How to install a dimmer switch

Good morning everyone and welcome back! Today I'm going to show you have easy it is to install a dimmer switch. I picked the ones we have installed at Wal-Mart for under $10. You can spend a lot more on a dimmer, but I don't know why you would need to. Simplicity would be the other attraction here. I have three of these dimmers installed in the house and they are A+

Dimmers are nice because they are a creature of comfort as well as and energy saving device. Once awesome use I have found is in bathrooms. Its nice to have the option of a gentle light at 2 am when nature calls, instead of the bright blinding light. It makes bath time all the more relaxing as well - similar to a "soft candle light" effect.  The other "dimmer" must is the light over our dinner table, it makes dinners that much more romantic. 

Tools List:  

Dimmer Switch 
Flathead Screwdriver 
Wire Strippers

Side Note: You may also need a flashlight if the room your are changing the switches in does not get enough natural light, we had to use one in both bathrooms

When working with me you need to remember one thing - SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT! Be sure to adhere to any safety steps I give. Good electricians, mechanics, carpenters and other skilled tradesmen have ALL of their fingers and eyes for a reason. Safety rules are written in blood. So when you *Warning*, you'd better pay attention :+) 

*Warning*  First thing you need to do is Isolate the power (ie: Turn it off). To do this you need to head to your breaker box. A well labeled breaker box is invaluable to the home DIY'er. Find the breaker that has the corresponding label and turn it OFF. Here at Bungalow, we inherited from the previous owners a very dis-organized breaker box. Not much was labeled in the 80s when it was installed. So I go above and beyond for safety and kill power to the entire house. Doing this leaves NOTHING to chance, you won't have to second guess yourself (Did I get the right breaker turned off?). I subscribe to the K.I.S.S theory of operation. Keep it simple stupid. Its worked for me this long - Safety first! 

Your main breaker will be the big one (see top right in the above photo, then the zoomed in photo below).  Of course by killing all the power you will need to reset your clocks - but its a small price to pay to guarantee your safety. 

Now back in the house you are ready to remove the face plate using your flathead screwdriver. Then you can remove the two screws that hold the "switches" to the wall. 

Pull the switch from the wall lightly so you can loosen the terminals (screws) and then pull the old switch free.

We are left with two hooked ends of wire that we now have to straighten out, so we can connect them to the new dimmer. Using the jaws on your wire cutters, simply bend them straight.

Here's the new dimmer all ready to go to work. Look at those loose, frayed ends of that wire. That will be a problem and will make for sloppy work, so lets clean that up a bit. Simply pinch the ends of each wire and twist them clockwise.

To the ground we go. The single bare wire that was attached to the old switch is the ground. Grounding is a very important safety feature against fire and injury. Grounding points and wiring are easily identified as either green or simply bare. In the photo below, we see the house's ground wire (bare copper) and the new switch's ground (green). These two here are ready for a wire-nut. Wire nuts are the connectors that will join these two wires. They should be supplied with the new dimmer.

Push the wire-nut down over the top of the two wire-ends and twist clockwise until firmly seated. Go ahead and give the wires a good tug, make sure everything is snug.

One down,two to go. Man, I still need to straighten those wire-ends!

There we are, all three are twisted securely together. It does not matter how you connect the wires with this switch, either of the two black house wires can connect with either of the two black switch wires.

Gently tuck all of the wiring back into the box.

Now lets push the switch into place and tighten down the screws that are attached to the switch. Almost there!

Mrs. Adventure hard at work changing out the old fan switch!

Both switches securely fastend to the box, ready for the face plate.

Just fit the face plate over the switches, (or switch if this was a single gang box) and you are done and ready to try out your new dimmer switch!

Go back to the breaker box, re-energize the house by closing (turning on) the main breaker, and you are done!

I really hope that ya'll maybe learned something today, or at least found out where to get a cheap, awesome dimmer switch! Breaker box locations can differ, sometimes the are outside the house near the meter, or they may be inside a closet or utility room in the house. If you have any questions or don't feel comfortable at all, email me and I will see if I can shed some light.

Remember folks, SAFETY FIRST!

PS: We posted our Dry Soda Review & Give-Away yesterday click here if you missed it and would like to enter :+)


  1. Saving this to my faves so my husband will know what he's doing. ;)

  2. Thanks for this! I'd love to put a few dimmer switches in, and now I'm not afraid to try it. (:

  3. Now here is a post I can really use. :) How impressed with Mr Rosie be when he comes home and I've whipped one of these babies in myself.

  4. This is so thorough. It would be so easy to follow.

  5. I have done this and it really is very easy!!

  6. well you make it sound so easy!!! and i agree safety first ... and the photo of you at the switch is cute with mr adventure reflected in the mirror ...

  7. OK! It's official. I love you guys!

    I have been waiting for sons, son-in-laws or step-sons to install dimmer switches in my dining room for years now!

    I can do this!

    I am bookmarking this tutorial and I'm gonna give it a go!

    Thanks for giving me the confidence to try something I've been waiting on forever.

    Hugs and A+!

  8. David Tran2/25/2014

    A great way in order to save funds in your house is always to put in dimmer switches turns for your light-weight fittings in a variety of locations. This specific project may usually end up being accomplished throughout a few hours and may drastically alter the entire feel and look of a area.


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