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A common question many people pose before purchasing LED light bulbs is whether the lights are dimmable or not. Since LED lights are much more efficient and last longer, they are widely being used as alternatives to incandescent bulbs in homes across the country.
But, understandably, customers don’t want to spend money on a product, only to find out it can’t be operated with their existing dimming systems.
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The short answer to the question of whether or not LED bulbs are dimmable is yes, however there are some restrictions and details you should know about before you proceed with your home lighting system renovation.
Here is everything you need to know about dimmable light bulbs.
Why Do I Need Dimmable LED Lights?
There are several reasons behind purchasing and installing dimmable LED lights, including;
- Energy efficiency
Dimmable LEDs consume less energy and are more cost-effective over their lifetime than standard light bulbs. They also emit less heat and can be installed virtually anywhere in your home due to their availability in multiple shapes, sizes, and color temperatures.
The energy savings from dimming LEDs are especially significant when coupled with occupancy sensors that automatically turn on and off. This combination will result in an immediate reduction in the amount of wasted energy when compared to other types.
- Ambient lighting
A dimmable LED light bar or spotlights can greatly improve your home’s decor and can provide ambient lighting in multiple areas such as walkways, stairwells, dining rooms, kitchens, and more.
These types can also provide enough lighting to adequately highlight cables and cords at night, to avoid accidents. If you’re looking for a task lighting solution to meet a specific purpose such as reading or painting, dimmable LEDs are a perfect choice.
- Flexibility to match the lighting
A dimmer switch allows you to control both the brightness and the energy consumption of your lights. This feature allows you to match your lighting output and intensity with various situations, activities, and mood settings.
Dimmers are also perfect for people with sleeping or sight impairments, as they allow users to adjust the light levels within their area to the required setting, without adjusting the brightness of everything else around them.
Dimmers can also be greatly beneficial for entertainment spaces like media centers and home theaters to significantly reduce bright lights while maintaining some level of visibility during movies or games, to ensure an enjoyable ambiance in the space.
Are LED Light Bulbs Dimmable?
Yes, LEDs are dimmable! But not all of them. You will need to properly research the desired products to determine if your particular type of LED bulb is compatible with a dimmer switch.
If you’re alternating an incandescent or CFL bulb with a new LED light bulb, it’s essential to purchase one that is dimmable. Although many people do not pay attention to the dimming capabilities of their lights , this feature can make a difference in how bright the light is.
When using incandescent bulbs, there’s no way to change the amount of light they emit, whereas for CFL bulbs, there is a way, however, they don’t last as long as LEDs, which is why it’s recommended to use CFL dimmable lights sparingly and shifting to LEDs when possible.
So before making a purchase, check whether the bulb you’re interested in buying is dimmable. If it isn’t – it’s wise to choose another option that has this feature built-in.
In order to make sure that the LED light you’re purchasing is dimmable, carefully inspect the light’s package, as most high-quality dimmable LEDs have the word ‘dimmable’ either written directly on the box or printed on the bottom of the package.
And if you’re shopping online, simply input the word ‘dimmable’ in the search bar after the light type to make sure your results all match your requirements.
Reasons Some LED Lights Aren’t Dimmable
The dimmability feature in an LED light is directly correlated to the LED driver that is supplied with the light. While some manufacturers may provide an adjustable current output, others do not offer this feature.
It is essential to note that if there is no mention of dimmable LEDs in the product description, the product does not include this feature, and you should look for another option for your lighting needs.
Non-dimmable LED drivers only include ON & OFF positions in their settings, meaning you will either have to purchase a different type of bulb or use the manual switch. Some people may try to alter the current limit settings in order to achieve a varying brightness setting, damaging the lights in the process.
Therefore, if you plan to use these bulbs for mood lighting, it’s recommended to purchase ones that can be turned off completely, so there’s no interference with any other devices in the area.
Alternatively, dimmable drivers are custom designed to hold drops in the current or voltage and avoid flickering when dimmed down.
Dimming control is typically achieved via a digital interface such as a capacitive touch sensor, rotary encoder, or infrared remote control. These new technologies ensure that the introduction and installation of LED lights into commercial and residential applications is a simple task.
How Are Lights Dimmed?
Incandescent lights generally operate by heating an element inside the bulb until it produces light, with a filament acting as a bridge between the two electric poles that create this heat.
When you lower the voltage in your circuit, less power will reach the filament, and thus less heat will be created, cooling it down and lowering the bulb’s temperature, consequently making it dimmer.
