Saturday, January 29, 2011

52 Projects: Dimmer Switch

Not that long ago we finished a complete remodel of our house. Our general contractor was a great guy and I'd recommend him to anyone. Efficient, value driven, and a real craftsman. The only issue was he was sometimes overly pragmatic in the name of saving money. More specifically we wanted a dimmer switch in our closet and he wouldn't do it.

Let me explain why we wanted this. I work weird hours. I often wake up in the middle of the night to catch a plane or sometimes I work until wee hours of the morning. Our closet is directly off our bedroom. When I turn on the light I almost always wake up my wife. Not to mention me being blinded by two 120 watt bulbs in the closet (we wanted the high wattage because the closet has no natural light). So when we remodeled we asked the contractor to put in a dimmer switch in the closet. That said I really didn't explain why and so - being the frugal guy he is - he just put in a standard switch. As the closet and our bedroom were the last things being remodeled and I'd gotten used to him by then I decided it just wasn't worth the hassle to explain everything. Those of you that have remodeled know how tired you get of dealing with details (not my strong suit to begin with). Besides putting in a dimmer is easy right?

Here's where I started:

The next step was a quick run to home depot for purchase of the dimmer switch.

All the parts are there! Yahoo! The instructions contain sage advice. I definitely want to avoid death at all costs. Off to the basement to turn off the power:

Out with the old.

And in with the...wait a minute - the old wasn't grounded! I'm no electrician but I know this is "bad". No biggie lets just tap into the ground wire. So lets just check the instructions just to make sure we install this correctly. Hey wait...

The instructions say hook the first black dimmer lead to any wire removed from the old switch. Then hook the second black dimmer lead to the other wire. But there's only one black lead on the new switch. What???? I suspect this is why many people hire electricians - to figure out crappy directions. I'm gonna guess that I simply use the RED lead in place of the "second black dimmer lead".

I put it together using provided wire nuts:

Time for a test. Head back down stairs and throw the switch:

TA DA! It works.

Just a bit of finishing and cleaning up:

Tools/parts used:

That's it for now. 48 more to go.

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