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Home > How Does It Work? > How Dimmer Switches Work

How Dimmer Switches Work

By Francine L. Huff
How Dimmer Switches Work

Getting the lighting right in a home isn't always easy. But good lighting can make a home feel warm and inviting. Dimmer switches allow you to change the mood in your rooms and save energy too.

Quick Installation

A light that is dimmed 25 percent uses 20 percent less energy, according to the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing. Dimmer switches turn a light circuit on and off and are easy to operate. The switch limits the flow of power by reducing the amount of electricity going through the circuit into the light fixture. You can probably install a dimmer switch in as little as five minutes if you have the right tools.

Take Precautions

Anytime you do electrical work you need to shut off the circuit's power supply. Read through all directions so that you have all the necessary tools and understand exactly what you need to do. It's also important to note that dimmers don't work well with all compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Look for CFLs that say they are designed to work with dimmers.

Easy to Use

Switches may look like dials, levers, or slides. Others may be controlled just by touching them. Some switches have remote controls so you can operate them from across the room. There are also three-way dimmers that let you operate a light source from two different switches. You have to determine the wattage of the bulbs that can be used with a specific switch. Some dimmers may make a buzzing noise when you use them. That's because of the shift in voltage going through the circuit.

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