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How to Get a Dimmer Switch Installed

Dimmers do more than just set the mood -- they save money. Call in a pro but keep your costs down by buying the required supplies in advance.

Find the Right Bulb.

  • If possible, opt for fluorescent or LED over incandescent. They use less energy for the same light output and they produce less heat, which saves on air conditioning bills.
  • Make sure it dims. Almost all incandescent bulbs are dimmable, but some fluorescent and LED lights aren’t. Make sure the box you buy says it’s dimmable.
  • Compare lumens. Bring your current bulb to the store. To keep the same level of light, check the lumens, or the light output, listed on the package, matching the bulb you’ve got with the one you’re buying. The number of lumens should be the same on both, whether you’re buying incandescent, LED, or fluorescent bulbs.
  • Buy a Dimmer Switch.

  • Compare wattage. Add up the wattage of the bulbs you’re installing. Make sure the total wattage isn’t more than the “rating” of the switch, which should be listed on the back of the package.
  • Match the switch to the bulbs. Verify the switch is suitable for the type of lightbulb you're using (incandescent, LED, or fluorescent).
  • Research extra features. If you’re willing to shell out a bit of extra cash for some geeky add-ons, you can get a dimmer with multiple settings (dinner, party, TV) that dims or brightens the room with the flick of a button.
  • Call the Electrician.
    We don’t recommend that you try to install a dimmer switch on your own (there’s a serious risk of getting fried). Call an electrician in your area. The whole install should take a pro less than an hour, so it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

    Nestpert: Rick Canney is registered in Arizona as an Electrical, Mechanical and Control Systems Engineer.

    -- The Nest Editors

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