how to install a dimmer switch

Quick Fix: How to Install a Dimmer Switch

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on print
Share on email

When my wife and I were first married, we owned a two bedroom condo in Maryland. I loved that place. During that time, I was trying to make it as a financial advisor, specializing in serving teachers. Being in the financial services is a tough business, filled with rejection. On my first day, I was at a school in my sales territory. I introduced myself to the school secretary and she immediately asked me for a card. When I told her that my cards were still being printed, she told me, “Leave and don’t come back until you have some.” After a day like that, I couldn’t wait to get home where it was safe, cozy, and inviting.

However, there was one thing about our place that was not cozy. It was the lighting over the dinner table. The mood was never right. When the overhead light was on, it was like a prison interrogation and candles always felt too dark. I wanted to put in a dimmer switch but worried that it might be hard. I had no idea it was so easy. If you are looking to set the right mood or save some costs on your electric bill, here’s how to install a dimmer switch.

Tools Needed:

  • Screwdriver
  • Electric/Voltage Detector
  • Wire Nuts
  • Wire Cutter
  • Wire Stripper
  1. Turn off the power at the breaker panel.
  2. Check to see that the power is off by turning the light switch on and off.
  3. Unscrew and remove the cover plate.
  4. Use a voltage detector to make sure that the electricity is off.
  5. Unscrew the screws that hold the switch to the electrical box and pull the switch out exposing the wires connected to it.
  6. There should be three wires connected to the switch: either 2 black or 1 black and 1 white. These wires are similar. The third wire is the ground wire and will be either bare copper or green.
  7. Unscrew the two similar wires (both black or black and white) leaving the ground wire in for now.
  8. Now remove the ground wire and place your old switch to the side.
  9. Cut a quarter of an inch off of all 3 wires using wire cutters.
  10. Using wire stripper, cut off an inch of the rubber wire cover at the end of each wire.
  11. Take your new dimmer switch and locate the green wire coming from it. Align the end of that wire with the copper/green wire coming from the wall. Then use a wire nut and screw on both wires until they are connected.
  12. Take the black wires on the dimmer switch and connect those one by one to the black wires (or black and white wires) coming from the wall in the same way (using the wire nuts).
  13. If any of the wire is exposed coming out of the wire nut, cover it using black electrical tape.
  14. Push the wires into the electrical box and screw in the dimmer switch.
  15. Reattach the cover plate and attach the knob to your dimmer.
  16. Turn the power back on at the breaker.


Huddle up with your kids and teach them about electrical safety.