How to make any lamp dimmable in five minutes!
Did you know you can make (almost) any table or floor lamp dimmable? How cool is that? It’s easy to change out a lamp switch to one that can go from bright to soft light.
This little DIY project takes five minutes and is a great starter project for beginners interested in learning how to do basic electrical work around the house! You don’t need to pay an electrician to update these light fixtures.
We have quite a few three-way lamps in our home, and I love having the option of changing up the brightness of the light. But those incandescent light bulbs have always been more expensive, and even more now that everything is switching to energy-efficient bulbs.
Plus it drives me crazy that one brightness level goes out quicker than others on those bulbs — in our foyer where we have two lamps, we usually end up with one at the lowest light and one at the brightest. 🙂
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That’s another easy starter electrical project (I promise it’s not hard), but this one is even easier!
Both options are great! This tutorial keeps things a little cleaner visually.
Step 1: Double check that your lamp is unplugged
Then check it again. One more time.
Thank you. 🙂
Step 2: Remove the existing lamp socket
If you have a basic brass or metal version, you can just wiggle the top part off — that just slides into the base. (Use a utility knife or something similar to pry it apart if it’s stuck.)
Then pull the socket out — you may have to feed the cord back up into the lamp a bit if it’s tight:
Snip the wires off of the old socket before moving forward.
I always take a photo of what I’m working with just in case I need to put it back together!
Step three: Attach the new dimmable socket base
You’ll need to unscrew the original socket base from the lamp, and then attach the new one onto the threaded rod that goes into the lamp:
This will normally be an easy step — my original lamp sockets would NOT budge so I had to take all the components apart and literally hammer it off of that rod. Fun times! 😂
Notice that little screw on the base of the new socket — when removing or attaching this you’ll need to loosen and/or tighten that screw.
Step four: Prepare the existing lamp wires
You’ll be left with one cord that branches off into two wires. This is how mine looked on the old socket:
And I learned that is not the way it should look!
You need to tie an underwriter’s knot with the two parts of the cord — this is to keep the connections secure and prevent the wires from pulling out of the socket.
It was very easy to do, you can follow my image to make your own:
Since the wires were cut to remove the old socket, you may need to restrip them. Again…very easy!
I always cut a little less than an inch so I have plenty of wire to work with. As you’ll see, sometimes you have maneuver this into tight spots!
Step five: Attach wires to new dimmable socket
You’ll be left with the exposed end with wires sticking out — grab those and twist them together so they make one tight one instead. That makes it much easier to wrap them around the screws in the new dimming lamp socket:
See those two screws (or terminal clamps)? One is brass, one is silver. Loosen them just a bit to allow space to wrap the wire underneath the head of the screw.
One wire should have a slight ribbed texture to it. That one goes to the silver screw. The other wire will be completely smooth all around, and that one goes to the brass screw.
Ribbed wire = silver screw/terminal. Smooth wire = brass screw/terminal.
The wire doesn’t need to be wrapped around numerous times — just curving it around the screw is fine. Then tighten the screws down onto each wire to secure both.
Push the top part of the socket that you just wired onto the to bottom part that is attached to the lamp. It should be a tight fit but will go in easily:
That knob is what turns to adjust the bulb brightness on the lamp.
Just make sure your light bulbs are dimmable LEDs! Halogen and incandescent light bulbs are dimmable.
Screw in your bulb and reattach the lamp harp and shade…you now have lamps that can be turned on to full brightness:
Or turned way down low for a cozy vibe:
The difference would be more obvious if I had taken these photos at night, but you get the idea. 😉
Have you tried this quick lighting project?