LED dimmer: types, how to choose, the best models on the market

Amir Gumarov
Checked by a specialist: Amir Gumarov
Author: Oleg Zubarev
Last update: May 2019

Electricity is constantly rising in price, therefore, more and more citizens take the issue of saving it seriously. As a result, a significant part of people in the post-Soviet space have already become acquainted with LED lamps.

But it turned out that their use is far from the limit of energy conservation. Since the dimmer for LED lamps opens up even greater possibilities. In addition, the device has additional advantages.

What is dimming?

Any electrical appliance works only if there is some kind of load, and it can be controlled. The regulation process itself is called dimming. It can be implemented in relation to LED lamps.

Such a procedure is performed by a device with the name "dimmer". It is he who is able to provide additional energy savings.

Types of Dimmers
Modern dimmers are distinguished by their performance, size, they can solve various tasks to save energy, increase comfort in the home and even scare criminals

In addition, the presented device significantly expands the functionality of LED lamps. Which is also a considerable plus.

What are the benefits of a regulator?

As stated above, dimming primarily reduces power consumption. The indicated reason is already sufficient for connecting it to LED lamps in the home and any other rooms. But there is still a whole list of advantages.

These include:

  1. The ability to change the intensity of the glow - provides owners with an increase in the comfort of living, helps to make any interior individual, exclusive. So, for example, a room with the help of lighting can be divided into separate zones. And also it turns out to change the brightness depending on the time of day, needs.
  2. Imitation of the presence of owners in the premises - this option will be indispensable during vacations, business trips, which will make it easy to mislead housekeepers.
  3. Automatic shutdown / shutdown - modern dimmers can be programmed, in addition, various external devices, for example, tablets, smartphones, can control them. There are special signaling devices that issue commands to the power drivers.

All kinds of preset modes of glow, blinking allow you to select the optimal options once at any time of the day and not waste time in the future. In addition, it is not only convenient, but also allows you to save more.

Sine wave current
The picture shows the usual sinusoid of electric current, it is in this form that it is led to the LED lamps, but dimming in this case is impossible

An important advantage is the remote control. With it, you can adjust the voltage, and, consequently, the brightness of the glow, a person can in various ways, for example, using the remote control, radio and sound signals (claps, voice).

At the same time, modern regulators themselves are characterized by durability and unpretentiousness. In addition, they are convenient to use.

You also need to know that with their help, you can control LED lamps with the usual standard socles, for example, they can be the familiar E27, E14, as well as many other popular and rare ones. This greatly facilitates the creation of the system.

It is also important that dimmers able to control the glow of one lamp, several, and even a whole group. They are resistant to overloads, noiseless with a correctly selected model, have a small weight, are compact.

Sinusoid when using a dimmer
This is again a sinusoidal current, but if you compare with the previous picture, it can be seen that it is substantially “cut off” - that is, short pulses with long pauses are the result of dimming

The cost of such equipment can be different, so an interested consumer will be able to choose the best solution according to his budget, which will ensure the expected result.

Types of modern dimmers

Manufacturers supply the market with a large number of various equipment that can regulate the brightness of the glow. Therefore, for convenience, it is divided into types.

First of all, devices are divided by type of control, which happens as follows:

  1. Mechanical, It is sometimes called stationary.
  2. Electronic - like the previous version, it is a contact view. But instead of controls, buttons, a sensor is used. This method is modern, efficient, informative and quite expensive.
  3. Acoustic, that is, the brightness of the glow changes as a result of some kind of sound signal exceeding the noise level set by the same user or manufacturer.
  4. Wireless remote - the control panel familiar in other areas is used here, as well as smartphones with tablets. In addition, various types of signals can be used, namely infrared, radio.

With a mechanical control method, the homeowner can adjust the brightness of the glow using a push or rotary control - a knob, buttons, keys. It transmits a signal to the controller installed in the power line.

LED Dimmable Lamp Design
The task of any modern dimmer is to control the supply of electric current to the power driver of an adjustable LED lamp or a group of them

That is, the procedure is similar to using a conventional switch. Some controls even have controls in the form of familiar keys. This method is characterized by efficiency, simplicity, accessibility. A relative disadvantage is only the moral obsolescence of this option, the result of which is prestige.

