If you want to alter the ambience of a room in your home, a popular and easy way of doing it is by dimming the lights. When you dim the lights, you will achieve the exact light level that you desire and so alter its ambience or mood. Most people prefer dim lights in the living room, bedroom, or bathroom. If you dim your LED lights in your home, you can significantly extend its life.
What are dimmers?
Dimmers are switches connected to a light fixture. The function of a dimmer is to lower the light’s brightness. This is done by changing the waveform of the voltage supplied to the lamp. This then results in the lowering of the intensity of the light output.
If you want to dim your LED bulbs in your home, it is important to ensure that the bulbs and the dimmer switches are compatible. There are many types of dimmers and they are not all the same.
There are two types of mains dimmer – the leading-edge dimmer and the trailing edge dimmer. These two types of dimmers are also known as phase cutting dimmers. The leading edge and trailing-edge dimmers get their names from the part of the AC waves that they cut off.
Leading-edge dimmers use current that is cut off as the AC waveform begins, while trailing-edge dimmers uses current that is cut off as the AC waveform ends. They cut off parts of the voltage and reduce power sent to the light source.
Dimmer switches work within a certain operational range or load. If your dimmer switch has a range of 0 to 400W, it is possible to have 10 lamps each having 40W on it, or you can have 8 lamps each having 50W. You can have any combination as long as it adds up to a maximum of 400W.
LED Lights and Dimmers
Because of its energy efficiency and long lifespan, LED lights are often the smartest choice for your home.
If you want to create mood lighting, and get the most of your LED lights, you should use a phase cutting dimmer. This is the most popular among dimming control devices.
There are two kinds of LED light you can purchase in the market, the dimmable and non-dimmable lights. If you want to dim your LED light source, then you need to have a dimmable LED. You can easily identify one because it will be clearly stated on the box.
LED retrofit bulbs have a built-in driver in their base. This converts AC power to DC power and it helps maintain a constant current to the LED. The problem is that if the dimming system sends a lesser input voltage, the driver will attempt to compensate for the lack. This makes the build-in driver at odds with the phase cutting dimmer.
LED drivers are also included in LED fixtures such as downlights. And the same issue arises with the LED driver patching up the missing voltage input of the dimmer.
So, if you want your LED lights to work with a phase cutting dimmer, you must have an electronic driver that is compatible with it. You need to replace your LED driver with a dimmable LED driver. This then would make your non-dimmable LED into a dimmable one. However, make sure not to use a dimmer switch on a non-dimmable LED. It may reduce brightness level but the lamp would flicker and soon die out.
Trailing-edge dimmers are dimmers used typically with electronic drivers. With this type of dimmer, voltage and current are not rushed to the light source. Compared to leading-edge dimmers, trailing-edge dimmers have a low minimum load. It then becomes a better choice for dimming low-powered lighting circuits. This is why they work best with LEDs.
When using trailing-edge dimmers with LED, it is very important to remember the 10% rule. So, if you have a 400W trailing-edge dimmer, it can easily power 400W incandescent lamps. But with LEDs, the maximum load is only 10%, which means that the maximum load would only be 40W worth of LEDs.
Advantages of Trailing-Edge Dimmers
The popularity of trailing-edge dimmers today has surpassed that of leading-edge dimmers. The reason is because of its advantages over leading-edge dimmers. These advantages include smoother dimming control, soft start, silent running, or the absence of any buzzing noise when in operation, less interference, and is ideal for use in most premises.
Although both leading-edge and trailing-edge dimmers can work with dimmable LEDs, the preferred one is the trailing-edge because of its many advantages. And this is also the reason why most LED manufacturers are designing their retrofit lamps to work best with this type of dimmer.
The minimum load of a trailing-edge dimmer is much lower than the leading-edge dimmer. This makes it more suitable for powering LEDs. Thus, you don’t need to worry anymore about meeting a leading-edge dimmer’s high minimum load. You just need to use the number of LEDs required for your lighting needs.
Trailing-edge dimmers are also suitable for all types of lighting, unlike leading-edge dimmers. IT is also beneficial because it can recognize the load and when switched on, it self-adjusts. The parameters for minimum load are also adjustable.
Because the trailing-edge dimmer has universal usability, then this means that it is no longer required to check whether the switch for your bulbs is correct. The soft-start technology in trailing-edge dimmer switches gives you the most usage of your LED bulbs, since there is less wear put on the LED chips which makes your LED light last longer.
The features of this LED-friendly trailing-edge dimmer which includes soft start, multi-channel, silent-running, and smooth control dimming capabilities shows how the dimmer gives a gentle treatment to your LED bulb. This ensure that you LED will achieve their long-expected lifespan.
The dimming capabilities of trailing-edge dimmers that are compatible with your LED driver gives impressive results. The brilliant colors and glow of your LED lights are retained when dimmed. They are also cooler and live longer. The dimming capability range of trailing-edge dimmer is 100% compared to only 40% for leading-edge dimmers. This means that you can dim your LED light until it is completely off.
Both leading-edge and trailing-edge dimmers can be used to dim LED lamps. But, if you want a perfect dimmer for your LEDs, the trailing-edge dimmer is more capable of handling more stable dimming of LED lights.