Dim­ming With LEDs

Old House Journal - - Restore -

LEDs are grow­ing more user-friendly all the time, but at least one hur­dle still re­mains: us­ing them with dim­mers. In some cases, you can screw an LED bulb into a dimmable fix­ture and it will work per­fectly. In oth­ers, you may find your­self in a nether­world of flick­er­ing or flash­ing light, weird os­cil­la­tions, or stut­ter dim­ming.

That’s be­cause LEDs draw a frac­tion of the elec­tric­ity of old-style in­can­des­cent bulbs. Fur­ther, most ex­ist­ing dim­mer switches were rated for loads as high as 400 watts, which can be 10 or 15 times greater than the load of the re­place­ment LEDs. Some­times the dim­mer sim­ply can’t “read” the load of the LED bulb. That’s when the weird­ness en­sues. Start by test­ing dif­fer­ent LED bulbs with an ex­ist­ing dim­mer. Some­times the new light will work fine, some­times it won’t. If none of the ob­vi­ous choices works prop­erly, the so­lu­tion is to re­place the dim­mer switch with one de­signed to work with your cho­sen bulbs.

If there is more than one bulb or lu­mi­naire on the same dim­ming cir­cuit, use bulbs from the same man­u­fac­turer. That should en­sure that the dim­mer can send a com­mon sig­nal to each light source. Mix­ing bulbs may re­sult in flick­er­ing or hum­ming as the dim­mer tries dif­fer­ent meth­ods of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

LEFT This sunny kitchen is lit with a mix of for­wardly placed pris­matic pen­dants over the is­land and un­ob­tru­sive down lights that cast light on work sur­faces around the perime­ter of the kitchen. Low­volt­age strip light­ing con­cealed un­der the up­per cab­i­nets casts light di­rectly onto coun­ter­tops.

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