I wanted to start off my how-to series with something easy, useful, and with a twist of danger.Well it’ll only be dangerous for me since I’ll be working hot, but I will be teaching you the safer and more efficient route. Besides being great at helping to “set the mood,” a dimmer switch is probably the easiest way to lower your energy consumption!
I am leaving the power to the circuit on to demonstrate that it is possible to work safely with live electricity, IF you know what you’re doing.Only work hot if you absolutely have to, AND have some kind of formal live-wire training.
1.) It is always good practice to treat your circuit as if it were live, even if you know that you’ve turned the power off.That way, if the unexpected happens, you remain safe (i.e. someone not knowing that you’re working on the circuit and throwing your power back on)!
2.) Fluorescent lighting fixtures that work with dimmer switches are slightly more expensive, and must list that they are specifically designed for such use.Typical fluorescent lighting fixtures will not dim properly, since fluorescent bulbs need specifically regulated electricity to function.This also applies to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
(It may help to check out the vocab at the bottom)
List of materials:
Screw Drivers- Flat head, Philips head
Locate and shut off the Circuit Breaker for the specific lighting circuit that you will be working on.
Take off switch cover plate.
Unscrew and pull out switch-box (hold at the top and bottom).
-As an added precaution, you may use a Voltmeter* to test and make sure your circuit is dead by placing one lead on the bare part of the wire you’re testing, and the other lead to ground*.
4. Remove switch, and prepare both or all three of your wires for the new switch by cutting off the old copper ends, and stripping a new half-inch portion.
-Make sure your wires are as straight as possible for a secure connection in the wire-nut.
5. Use a wire-nut to secure your new dimmer switch’s green wire to a ground wire*, which could be a green or bare wire already in the junction box*.
-If you can’t find a grounding source, it will not affect the function of the light switch.
6. There are two wires left in the junction box*, power in, and power out.The wires on the back of your switch should be interchangeable. Use wire nuts to individually hook up your last two wires with the two remaining on your dimmer switch.
7.Push wires and new switch back into wall, re-install all screws including the cover-plate (be careful not to screw cover-plate screws too tight, the plastic face cracks easily.)
8. Congratulations!Now you’re ready to enjoy mood lighting while saving green!
Voltmeter: An instrument for measuring (in volts) the difference in potential between points of an electrical circuit.
– Potential can be explained as follows: A ground wire* would have 0 volts, residential power is 120 volts.That equates to a difference in potential of 120volts.
Ground: Any conductive object that makes an electrical connection with the earth.The importance of a ground, is that the “goal” of electricity is to make it back to either its source, or earth, and takes the least resistant path to do so.
Hot/Live: Electrically energized with high voltage current.
Junction box: A metal box inside the wall that houses wiring, serving as a sort of skeletal frame and electrical outlet.