Dimmer for LED strip: types, which is better to choose and why

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

In recent years, the demand for LED strips as a light source has become higher. And there is nothing to be surprised at here - their functionality, efficiency and durability often exceed the same indicators of conventional lamps.

In addition, any interested person will be able to further expand the capabilities of this lighting source by buying a dimmer for LED lamps. We will tell you what it is, tell you how to correctly select this device. Independent masters with us will find valuable installation tips.

What is a dimmer?

This is an electric device designed to control the brightness of all kinds of LED strips, and mostly monochrome. Why it is installed in a circuit.

The installation location can be any, but the connection should only occur between the power supply and the light source used.

LED Strip Light
Any LED strip is economical, durable and functional, but correctly selected dimmer is able to further expand its capabilities.

This sequence is determined by the fact that the lighting devices operate in the presence of a voltage of 12 or 24 volts, and therefore Dimmer must have similar characteristics.

As a result, it should be placed behind the power supply, which converts the standard 220 V to the desired parameters and in front of the LED strip in order to be able to control its glow.

Popular device types

In fact, there are no standards and strict rules governing the division of dimmers. Therefore, any such procedure is considered conditional. Nevertheless, for convenience, two main subspecies of modern brightness controls are highlighted.

Namely, they are divided into the following:

  • analog - allow you to change modes using some decrease / increase voltage;
  • digital - in this case, pulse-width modulation is used to control the LED strip, which is a sequence of command signals of various durations, which leads to a change in brightness.

Since each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages, manufacturers sometimes supply the market with combined analog-to-digital dimmers. They are more efficient and have fewer minuses than devices belonging to certain types. But the cost is significantly higher, so such products are far from the most popular.

LED Strip Lighting
When using a dimmer, the tape becomes a more economical light source. In addition, their joint use often provides the luminaire with greater durability. Additionally, it is possible to get various lighting effects.

Devices related to both subspecies can solve various problems, which, in addition to controlling brightness LED backlight, is a reduction in energy consumption.

Moreover, tangible results are achieved in premises for various purposes: commercial, residential, any other. In any case, you can reduce electricity consumption by a substantial 30-35%.

Besides, LED dimmers have the following advantages:

  1. They increase the lifespan of used LED strips - reducing the load reduces the likelihood of overheating of lighting fixtures, which is one of the main reasons for reducing the duration of their operation. But such opportunities can please owners only digital models.
  2. They provide convenient control of the LED strip - remote controls are often used to increase comfort. Additionally, various signal transmission options are provided.
  3. They give the opportunity to create color effects, illumination.
  4. Allow to use a tape together with security systems of buildings, rooms. For example, dimmers are often connected to volume sensors and, if triggered, the LED strip turns on immediately, which scares off intruders.

Often, dimmers with lighting devices are used to simulate the presence of owners in an apartment, a house - this is done to mislead criminals.

An important factor is the availability of programming and durability with proper operation. At the same time, analog and digital dimmers have a number of features that are unique to them, which should be known. This will help to make a choice that the buyer does not have to regret.

Rotary Dimmer with Scale
Mechanical rotary, push and rotary-push models are simple, efficient and moderate in cost, so they are in demand

Analog devices provide LED strips with a stable supply current. In this case, the power loss will be relatively small. There is only one drawback of this type, but it is very important - they, unlike digital analogues, significantly heat the LED strip, which does not contribute to durability.

In addition, increased temperature leads to a decrease in the quality of lighting, the result of this is a change in the color temperature provided by the manufacturer. This fact of the owner who chose the tape, taking into account his taste, will not please.

Combined overhead dimmer
The combination of the advantages of various types of control makes regulators more convenient, functional and practical, although at the same time their cost increases

Digital fixtures provide any LED strip with the ideal working environment. As a result, power loss will be minimal, and the supply current is stable.

The same can be said about the characteristics of the emission spectrum. That is, a person who bought a tape with LEDs can be sure that its color temperature will not change during operation. And this is what favorably affects its longevity.

A significant disadvantage can only have cheap regulators of this type. The reason is that they cause LED flickering, this leads to eye fatigue, headaches, a marked decrease in performance. That is, you should not save on quality.

Dimmer design
Although mechanical overhead products are the simplest of all types, well-known manufacturers are able to give them a modern and effective look, as evidenced by the photo

In addition, devices are further subdivided according to a number of important features. This is done in order to facilitate the choice, so the future user should get acquainted with such information.

The subtleties of the control device

For convenience, management is carried out in various ways. There are several of them and each has its advantages and disadvantages, which can significantly affect the comfort of use, cost and even prestige.

According to characteristic signs, dimmers are:

  • push;
  • rotary;
  • rotary push;
  • electronic;
  • sound;
  • remote.

