Dimmer Switches

Light dimmer switches help you save energy

Dimmer switches offer one of the easiest to use and most effective ways to save electricity. The design of light dimmer switches uses complex scientific and electrical principles to accomplish a simple function: allowing you to increase or decrease the amount of light emitting from a given source by using an external control.

While electrical dimmer switches are primarily used to save money, they also help you create the right mood and ambience in a room. Think of them an essential part of home energy conservation as well as green interior design.

Types of Dimmer Switches

Manufacturers have created several different designs of dimmer switches to address the varying needs of consumers. The most popular types include:

  • Touch dimmers. Typically used with lamps, touch dimmers allow you to increase or decrease the brightness of a light source by touching either the light itself or its shade or casing.
  • Remote dimmer switches. Used to control a room's main lights, remote dimmer switches are mounted on the wall and usually have a circular knob that you can use to increase or decrease the light intensity.
  • 3-way dimmer switches. These relatively complex dimmer switch setups are used when you want to be able to control a given light source from two locations.
  • Slide dimmers. A slide dimmer works much like a remote dimmer switch in that it usually controls a room's main light source. However, instead of a knob, it has a vertically shifting switch which can be raised to increase light intensity or lowered to decrease it.
  • Automatic dimmers. Increasingly popular, automatic dimmer switches sense the amount of natural and ambient light in a room and automatically set the dimmer to a supplementary level. Thus, the brightness of the lights depends entirely on how much light is already in the room, thus sharply reducing electricity wastage.

Installing Dimmer Switches

Specific instructions for installing dimmer switches will vary depending on the type of system you want to use. However, there are some evergreen safety tips which you should always keep in mind: first, make sure that the circuit you're working on is disabled. Second, do not connect your ground wires to a plastic work box; instead, run them straight to ground leads on the switch you're creating. Finally, use tools with insulated handles whenever possible, or leave the job to a professional electrician.

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