Dimmable LED Light Bulbs: Choosing LED Dimmers

LEDs started off not needing dimmers. Their brightness level was never that high so it seemed rather pointless to install a dimmer on such a bulb. Since then LEDs have come a long way and have become brighter in the process. But what do you need to know before you start installing your dimmer?

Incandescent Dimmers:

When you are retrofitting your LEDs, you are probably replacing an old incandescent bulb with a more energy efficient LED bulb. You may be thinking that since you already have a dimmer that you do not need to get a new one for your LED. Unfortunately that is not the case.

Dimmers work by turning the power on and off so fast that it is impossible to see with the human eye. The ballasts and drivers that control how much power goes to CFLs and LEDs aren’t going to be able to cope with that.

This means that bulbs need to meet a certain load level or power level to work. And because LEDs are more energy efficient they are not going to work.

Effects of Standard Dimmer:

Dimmer effects

There are some original dimmers that may work with your CFL’s but you won’t be able to use it to its full capacity because they were originally designed for incandescent lights.

LED Drivers:

LED driver

A common assumption is that all you have to do is install an LED dimmer for your LEDs. However before you decide on the type of dimmer, you must install an LED driver. The driver must be wired with the dimmer you have chosen in mind.

*If your wiring is more than 50 years old, or you are inexperienced with retrofitting and/or rewiring, we recommend contacting an experienced professional first*

How to Choose a Dimmer?

LED dimmer

Before you choose the LED bulb that you want to install you need to choose what type of dimmer you want. The reason for this is that dimmers have a certain load or power requirement that needs to be met if they are going to work. 

Types of dimmers:

  • Single-Pole – Controls lights from one location and one dimmer
  • Three or Four-Way – Controls lights with one dimmer from multiple locations
  • Multi-Location – Controls lights with multiple companion dimmers from multiple locations  
  • Plug-In – Dims lights in table and floor lamps

You want to make sure that the bulb and dimmer are compatible with one another. Sometimes this information can be found on the box but if you are not able to find it, you should check out the manufacturer’s website. For example, Philips will have a compatibility list for you to look at.

Choosing a Bulb:

Once you have chosen what type of dimmer you want to install the next step is to choose a bulb. Remember that the bulb has to be compatible with the type of dimmer that you have chosen.

Choosing a bulb

To tell whether or not the bulb will work with a dimmer all you have to do is check the box. Look for the word ‘dimmable.’ This will let you know if the LED has a dimming feature.

It is important to note that when choosing your LED light bulb, you should choose from a recognizable company. Purchasing from a recognizable company ensures that you receive better product warranties, lamp life, and customer support.

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What are some of the steps you take when retrofitting a dimmer? Share some your tips with us today!

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Recommended Reading

Lighting control systems allow you to save even more money on LED lighting. Read our guide to learn about each type of technology and how it can help you save.

If you want to replace your traditional bulbs with a more efficient option, you've come to the right place. Read our guide to learn the difference between each type of bulb and the advantages LED bulbs have over the other types.

Will Owen
Will Owen

B.A. in English from Kennesaw State University. Will takes what he's learned and writes about all sorts of things from artists to electrical supplies and LED light systems. You name it and he can probably write about it.

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