Changing a Light Switch to a Dimmer Switch

9 Jul 2020 Licensed Electrician

Dimmer switches can be a great way to control the lighting in your home to optimize it for various situations, such as parties, movie nights, romantic evenings, or simple daily preferences. Even though the task can be performed by a homeowner with experience in minor electrical alterations, changing a light switch to a dimmer switch can be dangerous without the right expertise, so it is always best to call a licensed electrician like the ones at Expert Electric.

How Do Dimmer Switches Work?

Dimmer switches limit the amount of electricity running through a circuit that leads to a light fixture in order to reduce the amount of light produced. Modern dimmer switches use a semiconductor to rapidly change the circuit between the off and on states. Dimmer switches can be applied to most types of residential lights; however, make sure that you check with an electrician before installing a dimmer switch since some systems, like fluorescent lights or circuits with more than one switch controlling the light, require specialized setups.

How to Change a Light Switch into a Dimmer Switch

If you are comfortable around electrical systems and have executed similar tasks in the past, it is possible to replace a light switch with a dimmer switch using the following steps:

1.     Cut Off the Circuit’s Power

The first step in any electrical job is to cut power to the circuit being operated on. Go to your breaker box and flip the switch that controls the power for the room you are working in. Test the circuit using a voltage tester to ensure you do not get a shock.

2.     Remove the Old Light Switch

Start by removing the plate covering the light switch box. Then, remove the screws that are mounting the light switch to the box in the wall. Gently pull the switch out of the box and disconnect all wires from the old switch.

3.     Connect the New Dimmer Switch

Check the wires that you disconnected from the old switch. If the ends are bent or twisted, you will need to cut off the ends and strip the ends of the wire to create new connections. Connect the ground wire from the wall to the bare copper wire on the new dimmer switch, or to the area that says “Ground.” Connect the other wires from the wall with their matching coloured wires on the dimmer switch. Some dimmer switches will have a simple slot to plug the wires into, while others will require you to twist the wires together and cover them with a wire nut. From there, you can insert the new switch into the wall box and replace the cover plate.

If you are interested in learning more about changing a light switch to a dimmer switch, or to find out more about the lighting and electrical services we offer, please contact Expert Electric at 604-681-8338.