Dimming LED lighting can be done extremely well, smoothly lowering the output from 100% brightness to even less than 1%. However, to do this well some careful consideration and preparation is required to ensure you have the compatibility you need for your project.
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We have simplified your choices into 7 steps to take to get the perfect LED dimming for your application:
Step 1: Before purchasing a new LED dimmer switch, it is important to check that the light fixture itself is actually dimmable. Not all LED fixtures are designed to be dimmed, so it is important to check this before proceeding. This information can usually be found on the packaging of the light or on the website of the manufacturer.
Step 2: In order to dim an LED light lamp, you will need to use a dimmable LED light bulb. These bulbs are designed to work with LED dimmer switches and will not damage the light fixture. Not all LED bulbs are dimmable, so it is important to check this before purchasing.
We look at specifically how to dim a light bulb, in a related article.
Step 3: If an existing dimmer switch it may not be designed to control LED lighting loads. If it is already in place on the light circuit then first try it as it may work, but it’s unlikely to work well.
Otherwise it must be a dimmer switch designed for led lighting that has the correct specification when combined with your lighting choices.
Step 4: Can you put a dimmer switch on any light, well as we mentioned above not all dimmer switches are created equal.
If you want to dim your LED lights, you will need to purchase an LED dimmer switch. These switches are designed specifically for use with LED lights and come in two types or can offer the option of either within the same switch.
Most popular brands opt for a trailing edge dimming protocol so you may not even know it is without looking deeper into the specification.
We troubleshoot for those who have not yet found the best led dimmer switch no flicker.
Step 5: When installing a new LED dimmer switch, it will have a maximum capacity that will safely work with the LED lights on its circuit. Some care has to be taken as it’s not as simple as using incandescent loads.
Traditionally, a dimmer switch had a maximum capacity stated on the product ie 400W meant you could stack up lights with loads up to that mark and actually the higher the load the better the performance.
LED as a technology has an inherent characteristic that trips circuits to turn off unless catered for by reducing the load on the circuit to a lower percentage of it’s full loading.
Step 6: Each manufacturer’s dimmer switch will behave differently with the types of LED that are put on it. It’s a complexity of behaviours that affect the performance of dim that can be troublesome so to be safe unless you are told otherwise, you reduce the lighting load by 90%.
To see how many LED light bulbs your dimmer switch can handle, divide the minimum and maximum load of the dimmer by 10.
A rotary dimmer switch works from 0W to 300W.
This means you can use a tiny load of just 1 LED up to a maximum of 30W.
Step 7: A driver is the name given to the power supply that sits behind the scenes and actually powers your LED light.
As part of our guide on how to dim lights we’ve looked at choosing the right dimmable driver, in a separate article.
This is important as some drivers are not compatible with certain types of dimmer switch so it’s important they match.
Just like an LED dimmer switch, each driver has a different specification and will only work with certain types of LEDs. In order to ensure compatibility, it is important to check the specifications of both the light fixture and the dimmer switch before making a purchase.
Most manufacturers will have a cross-reference chart that you can use to find the right driver for your fixture.
If you are unsure which driver to choose, or if the drivers provided with the fixtures are not compatible with the dimmer switch, consult with a licensed electrician.
For a real life case study, here’s some of these details shown within a popular dimmer swith Specification:
Related: If you are experiencing dimmer lights flickering when dimming then we have an in depth article on resolving dimmable LED flash.
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