Dimmable Light Switch Wiring

By | March 3, 2015



Dimmable Light Switch Wiring: A Comprehensive Guide



Installing dimmable light switches is becoming increasingly popular, with homeowners wanting to take control of their lighting in every room. Being able to adjust the brightness of your lights at the touch of a button can make any room more inviting and calming. If you are considering upgrading your lighting system to include dimmable switches, understanding the wiring required is an important first step.



The ability to turn your lights on and off using dimmable switches is fairly straightforward — it’s the wiring that can be tricky. This guide will explain the basics of dimmable light switch wiring, as well as providing information about what materials and tools you may need to complete the installation.



Understanding Dimming



At its most basic, dimming involves changing the amount of power supplied to the lighting system. This effectively changes the intensity of the light, from dim to bright, or anything in between. You do this by selectively shutting off power to part of the circuit, which can be done manually or with automated controls.



Dimmer switches are simply standard switches with an added feature; they provide the same basic on/off function, as well as a sliding scale that adjusts the voltage and wattage of the lights. When turned on, the dimmer switch reduces the voltage and wattage in order to dim the lights.



Types of Dimmable Light Switches



There are several types of dimmable light switches on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The three most common are:



  • Manual dimmers – Manual dimmers require a manual adjustment, making them the least expensive option.
  • Remote-controlled dimmers – Remote-controlled dimmers are operated by a remote control and allow for greater flexibility when adjusting the level of light.
  • Automated dimmers – Automated dimmers are programmed to adjust the voltage and wattage according to pre-set settings.


Tools and Materials Required



In order to properly wire a dimmable light switch, you will need to have the following tools and materials on hand:



  • Wire strippers
  • Wire cutters
  • Dimmer switch and faceplate
  • Screwdrivers
  • Voltage tester
  • Neutral conductor
  • Ground conductor
  • Ground screw


How to Wire a Dimmable Light Switch



Wiring a dimmable light switch is not a difficult task, but it does require attention to detail. Before attempting the installation, make sure you read through the instructions included with the switch and review any safety warnings. The process will vary slightly depending on the type of switch you are installing.



The first step is to turn off the power to the circuit. Then, remove the existing switch plate and unscrew the wires from the back of the old switch. Next, attach the dimmer switch to the wall, being careful to align the screws correctly. Once the switch is securely attached, connect the wires to the new switch. Make sure to match the colors of the wires, and use a voltage tester to ensure there is no power flowing through the circuit.



The last step is to attach the switch plate and turn the power back on. You can now test the dimmer switch to make sure that it is functioning properly. Congratulations — you have successfully wired a dimmable light switch!


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