How To Choose a Dimmer Switch

How To Choose a Dimmer Switch

Last updated on December 12, 2023

Are you looking for a new dimmer and find it difficult to select the most appropriate dimmer for your switch? Or even completely in the dark about dimmers and their compatibility?

This article will serve as your personal guide to highlight all the important features of dimmers, what to look for and how to select a dimmer for your specific use. But first, we introduce what a dimmer is

What is a dimmer?

Dimmers are quite common but may be unrecognizable to the unfamiliar eye.

If you closely observe your lamp holder or light fixture at home, you will notice that there is a device connected to it that allows you to control the brightness of your bulb: this is the dimmer.

A dimmer gives you the flexibility and capability to control the brightness of your space.

Different dimmer types have different features and operations, depending on the type of dimmer and bulb installed.


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    What is the purpose of the dimmer?

    Dimmers help give your rooms and spaces specific lighting moods to match your exact preferences.

    You can also use a dimmer, for example, to set a relaxed, soft tone to your dining room lighting, to give you a relaxed or romantic feeling over dinner.

    Additionally, the bulbs installed in the light fixtures might not provide the lumen output desired for the room. A dimmer allows you to control and tune in to the exact setting desired.

    Moreover, when operated properly, dimmers can introduce significant savings on bulb operation and great reductions in power consumption, effectively lowering the electricity bills.

    Factors to consider when selecting a dimmer?

    To ensure that your dimmer matches the intended purpose and can satisfy the end results, there are a few factors to look into before purchasing the dimmer.

    Mainly, there are four factors to consider before selecting a dimmer:

    • Dimmer types.
    • Matching bulbs to dimmers.
    • Matching dimmers to watts controlled
    • The design or style of the dimmer control.

    Now, let’s get into details.

    Dimmer types

    Dimmers are available in a number of types and designs and the specific dimmer type required needs to be selected carefully. Firstly, you need to access your light fixture and determine the number of switches that control it.

    There are four (4) types of dimmers:

    The single pole dimmer: this type is designed for an electrical wiring where everything is controlled from just one switch.

    Three-way Dimmer: when you have more than one switch controlling the lights, this is the type to go for. This dimmer type has two (2) switches and only one dimmer.

    Multi-location dimmers: in a setting where lighting is controlled from multiple sources, you will need the multi-location dimmer. This dimmer type will allow full dimming control from multiple locations.

    Plug-in dimmer: dimmers are not just for your ceiling lights or bulbs. To use them with your bedside lamps, floor lamps or table lamps, use a plug-in type dimmer, as they are perfect for lights which plug directly into an outlet.

    Matching bulbs to dimmers

    Before making the purchase, careful consideration must be given to the bulbs this dimmer is set to operate.

    The bulbs and the dimmer must be compatible and the bulb has to be a dimmable one.

    Also, depending on the type of light bulb, the dimmer type will vary.

    For example, if you use a halogen or an incandescent lighting system, then you would need an incandescent dimmer. Otherwise, you may not achieve your intended dimming scheme.

    Alternatively, if you’re using an LED or compact fluorescent light, then you will need an LED dimmer. Any other dimmer used will give poor results with a continuous buzzing sound or might even fail to operate.

    For low voltage lighting systems – electronic or magnetic – one must get a dimmer that matches the transformer that operates the bulbs. A magnetic dimmer is required for magnetic low voltage lights and an electronic dimmer is required for electronic low voltage ones.

    Matching dimmers to watts controlled

    All dimmers available on the market have an operational threshold, which is defined by the watt level they can power or control.

    To properly select a dimmer, you need a thorough estimate of the watt value intended for the dimmer to control. It is essential to check the dimmer package and manual as it typically states its watts capacity.

    Avoid overburdening the dimmer and only use it with the watts capacity it has been designed for.

    The design or style of the dimmer control

    Dimmer controllers are available in various styles, colors, and designs, and are manufactured to meet a wide range of customer preferences.

    Options for dimmer controllers include slide dimmer, rocker dimmer, toggle dimmer, tap dimmer, rotary dimmer, and touch-sensitive dimmer control.

    This guide has been planned to provide enough details and information to help you choose the proper dimmer to meet your space, intended settings and style. 


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