How to change a switch and install a dimmer switch
Along with creating a relaxed mood, installing a dimmer switch will also save you money by reducing your energy bill and extending the life of your incandescent bulbs. The down side of installing a dimmer switch is, dimmable compact florescent bulbs are available in a limited number of lamp sizes, so depending on the light fixture, you may not be able to use a CFL bulb after installing a dimmer switch.
Step 1 – Choose a dimmer switch that suits your taste. Switches are available in a variety of styles. Each will easily replace your existing light switch with no need for a new cover plate. The toggle like dimmers give you a standardized appearance and work well. If you choose a rotary knob dimmer, select one that pushes on and off. It will last much longer than the traditional rotary switches.
Step 2 – Using the breaker or fuse in your service entrance panel box, turn off the power to the switch you want to replace. Remove the cover plate and loosen the mounting screws that hold the switch in place.
Step 3 – Use a voltage sensor to confirm the power is off before loosening the terminal screws on the old switch. Detach the wires and remove the switch.
Step 4 – If necessary, use wire strippers to expose ¾” of bare copper at the tip of each wire. Make sure the ends are relatively straight before proceeding.
Step 5 – Gently twist the tip of each old wire to the tip of the corresponding wire located on the back of the dimmer switch. Typically this will be black to black, white to red and bare ground to green. Once the wires are twisted together push a wire nut over the top of each pair of wires and twist the nut counterclockwise. Make sure no bare wire is exposed and separately wrap each wire pair and nut with electrical tape.
Step 6 – Position the wires back in the electrical box, leaving room for the dimmer switch. Push the new switch into the box, secure with mounting screws and replace the cover plate. If installing a rotary knob dimmer, you will need to remove the knob before replacing the cover plate. Push the knob back on once the plate is secure.
Pack away your tools, turn the power back on and relax with your new mood swaying energy saving lighting.
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