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​​Swapping out your standard light switch for a dimmer switch is an easy and affordable way to create a comfortable ambience in any room of your home. Not only do they provide more flexible lighting options, but they can also extend the life of your lightbulbs. Follow these simple steps to install a dimmer switch.

What you'll need

  • Dimmer switch
  • Non-contact voltage detector
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers

Step-by-step instructions

1. Ask the experts

A visit to your local hardware store is the first step to installing a dimmer switch. Once there, an employee will be able to help you select the right switch, but you'll want to be prepared to answer a few questions:

  • How many swtiches control the light fixture you want to dim?
  • What kind of bulbs are in your light fixture (e.g. CFL, LED, etc.)
  • What is the wattage of the light bulbs?

NOTE: Only light bulbs that are specified as "dimmable" should be used with a dimmer switch.

2. Read the manufacturer's instructions

After purchasing a dimmer switch, you'll want to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully to be sure that you're following the specific instructions for your switch. If you have any doubts or questions, contact a licensed electrician for help.

NOTE: The following are general instructions and may not apply to your specific switch or situation. Always check to see if you need a permit and adhere to any applicable building and electrical codes.

3. Switch off the power

Turn off electricity to the switch, room or zone at your home's main circuit breaker or fuse box. To be sure that there isn't any electricity flowing to the switch, remove the light switch cover using a flat head screwdriver and hold the tip of a non-contact voltage detector near the screw terminal.

With the power successfully turned off, flip the light switch to the off position.

4. Remove the old switch

Using a Phillips head screwdriver, disconnect the switch from the box and loosen the screws holding the electrical wires on the side of the switch.

There should be three wires: one black, one white and a ground wire that may be bare copper or wrapped in green. Make note of the wire colours and where they were attached to the switch or take a picture with your phone.

CAUTION: If you have aluminum wiring (dull gray wiring instead of dull orange), don't attempt to install the dimmer switch yourself and contact a licensed electrician for help.

5. Attach the new dimmer switch

Using needle nose pliers, carefully attach the wires to the dimmer switch in the same way that they were attached to the old switch.

6. Reattach the switch plate

Gently fold the wire and compress the dimmer back into the electrical box. With a flat head screwdriver, tighten to screws to reattach the switch plate.

Once the cover is in place, turn the breaker or fuse back on and try out your new dimmer switch!

Sources: Home Depot, DIY Network

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