The electronic method, in addition to information content, has no other advantages over the mechanical one. But only a modern display indicating the necessary information makes this option more modern and even prestigious, which is the reason for its choice.

Touch dimmer with remote control
Touch dimmer is the most modern, functional and practical. In addition, it is more aesthetic, but has a higher cost than a mechanical one, so the latter type is more popular

Acoustic dimmers are also a popular way to control, in addition, they are affordable, reliable. A significant drawback is the limited modes. There are only a few and they are pre-installed. Therefore, it is not a fact that they are ideal for the user.

In addition, there is no guarantee that this option will work correctly, since its acoustic sensor will respond to any signal of sufficient power, and this will not always give the expected result. In this case, the user will not be able to constantly monitor the situation.

Rotary adjuster
A dimmer with a rotary control is structurally simple, and therefore the most affordable for a potential buyer. In addition, it is easy to manage.

As mentioned above, a wireless remote control method for the brightness of LED lamps in a home implies the use of some kind of control panel that can issue a command:

  • over the air;
  • on the infrared channel.

In the first case, it is possible to carry out control from anywhere in the room, building, and even from outside. This option is practical and effective, but expensive, since such equipment costs a lot.

The infrared remote control also extends the capabilities of the user, but requires pointing to a dimmer. Despite the relative drawback, this option is more popular - the equipment is more affordable.

In addition, remote control is considered to be the transfer of commands using smartphones, tablets via Wi-Fi. Often a remote control is also attached to such a system, which increases convenience.

Today, the remote control method is the most functional, as it allows you to unleash the full potential dimmers for led strip, spot and conventional luminaires. Namely, it makes it possible to spend energy as economically as possible, increase comfort to the expected level.

In addition, this option allows you to automatically or smoothly turn off / turn on the light, simulate the presence of owners in the rooms, perform any other functions available to the regulators.

Push dimmer
Push mechanical dimmer is also a relatively inexpensive product. In some cases, using the keys is more convenient to perform control, and aesthetic properties are often higher than that of the rotary analog

A potential buyer needs to know that today solutions are increasingly being used that can be managed simultaneously using several methods. This makes the procedure for adjusting the brightness of the lamps more reliable, convenient. The only drawback of combined control systems is the considerable cost.

Additionally, all dimmers available today can be conditionally divided by the installation method.

Which are as follows:

  • waybills - such devices are installed instead of the usual switches;
  • recessed - they are mounted in a junction box, a specially made niche;
  • modular or panel rooms - their place on the DIN rail in the switchboard, but because of their functionality, performance and high cost, such devices for housing are used infrequently.

You should know that the most popular are overhead models because of accessibility and ease of installation. Proven in practice ways to connect dimmers are given in our recommended article.

How is regulation going?

Any dimmer is a device that is built in according to the principle of a traditional switch familiar to all users, or instead of a switch.

The main condition is that it should be located before the power driver of the LED lamp, although in some cases this is no longer a required parameter, but such a pleasure is expensive.

It may seem to a stranger with a dimmer that he simply changes the voltage, as conventional regulators do, but this is not so. Design dimmable led bulbs complex, the principle of their operation is somewhat different from the usual devices that illuminate the room during incandescent.

Mechanical dimmer
Regardless of the design and size, all mechanical controllers perform only the simplest functions, which are on / off, brightness change

Since all LEDs operate in a narrow voltage range, even a slight decrease in it will lead to the fact that lights blink, go out or do not turn on at all.

To avoid this, dimmers perform adjustments based not on the traditional principle of reducing the load applied to the lamp, but on the use of PWM. With the help of which an electric current is supplied by short pulses with relatively long pauses between them.

The described procedure is performed up to a hundred times every second. Thus, any LED lamp can be made to stably illuminate the room by 10-100% of its capabilities.

What kind of lamps can I use?

Each potential owner of a dimmer should remember that only special LED lamps that can be adjusted can be used with it.

