Are LED bulbs dimmable

The Big Questions Answered – Are LED Bulbs Dimmable?

We love LED’s, they’re taking over the world. They offer massive efficiency and value for money. For the unconverted, dimming has been the final piece of the puzzle. With a host of jargon and some complex tech, it’s no surprise that one of the most frequently asked questions remains, ‘are LED bulbs dimmable?’.

Yes and no, with a pinch of maybe

Essentially, this is not a question that can be answered straight out the gate. It’s like asking, “will I enjoy Game of Thrones?” there are too many variables to advise you either way. So, there needs to be a bit of back and forth.

For some, this will prove too much. You stopped reading the moment I said I couldn’t answer straight out the gate. You’ve scanned to here, found I’m still waffling and you’re fuming (to avoid further upset, please skip ahead to “So How Should I Proceed?” section). But hold on, we’re getting somewhere I promise. Essentially, whether or not an LED is dimmable depends on two factors; the dimmer you have/want and the LED you have/want.

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The Dimmer

For a long time, dimmer manufacturers tackled the issue by developing LED-specific modules. These were expensive but designed to communicate exclusively to LED tech. At the same time, the LED industry tackled the issue by adapting their lamps to work with traditional dimmers. This was an unfortunate breakdown in communications. So you may have an LED dimmer, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to dim the LED bulb you have/want.

So, we’re right back where we started…or even further away. I’m not doing great here am I?

The LED

Check the packaging, and most LED bulbs will say they are dimmable. What they probably won’t say is which dimmer you’ll need. You may come across a manufacturer who has it together. You’ll contact them and ask, “is ‘X’ bulb compatible with ‘Y’ dimmer?” and they’ll tell you straight out. This will be rare though. With so many dimmers and so many LED’s, few manufacturers have a comprehensive list. They may, however, have a list of preferred dimmers. This is a good place to start, especially if you don’t have an existing dimmer or are more LED-centric.

So how should I proceed?

If the above waffle shows you anything, it’s that dimming LED’s remains challenging.

Generally, the only way you’ll know for certain if an LED will work on your dimmer is to test it. So, the best way to proceed is to order from someone (like us) that accept returns without question.  If you can, start with the lamp you want and work backwards. Firstly, ask the bulb manufacturer for recommendations. They may have a list or, failing that, some advice on where to start your search i.e. LED specific or traditional module, trailing or leading edge (that’s a story for another time).

If you need to start with the dimmer, it helps to stick to well-known models and manufacturers. The more popular/renowned makes and models are more likely to have been tested for compatibility by LED manufacturers.

Finally, your electrician is a wealth of knowledge. They’ve been around the dimmer switch. If you ask them, they’ll probably have a go-to dimmer and a favourite LED manufacturer/supplier. It might even be us.

So there we have it, trial and error is the best way to ensure an LED will be dimmable.

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