Are LED Lights Dimmable?

Lighting can always make a house feel like a home. If you have LED lights in your house, you might be wondering if they are dimmable!

Sometimes after a long day, we don’t want to be subjected to the usually bright LED lights, we would much rather have some low lighting and a nice cup of hot chocolate to create a cozy atmosphere.

To answer your question, LED lighting is dimmable but as with most things in our homes, it’s not that simple.

There are a few considerations that need to be weighed to see if making LED lights dimmable is plausible in your home.

In this article, we shall cover many different aspects of what it takes to dim an LED light. 

What Is Dimming?

When you dim the light in a room, this means you are reducing the output of a light fixture. As a light fixture such as an LED light is dimmed down, its lumen output decreases.

Lumens (lm) refers to the output of a light or lamp and is also known as ‘luminous flux’. Dimmer switches are featured on the wall and usually have dials that can control the brightness. 

Are All LED Bulbs Dimmable?

Not all models of LED bulbs are dimmable as standard, but you can buy a dimmable version in most cases.

If your LED bulb is dimmable it will specifically state this on the packaging whether that be in the description or in the technical specifications of the light itself. 

Assuming a light bulb can be dimmed can lead to technical issues such as humming or flickering and can also cause permanent damage if used incorrectly. 

The difference between the two leads to a rise in the cost, as we tend to pay more for more complex products.

If all LED lighting was dimmable, then we would see a rise in the costs. When dimming your home, choose the specific rooms in which adjusting the brightness is important to you to save money. 

LED Dimmer Specifics

If you’ve recently changed your lighting to LED lights, you may assume you can use standard dimmer switches with your new LED products.

Usually, this isn’t possible as dimmer switches have different minimum levels of power (50W) that might not be compatible with LED lights. 

As LED lights typically have lower wattages than a standard bulb, if it is connected to a standard dimmer the minimum power required cannot be reached.

This can confuse the dimmer switch and cause the lights to flicker, make a buzzing noise, or overheat.

Using an LED electrical dimmer switch will give you the best results for a full-functioning light fixture.

Choosing A Bulb

To make the most out of your dimmer switch, choosing the right light bulb is essential. A bulb with a higher lumen level means that you can enjoy a wider range of lighting options.

Purchasing a bulb from a well-known and reputable manufacturer ensures that you are getting the best quality as there is currently a lack of industry standards. 

Choosing A Dimmer Switch

Rather than risking the potential issues that come with using an existing non-specific dimmer switch, you can purchase an LED dimmer for a reasonable price.

The LED dimmers are made to work with the low wattage of the LED light bulbs which enhances the longevity of the bulb as well as provides you with the best performance.

There are various types of dimmer switches available, they work internally using forward or reverse phase control. 

Most LED lights require reverse phase control dimmers.

If you are concerned about the compatibility of your LED light and the dimmer, you can check with your manufacturer who should publish a compatibility list for their bulbs and luminaries. 

The number of switches or dials on your dimmer is called a gang. Depending on how many light fixtures you have in a room will determine how many dials you need.

Wall lights and ceiling lights for example would be controlled by separate dimmer dials. If you have more than two gangs then it’s important to make sure all the connected bulbs are dimmable. 

Maximum And Minimum Loads

Dimmer switches can have a minimum electrical load that must be met to guarantee that a switch will operate successfully.

For example, a switch with a minimum load of 20 watts needs a bulb or a few bulbs totaling that wattage to be connected to function properly.

If a lower wattage is connected then you may experience flickering when dimming the lights. 

As you might expect, the maximum load is the opposite of this. It is important for a bulb or bulbs not to exceed the maximum load to prevent any faults from occurring. 

With LED bulbs, you must calculate the maximum load rather than taking the wattage at face value.

This is because LED lights generate a spike of power when they are switched on which could exceed the wattage of the bulb briefly.

To calculate the maximum load, you can divide the stated maximum load by 10. 

An example of this could be that you have a dimmer switch with a 200W maximum load, which you assume could have ten 20W bulbs connected to the same dimmer.

In reality, a 200W dimmer switch should have no more than 20W of LED bulbs on the same circuit. This could be either one 20W bulb or two 10W bulbs. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see there are many influential factors that can impact LED light bulbs and the ability to dim them.

Although LED light bulbs (see also ‘How To Dispose Of LED Light Bulbs‘) can be dimmed, it is important to take all the proper considerations into account in order for the dimming function to work properly and to avoid any damage to the products.

If taking on any of these home improvements yourself, be aware of the dangers associated with electricity, and if in doubt call the professionals out! 

We hope you found this article interesting and informative, shedding some light on all your LED dimming questions.