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Six things to consider before installing your own dimmer switches

(Public Domain Photo)

Turning down the lights can make a room feel more cozy and inviting or make it more comfortable to watch a movie. Maybe you event want to reduce glare in a room when you first get out of bed.

If you have a room with lots of bright light from chandeliers or other fixtures, dimmer switches can be used to turn that brightness up or down which could save on energy in the process.

You can even install dimmers on more than one light switch if needed.

You may be able to install a dimmer switch yourself if you have worked with electricity before, but if you’re uncomfortable with the process, you should hire a licensed electrician.

If you want to tackle the task yourself, here are six issues to consider before you hit the home improvement store

Turn off the electricity

You always need to turn off electricity to the switch where you are installing the dimmer before starting work, then take off the cover plate for the switch or switches by removing the screws that hold the cover plates in place.

After that, you should also test the wires with a voltage detector to be sure the power is off.

Switching can be easy!

Installing a dimmer switch is easy if you are simply replacing your current single-pole switch with another one and are not changing the types of bulbs you are using.

You can buy a new switch just like the old one then disconnect the wires from the old switch and connect the wires to the new dimmer in the same locations.

…Or not

If your home was built before the early 1990s, your old standard switch box may not be large enough for a new dimmer switch.

Don’t try to squeeze the new switch into a too-small space. Have a larger switch box installed.

Here’s what you need

You need a single-pole dimmer if there is only one switch to control the light in the room. You need a three-way dimmer for two switch locations and a four-way dimmer when you have three switch locations.

Have enough power?

Check the power rating of the dimmer switch you purchase — most can handle 600 watts of power.

Count the number of light bulbs in your fixture and note the wattage of each bulb to find out the maximum wattage your new switch will need to control.

Different switches for different bulbs

If your lighting fixture uses incandescent and halogen bulbs, you can use conventional dimmer switches. But if you’re buying LEDs or CFLs, buy special dimmable bulbs and use an electronic dimmer switch.

For more homeowner advice, DIY tips and videos, and information about all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at – Arizona’s most-trusted referral network.

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