How Do LED Dimmers Work?

How Do LED Dimmers Work?

By now, we should all be familiar with LED lighting as one of the most versatile and highest performing options on the scene. While it can be a great way to improve the efficiency and overall illumination power of your lighting plan, there are a few things to consider in terms of dimming capabilities. Being able to dim lights as needed is a great feature that LED solutions are catching up to, but there are still some things to keep in mind. So, how do LED dimmers work? What do you need to know before you install them? Let’s take a closer look at this topic.

How do LED dimmers work?

While many people think of dimming lights being achieved by reducing the voltage and therefore the light as well, LED solutions tend to take a different approach. With an LED, the voltage remains the same whether the solution is operated at full capacity or a dimmed capacity. The LED simply creates a dimming effect by means of either pulse width modulation or analog dimming.

With the first option, the fixture essentially creates a pulsing of light levels which are in essence flickering between high and low (or bright and dim) which are rapidly fired off in millisecond successions. The light basically cycles between on and off so rapidly it is undetectable. Since the human eye only perceives the light tone and not the flicker, it achieves a dimming appearance even though the actual light output remains the same. The second option of analog dimming relies on the actual reduction of the current flow to create the dimming effect. However, with this method, the quality of the light is diminished so it is less effective than the pulse width modulation method.

Are LED dimmers the best option?

While LED is nearly always the best option for other reasons, this type of fixture is still catching up to the dimming abilities of comparative fixtures. In terms of efficiency, LED lights are still the best option overall, but with dimming, you should keep in mind you are still basically running the light at full voltage and energy costs whereas a fluorescent dimmable usually uses a lowered voltage to achieve the dimming factor. It really depends on how often you intend to dim the lighting solution and how much this factor of energy efficiency matters to you. This is not to say that dimmable LED isn’t a great choice, but there are certain elements the industry is still looking to improve upon with this application.

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