We’ve shared on this blog about various types of lighting for different areas in your home or office, and to add to that discussion, today’s topic is focused on light switch dimmers. They can help change the atmosphere of any space, but are they worth it? Can they really save money and energy? How easy are they to install if you don’t already have them? Let’s find out!
What Are Dimmers?
Dimmer switches are exactly what they sound like: a switch that allows you to dim the lighting in a specific room or area of your home, as well as brighten the space. Being able to brighten or darken a room can add instant atmosphere or mood to a space based on what you’re going for. Low lighting is great for a cozy night spent reading or a romantic dinner, while brighter light may take away from those experiences. With a dimmer switch, you won’t have to redo the wiring in your home or purchase multiple lamps and light fixtures.
Do They Save Energy?
In short, yes! Light dimmers have surprisingly been around for a long time, and they weren’t always as efficient as they are now. They used to only limit the amount of light, but not the amount of power being used; in fact, they converted the unused power into heat, which led to other dangers! They’re much safer and more energy-efficient now, in that they actually do reduce the amount of electricity used by your lightbulb. They can also increase the life of your bulbs because they put less stress on them.
However, it’s important to note that not all lightbulbs are created equally. Not all bulbs are dimmer-compatible, so it’s important to check before buying. LED bulbs that are dimmer-compatible are excellent when it comes to energy saving, and they retain their color no matter how much you dim them. Halogen bulbs, on the other hand, become less efficient color-wise the more you dim them. CFL bulbs (fluorescent lights) are like LED bulbs in their good reputation but using non-dimmable ones with a dimmer can be a major fire hazard. (You shouldn’t use non-compatible LEDs either, but they produce much less heat, so it’s not as much of a fire hazard.)
Also, if you plan to keep the lights dimmed 24/7, your better option may be to just invest in lower-wattage lighting because they’ll ultimately end up using less energy than dimmed high wattage bulbs over time.
Do They Save Money?
If you have a dimmer that’s both reducing the flow of electricity as well as putting less stress on your lightbulbs themselves, you’re saving money on your power while simultaneously extending the life of your bulbs. So again, in short, yes!
However, take into consideration the other aspects mentioned in the previous section, because otherwise you may not end up saving as much money as you were hoping to.
How to Install Dimmers
The installation of dimmers isn’t that difficult and can take less than 15 minutes!
- Go to your local hardware store and purchase a new dimmer switch plate that’s compatible you’re your lighting needs. To determine compatibility, simply add the wattage of however many lights you’re wanting to dim. For example, two 75-watt bulbs equal a total of 150 watts, so you’ll need a switch that can handle 150 watts. Most dimmers are capable of handling either 600 or 1000 watts, so a 600-watt capacity switch would be more than enough for 150 watts.
- Next, be sure to have the following supplies: a screwdriver, wire strippers, and needle nose pliers. Wire connecters, electrical tape, and a circuit tester are also handy, but may not always be necessary.
- Be sure to go to your circuit breaker and turn off the power for whatever switch you’ll be working on. Remove the faceplate from the light switch. Then remove the wires from the old switch, paying close attention to wire colors (usually black, white, and green or copper for the ground wire), as well as which wires went where on the previous switch, as you’ll need to attach them to the same spots on the new one.
- Reattach the wires to the proper places on the new dimmer switch, tightening the screws to make sure the wires are held in place. Next, fold the wires and fit the dimmer securely into the electrical box, again tightening the screws to make sure all is secure. Then attach the faceplate, turn the power back on, and check your work!
If at anytime you feel uncomfortable dealing with electricity or electrical projects, never hesitate to call a professional!