A Bit on Dimmers

I’m going to state the obvious when I say that hard-wired lighting is fantastic. Mount it to your wall or ceiling once and it’s out of your way, forever providing light from above, allowing you to brighten your home with the flick of a switch.

As you may remember from our recent lighting saga, we’re willing to go to some pretty great lengths for the right fixture. The one gripe we have with installing lighting right out of the box with a standard on/off switch is that often times the lighting is either just too bright, or not nearly bright enough. This is especially frustrating when dealing with track lighting in which only a limited number of (incredibly expensive) different bulb wattages are available. How annoying it is to install your new favorite fixture, flip the switch for your first test of your handy work and find yourself blinded as if you were standing on the surface of the sun without your sweet ray bans.

Enter the easy, cheap solution: Dimmer Switches!

Available in many configurations at any big box hardware store, they can be installed in about 10 minutes, no matter how electrically challenged you happen to be. If you have a flat-head screwdriver and 15 bucks, you’re pretty much set. And don’t forget to cut the power at the circuit breaker before starting. (Quick tip: if the switch you’re replacing controls multiple fixtures, be sure to select a dimmer that works for that specific application. This one controls three fixtures in foyer and hallway. Some dimmers are designed to control only one.)

Our kitchen also sports two dimmers which operate on a 5 button system, rather than a slider. It’s nice to have each fixture operate independently of one-another, since our industrial track lighting tends to be obnoxiously bright, so we usually keep it at 50% power, whereas our new fixture is nice and bright at 75% power.

We’re all about those cheap, easy solutions that make major impact, and nothing sets the mood better than lighting. Dim and cozy for a quiet dinner with your better half, or bright and cheery to motivate you to scratch off a few items from your never ending (in our case) to-do list. How do you all control the lighting in your space? Do you have a “go-to” lighting pattern that you always switch on after work? Do you prefer low and romantic or bright and motivating? Regardless, it’s certainly nice to have options.

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  • chris5.17.10 - 10:24 AM

    Scott, you’ll be happy to know that I successfully installed a dimmer in our bedroom yesterday without asking for your help.ReplyCancel

  • I’m convinced that dimmers are the best inventions ever! I hate overhead light and usually sit in the dark (while watching tv) while Nate likes them on full blast. Thanks to our new dimmers, we have a happy middle ground.ReplyCancel

  • Scott5.17.10 - 3:22 PM

    Chris, I’m so proud! I knew the next one would be easy for you.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda5.17.10 - 9:40 PM

    I would love to have some of our lights on dimmers, especially the bedrooms! I do generally like to have some bright lights on though, or else I tend to get tired and un-motivated. The lighting is one thing in our house that we haven’t really messed with much yet.ReplyCancel

  • Scott5.18.10 - 4:44 PM

    Lighting is sort of like paint. Super easy and (sometimes) cheap, but hugely transformative. Maybe give some dimmers a shot before you decide on fixtures? Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Amie5.18.10 - 7:08 PM

    I can’t wait until I can get some dimmers and go crazy!!

    Right now though, I don’t think my landlord would appreciate it.ReplyCancel

    • Kim5.18.10 - 7:25 PM

      Amie, I have a pretty good feeling that not only would a landlord love that you’re adding something cheap and great to his home, but I bet he’d pay for it, too. Go ahead and ask! Doesn’t hurt. Both Scott and I have done our fair share of landlord negotiating, and you may be surprised that they’re almost always up for it (assuming it won’t hurt his/her property value, of course)!ReplyCancel

  • dave5.18.10 - 8:27 PM

    Great info on the dimmer applications! Keep posting new ideas for the listening crew.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina5.28.10 - 1:41 PM

    I love dimmers! We just added a dimmer in our bedroom – love how we can have it bright and then lighter thoughout the day :)ReplyCancel

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