They can easily be identified by the words “Dimmable” or the corresponding mark on the package. This condition is mandatory, since the use of conventional LED lamps will only lead to their frequent flickering, and a smooth glow will not work, but if the voltage does not match the stipulated, they simply will not turn on.

Combined dimmer
Dimmers with combined control are more functional, since in addition to performing on / off and regulation, they can be programmed. And they are more convenient to use.

In addition, such experiments will lead to rapid wear of the LED lamp or the dimmer itself and further failure.

Always up to date compatibility issue

A consumer who is interested in using equipment for adjusting brightness should know that he will not only have to buy the necessary system components, but pick them up for each other. Often there is a problem of inconsistency of the dimmer and the purchased LED lamp.

This happens due to the fact that the market has a large number of electronic circuits for power drivers for lighting devices and control devices.

Products of any domestic, European or Chinese manufacturer for inclusion are entitled to have a voltage threshold inherent only to them. Also, incompatibility can lead to the fact that the range of adjustments is narrowed, and significantly.

For example, there are LED lighting devices that can turn on and work even at 5% of rated power. An incorrectly selected dimmer can only control them within 40-100%. Which will significantly reduce the functionality of the process.

Rotary dimmer
The dimmer control panel can emit a radio or infrared signal. The first option is more functional, the second is cheaper, therefore it is the most popular

This feature will lead to the fact that the consumer will save electricity in insufficient quantities or will not be able to secure the expected level of comfort. This is also a significant drawback. Other symptoms of malfunction may still occur.

The most common are:

  1. The driver for the power supply of the existing LED lamp makes loud noises unpleasant to the user during operation or cannot start the lighting device.
  2. The maximum voltage at the output of the dimmer does not reach the set 220 Volts, which makes it impossible to use the bulb at full power.
  3. Short-term bright flashes when the light is turned on, the duration of which usually does not exceed 1 second.
  4. Various interruptions in the functioning of the regulator itself, which will not allow efficient control of LED lamps.

All of these points indicate that the selection of equipment should be performed carefully and competently.

How to choose a dimmer and compatible lamps?

In order for the brightness control together with lighting devices to give the desired result, when choosing them, a number of points must be taken into account. Initially, a person needs to decide what he wants to get from dimming, is it possible to use it in the right room, building.

Then they are determined with the desired equipment control option - mechanical or remote, or it is perhaps better to use other methods. After solving this issue, it is necessary to calculate whether the potential buyer is ready to pay the right amount of money.

Floor Dimmer
Floor lamp dimmers are low-power, but no less effective than other types of dimmers. Therefore, they are often used to control the lamps of bedside and other small lamps

If all of the above actions are successful, then go to the dimmer selection. In this case, a person must take into account his power. Why it is necessary to imagine how many lamps the device will control.

You also need to know exactly the power of each of them - adding up all the values, the user will find out what kind of performance his dimmer should have. These calculations cannot be dispensed with, because insufficient power will lead to the fact that the purchased regulator will immediately fail, and in the best case, simply will not start.

In addition, if in the future it is possible to increase the number of lamps or their power, then when buying a regulator, you need to take this into account or the result will again be disastrous. Even if the owner of the room does not plan to install an additional number of LED lamps, then still there should be a power reserve. And not less than 20%.

And it is best to create a margin of safety of 50%. For example, if the total power of all used lamps is 100 watts, then a similar indicator of the dimmer should be at least 120 watts, but optimally 150 watts.

Types of dimmable lamps
Dimmable are all popular and not so varieties of LED lamps, and with different sockets, which always allows you to choose the right

The power of LED lamps for calculations is easy to find out. All that needs to be done is to look at the packaging if the lighting fixture is new and it is preserved. Otherwise, you need to carefully examine the LED lamps themselves, since most manufacturers indicate all the main characteristics.

When choosing a dimmer for more than one lighting device, it should be borne in mind that their minimum power is 25-40 watts. Therefore, when it is planned to use several low-power LED lamps that do not reach the indicated values ​​together, you will have to install a suitable device for each of them separately.

