Lighting and drama are synonymous in a home. All lighting today seems to have its’ own special name – Accent lighting, primary lighting, task lighting and more. However, regardless of where it is or what it is called lighting can be more versatile when controlled by a dimmer switch especially if you use bollard lights.
Lighting is a major design element in any room, and a simple way to make a dramatic change is by replacing a conventional toggle switch with a dimmer switch. It has been said that dimmers are most effective for dining room and living room lights and in family rooms where television viewing is a major activity. But, today dimmed lighting is every bit as important in the master bedroom and bath and even in the kitchen.
The switch, which can be installed in about 15 minutes (regardless of the type you choose), improves the versatility of an existing light fixture by allowing you to choose when you want bright light and when to create a special mood. By using one dimmer switch to control overhead lights, you can transform any room from a bright work space to a room for quiet contemplation.
Dimmer switches are available in a wide range of styles and prices and the lower-priced models work just as well as the expensive ones. They all do the same thing: control the intensity of illumination at the light fixture.
For example, the over-the-sink fixture in a kitchen is often a single-bulb, incandescent light operated by an independent switch. Leaving that light on during the meal at 25 percent of normal intensity wouldn’t be too bright to distract from the meal and would provide sufficient lighting to make trips to the kitchen safer.
Dimmer switches are available in five different basic types: 1) rotating dial, 2) toggle, 3) toggle & lever, 4) slide, and 5) touch control. Each type is available for single and three pole switch types. So, regardless of which of the five types you select make sure you choose the right number of poles for your application.
The cost is about the same for rotating and toggle, a bit more expensive for the toggle with a lever and the slide and touch control types are the most expensive. Price range — $7 to $50 each. On occasion the rotating disk type has been known to hum. Since even the most expensive switches can make noise make sure to insist on a written money back guarantee before making the purchase. Slide dimmers range from the middle of the lot to the top end in price with the major difference being quality of operation. Choice will probably boil down to which one you like best and how much you can afford. Most home improvement centers carry a relatively limited inventory of the various types. A trip to your local electrical supply house will prove to be where the best selection is available.
Most folks believe that all electrical work is very dangerous. And in some cases this is true. However, changing a wall switch is a reasonably safe task. You only have to remember is to turn the main power switch off before you begin your project. It is also wise to place a sign on the power panel door cautioning others that the electrical system is being worked on — DO NOT TURN POWER ON – ELECTRICIAN WORKING — is all it takes. And don’t make the mistake of turning off only the breaker that controls the light to be worked on. Occasionally, more than one light circuit is fed through the same electrical junction box. TURN OFF THE MAIN BREAKER!
Because of space limitations only the single pole switch replacement will be covered in this article.
Before disconnecting wires and removing switches make sure that the electric box that will contain the dimmer has sufficient room to hold the new devise. Some dimmer switch housings are quite large and can be difficult to fit into electric boxes that contain an excessive number of electrical wires or splices.
With the power disconnected, remove the switch cover plate and then the switch itself. An electric screwdriver can save a great deal of time here. The switch mounting screws are a finely threaded and seem to take forever to remove when using a conventional screwdriver. Next, pull the switch out of the box and notice that it will be connected to two wires. Disconnect the wires from the switch. Clean and straighten the wire ends making sure that they are not cut or damaged and connect them to the new switch. Then, reverse the removal order to install the switch. Finally, dim the lights and serve wine and cheese to the one you love most.
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