How to Connect a Dimmer Switch

If you want to transform the ambience and atmosphere of your home, you don’t necessarily need to call in the architects and set a property development or building programme going. Installing a dimmer switch is a much less expensive option, changing on/off lighting to subtle mood illumination in a few moments! You need to be confident about electrical work, however, and shouldn’t attempt this if you’re uncertain; but for DIY veterans, it’s a doddle – a lot less trouble than painting, decorating or plastering.

The first step, of course, is to isolate the power to the switch at the consumer unit (leave a sign there saying you’re working on the circuit). Next, remove the face-plate of the old switch by unscrewing it, and using a small electric screwdriver, release the wires from the terminals. Be careful with two-way switches, though – they’re a bit more complicated. Either transfer each wire one at a time onto the equivalent terminal in the new dimmer switch, or draw a diagram before you remove them from the old switch, showing which wires enter which terminals.

Tighten the terminal screws securely, and bend the sheathed wires to make sure they don’t get trapped between the new dimmer face plate and the back-box. Be warned: occasionally the old back box will be too shallow to accommodate the new switch – you’ll have to chop into the brickwork (use a drill and cold chisel) to make it deeper and fit a new box. Finally, return the power supply, test and enjoy your new ambient lighting!

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