All manufactured by industry, pressure products according to the principle of action are as close as possible to traditional and upgraded circuit breakers. The necessary manipulations, in this case, are performed by pressing or holding the key.

Touch overhead dimmers
Touch overhead dimmers are easy to operate, durable and look more spectacular than their mechanical counterparts, which makes them more and more popular

The rotary type is distinguished by the presence of only one governing body, which is the regulator. All manipulations are carried out by moving it left and right. For convenience, a scale is sometimes applied to the surface of the panel, which allows you to more accurately and quickly perform the necessary settings.

All kinds of rotary-push options are hybrids of the previous two types. As a result, the on / off procedure is performed by a familiar person by pressing, and the brightness adjustment by turns.

All of the above subspecies are mechanical. They do not have any significant drawbacks, in addition, their cost is the most affordable. But to control using these dimmers is not as convenient as when using devices belonging to other groups.

Electronic controllers are controlled by sensors, they do not have any other significant differences from mechanical counterparts. But a more modern look, and in some cases the presence of an informative display, makes this variety more and more popular.

Contactless dimmer control
Remote controls are the most convenient way to control the light source, although not the cheapest. But because comfort is worth it, people often get it.

Dimmers controlled by sound signals have a built-in sensor that responds to any noise that exceeds the level set by the manufacturer or by the owner. A person can turn on / off a command as they like, for example, by clapping, speaking and other similar ways.

Devices of this kind are no less reliable, effective than all others, but not practical enough. Since they will periodically be triggered by the sounds made by the TV, stereo system or normal conversation with raised tones.

This is not very convenient, but with the exception of one case, which are noisy parties - a device that receives commands from sound signals also responds to loud music, so it will completely replace light music, since the illumination will be of a decent level.

But for the sake of a rare vacation, there is hardly a need to buy a device that functions in this way. Although the way out can be the use of combined control.

Remote control is carried out using the usual remote controls. They are often included in the delivery package and make it possible to perform the necessary manipulations from a convenient location. This option is comfortable, although the buyer will have to pay more money than for a mechanical counterpart.

Combined Dimmer
Combined control is the most modern, functional and practical, especially when the touch panel and remote control are used together.

The most common and sought after are remote controls that transmit a command signal using an infrared beam. But a potential buyer should know that he can purchase a device that performs its functions using radio signals.

This remote control can be used to regulate from various places in the building and even beyond. While the infrared beam is able to effectively cope with its work only when it is accurately aimed at the sensor that receives the signal within the same room.

This is a significant advantage, but you have to pay a lot more for the ability to control the glow using radio signals. In addition, remotes are touch or button. None of the species has obvious advantages over the other, there are no drawbacks. Although touch devices are more modern.

Remote control can also be performed using smartphones, tablets. To do this, the dimmer must receive command signals transmitted using Wi-Fi. In this case, the brightness of the glow can be adjusted from anywhere.

Remote control dimmer
In the photo of the invoice, a pressure regulator is additionally equipped with a remote control. This combination is the most affordable form of remote control, while the functionality will be sufficient

And also users have the opportunity to perform the necessary manipulations using a computer. To do this, you need to make it wired or wireless connection to the specified device.

Today, dimmers, which can be controlled in several ways, are becoming increasingly popular. For example, using the keys and remotely, using one of the types of remotes. Mixed management is called combined management and it is reliable, practical.

Types of devices by installation method

To solve various problems and just to increase comfort, modern brightness controls can be mounted in different places. In addition, this feature makes them more convenient to manage.

Dimmers are as follows:

  • waybills;
  • built-in;
  • modular.

The easiest to install are overhead appliances that are similar in shape and size to conventional switches and are quite capable of replacing them. They also have a similar installation procedure, and the control principle is similar.

Dimmer equipped with a radio remote control
Using a radio signal allows you to control from any corner of the room, building, and if necessary, and from outside

The main feature of all kinds of built-in dimmers is that they are mounted in a junction box or a specially made niche. What the name of this variety testifies to.

Modular devices are designed for installation in electric switchboards on DIN rails. This feature is caused by the fact that they differ in large size, high power. Which in the domestic plan allows them to be used to control several supply lines at once.

Future users should remember that modern dimmers, regardless of the type of installation, are connected to or integrated into the circuit between the LED strip itself and its power supply.

That is, there can be no other option, which must be taken into account for the convenience of installation and control. And quite often there is a division of regulators by the number of working channels used by the protocol.

Built-in dimmer
Any built-in dimmer is not characterized by high aesthetic properties, but its functionality will not yield to its overhead counterparts

But, in most cases, it is of little interest to the ordinary user, since structurally complex models in domestic conditions, small commercial and office premises are rarely used because of their considerable cost.

