Advice on Dimming LEDs

8 DOs and DON’Ts For Dimming Retrofit LEDs

LED lighting has already captured the imagination of consumers who are now are able to buy energy-saving lamps that look like the incandescent lamps they are replacing. Consumers are also expecting the dimming performance to be replicated and this is where a lack of information can lead to disappointing results. By making consumers aware of a few basic rules, their experience of dimmable LED lighting can be transformed.

Here are our top tips for the getting the best out of retrofit dimmable LED lighting.

1. DO Choose “Dimmable” LEDs

When dimming LEDs you need to ensure that you have purchased a dimmable LED bulb. This may sound obvious but many people still believe that any LEd bulb can be dimmed, this is incorrect as the circuitry in the products need to be designed specifically for LED dimming. So when searching for an LED dimmable bulb make sure you look out for “dimmable” in the title or product description. As there is no real industry standard for dimmable LED bulbs different manufacturers have taken various approaches to the matter, for this reason it is always worth consulting with a sales member to get the right bulb for you.

2. DO Stick to Recognised Brands

When choosing bulbs it is always a good idea to stick with the recognised brands that have a good reputation. These often have better information and are more likely to have a better change in brightness, they also normally offer a longer warranty so overall are the better product to go with. The problem with buying cheaper bulbs from unrecognised brands is that they are often labelled as “dimmable” but the change in brightness of the bulb is not very significant and the quality of the bulbs means that they wont last as long as the bulbs from the well recognised brands, they also often don’t provide as detailed information about the bulb which can be confusing.

3. DO Read the Label

To deliver a true retrofit comparison with incandescent lighting it is important to consider the brightness range. Significant advances have been made in recent years in LED lighting technology, leading to far higher lumens per watt being achieved, even for halogen-mimicking, warm-white lamps where lamp output is often compromised for the more familiar incandescent hue. There is little point in connecting a dimmer to an LED light if it is quite dim enough already and so this progress in the brightness of retrofit LED lamps has made dimming much more relevant. Brighter lamps can provide customers with a greater dimming range.

4. DO Ask Manufacturers About Compatibility

Most lighting companies provide a compatibility guide on their websites to show what bulbs/dimmers they are compatible with. Dimmers will be tested with various loads and lamp are given grades. This can come in handy when choosing a dimmer as it gives you an idea of what you need. Not everyone understands all these technical terms though and they can become confusing so it is always a good idea to contact the manufacturer or supplier to check compatibility of the products you are looking at, they will always be happy to help. One thing to look out for is products supplied by manufacturers from another country as not all products are UK compatible, again this is something to check with the manufacturer.

5. DON’T Use a Standard Dimmer 

Some lamp manufacturers will say that their dimmable LEDs can be controlled with a standard dimmer but often this is true for a very small majority. The problem is that standard dimmers will be under loaded when using LEDs causing them to flicker or strobe which can cause damage to the lamp and dramatically reduce the life of the bulb. The standard dimmers also wont get the full effect out of the LED lamp so it wont get its full brightness which would be disappointing for the user.

6. DO Choose a Dimmer Designed for LED Lighting

Some LED dimmers such as Varilights V-Pro LED dimmers are designed to get optimum performance from LED lighting. They have multiple dimming modes that allow for smooth dimming across a wide range of drivers from various manufacturers. Lamps produce different light outputs for the same power input, for this reason Varilight dimmers have an adjustable minimum brightness to access the full brightness range of a given lamp.

7. DON’T Buy Your Lights Without First Selecting A Dimmer

Like all dimmer switches, those designed for LED lighting have minimum and maximum load recommendations. You need to make sure that your lighting does not exceed the maximum loadof the dimmer. Using more than one dimmer can help to split the load and give you greater control by allowing light levels to be zoned within a multi-functional space. Previously it was hard to find a dimmer for large loads but the launch of the Varilight V-Com series has provided a solution to this and it is not possible to dim LED loads up to 600W.

8. DO Read the Instruction Leaflet

Many LED dimmers include features that help you make the most out of your lighting. This includes scene setting features which can be programmes with the Varilight V-Pro remote control dimmer range. When used with the YRE8 handset you can select multiple dimming modes and light scenes so that you can set the lights/mood lighting to the level you prefer for each room. It is always worth reading the instruction leaflet as there may be features such as this that you are missing out on.