You can also use a rheostat, which is basically just a variable resistor; and by rotating its knob, you can decrease the amount of current reaching the filament, thereby changing its brightness.
Which Dimming Types Should You Use?
The right type of dimmable lights enable you to adjust the light level in your room and can be used to ensure a relaxing mood. This directly depends on the kind of bulbs or lamps you are using.
For an incandescent bulb, it will not properly operate with a normal wall switch since power is only supplied when the switch is turned on. Below are the recommended dimming types to use depending on the type of bulbs or lamps you are using:
- 1. 0-10V Dimming
This popular dimming type is suitable for a high voltage lamp like a neon sign. There are also motorized dimmer options with remote controls that don’t require any wiring, and although they may cost more, they’ll provide precise control over the brightness level of your room from the comfort of the couch.
You might want to consider using this type if you wish to enjoy multiple tasks in the same space, such as watching TV, playing video games, and reading at the same time. However, these dimming types are not suitable for people who want full light intensity all day.
- Leading edge dimming
This type of dimming is commonly used for halogen and incandescent bulbs. It uses a magnetic ballast that is wired to a light switch, allowing individual control of each light fixture. This is ideal if you want to maintain full light intensity in your room at all times.
However, these types of dimmers maintain high currents during their operation, which means your bulbs may become very hot while they are on. They also may wear out more quickly than other kinds of dimmers.
- Trailing edge dimming
This kind of dimmer works for incandescent lights, such as your Christmas tree lights. It only requires a single pole switch to operate, even without a neutral wire. However, trailing edge dimmers don’t work with dimmable halogen bulbs because they are not compatible.
Their operation may also result in buzzing noises and lights flickering, especially when used in large spaces like auditoriums or stadiums with multiple light fixtures on the same circuit.
Basic Guidelines For Dimmable LED Lights
Dimmable LED lights are available in many different shapes and sizes, and they can be installed in almost all types of fixtures or lamps.
They are a great option to reduce energy consumption and effectively the electricity bill, without jeopardizing the quality of the lighting system. Below are the basic guidelines for sourcing an appropriate dimmer switch for your new LEDs.
- Check the bulb
When considering dimming features, select dimmable LED bulbs that are specifically designed for use with dimmers.
Typically, this information should be noted on the packaging, mentioning dimmable or dimmable down to 5% light output (meaning you could get as low as 5% brightness out of it). The LEDs should also be fitted with built-in electronic components that allow them to quickly react to changes in voltage flow.
- Employ a compatible dimmer
When replacing an incandescent bulb with a dimmable LED, use a light-dimmer switch designed specifically for the new lights. These devices are available in one of three main types: single-pole, three-way and four-way switches.
The most common is a single pole dimmer switch that can be installed anywhere in your home or office. It allows you to control just one set of lights. If you would like to control more than one set of lights from a single location, then a 3-way or 4-way switch may work best for you.
- Choose proven and tested options
If your dimmer switch doesn’t seem to be working as intended with the new set of dimmable LEDs, there are a few troubleshooting techniques to solve potential issues. First, ensure that you have compatible bulbs and dimmers by checking each product for compatibility information.
Next, confirm that your switch is installed correctly and that all connections are secure. You might need to replace any worn-out parts. Finally, if none of these steps resolve the issue, contact the manufacturer or retailer for specific product assistance.
- Do a mockup
Some dimmer switches are fitted with a built-in test setting that allows you to check whether or not your dimmable LEDs will operate as planned before installing them. This is especially useful if you are installing the LEDs to replace existing incandescent or halogen bulbs.
Simply turn on your lights, set your dimmer switch to its lowest level, and flick it off and on repeatedly while paying attention to flickering or other potential problems. If everything works as expected, then you can proceed to install the new bulbs and switch throughout your home or office.
Are LED Bulbs Dimmable – The Bottom Line
In a nutshell, the choice of light bulbs for a home or office, whether dimmable or non-dimmable, depends on a variety of factors related to aesthetics, mood, and personal preference. LED light bulbs are a popular choice for homeowners and business owners because they provide a significant reduction in energy consumption.
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However, if you wish to adjust the lighting levels in your home or office, incandescent and halogen lights can also be dimmed and fluorescent lights can be used for dimming purposes, as well.
Some people may find LEDs too bright for their spaces and may prefer more traditional lamps, which is why it’s important to know what kind of lamp will work best for each individual application before making a purchase.