How to Install a Dimmer Switch with 2 Wires

How to Install a Dimmer Switch with 2 WiresTurn off the power: Safety first! Locate the breaker controlling the light circuit you’re working on and turn it off completely. You can use a voltage tester to double-check that no power is running to the wires before proceeding.

Remove the existing switch: Once the power is off, unscrew the faceplate and remove the old switch from the electrical box. There should be two wires connected to the switch terminals.

Identify the wires (optional): In a two-wire setup, one wire is typically the hot wire (carrying power) and the other is the neutral wire (completing the circuit). While not always necessary, some people prefer to identify these wires for clarity. You can use a voltage tester to carefully identify the live wire before turning off the power again.

Connect the wires to the dimmer switch: Most dimmer switches for a two-wire setup will have two terminals and a ground screw. Luckily, the order you connect the black wires from the wall to the black or red terminals on the dimmer switch doesn’t matter in this case. However, make sure to connect the ground wire (usually bare copper or green) from the box to the ground screw on the dimmer switch.

Test and secure the dimmer: Before putting everything back together, turn the power back on at the breaker and test the dimmer switch. If it works as expected, secure the dimmer switch in the electrical box and reattach the faceplate.

  1. Important safety note: While installing a dimmer switch with two wires is generally straightforward, if you’re uncomfortable with electrical work or unsure about anything, it’s always best to consult a qualified electrician.


Safety First

Turn off the power at the breaker box before you begin. You can use a voltage tester to confirm the circuit is off before proceeding.

Tools and Materials


Wire cutters/strippers (optional, some dimmers use push-in connectors)

Wire nuts (optional, some dimmers use push-in connectors)

New dimmer switch (compatible with your wiring)

Optional: Voltage tester


  1. Remove the Existing Switch:

Unscrew the faceplate around the switch.

Loosen the terminal screws on the old switch and carefully detach the wires.

Note the colour of the wires (usually black or white) and their positions on the switch (helpful for reconnecting).

  1. Identify the Wires (if not already labelled):

In a two-wire setup, you’ll typically have one black or white wire and a bare copper ground wire.

Important: Leave the ground wire alone for now. We’ll connect it later.

You can use a voltage tester (with the power off!) to identify the live wire if the colours aren’t distinct. Touch the tester probe to a stripped end of one wire, and then touch the other probe to a known ground (like a bare metal screw box). If the tester lights up, that’s the live wire.

  1. Connect the Dimmer Switch:

Consult the dimmer switch’s instructions for specific terminal configurations. Dimmer terminals are usually labelled with screws or symbols.

There will typically be a common terminal (marked with squiggly lines or “COM”) and another for the load (often marked “L” or “LOAD”).

Connect the live wire (identified in step 2) to the common terminal on the dimmer.

Connect the other wire (usually white) to the load terminal on the dimmer.

Use wire nuts (twist and secure with a screw cap) or push-in connectors 

(depending on your dimmer) to make secure connections.

  1. Grounding:

Locate the ground screw on the dimmer switch (usually green) and the bare copper ground wire from the electrical box.

Twist these two together using a wire nut or secure them under the same screw terminal if there’s enough space.

  1. Mount the Dimmer Switch:

Carefully tuck the wires into the electrical box, ensuring no loose strands are near the screws or terminals.

Secure the dimmer switch to the electrical box using the provided screws.

Attach the dimmer’s faceplate and turn the power back on at the breaker box.

  1. Test the Dimmer:

Turn the dimmer on and off, and then adjust the dimming function to ensure everything works properly.

Additional Tips

If you’re unsure about any step, consult a qualified electrician.

Double-check all connections before turning the power back on.

Make sure your dimmer switch is compatible with your existing wiring and light fixture type (e.g., LED compatible).

Consider using a dimmer with a neutral wire connection if your box has one (provides more stable dimming for certain light types).

Read Also: How to wire a switch off an outlet (Secrets Revel)

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