Rules for choosing the best option

Buyers can purchase two types of LED strips, the so-called monochrome, that is, single-color, or tri-color RGB. In the latter case, all colors can be connected individually, mixed, and receive various effects.

Compact dimmer
Dimmers can be of various sizes, power, which allows an interested person to choose the right product for any LED strip

And the future owner should know that to control a multi-color ribbon, you will need to purchase a special RGB controller. Since the capabilities of the regulator for full control of such a light source are not enough.

In addition, you need to carefully consider the technical parameters of the device. Since the power of any control device must exceed the same indicator of the LED strip itself, it is necessary to consider this feature before buying.

Moreover, the options may be as follows:

  1. If the owner of the room does not plan to increase the length of the LED strip, and, consequently, its power, then this characteristic of the dimmer should be higher by 20-30% and this is at least, and best of all, half. This will help extend the life of the regulator, eliminating the possibility of quick wear and tear with subsequent breakdown.
  2. If you plan to increase the power of the LED strip, then the device must be purchased with this in mind. Or later again you have to spend money on the acquisition of a new regulator. Moreover, the power reserve should be calculated taking into account the required 20-50% for the reserve.

When a potential buyer incorrectly calculates the power, the device will not be able to perform its functions, so it simply will not turn on. And this is at the most favorable outcome, since it often happens that overload leads to an instant failure.

Dimmer Installation
Installation of any type of controller is simple, therefore, in some cases, the user will be able to perform this procedure on his own

In addition, it is important to determine the type of control. Any of them (mechanical, electronic, remote) is reliable and will allow a person to effectively perform manipulations with the brightness of the LED strip.

Therefore, everything will depend on how much a person is willing to pay. If he decides to save, then the most affordable model with a mechanical type of control will become the optimal solution.

When the future user has more funds at his disposal, then a device with an attached remote control should be preferred. Since it increases comfort, which is a significant advantage.

In addition, when choosing, you should not save on the quality of the dimmer, it should only be from a well-known manufacturer. Which are the companies Osram, Gauss, Philips, a number of others.

If you still have a desire to reduce costs and purchase a Chinese product, then it is worth remembering that such a purchase can turn into a headache, loss of a part of working capacity and a number of other health problems. The remaining features when choosing are not so important and it all depends on personal preferences.

Wishing to collect DIY dimmer our site will receive a detailed guide. We recommend that you read a very useful article.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

The first video will enable a person to get to know the regulators more closely, to learn some of their features:

The following video contains information that allows you to better understand the benefits of remote control, to understand how it is performed:

The video will help you figure out how to increase the functionality of LED strips and learn about the benefits of sensors:

A dimmer designed to control the brightness of the tapes is a practical device that can significantly reduce the energy consumption in any room, as well as increase comfort in it.But for this, a person must make the right choice and not forget that the desired result will be obtained only when buying a quality product.

Please write comments, ask questions, post photos in the block below. Tell us about how to choose a dimming device for LED strip lighting in your own house / apartment. It is possible that your recommendations will be useful to site visitors.

Was the article helpful?
Thanks for your feedback!
No (12)
Thanks for your feedback!
Yes (60)
Visitors Comments
  1. Anna V.

    I am a designer, I constantly need to use LED strip. Unfortunately, I can’t say that this is an excellent source of light, most likely I will attribute it to additional lighting, in which it is not recommended to read. In decor, this thing is simply irreplaceable. You can choose absolutely any diameter and dance to it. Most often they choose analog, but digital is gorgeous)

  2. Dmitry

    He took a three-color ergibi, but no one even told me about the controller. Of course, a self-service store: a cash register, without consultants. As a result, then at home on the Internet, I realized what was happening. Acquired with a power of 25% more, did not increase the tape. But here is what I can’t understand: some write that if one color flies, the whole tape will be covered, and some that two colors will remain to work. Why such a disagreement ?!

    • Sergei

      The controversy over the fact that on the Internet many confidently write about things about which they have a superficial understanding. If one color fails, the other two will continue to work.

    • Expert
      Amir Gumarov

      Even here on the site there are people who confidently state things that are simply impossible or in reality everything is exactly the opposite. I’m not talking about other non-core resources in the form of city or general forum topics.

      Regarding your case, you can not worry: when one color burns out (I don’t even know what needs to be done to make one of the tapes inoperative), the rest will continue to work properly. So engineers, who know a lot about this business not by hearsay, thought it through.

      As for the power of the dimmer itself, then in terms of power, you did it with a margin and this is correct. If the power of the tape was more than the maximum for which the dimmer is designed, then this would be a very serious problem. For a tape of the same color, I also read about the misconceptions that if one diode burns out, then the entire tape will stop working.