When choosing a regulator, preference should be given to a product capable of providing a minimum level of illumination. The reason is that all LED lamps have sufficient brightness, so the dimmer will not be able to effectively reduce it, and the consumer, accordingly, will not get the maximum effect from using the device.

Marking Dimmable Lamp
To make sure that the LED lamp is indeed dimmable, just inspect the packaging. It manufacturers indicate all the important information

Before buying, a potential buyer should pay attention to products of well-known manufacturers.This will ensure stability and quality for many years, although their cost is significantly higher than that of similar devices made in the Middle Kingdom by other little-known market participants.

Often pick up an LED lamp and a dimmer will turn out only experimentally. As a result, initially it is necessary to install regulatory equipment, and only then choose lighting devices.

Moreover, the seller should find out whether it is possible to return the purchased LED lamp, if it is incompatible with a dimmer. Lighting devices should also be produced by popular manufacturers, among which are well-known names: Siemens, OsramPhilipsGauss, Schneider Electric, ASD, LEGRAND, Feron other.

When buying LED lamps, Chinese companies, in most cases, should be ignored. Since, to reduce the cost, they are equipped with low-quality crystals, the degradation of which will begin almost immediately after the start of use.

As a result, such a feature will lead to a significant clouding of the lighting, and if in a conventional lamp this is leveled out by the stability of the operating mode, during regulation one can expect a clear deterioration in performance, which will reduce economy and comfort.

Dimmer Installation
Dimmers used instead of traditional switches are structurally simple, and therefore almost everyone is able to install them themselves, but safety measures should be kept in mind

To reduce the likelihood of incompatibility of LED lamps with a control device, the buyer should have some knowledge, carefully study the information indicated by the manufacturer on the packages.

The advice of an experienced seller will be helpful. Since the problem of incompatibility is relevant and specialists regularly meet with such cases, therefore they have a significant set of knowledge. As a result, their opinion may be useful.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Rules for choosing a device for adjusting the brightness of lighting devices:

The following video provides an overview of a large number of dimmers:

This video demonstrates the effect of dimming LEDs:

It is not difficult to choose a dimmer for any produced LED lamps for 220 V, but a potential buyer should have at least basic knowledge on this topic.

Otherwise, a person risks an unpredictable result that may not coincide with his expectations. That is, saving electricity, improving the comfort of living will not work effectively, as well as achieving other goals.

Tell us about how you selected and installed a dimmer for fixtures with LED bulbs. Share the criteria that personally influenced your choice. Please leave comments in the form below the block, publish photos, ask questions about the topic of the article.

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Visitors Comments
  1. In addition to LED lamps, our repairmen advised us to purchase a dimmer to further save electricity, because there are a lot of rooms in the house and lamps, respectively, too. Never regretted, it really helps to save more. We chose a mechanical one - it’s quite simple to use, when you get used to it a bit, it’s convenient.And it is cheaper than, for example, electronic.

  2. Valentina Georgievna

    Our family tried to make friends with this newfangled thing. But alas, love did not happen. We thought we would really save electricity, and the dimmer itself will pay for itself, but in fact, after its appearance, the diode bulbs began to burn more often. This despite the fact that they are designed for several years of service. Maybe such a dimmer got caught, who knows, but it was decided not to experiment anymore.

    • Alexander

      Do you even buy dimmable LED lamps? Well, do not hesitate to change the LEDs in the store if they burn out before the warranty period.

      • Expert
        Amir Gumarov

        You asked a fairly simple question, but at the same time it is still relevant and the situation for some reason does not change. Not by hearsay I know that people put dimmers, but at the same time leave ordinary LED lamps (read “and so it goes”). And then they wonder, why is it that their lamps so often began to burn out? The site even has article, which gives advice on choosing dimmable LED lamps - I advise you to read.

        If hunting is regulated lighting, but there is no desire to get involved in a major upgrade, then it is easier to buy Wi-Fi lamps. The functionality is not quite the same, but it’s quite convenient to control the lighting from a smartphone. The same Phillips has corresponding models. And correctly and without failures with a dimmer, only specially designed dimmable lamps will work.