DIY IT! Install a Dimmer or Light Switch

4 Materials
30 Minutes

Do you want to install a dimmer switch or lived in your house long enough that the light switches need to be replaced?

Here is a quick and easy guide for installing a light or dimmer switch in your home!

What Type of Light Switch Do You Need?

Let's review some basic information first, so you know what light fixture to buy whether it is a toggle switch (two fingers turn on and off), paddle switch (shown above), or dimmer switch.

It all has to do with how many switches can turn on and off a light in the room.

Single Pole Switch
  • The switch ONLY turns on ONE light in a room

3-Way Switch
  • TWO or more switches turn on the SAME light or lights.

An example of this:
The two lights over my kitchen island can be turned on from a switch entering from the garage or the front door. Two switches turn on two lights = 3-Way Dimmer or Switch.
Step 1: 
Turn OFF the switch and the circuit breaker.
Step 2:
Using a power drill, remove all screws from the wall cover and remove the cover.
Step 3:
Remove the screw from the fixture mounting plate that is screwed into the fixture box. Usually these are Philips Head screws.
Step 4:
Gently, pull the current light fixture out of the box to expose the screws where the wires are attached. New homes have screw type fixtures and older homes may have a cap holding them together.
Step 5:
Using the power drill, loosen all 3 screws to help remove the copper wires that are attached.  There usually is a black, white/red, and green grounding wire. REMEMBER each location where the wires are attached

TIP: Take a picture with your phone or you can even label them with some tape if needed.
Step 6:
Gently pry away wires from the screws. Sometimes you can simply do this with your fingers and if they are more stubborn use a needle nose pliers to remove the copper wires.
Step 7:
Now that you have the old fixture removed it is time to install the new fixture. Notice the fixture says TOP, so you install it into the wall fixture box correctly.

Usually the brand name gives you a clue too, so you can read it when the fixture is upright. That means "on" is up and "off" is down.
Step 8:
Next, match up the wires and reattach with your screw driver. I always start with the green grounding wire.  

Sometimes they are stubborn and the needle nose pliers come in handy to bend the wire around the screw.

Make sure they are TIGHT and won't easily pull off the screw.
Step 9:
Using a little force, push the fixture and wires back into the wall box.  Make SURE the wires stay attached!

Tighten them again if they pop off the light fixture. Reattach the two screws to the box fixture in the wall. Top and bottom.

DIMMER SWITCH: Some models may require you to snap off some of the surrounding metal to make it fit.  Use the needle nose pliers for this process.
Step 10:
Screw back on the original wall cover plate.

Step 11:
Turn back on the circuit breaker. Test the switch to make sure it turns on and off the light or dims the light. Now you have a new switch or dimmer switch that works!

If it doesn't work, go back and follow each step and make sure the wires are securely connected to the correct locations on the fixture.

Suggested materials:

  • Light Switch
  • Power Drill
  • Screw Driver
See all materials

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

Join the conversation

  • Evelyn Schaedel
    on Sep 13, 2017

    Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing it!
  • Lmm
    on Sep 19, 2017

    One of these elements that we mentioned are the switches . Those that we use without fail every day and that allow the lighting or the energy necessary to have more presentable, safe and habitable spaces at home. you could chose Bseed Light Switches and Sockets. If you want to recommend our products.
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