led bulbs and dimmers

 It happens: mistakenly buying non-dimmable bulbs thinking you can dim them.

LED technology has changed the way we light up our spaces by providing energy-efficient lighting solutions. However, it’s important to use dimmer switches with dimmable LEDs to avoid potential issues. 

Non-dimmable LEDs can cause problems when used with dimmer switches, which are often overlooked. Here I will help you understand what really happens when you use non-dimmable bulbs with dimmers.

Why there are Dimmable Bulbs And Non-Dimmable Bulbs?

The driver is the device that reduces the voltage to the level required by the bulbs. Some drivers can cope with the changing current of a dimmer switch, while others cannot.

To understand this better, let’s look at the two different kinds of dimmer switches.

A dimming circuit can use either Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) or Constant Current Reduction (CCR) dimmer switches.

PWM dimmers control the brightness of the light by turning the current on and off rapidly. The more light you want, the longer the current stays ‘on’. This makes your LED lamps blink very fast, but you can’t see it.

CCR dimmers maintain the current constantly but decrease the power levels.

The LED driver in a non-dimmable LED light only works when the current is at full strength and never off – so it won’t work well with either dimmer.

This Happens When You Try To Dim Non-Dimmable Bulbs

The type of dimmer driver you use will affect what happens with a non-dimmable LED when you try to dim it. It will either:

Blink visibly Remain fully bright even when ‘dimmed’ Shut off completely when dimmed to a certain point In PWM dimming, the bulb will likely blink on and off. This is technically what it should do – but it will do it at a much slower speed than a bulb made to be dimmed.

So instead of the blinking being undetectable to the human eye, you’ll surely see it (and probably get a headache pretty fast).

With CCR dimming, the bulb will usually stay fully bright even as you begin to dim it. Then, when the input voltage drops to a certain point, it’ll turn off completely.

dim light bulbs

Problems that can occur When using Non-dimmable bulbs with dimmers

Overheating Bulbs

 Using non-dimmable bulbs on the circuit can cause them to overheat and potentially lose years of their lifespan.

These bulbs can not handle varying currents. Although they won’t get as hot as other light bulb types, this can cause the components to wear out faster.

Flickering of the bulb

Flickering lights can be a big problem when non-dimmable LED lights are used with dimmer switches.

It can affect the way the lighting looks and even cause discomfort for people’s eyes, especially those who need to concentrate on tasks for longer periods.

The flickering can ruin the calming effect that LED lighting is supposed to have.

 A Buzzing Sound From Bulb

Buzzing noise can be especially disruptive in quiet spaces like bedrooms or meeting rooms.

It can disturb the calm atmosphere that people are trying to create and also raise concerns about whether or not the LED bulbs will last long.

People may be faced with a difficult decision: whether to use non-dimmable LED lights with dimmer switches for their convenience or to consider the potential unintended consequences that may arise over time.

Can You Make A Non-Dimmable LED Dimmable?

I am sorry to say that converting a non-dimmable LED light into a dimmable one is difficult and requires technical expertise.

You will need to replace the LED driver. It is also costly, making it almost as expensive as buying a new LED bulb designed for dimming.

If you have the money, consider upgrading your non-dimmable LED lights to dimmable ones or smart bulbs.

This upgrade is not only useful for dimming requirements but also offers more advanced lighting control options and increased energy efficiency.

Wrapping Up

 Using non-dimmable LEDs with dimmer switches can cause several issues such as flickering, buzzing, and a reduced lifespan.

Therefore, investing in dimmable LEDs is highly recommended when dimmer switches are used in the lighting setup. 

Using dimmable LEDs together with dimmer switches ensures the best performance, longevity, and energy efficiency.

This combination guarantees a seamless lighting experience and aligns with the functionality of both the LED and the dimmer switch. 

To benefit from LED technology, it is essential to make better choices when buying dimmable and non-dimmable LEDs and their compatibility with dimmer switches. 

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