Installing a Dimmer Switch |

After installing a light fixture in my living room, I thought it would be fun to go hog wild and install a dimmer switch. This is one of the easiest improvements you can make to your home and it makes a huge impact. Mood lighting anyone?

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

You’ll need a Voltage Detector; Voltage TesterWire Stripper/CutterElectrical TapeSafety Glasses; Slide Dimmer; Philip’s Head & Flathead Screwdrivers

Step1: First you want to turn the power off. Then test the wires with a voltage detector to make sure no power is still running to the switch. If the detector lights up red or makes a chirping sound when touched to the switch, stop and make sure you’ve properly shut off the power. Once you’re sure there is no power running through the switch, carefully remove the switchplate and begin unscrewing the switch from the wall. Pull out the switch as much as you can so that the wires are exposed.

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

If you can identify the hot (black), neutral (white), and ground (green) wires based on color, feel free to skip forward to Step 3. If not, read on.

Step 2: Before moving on to the next step, you’ll want to turn your power back on so that you can identify your hot and neutral wires using a voltage tester. When you do this, it’s important not to touch just the tips of the pins, rather you want the portion where the plastic base and metal meet to sit on top of the wires. If your reading reflects 120 volts, the wire touching the red pin is neutral and the wire touching the black pin is hot. If you get this 120 volt reading no matter which pin is touching which wire, both wires are hot. This is not commonplace unless you live in an older house like I do. At the end of this step, be sure to turn the power off again!

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

Step 3: Before touching anything, grab your voltage detector and test to make sure there is no electricity running through the switch. Unscrew the switch from the wall and carefully unravel/unhook the wires from the screws.

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

Step 4: Strip the insulation from the wires (both on the wall and on the switch) about 0.5″ (you can strip more if needed).

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

Step 5: Twist each individual wire clockwise.

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

Step 6: First you’ll want to install the ground wire. Since I didn’t have one, I just capped it with a wire nut and secured it with electrical tape.

Step 7: In order of ground, neutral, and hot, connect the appropriate wires. You’ll want to twist them together in a clockwise motion. If, like me, you’re dealing with stiff wires, simply wrap the wires coming from the dimmer switch around those coming from the wall.

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

Step 8: Next, you’ll cap off the wires with wire nuts and secure them with electrical tape.

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

Step 9: Carefully push all of the wires into the box and screw the dimmer switch into the wall.

Step 10: Add a switchplate and turn the power back on.

Installing a Dimmer Switch |

light switch

  • Logan Cantrell

    This is a great tutorial! I will have to pass this along to a good friend of mine who is restoring an old home!

  • Kim Mason-Seibert

    This was great, I’m always scared to work with electrical projects!

  • This is such a great post! Wonderful photos too! I’m always wary of working on my electrics. My Dad’s an electrician so in theory I should have learnt the basics, but I’d rather have him do it haha!!

    • I don’t blame you! If I had an electrician in the family, I’d be tempted to do the same!

  • rosemond cates

    great tutorial!! Pinning!


  • Jenny

    I have so much trouble with plumbing, I’m afraid to touch electricity! I love that you were able to do this yourself.

    • Thanks Jenny! Funny, plumbing is also on my list of home improvement fears to tackle :)

  • Meg Hemmelgarn

    Great tutorial! I love having a dimmer switch on lights!

  • Lori Hill

    Good to know! Thank you, pinning for later!!

  • Amanda Marie

    Awesome! What a great idea for a post! Very useful information! Looks like it turned out perfect for you too! Have a great week, thanks for sharing!

  • That’s such an informative post Rita :) We have a dimmer switch in our living room as well, and it makes such a difference :)

  • Ilona K.

    Great tutorial, very informatib=ve and I love you included lots of photos how to do it.

  • Messy Mom

    Very cool. I love to see women doing stuff like this on their own. Awesome tutorial.