is old and worn out looking. In the evening the light is too bright, why not replace it with a dimmer switch? Rarely, a switch may go bad, and need to be replaced. Light switches are the easiest of all items to wire. Only one wire is involved, unless it has a grounding lug and then you have two. The Hot (Black) and the Ground (Bare or Green).

For related information see the articles 'Wiring a Three Way Switch', 'How To Wire a Light Switch' and 'Troubleshooting Wiring Problems'. 

Obtain your desired dimmer switch before you begin. This is where you will have a problem. I must warn you that there are a lot of choices for dimmer switches. You may need to involve your spouse in this decision. I know, it's a hassle, but it takes less time than going back a second time with both of you.

Find a dimmer switch that suits you and you're ready to go. They can vary quite a bit in cost. You are mostly paying for the look on the expensive ones.

Wiring a Dimmer Switch - Information

What Can You Save?

Prices will vary but it will probably cost between $40 and $150 to have someone come out and replace a light switch for you. New dimmer switches can run anywhere from $5 to, well, a lot more. Your savings could be between $35 and $145, not bad for fifteen minutes of work wiring a dimmer switch.

How Hard Could It Be?

Wiring a dimmer switch is not that difficult.

These repairs will have a Difficulty Level of: Simple
These repairs require a Skill Level of: Handyman
For and explanation of the terms in this section, see 'How to Use This Site'.

Check the Simple Things!

We have covered this topic for completeness. If you dimmer switch is toast, then replacing it is about your only option. Are you just upgrading, then you still need to replace the old switch.

What Can Go Wrong?

Electrical shocks can cause severe injury and even death. Be careful, make sure the power is off. Always double check, turn the breaker off and then use a tester to make sure nothing is hot. It is possible for more than one circuit to be fed through a single box. Faulty or incorrect wiring can cause dead shorts and fires. Make sure you understand how to hook something up before you attempt it.

Troubleshooting Dimmer Switch Wiring

Dimmer switches are wired the same way as regular switches. If you are having trouble with a switch you want to see the article 'Wiring a Light Switch', for some troubleshooting tips.

Locating Dimmer Switch Problems - The first thing you will need to do is determine what is wrong with the dimmer switch. Is it the switch that is bad? This article will help you track down the problem and locate the correct solution.

How Does a Dimmer Switch Work - It is helpful to know how dimmer switches work. This will help you to determine whether the symptoms or problems your are experiencing are related to the actual switch.

Types of Dimmer Switches - If you need to replace your dimmer switch, you may be suprised at the variety of options theres are for replacements. What type of dimmer switch will match the wiring you have in your home? Consult this article before you replace your existing dimmer Switch.

Removing a Dimmer Switch This step discusses taking out the old switch before you install the new one.

Dimmer Switch Wiring Diagrams Finding the right wires with a standard two pole switch is fairly simple. Find out how and what to do if it is not a two pole switch.

WARNING!! Make Sure the Power is OFF!!! BEFORE You Work on Electrical Devices!!!

Installing a Dimmer Switch

wiring-a-dimmer-switch-pic4With 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!

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