Dimmers are essential for multi-purpose areas like the living room because it’s setting always determines the mood. Whether you’re having a party, a calming workspace, or an intimate dinner date.
It’s even suitable for an office setting as you can go from daylight bright for work and a dimmer setting for presentations or conferences.
With a turn of the circular dial on the wall, you can change the vibe of the room entirely.
In a nutshell, dimmers work with the electricity that gets into the bulb. As you adjust the brightness of the LED light, the energy consumption goes down too. Make sure to check if your LED bulb is compatible with a dimmer to prevent any issues.
So if you’re looking for a dimmer, then this guide will give you all the information you need to make a choice.
You will learn about the types of dimmers and how they work, as well as if they’ll save you money in the long run.
Dimmable & Non-Dimmable LEDs
Before we get started, you should take note that LEDs require drivers to operate. This is because LEDs are low voltage devices and require something(a driver) to convert line voltage to low voltage.
The driver may or may not have the electronics needed to dim lights, which means not all LED lights are dimmable.
Please make sure that the box(or website) states the dimmability of an LED bulb before buying it.
Another factor to look out for is if the LED needs a constant current driver or a constant voltage driver.
You can find this out by looking at the LED rating of a product and see if it’s rated in milliamps, mA(constant current driver) or volts, V(constant voltage driver). Using the wrong driver will damage the product.
Summary: Look for a dimmable LED and find out the type of driver it requires. Get the driver. Get a compatible dimmer.
Now that you know how to look for dimmable LEDs and drivers let’s get started on dimmers and their effect on your utility bills.
Types of Dimmers
In the old days, dimmers work by increasing the resistance of the circuit. A variable resistor lowers the current and takes on more voltage through it, causing the voltage going through the bulb.
This reduces the bulb’s brightness. But the resistor also dissipates the energy through heat, which creates a safety hazard should the dimmer overheat. These dimmers also do not reduce electricity consumption, so it does not save you money at all.
Luckily, modern technology has come a long way, and you’ll have a few choices on the market for dimmers that save you money.
Pulse Width Modulation(PWM) Dimmers
- PWM dimmers work by basically switching the LED ON and OFF rapidly at a rate faster than the human eye can notice.
- If the light is dimmed to 25%, that means the light is switched ON for 25% of the time then OFF 75% of the time.
- PWM dimmers can lower an LED’s brightness without affecting its color temperature.
- The drawback is that they produce electromagnetic interference which means they are not suitable for areas where this is an issue
- Can be used with constant current drivers and constant voltage drivers
Constant Current Reduction(CCR) Dimmers
- CCR Dimmers work by controlling the amount of current flowing through the LED.
- The light produced is proportional to the amount of current flowing through the LED, so if a light is dimmed to 25%, only 25% of the rated LED current is provided.
- CCR dimmers do not flicker the light, making it more suitable for workplaces where machinery is operated, or high-risk activity is carried out.
- Can be used with constant current drivers
Voltage vs Amperage: What Do Dimmers Reduce?
Every LED has a rated current, which is the amount of current needed to get the maximum light output.
Both PWM and CCR dimmers work on the current(amperage) flow working on the LED lights.
PWM dimmers do this by switching from 0 amperes of current to the LED rated output current very quickly, at frequencies above 100Hz.
CCR dimmers, on the other hand, reduce the total output current linearly. Meaning, if the LED rated current is 10 amperes, CCR dimmers will reduce the output current to 5 amperes to give 50% brightness.
Do Dimmers Help to Reduce Electricity Consumption?
Since both dimmers reduce the amount of electricity flowing through the LED lights, they are also very much a money saver.
In fact, some dimmers’ power consumption is proportional to the brightness of the LED.
So not only will you be able to set the mood of the room, but you will also be cutting down your utility bills.
When Should You Use Dimmers?
There are many uses for a dimmer.
If you’re not in a room, but you want the lights to be switched on, you can dim them to save on electricity.
If you have a date over and you want to set a romantic tone, dimming the lights would do the trick.
For work or reading, turn the lights all the way up.
Another use would be to reduce the light output as the night progresses so that you’ll be less alert and ready for sleep.
And if you have landscape lighting installed, dimmers will make them more flexible. Reduce the brightness according to the ambiance you want to set. Dim the lights all the way down when it’s sleeping time.
Dimmers provide a lot of flexibility to how you want to light your house. The next time you visit a restaurant or hotel, look at the way they use the lighting for some inspiration.
Does Dimming Affect the LED Bulbs’ Lifespan?
Two factors affect the lifespan of an LED bulb: temperature and electrical stress.
If the LED bulb has higher currents flowing through it than what it requires, the lifespan of an LED bulb will be significantly diminished. As long as you install them correctly, this will not happen.
As for temperature, an LED bulb will have a shorter lifespan if the running temperature is higher than the LED bulb’s rating, causing the LED to run hot. This usually happens when LED lights are matched with the wrong driver.
Dimmers extend the life of LED lights by lowering the temperature. Because less current is flowing through an LED bulb when it is dimmed, the electrical components run at cooler temperatures.
As you can see, dimmers will also save you money by having to replace LED bulbs less often.
So there you have it. You’ve learned how to choose a dimmable LED, picking the right driver, and choosing a dimmer.
With the knowledge you have now, I’m sure you’d agree that dimmers are an excellent investment for your home or office.
They provide flexibility in lighting as well as reduce utility bills.
Do you think light dimming is suitable for your home?
And with the Internet of Things(IoT) taking over everyday items, do you think intelligent dimmers are worth it?
Share your thoughts in the comments section.