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Can You Dim LED Lights?

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After installing your LED lights, you may be thinking: can you dim LED lights to change the visual appearance of your home, set the mood in your place, and make lights last longer? However, there are a few essential things to take into account before dimming your LED lights. 

Can You Dim LED Lights?

Yes, you can dim LED lights using several means such as mains dimming, Dali, DMX, pulse width modulation, analog dimming, leading-edge dimmer, and a trailing-edge dimmer. However, not all LED lights are dimmable, so you still have to check if yours is compatible with the particular dimming method you want. 

Let’s walk you through the things you need to consider and prepare before you’re able to control the LED light’s brightness

LED lights hanging on a ceiling

Things to Consider Before Dimming Your LED Lights 

Using LED lights can reduce your household’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by around 65 kg. With dimmed LEDs, you can produce less heat and consume less energy while retaining color. While LED lights are dimmable, it’s important that you review these things before knowing how to dim LEDs.

  • Use only dimmable lights: You can use a dimmable LED light in a non-dimmable circuit, although you can’t put a non-dimmable light in a dimmable circuit. Don’t use non-dimmable lights because you can only either power them on or off. Using a non-dimmable LED light can damage the bulb and reduce the lifespan.
  • Review product specifications: Check if the LED light’s product description or technical specification is suitable for the dimmer. Most domestic dimmers are compatible with tungsten loads, which usually have 250 to 400 watts. Some dimmers can’t read the low load of LED lights, so you may need to connect an extra electrical load.
  • Pay attention to the power output: Check if the switch can handle the light dimmer’s power output. For instance, if the LED light bulb has a 50-watt capacity, the dimmer switch should be capable of handling this output.
  • Check if the LED bulb fits: While you can replace retrofitted lamps with LED lights, there are others where the LED isn’t a good fit for the fixture.
  • Don’t mix and match: It’s not advisable to combine LED lights from various brands on the same dimming circuit. Each LED light has its own electronic circuit design, so the dimmer won’t have difficulties giving a common signal to each bulb. 
  • Opt for established brands: Well-known brands tend to offer longer amp life, better product warranties, and reliable customer support. Additionally, consider buying the same brand and model of LED for all the fixtures in an area. 
  • Invest in high-quality LED light: Even with an excellent dimming method, it won’t work well unless your LED light bulb has quality dimming chips and components. 
  • Work with a technician: Work with a qualified electrician or technician to make any changes to your driver or circuit.

Ways to Dim LED Lights

LEDs have an estimated energy efficiency of 80-90%, and you can improve that once you select the right dimming system. 

Woman wondering if she can dim LED lights

While there are several kinds of dimmable LED light fixtures, there are only a few ways for you to dim LED lights. Before choosing one, it’s vital that you pick the best kind of dimming method for your home and needs.

  • Mains Dimming: Being the oldest type of dimming system, mains dimming is the one you’ll usually encounter at homes, restaurants, and shops. This method dims a LED light by decreasing the voltage that reaches the fixture. While it mainly works for filament lamps, some manufacturers now incorporate mains dimming into their fixtures.
  • Digital Addressable Lighting Interface: DALI provides area control over a number of lighting circuits. It uses a two-core cable connection between the LED driver and dimmer control. However, a certain level of dimming may switch the LED off.
  • Digital Multiplex: Originally used for the entertainment world, DMX creates dynamic color-changing lighting effects across several lighting channels. Still, not all drivers can cope with the demands of this dimming method.
  • Analog Dimming: ​Another straightforward yet reliable method of dimming lights, analog dimming optimizes a DC Signal between the LED driver and control plate. Analog dimming operates on a single channel basis, so the light output dims as the voltage changes. 
  • Pulse Width Modulation: With this dimming method, you can create a flickering effect by switching the voltage on and off at a variable speed. By decreasing or increasing the switching speed, you can also change the LED light’s output and dimming.
  • Leading-Edge Dimmer: Although this is among the most widely installed dimmer for incandescent bulbs, a leading-edge dimmer may not work well with LED lights. However, this is a good option if you’ll be working with high voltage applications. 
  • Trailing-Edge Dimmer: Unlike the leading-edge dimmer, this involves cutting the waveform at the beginning and cutting the waveform at the end as the waveform decreases. In this way, you can avoid a large jump in voltage and avoid a buzzing effect in the LED lights.
Lights with a dimmer switch

Dimming a Non-Dimmable LED Light

There’s no proper way of dimming a non-dimmable LED light as it will only follow the ON and OFF features of the power switch. You can dim a non-dimmable LED light once it reaches the point where it can’t produce the same amount of brightness it’s originally meant to create. 

Related Questions

To cap off, let’s discuss a bit more about dimming LED and other kinds of lights.

Can I Use an Incandescent and LED Light on the Same Dimmer? 

Putting both LED and incandescent lights on the same dimmer depend on the minimum and maximum load range. However, it would be best if you can provide separate circuits for each kind of light. 

Why Is My LED Light Suddenly Dim? 

LED lights may lose brightness over time due to deterioration, low power supply, old wiring, surge wattage, and overheating. A non-ventilated fixture, aging bulb, and high ambient temperature can also cause your LED light to suddenly dim.

Conclusion

The good thing about LED lights is that they have dimmable versions. While there are several types of dimming methods you can use, make sure that you check the system’s compatibility with your LED lights. Once you choose the right one, you can easily dim your LEDs and save money.