I'm fitting a new dimmer to a switch that controls a single ceiling bulb. Currently the switch has two red wires attached, one top one bottom. I'm guessing that this is live from circuit box and then live to ceiling rose. The two black wires have been connected together with a small box and the green is attached to the metal fixing embedded in the wall.

Current wall switch set up

The dimmer I've bought says to fit a red and a black to terminals c and l1 respectively. Do I choose any two red and black wires? The instructions mention if there are two wires then put them both into the appropriate terminal on the switch but that seems like it would result in a constant connection between the two live wires.

new dimmer terminals

  • A complication: this dimmer is labeled for 2-way (USA: 3-way) switch operation. Color code advice is likely to be wrong since they are expecting a branch to another 2-way switch. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 4 '17 at 14:42
  • Also is that dimmer listed to play well with LEDs? Edison bulbs are going the way of the dinosaur. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 4 '17 at 14:46
  • @Harper, I suspect most light switches sold in the UK (for example) are 2-way (USA 3-way) even though the L2 terminal is usually not used. In other words, it is common to find 2-way(3-way) switches used for 1-way(2-way) applications. Good point about LEDs though. Flickering LEDs or LEDs glowing dimly when off are a common subject of questions on this website. LED compatibility with dimmers is pot-luck depending on which Chinese factory bid lowest this week. – RedGrittyBrick Apr 4 '17 at 14:52

The instructions for that dimmer switch assume that you only have a "switch loop" wired to the switch.
A "switch loop" brings an always-on Live wire down to the switch and carries the switched Live back up to the light fixture.
In this case, the always-on Live should be Red and the switched Live return should be Black.
The Neutral side of the power connection stays up at the light and is not brought down to the switch.


But what you have there is the always-on Live and its associated Neutral both brought to the switch, and then the switched Live and Neutral sent up to the light.
The Red wires are the Lives and the Black wires are the Neutrals.
There's no way to know for sure just by looking at your picture which of the Reds is always-on and which runs up to the light.
The switched Live should be marked somehow and it's possible that the red tape wrapped around one of the red wires is intended to be that mark.
But in your case it doesn't really matter because your dimmer doesn't care.

Just disconnect the 2 red wires from the old switch and connect them to the 2 terminals on your new dimmer which the instructions tell you to use (C and L1).

Also, as RedGrittyBrick pointed out, your new dimmer has an Earth terminal which your old switch did not.
This terminal must be connected to the green Earth wire in the box using a wire with green/yellow insulation.

  • 1
    Note, the metal switchplate has an earthing terminal which needs to be connected to the earth terminal in the backbox using an extra piece of copper wire in a green/yellow insulating sleeve. For what it's worth, Crabtree also sell in the UK (presumably hence the CE mark) and the wire-colours, metal backbox and switchplate formats are all typical of UK as well. – RedGrittyBrick Apr 4 '17 at 14:48
  • @RedGrittyBrick - true - I should add that to my answer, and since the branding isn't particularly relevant I'll remove that bit. And looking more closely at the shape & size of the plates they do look much more like UK than ZA. – brhans Apr 4 '17 at 14:51
  • @brhans had the most thorough answer. I got delayed in actually replacing the switch (depth of the box turned out to be a real pain) but can confirm wiring wise this was 100% correct. – Minyall May 21 '17 at 19:22

The green is ground, that should stay connected to the box. I cannot see where the two black wires are connecting. It is normal to have two of positive and negative wires

  • AC mains doesn't have 'positive' and 'negative' wires. It has 'Live/Hot' and 'Neutral' wires. – brhans Apr 4 '17 at 14:54
  • You cannot leave a negative since my thread is correct and implying to receive more info. – DIYguy Apr 5 '17 at 0:10

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