Installing a Dimmer Switch

Replacing your old light switches with dimmers will add more control over the lighting in your home and, if used properly, can save you a lot on your energy bill. This is a page about installing a dimmer switch.


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When my daughter was a baby, I always had trouble with the light when I would get her in the middle of the night. Turning the overhead light on was far too bright. All the outlets were behind furniture, so a nightlight was out. There wasn't an outlet by the door, so I'd end up fumbling across the room in the dark to turn on the lamp, and even it seemed to bright in the dead of the night.

Our solution was to install a dimmer switch. This allowed me to turn on just the right amount of light to get her out of bed, without blinding us both.

We now have dimmers in all the kids rooms. My youngest uses the overhead on the lowest dimmer setting as a night light, since there isn't a good outlet in his room, and when we did have a nightlight, it always seemed to get left on all day. My husband and I also installed a dimmer in our room. It's great for when my husband wakes up at 5 am. He can turn on just enough light to find his way around without waking me up.


By Stephanie from Hillsboro, OR

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Installing a dimmer switch is a quick and easy way to add more control over the lighting in a room. It's very handy, especially at bedtime, to be able to dim the lights a little. I replaced the switch in my son's room and he was able to help quite a bit.

Not all types of lighting is dimmable, fluorescent bulbs, for example. So be sure you have the correct type of lighting before you begin this project.

  1. Turn off power leading to the switch you will be replacing
  2. Remove the old switch plate. Usually a flat head screw driver is all that is necessary for this step.
  3. Unscrew the old switch and remove it from the inset box.
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  5. If the old switch is hard wired, the easiest thing to do is to simply cut the wires close to where they enter the back of the switch
  6. Lightly twist the wire from the new switch to each of the black wires coming from the wall.
  7. Screw the wiring connector onto the wires so they stay connected
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  9. The ground wire coming from the wall will need to be connected in the same way to the green wire coming from the switch. Leave the white wire as is in the box. Once all the wires are connected it will look like this.
  10. Push the wires back into the box and screw the new dimmer switch into place.
  11. Screw the new switch plate on and you're done!
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October 17, 2004

To save money and help save the environment, install a dimmer switch. Installing a dimmer switch can save energy and extend bulb life. Plus, it's as easy as replacing a light switch. By Kathy

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

I installed a dimmer switch to control my overhead ceiling lights, but I did not anticipate that the wall outlets would be controlled by the dimmer switch too. Is there a simple way to separate them so the wall outlet receives the full volume of electrical output while the ceiling lights are dimmed?


January 27, 20170 found this helpful

I copied and pasted this thread from

Update: Problem solved! Thank you, secondarycontrol! Thank you Reddit! <3


Before I begin, the power is OFF at the breaker in all of these pictures. It's still off right now. No worries. Also, I'm in America.
I bought a single dimmer switch (TGCL-153PH-WH) to replace one of my lightswitches and thought it would be a simple job that I could handle without any electrical knowledge at all (I've done ceiling fans, so I thought this would be similar or easier). But as it turns out, it's not a simple "put the wires in the same spot as they were on the old switch" sort of job. I even read the instructions, but they're not the best instructions I've ever seen (the most electrical work I've ever done is installing a few of those "5-minute fans" that spell out the instructions for complete retards like me).
I connected the wires to where I thought they should logically go and when I put the power back on, the dimmer switch worked fine, but now all the outlets in the room no longer work. Googling my problem led me to this page, and so it sounds like my problem is that the "feed through hot" is not properly connected. I'm sure that's electrician lingo for something, but it sounds like I broke the circuit that feeds through from the lightswitch to all the outlets.
Here are some pictures of what I'm dealing with.
There's two black wires and one copper wire (it's painted white further up, but I'm pretty sure it's still ground) coming from the wall
There's one black wire coming from the light switch plate in the middle
There's 3 lugs and one green wire coming from the dimmer switch
The way I had it set up before was:
Copper wire and green wire together in a wire nut
Two black wires from the wall around the two lugs on the right side of the dimmer switch.
Black wire from the middle lightswitch around the single lug on the left side of the dimmer switch.
When I turned the power back on, the dimmer switch and the lights it controlled worked fine, but the outlets in the rest of the room don't. Where did I go wrong and how do I fix it?
Also, if you need more pictures, please let me know and I will quickly accomodate.
26 commentsshare
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[]secondarycontrol 4 points 1 year ago
Three-way (you have another switch that also controls that light?) application?
You noted which wires went where on the old switch?
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[]eye_spi 4 points 1 year ago
The black wire from the middle lightswitch was around the lug on the bottom right (so it connected the two lightswitches). I have a feeling that this wire is the source of my troubles.
You are exactly right. The connection to the other switches is the "hot feed-through" that ties other loads into the circuit. If you connect that wire from the other switch to the hot line on your new switch (the same wire it was connected to before), you should be all set.
P.S. Don't let the loudmouths get you down. This isn't complicated enough to require an electrician, but it is a challenge with little or no experience. You're handling it safely and doing a good job. Just be sure that you don't leave exposed conductor anywhere to create a short and you'll be fine.
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[][deleted] 2 points 1 year ago
On the original switch you had two wires on the same terminal. One in the push to connect and one on the terminal itself. If you know for sure which two wires those are, you need to connect them to the bottom terminal on the side of the switch that has two terminals. The single wire by itself needs to be connected to the terminal on the side of the switch that only has one terminal. The bare wire is ground, hook it up as you had it, and the white on that bare wire is just over spray from the painters.
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Comments, continued...

[]LancerDrainI 1 point 1 year ago
I'm looking at your images and the instructions at Fig. 6A2 (you are using a single pole switch, not the 3-way shown in 6B2). You had the bare wire connected to the green wire from the switch. That's right. Then you said you connected the two black wires to the lugs on the same side of the dimmer. That is not what is shown in the instructions you should be using. Use the bottom lugs on both sides of the dimmer box.
[]Ozner12345 1 point 1 year ago
Nice job! Glad you git it fixed!
[+]SilentlyTalkative comment score below threshold (2 children)
[][deleted] -2 points 1 year ago
Hint: Step #4 in the instructions is where you lost it. If you MUST continue on your own.
Hint2: Call an electrician. It isn't necessarily hard, but can be very dangerous if done wrong.
[]libbykino[S] 1 point 1 year ago
Step 4 appears to be simply disconnecting the old wires, so I'm having trouble understanding where I went wrong there. The directions for "multigang and mixed bulb type installations" suggest that I may have to take all of the switches out and rewire the whole thing, in which case you're right that this is beyond my abilities and I'll need to call someone, but I'm really not convinced that this is my problem.
[][deleted] 1 point 1 year ago
Sorry haven't checked this account in a while... Based on symptoms described, you had two wires swapped (and one was your supply wire), did you get it going?
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January 27, 20170 found this helpful

you need to talkto an electirician . this is not right, the way it was wired in the first place. someone cut corners..... yo cannot be to careful when do ing your own electircal work ...

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January 30, 20170 found this helpful

I am aware that my home's wiring has been missed handled. I bought it from people who purchased for $20,000.00 and flipped it to me for $91,500.00. The city signed off on the wiring. I even contacted the company that did the electrical work and asked them to properly label my fuse box, they sent someone, he came out, added some additional miss-labeling and left. I called the city but they replied that the wiring met their criteria and I could not force the company to correct their improper and, in my opinion, potentially hazardous work. Thank you City of Albany Oregon.

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