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Fitting a Dimmer Switch

Skill Level: Intermediate

Introduction

Light switches are generally not something we think much about on a day to day basis. Home decorating can be a time when we not only choose new wallpaper or paint schemes; we may also look at such things as door furniture, blinds and curtains, and even carpets and floor coverings.

 
You may also want to change your light fittings; a new lamp shade perhaps, or a new style of fitting altogether; spotlights, concealed lighting, a chandelier! Many people favour dimmer switches to the conventional rocker type light switch. Dimmer switches enable you control the amount of light given off by the bulb and make an attractive feature to any room. These switches come in a sliding, turning, or touch mechanism, and in a variety of finishes to match either existing or new door furniture

 

Safety First!

In principle, the installation of a dimmer switch is exactly the same as that for an ordinary rocker switch.
 
The first thing to do before working on any electrical fitting is to isolate it! The simplest way to ensure you’ll be working safe is to switch the light on, and then, switch off at the circuit board; or remove the fuse, depending on your equipment.

Wiring

Where supplied, always read the manufacturers instructions or data sheet. Then, using an electrician’s screwdriver, remove the old switch plate (and surface box, where this is the case) so you have access to the electrical wiring. There’s generally no need to draw wiring diagrams when you come to re-wire the new fitting; fittings are clearly marked with the wiring arrangements. If you are just replacing the facia plate, it’s just a matter of re-connecting the wiring and screwing on the plate securing screws.

From Surface Mounted to Flush Fitting

If you’re converting a surface mounted switch box with a flush fitting switch, then the next thing to do after isolating the electricity is to carefully punch through a cable entry hole in the back of the new box, and make sure you fit the rubber grommet that is supplied with it. It’s important to fit this little item in order to avoid chaffing of the electrical wires. Next, pass the wires through the back of the box and hold the box flat against the wall. Mark around the box with a pencil, and remove the box completely.

Excavate the Recess

The next step is to excavate the area we’ve just marked to accommodate the box. Using a masonry drill, carefully drill a series of holes around the square you’ve just drawn, to the required depth, and chisel out the plaster and brickwork. Take extra care to avoid cutting into the electrical cabling.
 
When the area is dug out deep enough to accommodate the box, and its sitting flush with the surrounding wall, drill and plug the screw fixings to hold the box securely.

Make Good

When the box is screwed up tight, and is secured to the wall; using suitable filler, make good the rough edges around the box. Once this is done, wire up the electrical connections.

Tools you will need:
Dimmer Switch - 1 Gang 2 Way  - 250Watt - Brushed Chrome
Dimmer Switch - 1 Gang 2 Way - 250Watt - Brushed Chrome
- Faithfull 1.8Kg / 4Lb Fibreglass Handled Club Hammer
Faithfull 1.8Kg / 4Lb Fibreglass Handled Club Hammer
- Stanley 4-18-298 3 Piece Cold Chisel Set
Stanley 4-18-298 3 Piece Cold Chisel Set
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