Find The Right Dimmer Switch For Your LED Lights

With an LED dimmer you can comfortably adjust the brightness of your lighting. In the early days of LED technology, dimming was associated with many difficulties. In the meantime, the technology has matured, as long as the right dimmer is used. With this guide you will find the right LED dimmer for your lighting.

Which dimmer for LED lights?

The old incandescent and halogen lamps were very simple from their technology and could be dimmed without any problems. When switching to LED, the old lamps are often replaced by retrofit bulbs. But the already installed dimmer usually remains unnoticed. When the lamps are switched on for the first time, often the problems begin. The LEDs flicker, hum or fail to light up at all. People get disappointed about the new LEDs.

Even with new electrical installations, the dimmer often receives little attention. If problems then occur, a defect of the LED illuminant is often suspected. Sometimes it is also assumed that the LED lamps are still immature. But it is rarely thought of the dimmer. To dim your LED lighting without problems, all prerequisites must be met.

Technical requirements

In order for the brightness of LED lighting to be controlled properly, dimmable LED lamps must be used on the one hand. In addition, a compatible LED dimmer is necessary.

Recommended LED dimmers

In order for the dimmer to work properly with your LED lighting, the control characteristics must be designed for capacitive loads. In addition, the dimmer should only require a low minimum load, which is below the connected LED lamps.

Here you can find an overview of recommended LED dimmers for different applications. The recommendations are based on the analysis of descriptions, data sheets, ratings and experiences.

LED dimmer variants

These are the most common variants of LED dimmers:

  • Flush mount dimmer
  • Slider dimmer
  • Rotary dimmer
  • Touch dimmer
  • Cord dimmer
  • Socket dimmer
  • Dimmer switch

Flush mount LED dimmer

Dimmers for flush mounting are most often used in the home. The most widespread are these as slider or rotary dimmers. A rotary wheel is used to adjust the brightness of the connected LED lamps. By pressing the rotary wheel, the light is switched on and off. For the other variant you can adjust the brightness with the slider.

As an alternative form, flush-mounted dimmers are also available as touch dimmers. Here the LED lighting can be switched on and off via a rocker switch by briefly tapping it. By pressing and holding the rocker up or down, the brightness is adjusted up or down. Another alternative are touch dimmers or sensor dimmers. These have a sensor field and are operated by mere touch.

LED Dimmer Sockets

With a dimmable socket, you can upgrade all LED lights with a cable plug with a dimming function quite easily. But many dimmer sockets on the market have a high minimum load and are not suitable for LED operation.

LED cord dimmer

A cord dimmer or cable dimmer can be ideally integrated into the supply line of a table lamp, for example. There are variants for self-installation as well as with pre-mounted connection cable.

LED Dimmer Technology

The complexity of dimming LED lamps compared to the old lamps is mainly due to a different load type (resistive vs capacitive). In this section you will find some background information about the technology of a dimmer. Basically there are the following dimmer types:

  • Phase-angle dimmer
  • Phase cut dimmer
  • Universal dimmer

Phase-angle dimmer

The dimmers installed for older filament lamps work with phase-angle technology. These are primarily suitable for resistive loads. At the same time, many dimmers of this type require a higher minimum load, which is only achieved by classic light sources.

Phase cut dimmer

LED lamps represent a capacitive load. Therefore, the old dimmers are usually unsuitable for the new LED lamps. Most LED lamps require a phase cut-off dimmer. At the same time, these also manage with a low or even no minimum load.

Universal dimmer

A universal dimmer has an (automatic) recognition of the connected load. This can switch between phase-angle and phase-angle technology. This makes universal dimmers suitable for different types of light sources.

Dimmer compatibility lists

In the early days of LED technology there were big problems with compatibility between dimmable LED lamps and LED dimmers. A too small dimming range or other side effects were the result. Today this has improved a lot. But even today there is still no hundred percent guaranty for a proper function of a dimmable LED lamp on any LED dimmer.

For this reason, some lamp manufacturers publish dimmer compatibility lists for their dimmable lamps and luminaires. So the manufacturer tests the LED lamp with LED dimmers widely available on the market. The results are recorded in the compatibility list. You can find such lists in a search engine of your choice, for example, with the search term dimmer compatibility list manufacturer name.

You will find such compatibility lists primarily from brand manufacturers like Philips or Leviton.

Frequently asked questions

Anyone considering dimmable LED lighting for the first time will be faced with a number of questions. The most important points concerning the selection of a LED dimmer have been described in the sections above. Below you will find more frequently asked questions.

Where are dimmers used?

LED dimmers are particularly popular in the living area. This includes in particular living room and dining room or dining area. The dimmer can be used to set the desired brightness depending on the mood. Of course, dimmers can also be useful in many other rooms.

For example, the hallway lighting is sometimes connected to a dimmer. This allows the brightness to be reduced, for example, early in the morning or in the evening hours, so you don’t get dazzled by the bright lighting. A dimmer is useful wherever you need very bright lighting and sometimes a cozy light.

How much do LED dimmers cost?

It is often assumed that LED dimmers are very expensive compared to the old incandescent dimmers. In the early days, there was indeed a price difference and LED compatible dimmers often cost significantly more. In the meantime, LED dimmers are mass-produced, which has caused prices to drop significantly. The exact prices depend on the respective model. You can find them on the product pages of the presented dimmers.

Is there a functional guarantee?

Unfortunately, there is no 100% guarantee that the new dimmer will work with your own LED lamps. Sometimes manufacturers change components within their products or launch new models with a modified circuit design. Here the pitfall is sometimes in the detail. However, with the presented dimmers, the greatest possible compatibility is already possible.

What is a 120V LED dimmer?

Most LED dimmers work with 120 volts mains voltage. (High-voltage) LED lamps can be connected directly to the dimmer. However, the addition 120V is omitted from the product name of most dimmers. With a 12V LED dimmer, on the other hand, the voltage is usually specified, since low-voltage dimmers are rather an exception.

What is a dimmer switch?

Most dimmers also have a switch integrated. This allows the light to be switched on and off at any controller position. For this reason, the terms dimmer or dimmer switch have also become common for an LED dimmer. However, the terms are less common and more colloquial.


Only with a suitable LED dimmer, LED lights and illuminants can be easily adjusted in their brightness. Now you know which important points you have to pay attention to when choosing a dimmer. Whether slider dimmer, rotary dimmer or touch dimmer: With this guide you will find the right dimmer for all common applications.