Installing a dimmer or fan control is really quite simple. These simple step-by-step instructions should work for either dimmer switches or fan controls. Check the instructions included with your particular switch to be sure.
Install Your Dimmer Switch or Fan Control
Even though they look alike, fan controls and dimmer switches have different functions. Always use the proper switch for your application. Check the packaging to see whether the switch is for a light or a fan motor.Step 1
- Remember, you're dealing with electricity, so turn your power off at the breaker panel or the fuse box.
- Confirm the power is off by flipping the switch on and off.
- Remove the wall plate and switch mounting screws so the switch can be pulled from the wall and the wires exposed. Don't touch any of the wires until you’ve confirmed they aren’t carrying electrical current.
- Use masking tape to mark the wires that are connected to the switch. These are the wires you need to connect to your new dimmer. If you have a digital camera handy, take a picture of the existing wiring in case you need to refer to it when installing the new switch.
- If you’re replacing a three-way switch, use masking tape to mark the common wire. This is usually connected to a darker terminal (than the other two wires) on the switch.
- Disconnect all wires from the old switch by loosening the screws and unhooking the wires.
- For a single-pole application of a dimmer switch, which means the light is only controlled by this switch you're replacing, connect the green dimmer wire to the bare copper ground wire in the box using a supplied connector. Twist clockwise to tighten.
- For a three-way application of a dimmer switch, which means the light is controlled from this switch and another switch location, connect the common wire from the dimmer, which is typically black, to the common house wire that you marked off earlier with masking tape. Connect the other two house wires, called traveler wires, to the other two dimmer wires, as with a standard switch. In a typical three-way switch configuration, the traveler wires will be red or white with black markings.
- Carefully tuck the wires back into the electrical box.
- Mount your switch to the wall. Align the switch and tighten the screws.
- Mount the wall plate to the switch. Secure it with the wall plate screws.
- Turn the power back on at the circuit breaker panel or the fuse box.