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Dimmable Lights and Light Switches

7th December 2021

Dimmable Lights and Light Switches

Dimmable LED lights can make any room look stylish. Learn all you need to know before you get on with installing them.

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ElectricalDirect

There’s nothing like a dimmable light for setting the scene. When full light is too much, and pitch black is too little, dimmable LED lights give you that perfect in-between. They can create a really romantic setting for your domestic clients, while commercial buildings use them in meeting rooms to prevent glare on screens. 

Whether you’re installing them in the ceiling or the walls, there are a few dimmable LED light facts that you need to know. 

Can LED lights be dimmable?

In short, yes. LED lights make a great option for dimmable lighting due to how little power they use, making them a cost-effective solution for many installations. However, unlike incandescent light bulbs, LED light bulbs aren’t always compatible with traditional dimmer switches.

Even LED bulbs designed for dimmers might only dim down to 30% brightness before turning off completely. This is because traditional dimmer switches require a minimum wattage to function correctly, something that LED lights won’t provide. 

In these circumstances you should consider replacing the switches with LED specific dimmer switches, allowing your client to create the desired look. 

What happens if you put a non-dimmable bulb in a dimmer?

Lightbulbs that aren’t dimmable should never be used with dimmable switches, and there are a few good reasons why. For a start, these lightbulbs won’t be able to handle the changes in power being put through them. This could result in them burning out or shattering, and you don’t want to be the tradesperson who leaves broken bulbs in their trail. Also, overheating incorrect bulbs could cause a serious fire hazard. 

It wouldn’t pass any health and safety test, and definitely wouldn't be great for your reputation. 

Why are dimmable LED lights flickering?

If you’ve installed some dimmable LED lights and you see they’re flickering, there are a few things you can do to fix it. 

You can normally find the cause of the problem at the switch. Double check that the dimmer switch you’re using is compatible with your dimmable LED lights. If it’s not, it won’t be sending a consistent flow of power through to them.

You should also check for any loose wiring in the switch and the light fittings.

Failing that, you could consider using a constant current LED driver. This will ensure your LED lights don’t draw more power than the supply is capable of providing. You may also find there is a level of dimming that the LED lights simply won’t go below. If this is the case, adjust the switch to prevent this being a problem in the future, or consider trying different lights. 

If all of that doesn’t help, we’d advise using a zero-to-10V or digital volt-dimming system rather than a TRIAC alternative. This can be especially helpful on larger dimmable light systems. 

Where do dimmable LED lights work best?

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Where you install dimmable LED lights is really up to your client’s taste, but there are a few places where they always look great. By installing LED lights flush with the ceiling, you’ll make any space looking stunning. 

Dimmable LED lights for bedrooms

We’ll leave it up to your imagination why someone might want dimmable lights in their bedroom, but let’s just say that can create a really romantic atmosphere. They can also be a relaxing way to wake up, without the need for harsh, bright lights first thing in the morning, or a cosy way to sit back and read before bed. 

Dimmable LED lights for kitchens

For a stylish kitchen finish, dimmable lights are the way to go. You can have them as the main source of light in the room, or use them as spotlights by installing them underneath cabinets or work surfaces

They can really make a meal look its best, and are also a great way to light up your cooking as you work. 

Dimmable LED lights for living rooms

Picture the scene: it’s movie night, the popcorn is out and you lower the lights to get started. Need we say any more?

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