LED Dimmers

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LED Dimmers

A common service call that we have been encountering lately pertains to the burning question: Why can’t I dim my new LED lights?

While true that they will last a very long time, provide a great light color, and use drastically less energy, you will likely have to change your dimmer switch if you are wanting to dim your new fixture.  We explain this to lots of customers, the logic is simple.

A very common, incandescent (we’ll call it regular) dimmer is a 600 Watt Dimmer.  At 60 watts per bulb, you would be looking at being able to dim no more than 10 lights.  Now what happens when we change the bulbs that were consuming 60 watts of energy to bulbs that consume less than 10 watts of energy?

Let’s use the hypothetical situation and assume our old 600W dimmer was being used to its full capacity and dimming 10 incandescent light bulbs operating at 60W each.  Now, we replace all 10 of those bulbs with LED bulbs (or fixtures, retrofit fixtures, etc.).  Now we are consuming less than 100W of energy.  There is not nearly enough resistance for the old dimmer to “see” the new LED bulbs.

LED Dimmers

Before and after installing and LED dimmer on a customers fixtures

You may be thinking, “but what if I had only 1 incandescent bulb? It still works and only consumes 60W!” This dives a little bit deeper into the mechanics of how an LED bulb works versus an incandescent bulb.  There is no filament providing resistance in the LED bulb which is why the single incandescent bulb at 60W will work with no problem on the regular dimmer.

The solution is very simple.  Have a licensed electrician install a dimmer specifically made for the LED fixtures or bulbs that you wish to dim.  There are many different types.  For household applications, Lutron makes some great units and even has a light control tool on their website here.  They have built in an adjustment control on many of the units to adjust the amount of dimming when mixing bulbs or for personal preference.

There are also commercially available LED dimmers for LED troffer lights, such as the very common 2×2 and 2×4 ceiling grid models.  In most applications that we have encountered thus far, another set of wires for the dimmer control often needs to be run, it is not as simple as replacing the unit and dimmer. It is a great added option to the commercial LED world to be able to control the ambiance via a commercial LED dimmer.

Thanks for reading, we hope you now know more about LED dimmers than you did before.  Feel free to leave us a comment with questions or comments.  We love to hear from our website visitors!


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