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Dimmer Switch To Single Pole Light Switch Replacement Guide
How to replace a dimmer light switch with a standard single pole on/off electrical switch in order to use CFL light bulbs.

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Warning - Do not touch any electrical outlet, switch or wire unless you are absolutely sure that the power has been turned off at the home's breaker box. If you have any doubts or concerns, consult a professional licensed electrician.
Bathroom Dimmer Switch
Single Pole On/Off Switch
Turn Off Power!
This home maintenance "how-to" guide was specifically written to assist homeowners in replacing a dimmer switch with a standard single pole on/off electrical light switch.

It may also be useful for those who'd like to replace a faulty dimmer switch, a faulty single pole wall switch, or just install a decorative wall plate or light switch.

Our new home had a dimmer wall switch installed in one of the bathrooms. Since we prefer to use our collection of energy saving CFL (compact fluorescent) light bulbs that are not dimmable, I had to replace the switch. A new standard single pole on/off electrical wall switch was just a few dollars at Home Depot.

The tools needed to complete this procedure include a flashlight, either a flathead or Phillips head screwdriver and a pair of needle nose pliers.

Remove Wall Plate
Light Switches Exposed
Unscrew Dimmer Switch
The first step is to turn off the power at the home's breaker box. Do not proceed unless you are 100% sure that the power has been disconnected or you risk being electrocuted which may cause severe injury or death.

Test the dimmer switch that you'd like to replace to be sure that it no longer has power. Then use a screwdriver to remove the plastic wall plate. Set the wall plate aside for re-installation later unless you are replacing it.

Unscrew the two screws that hold the dimmer switch in the gang box and carefully pull it out.

Pull Out Dimmer Switch
Examine Power Wires
Common, Neutral, Ground
Look at the wires coming out of the dimmer switch and identify the two power wires and the one ground wire (usually green).
New On/Off Wall Switch
Two Electrical Connections
Unscrew Wire Nuts


Pull the new single pole light switch out of the box and locate the two power wire connections and the ground connection.

Either unscrew the wire nuts on the dimmer switch wires, or loosen the screws holding the wires in place.

I'd recommend testing the "common" ("live" or "hot") wires with an electrical circuit tester or probe to once again check that the they are not energized.

Curve Copper Wire
Attach Green Ground Wire
Hot Wire & Return
Curve the bare copper end of the ground wire (green) and wrap around the ground screw on the new light switch. Tighten the screw to hold the ground wire in place.
Line Up On/Off Switch
Attach Power Wires
Tighten Screws - Hold Wires
Curve the bare copper ends of the common (hot) wire and the neutral (return) wires with the needle nose pliers. (For a standard single pole switch, it doesn't matter which wire goes on each contact point.)

Slip the curved ends over the power connection screws on the side of the new wall switch and tighten them with the screwdriver.

Make sure that the ground and two power wires are securely in place before continuing to the next steps.

Power Wires Attached
Install Single Pole Switch
Old Incandescent Bulbs
Push the new wall switch into the gang box and tighten the two screws to hold it in place.
Energy Saving CFL Bulbs
Breaker Box - Power On
Test New Light Switch
Twist out the old energy wasting and excessive heat producing incandescent bulbs and screw in the energy saving and much cooler CFL bulbs.

Restore power to the room by switching the breakers to "on".

Test the new light switch and enjoy your lower power utility bill.

We eventually hope to replace the old CFL bulbs with new LED bulbs as they burn out over the next few years.

For more, check out my other Home Repair & Maintenance Guides.

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