Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Dim or Not To Dim … That is the Question!

There’s nothing quite like good mood lighting to set the perfect backdrop to a holiday party - or any occasion for that matter!  Even a slight change in lighting can have a dramatic effect, particularly in a small condo space.

Dimmer switches are an ideal way to do just that.  Not only are they an economical way to add value to your home, they will also enrich the way you live in it.  Plus, the effective use of dimmers can help to offset continuously rising hydro costs.

Thanks to Sarah (a.k.a. Thrifty Decor Chick) we've discovered just how easy it is to install dimmer switches, sans costly labour.  She's graciously given us the green light to share with you with her simple step-by-step instructions (with photos!) for this quick little project.

Why not try this DIY and give yourself the gift of beautiful lighting this holiday season?  It’s much easier than you think! 

Follow the jump for detailed instructions.

12 Steps to the Perfect Mood Lighting
i.  Phillips screwdriver
ii. Flat head screwdriver

iii. Dimmer switch (of course!)

If the light that you’re placing the dimmer on has only ONE switch that operates it, you'll need a single pole dimmer like this one:

This is a good thing because this type of dimmer comes relatively cheap -- less than $10.  Of course, dimmers are available in a wide array of styles and you can go fancier if you wish; like anything else, you'll just pay more for the extra bells and whistles.  

If your light is controlled by more than one switch, then you’ll need the 3-way version.  Be sure to check the package carefully -- the packages are almost identical!

When you open up the package, this is what you'll see:

(Stop shaking. It's easy, we promise!)


1.  Turn on the switch that controls the light you’re changing out so that you’ll be able to tell when you’ve hit the right breaker:

2.  Head over to the breaker box and turn the switch to the OFF position:

3.  Check the light to ensure that it isn’t working.  Now, you’re free to use your flat head screwdriver to take off the switch plate.  This is what you'll see:

(Stop hyperventilating.  It’s going to be OK!)

4.  Use your Phillips screwdriver to take the actual switch off the wall:

5.  Then, pull the whole switch out.  There will be a wire connected to the green ground screw and two wires connected to the switch – either stuck inside it or tightened under the screws:

6.  See that little bitty slat below?  You'll want to use the flathead screwdriver and push it in while you pull the wire out of the little hole above it (if your wires are stuck inside it – see above).

7.  Next, wrap the copper ground wire around the green wire on the dimmer:

8.  Cap it off with the enclosed nut.  Just stick it on the end and twist it.  This ensures that the wires stay connected and protected:

9.  Now, simply connect the other two black wires to the two leftover wires. Twist together then twist the nut on:

10.  Gently push all the wires back into the wall box:

11. Screw the dimmer switch back onto the plate:

12.  You’ll want to turn the breaker switch back ON.  Once you’ve ensured that the light is working, you can go ahead and put the switch plate back on.  If you’re meticulous, then you’ll want to ensure that all the little screws are turned in the same direction (it just looks prettier this way!):  

And, PRESTO!  You’ve officially installed a dimmer switch.  Simple, right?

Now, go ahead and play with the different settings to create different lighting schemes and effects for your holiday dinner, cocktail party, movie night or whatever else you've got going on. 


To view this original tutorial via Thrifty Decor Chick, please click here.