3 Steps to Dim LED Lights (Step-by-Step Guide)

Light is a great technique to change the mood of a place. Light in various colors and levels gives a room a certain feel. One option to do this is to install dimmable LED lights. Dimmable LED lights are becoming increasingly popular. Continue reading to learn how to dim LED lights.

Can you dim LED lights?

can any light fixture be dimmable

In almost all cases, dimmable LED lights are available for LED bulbs. However, they are not necessarily dimmable according to industry standards.

Make sure ‘dimmable’ is written in the specifications found in the box. You can be confident that the LED light is dimmable this way.

Dimmable LED lights contain specific circuitry. It gives them the ability to respond quickly to adjustments in present levels.

Contrarily, non-dimmable LED lights lack this specific circuitry. You can only switch them off or turn them on. If they get exposed to low or pulsating currents, their circuitry cannot cope and may be damaged.

Dimming LEDs necessitates the use of a dimmer. Every dimmer has a base power rating varying from 40 to 80 watts. There are two most popular types of dimmers in the home. These are leading-edge and trailing edge.

Leading-edge dimmers are for incandescent bulbs. They aren’t always compatible with LED lights. On the other hand, trailing edge dimmers are designed exclusively for LEDs.

The wattage range is the major distinction between the two. Incandescent lights have high wattage, so leading-edge works well for these lights.

But LED lamps use extremely little energy. Thus, leading-edge dimmers find it difficult to read or regulate their circuits.

Your existing dimmer probably works for incandescent and halogen bulbs. If you change your current bulbs with LEDs, the total capacity is less than the dimmer’s minimum power. Your LED lights will not dim correctly. Worst of all, they may be damaged.

Dimming LEDs conserve energy while also changing the aesthetics and ambiance of your area.

You can install a dimmable LED bulb in a non-dimmable connection. But, do not employ a non-dimmable LED light in dimmable wiring. It will damage the circuit and the bulb.

With LEDs, the dimming effect can be different. Generally, the dimming quality depends on the capacities of the chip and compatibility.

Because there are so many different lights and dimmer combinations, creating a LED bulb that suits all dimming situations is extremely difficult.

When dealing with LED lights with dimmer controls or switches, remember that not all LED bulbs can function with any dimmer. Look into the top dimmable models so you don’t end up with a problem.

Common LED Light Dimming Problems

how to dim led lights

When a dimmer is mismatched with a LED light, the following issues may arise:

  • Flickering – The bulb emits pulsating flashes of light when used with a dimmer. This is a clear indicator of incompatibility.
  • Drop and pop – There is no light generation, and the light may abruptly turn off when adjusting the dimmer to a lower output. In contrast, the light may readily rise to maximum brightness.
  • Dead travel – There’s no corresponding adjustment in the dimness. Light does not dim to the desired level.
  • Not smooth – Light level does not change from dim to bright in a linear fashion.
  • Multiple lamps – Problems may arise when you introduce more lamps.
  • Failure or damage – The circuit, LED driver, or bulb has been damaged or has failed.
  • Load under minimum – The LED lamp’s power load is less than the dimmer’s minimum requirement.
  • Mixed models – Various LED models will most likely contain different drivers and may cause dimming problems.
  • Gaps – There are areas where nothing happens when the dimmer is adjusted from maximum to minimum range.
  • Ghosting – The dimmer is turned off, but the light bulb emits a ray of light.

Two Main Forms of LED Dimming

how to use dimmable light bulbs

LEDs cannot be dimmed by changing the voltage like their incandescent counterparts. Instead, light is produced from a driver or chip.

The LED will operate with the same power and voltage as though it were working at maximum light output. The LED provides a “dimming effect,” which you can obtain in two ways: pulse-width-modulation or analog dimming.

PWM functions by dimming the bulb.  However, LED bulbs are not voltage-dependent to determine how bright they are. They are reliant on the on-and-off cycle.

