General LED Lighting, LED Lighting

How To Dim LED Lights

how to dim leds

You might be surprised to hear that LEDs and dimmable lighting are compatible, but it’s true—you can have energy efficient, adjustable low-level lighting with LEDs. LEDs simply work a little differently than incandescents, so they need some additional consideration to ensure they function properly.

Let’s shine some light on how you can have the ambient lighting you want with LEDs.

Dimming it Down

Some LEDs will work with old dimmer switches, but they are more likely to encounter problems. This is because older switches are typically built using a type of dimming protocol called “mains dimming”, which was designed for the higher wattages required by incandescent light bulbs.

With this in mind, manufacturers have worked to create LEDs that are compatible with this type of dimmer switch. However, these old dimmers sometimes have a hard time registering the low wattage level LEDs use, which can cause unpleasant side effects such as:

  • Flickering light
  • A high pitched humming or buzzing noise
  • Premature bulb burnout
  • Inability to achieve full brightness

Rather than take the risk and ending up with a flickering bulb, it’s better to upgrade your dimmer switches to ones that are specifically designed to handle the low wattage of LED light bulbs. That way, you will enhance the longevity of the bulb and also help it achieve its best possible performance.

1 X 400w Trailing Push On And Off 2-Way Mirror Chrome Varilight Dimmer Switch

3 X 300w Trailing Push On And Off 2-Way Twin Plate White Varilight Dimmer Switch

2 X 250w Trailing Push On And Off 2-Way White Varilight Dimmer Switch

1 X 400w Trailing Push On And Off 2-Way White Varilight Dimmer Switch

Min. wattage: 2W
Max wattage: 400W

Min. wattage: 2W
Max wattage: 300W

Min. wattage: 2W
Max wattage: 250W

Min. wattage: 2W
Max wattage: 400W

Always make sure to read the instructions that come with your dimmer switch to ensure proper installation, and don’t be afraid to reach out for professional advice and assistance if there is anything about the installation that makes you hesitant.

Select the Best Bulb for the Job

The next thing you want to do is ensure you have selected an LED light bulb that is dimmable. Unlike incandescents, which naturally dim quite easily, not all LEDs have this capability built in. In order to dim properly, LEDs have to have dimming-capable driver circuitry. It should state very clearly on the packaging or in the product description whether the LED is dimmable or not.

PRO TIP: It is important to keep in mind that dimming performance can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer due to the current lack of industry standards, so your best bet for quality is a well-known and reputable brand.

When selecting an LED light bulb for dimming, you’ll also want to choose a bulb with a higher lumen level so you can enjoy a wider range of lighting options:

PRO TIP: If you have a multi-fitting lamp, such as a chandelier, make sure all the bulbs are from the same manufacturer so that they will share the same components and provide a more even level of dimming.

Shop our full selection of dimmable LEDs.

Turn Down the Lights

As the ban moves us away from incandescent bulbs, you may find it hard to part with the warm lighting you’ve come to love. But don’t worry—with a few minor upgrades to your light bulbs and dimmer switches, you can have even more versatile and adjustable energy efficient lighting with LEDs.

Learn more about LEDs in our Ultimate Guide.

If you need assistance with a recommendation, get in touch with us. Contact our experts using our live chat feature, or reach us via email at [email protected], or by phone at +44 (01869) 362222.


About Nicky Walker

Nicola is a lighting specialist at The Lightbulb Company with a keen awareness of the important role lighting plays in our everyday lives. She enjoys discovering new ways in which lighting can affect science, mental health and of course, most of all, reduce our carbon footprints.