Installing Dimmer Switches

Lighting a room effectively for all the different uses it might be put to requires a fair amount of careful planning. But in many rooms the lighting is a compromise between a central light giving general illumination and side light, spotlights and portable lamps giving additional light for, say, reading or highlighting a picture.

This set-up may be suitable for most purposes, but there are occasions when you might want temporarily to reduce the lighting level. Often when you’re watching television, for example, a bright central light can be distracting, and it’s impractical to start changing the bulb for one of lower wattage. And for parties too you’ll probably want to reduce the lighting to a more subtle level. Consequently, it’s a great advantage to be able to regulate a light from full ‘ brightness down to little more than a glow.

This is where a dimmer switch comes into its own. It’s easy to install and gives a lot of flexibility in controlling artificial light – it can instantly transform the mood of a.

– room. Yet besides being used in living rooms and dining areas, it’s particularly useful in providing a nightlight, for example, in a ‘ child’s bedroom or over a potentially dangerous area such as a staircase.

Most dimmer switches are used to control ordinary tungsten filament lamps and spotlights. It’s unlikely that you’ll want to dim fluorescent lights and if you do you’ll need a special dimmer, and a different choke. Most dimmers comprise an on/off switch and are operated by rotating a control knob or roller, but more sophisticated types just have a plate or knob which you touch to turn the light on and rotate to control the brightness.

Installing a dimmer is simply a matter of unscrewing the existing switch from its mounting box (don’t forget to turn off the power first) and disconnecting the cable. The two conductor wires and the earth are then fixed into the same terminals in the dimmer which is then screwed back to the same mounting box. Two-gang dimmers are also available and using these will enable you to control individually two lights in different parts of a room from the same faceplate but the fitting for these varies and manufacturer’s instructions must be followed. ‘

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