To put it another way, if you set your LED lights to dim at 20%, they’ll be switched on 20% and turned off in the remaining 80%. The dimmer rapidly switches the LED on or off, which happens in milliseconds, so you can’t notice it.

PWM employs the precise electrical charge required by the LED. The LED is either consuming its allocated power or has been switched off. This procedure saves even more money and energy.

PWM depends on the ability of the human eye to absorb the average quantity of light from the pulses. Sometimes, the light may look like it’s flickering.

However, the eye will not see any pulsing while the rate is kept high enough. Instead, it will take into account the total average.

On the other hand, analog dimming is simple. The current is adjusted to dim or brighten the lighting, just as typical dimming switches. The current reduces the light bulb’s brightness.

This form of LED dimming does not always provide optimum performance. Because of the weaker currents, it can produce conflicting colors.

This is especially visible when using various colored LEDs to generate white light. The current shifting, especially with yellow and red LEDs, might result in poor white light.

Easy Steps to Dim LED Lights

Step 1: Check your dimming circuit

dimmers compatible with led bulbs

Make sure the load on the circuitry you want to dim is adequate. To do so, tally up the wattage of all the fittings on that circuit. Then, choose a dimmer with a wattage range that crosses that value.

When the capacity of the circuit you’d want to dim is 10 watts only, this won’t work if your dimmer has a minimum load of 40 watts.

Step 2: Get the appropriate type of LED light for your circuit


dimmers light

Always double-check if the bulb can be dimmed. Consider purchasing the same brand and model of LED lights for all fixtures in a given space.

Also, invest in manufacturers that own a testing laboratory and utilize quality dimming drivers or chips. Some lower-quality bulbs do not have proven dimming materials. They’re not worth the bother for the minimal price difference.

It’s also best to stock up on spares, as LED technology is always evolving.

Step 3: Use the correct dimmer

Upgrade to top-quality dimmers suited for LEDs. This is a wise investment that will extend the life of your bulbs.

There are various types of dimmers for LED lights. They have their own set of applications or compatibility with different LED lights.

The table below shows five popular dimmers for your diverse dimming needs. Check when each is the best fit for you.


Dimming Controllers Most Suitable Usage
Mains voltage LEDs embedded in the mains voltage system
Radiofrequency Multiple rooms’ LED lighting controlled from a single location
DMX Homes, hotels, and theaters with complicated lighting
Zigbee Sophisticated home lighting
DALI Commercial buildings


3 Correct Options to Dim LED Lights

The typical method of dimming halogen lights is resistive dimming. This works by lowering the voltage via a resistor. Unfortunately, this method isn’t compatible with LED lights.

Here are three correct options you can pick from to dim your LED lights:

Triac Dimming

dimming light bulbs

Triode for Alternating Current (Triac) dimmer is one method of dimming LED lights. It operates by carrying current in both directions at various speeds.

The light output by the LEDs appears to be steady. It is flashing at such a fast rate, but the naked eye cannot detect it.

To do this, the dimmer needs a signal to notify it how much to dim. Thus, another device, a 0-10 voltage dimming module, must be placed beside it.

The 0-10v dimmer switch signals function by delivering a unique 10-volt input to the Triac unit. The voltage is subsequently reduced by a resistive dimmer.

The voltage declines and the dimmer reduces the LED light’s brightness under the existing voltage.

Dali Dimming

how to make a light dimmable

Dali is another way of obtaining LED dimming. It is an open system of controlling lighting.

The Dali unit functions by designating zones and connecting all the modules. Then, it controls several zones independently.

DMX Dimming

how to dim light bulbs

DMX 512 was created to manage lighting in nightclubs and theaters. It has only lately begun to be utilized in residences.

This works by assigning an address, allowing it to determine which channel to change the brightness accordingly.


Overall, dimmable LED lights enable you to create a warm and pleasant ambiance. Installing dimmer controllers and appropriate LED bulbs is the best way to proceed.

Stop relying on traditional light bulbs to complete the task. Simply follow the steps and correct options outlined above on how to dim LED lights.

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