How To Install A Dimmer Switch And Get That Creative Work Space Setup

By Subodh / March 6, 2014

If you find yourself staring at your work and desperately trying to get it done but you just can’t seem to get out of that uninspired state, one quick step can get your creative juice flowing almost instantly. All you need to do is dim the lights if you want to start thinking out of the box and finally get a brilliant idea.

In a study conducted by Anna Steidle and Lioba Werth, German researchers from the University of Stuttgart and Hohenheim, it was concluded that “darkness increases freedom from constraints, which in turn promotes creativity”. According to Steidle and Werth, dim lighting “elicits a feeling of freedom, self-determination, and reduced inhibition,” encouraging new, fresh ideas.

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Being in a dimly lit room can make you feel less inhibited, free from constraints, and increases your level of self-assurance which is all that you need to get creative. A dark room promotes a more risky, explorative behavior which leads to innovative ideas. If your work space does not have a dimmer switch installed yet, here are easy-to-follow steps that you can do in about 15 minutes or less.

What you need for this project:

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Slotted screwdriver
  • Long nose pliers
  • Wire stripper
  • Wire cutter
  • Voltage tester
  • Dimmer
  • Dimmer wall plate (if needed)
  • Wire connector nuts
  • Electrical tape
  • Mounting hardware

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Dimmer Switch Installation Steps:

Step 1: Turn Off the Power

Before you start with this project, you need to switch off the power at the breaker. Make sure that the power is off by flipping the switch on and off.

Step 2: Remove the Old Switch

Remove the current wall plate as well as the screws that mount the switch to the wall box then pull the switch away from the wall. Do not to touch any of the wires unless you have confirmed that they are not carrying electrical current. Test the circuit with a voltage tester to ensure that power is not reaching the circuit. If the tester detects voltage, turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse then test the circuit again.

If you’re replacing a three-way switch, one wire should be connected to a screw that has a different color or is labeled “COMMON.” Take note that this is different from the wire which is attached to the green screw, the ground wire. Label the common wire using a piece of electrical tape to properly identify it when wiring the new dimmer. Disconnect all the wires from the old switch. If you’re replacing an existing dimmer, you will have to unscrew the wire nuts around the switch wires and the house wires.

Step 3: Connect the New Dimmer Switch

Standard Single Pole Dimmer

For bent house wires, cut off the twisted ends using a wire stripper. Remove ¾ inch of insulation from the end of the house wires as well as the dimmer switch wires. Connect the ground wire from the dimmer to a green or a bare copper wire inside the wall box. Twist the ends together then cap them with a wire connector nut. Grip the wire ends using a pair of pliers and twist them together to connect each dimmer wire to a house wire. Secure with a wire nut over each pair of wire ends.

Three-Way Switch

Use a wire stripper to cut off twisted ends of bent house wires.  Take off ¾ inch of insulation from the end of the house wires and the dimmer switch wires. Join the ground wire from the dimmer to a green or a bare copper wire in the wall box. Twist the ends together then secure them with a wire connector nut. Attach the black dimmer wire to the wire labeled “COMMON” and remove the electrical tape. Connect the remaining two dimmer wires to each of the remaining wires in your wall box. Mount the dimmer onto the wall with the provided screws using a screwdriver.

Step 4: Replace the Wall Plate

Tuck the wires carefully into the electrical box. Tighten the screws attaching the dimmer onto the electrical box. If your dimmer has a removable knob, remove this from the dimmer by carefully pulling it outward. Attach the wall plate. If your dimmer has a separate wall plate, you need to tighten the mounting screws holding the wall plate to the switch. For a wall plate with a “screwless” design, screw the wall plate adapter to the dimmer then snap this onto the adapter. For a dimmer that has a separate knob, push it on. Turn the power back on at the breaker. Test the dimmer.

Now that you have your dimmer installed, you won’t have to worry about losing your creative streak ever again.