Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches allow users to control the amount of light coming from a fixture or set of fixtures. This feature comes in handy when you want to set a mood in a room, such as by adjusting the lighting when watching movies or sharing a romantic dinner. These switches can also be used in place of most standard light switches.

How do dimmer switches work?

Dimmer switches control the amount of light a fixture emits by regulating the amount of electricity that reaches the fixture. There are three main types of switches:

  • Old style or resistor style - This traditional type uses material that does not conduct electricity well. This resistant material obstructs the flow of electricity to the fixture and can be made more or less resistant by turning a knob or sliding a lever.
  • Moderating style - This type rapidly cuts off power to the light switch several times a second. This style conserves energy when the lights are dimmed down. This type of dimmer can turn the power off and on up to 120 times per second. The actual number of times energy is cut on and off depends on the setting of the switch.
  • Triac - Short for TRIode for alternating current. The Triac system has three terminals and manages an electrical charge going to the fixture in both directions.
What should you look for in a dimmer switch?

Make sure the dimmer switch fits the overall concept of your home. Decide if a knob, lever that can slide, or touch-sensitive dimmer has a better aesthetic for the room it is being installed in. Once the aesthetic elements are addressed, it is time to decide what type of appliance is compatible with your home.

  • Single pole - The standard type, this appliance is most common in homes. It uses a single toggle to control the light fixture or fixtures.
  • Multi way - This type uses a single appliance in a single location; however, there is more than one actual switch to turn the fixture on and off.
  • Multi location - This type gives a wide range of dimming capabilities from multiple locations in the home. This is ideal for large rooms and spaces that demand specific lighting.
  • Plug-in - This type is made specifically for smaller lamps, such as table and floor lamps.
How do you install a dimmer switch?

Installing this switch is a straightforward process. Simply replace your old appliance with the new appliance with the following steps.

  • Turn off the power - Turn power off at the breaker box and use a voltage tester at the switch to ensure your safety.
  • Remove the face plate.
  • Disconnect the old device - Unhook the wires and take out the mounting screws, then remove the old device.
  • Connect the new light switch - Connect the corresponding wires from the appliance to the supply line. Put the mounting screws back.
  • Replace the face plate