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Dimming LED Lights, What You Need to Know

Dimming LED Lights, What You Need to Know

Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs is a great way to lower your lighting bill. But if you have dimmers in your home, you may be wondering: Are LED lights dimmable?

The answer in short is YES. LED light bulbs are indeed dimmable. However, there are a few important things that you should take into consideration.

Make Sure You Buy Dimmable LED Lights  

While majority of LED bulbs are now dimmable, some are not. Therefore, when you shop for LED bulbs, make sure you select dimmable LED bulbs. You are likely to find this information in the product description box.

So what happens in case you use a non-dimmable LED light bulb on a dimmer?

At best, your LED bulb will not dim properly. In a worst case scenario, the bulb may get damaged.

The thing is dimmable LED bulbs have special circuitry inside them. It enables them to aptly respond to changes in current levels. However, non-dimmable LED bulbs come with no such special circuitry and can only be turned fully ON or OFF. This basically means if they are subjected to pulsing or low currents, their circuitry will not be up to the task and can get damaged.

The long and short it is you shouldn’t use non-dimmable LED bulbs with a dimmer.

Check Whether Your Current Dimmers Work Perfectly With New LED Bulbs

How can I tell right off the bat if my old dimmers will work perfectly with new LED bulbs?

This is a question we get asked a lot. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell if your current dimmer will work with new LEDs simply by looking it. Sometimes normal and ordinary dimmer work fine with LEDs and sometimes they don’t. The only way you can know whether your old dimmers are LED-compatible is by testing them.

Because LEDs use such a low voltage, some types of dimmers don’t go hand in hand with them. If the dimmer is not fully LED-compatible, you may notice the following:

  • Smaller amount of dimming range (Usually 60% to 80% range compared to 100% with incandescent bulbs)
  • LED light bulbs might not completely shut off at the lowest possible dim setting. Typically, this occurs because the dimmer assumes the LED bulb is off on account of such a low voltage it consumes

If you experience either or both of these issues, the best course of action would be to buy a LED dimmer.

The two most common types of household dimmers are:

  • Leading Edge Dimmers – Designed for working with incandescent bulbs, leading edge dimmers don’t usually work well with new LED light bulbs.
  • Trailing Edge Dimmers – These dimmers are made specifically for LED lights. So if your old dimmer is not working well with LEDs, we recommend you to invest in a trailing edge dimmer.

The main difference between these two dimmers is their wattage range. As you may know, incandescent bulbs consume a lot of energy (that is, they are high wattage). Leading edge dimmers work with high-wattage loads only. However, LED bulbs consume very low energy (that is, they are low wattage). As a result, leading edge dimmers have a hard time reading or controlling their circuitry.

Whereas trailing edge dimmers don’t have any problem with lower wattage range and as such work seamlessly with LED bulbs.

Don’t have an LED-compatible dimmer? Buy a quality LED dimmer

There are all kinds of LED dimmers out there, but not all are made equal. We recommend you invest in a quality LED dimmer.