Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to install a dimmer switch.

If you read this blog waaaay back when, you know how much I luuuuv me some dimmers. I think lighting is one of the most inexpensive and easiest ways to create a mood in your home. And I just cannot express how much a dimmer switch will change the lighting in your room -- for as little as $7.

OK, now STOP shaking your head, thinking, "This Chick has gone and lost. her. mind. I cannot (and will not) do anything electrical."

Yes, you can! I swear. Just look at how easy it is.

If the light you are placing the dimmer on only has ONE switch that operates it, you'll need the single pole dimmer, like this one. This is GOOD because these are CHEAP -- less than $7. Dimmers come in a mad selection of styles and you'll pay more for more bells and whistles:

If your light is controlled by more than one switch, you will need the 3-way version. You need to look when you purchase -- the packages are almost identical.

When you open it up, this is what you'll see:

(Stop shaking. It's easy, I SWEAR.)
The only tools you should need are a Phillips head screw driver and a flat head screwdriver:

Go to the switch for the light you are changing out and turn it on -- first so you can tell if you get the right breaker and second, it's a real PITA when you've run down a set of stairs, through the house and to the garage, turned off the breaker, run back through the house, up the stairs and then realized YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHICH SWITCH YOU ARE WORKING WITH! Whew.

Go to the breaker box, and turn the switch to off:
Make sure the light is NOT working. Now you are free to use your flat head screwdriver to take off the switch plate. This is what you'll see:
Stop hyperventilating. It's going TO BE OK!!
Use your Phillips screwdriver to take the actual switch off the wall:
Then pull the whole switch out. There will be a wire connected to the green ground screw, and two wires connected to the switch -- either stuck inside it or tightened under the screws:
See that little bitty slat below? You'll want to use the flathead screwdriver and push it in while you pull the wire out of the little hole above it. (If your wires are in there. See above.)
Next, just follow the directions. Wrap the copper ground wire around the green wire on the dimmer:
Cap it off with the enclosed nut. Just stick it on the end and twist it. This ensures the wires stay connected and protected:
Then simply connect the other two black wires to the two left over wires. Twist together and twist the nut on:
Gently push all the wires back into the wall box:
That's it!! Told you it was easy. Screw the dimmer switch back onto the plate:
Go to turn on the breaker switch to make sure it is working. Then get completely sidetracked by your Decorating ADD and peruse the new Ballard catalog that just came in the mail:
Sorry. Make sure the light works:

Then go ahead and put the plate back on. Make sure all the little screws go the same way:
Oh, sorry. That's just me. I think I like this way better:
So many issues, so little time.

That's it! You are done!! I have installed dimmers in pretty much every room in our house. The kitchen: The dining room is a necessity!!
I have all of our ceiling fan lights on dimmers. Our master bath light is on a dimmer -- FABULOUS on dark mornings. All of our recessed lighting is on dimmers. I tell you what -- they say dimmers save on electricity and I believe it. We've been in this house five years and just last week changed out two recessed lights. They lasted FIVE years people!

You won't be disappointed! I challenge you to make this a quick and easy weekend project!

Disclaimer: MAKE SURE SURE SURE the breaker is turned off. Please!! :)

On a completely different note, I need to show some love for my friend Kimba:

I know many of us have struggled with the amount of time we dedicate to blogging --whether it be writing a blog or just being obsessed with looking at them! Kimba challenges all of us to unplug tomorrow from anything (like the computer!) that we feel is taking up a bit too much of our time.

I have made some changes of late that have made a BIG difference to us -- for example, I don't get on the computer in front of our son anymore. It has been a great change for us -- he was starting to hate the computer. ;) If you unplug tomorrow, share how it went for you at Kimba's on Monday.


John Victor said...

Wow this blog pretty helpful for me. Thanks for the share.

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