1 September 2017
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1 September 2017, Comments: Comments Off on A Guide to LED Lights

Light emitting diode (or, in the more common term, LED) lights have become increasingly popular in homes and businesses across the United States. The thing is, not all light fixtures and switches are appropriate for this type of bulb. Not all dimmer switches can be used with LED bulbs.

If you’re looking for a new light fixture or dimmer, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. You’ll want to make sure the lamps you use are dimmable. One way to do this is to make sure that the package is clearly labeled dimmable. Stick with brands you know.

You’ll want to make sure you understand the brightness range of each light bulb you are considering and choose the LED light bulb that will give the brightness you’re looking for. Before you choose a bulb, choose the specific dimmer mechanism. That choice should guide your choices of light bulbs, and even lamps.

Choosing the Right Dimmer

When you’re choosing a dimmer switch or lamp to install, it is important to research the compatibility of the lamp or switch and the LED light bulb. One way to get that information is to ask the manufacturer, especially if you’re not sure which dimmer to choose. You’ll want to choose a dimmer designed for an LED bulb. This is because that dimmer is designed to give the best light for that type of bulb. There are minimum and maximum load capacities, and by using parts designed for LEDs, you’ll have some assurance that you won’t overload the dimmer.

There are four types of dimmers to choose from. These differ in the number of fixtures they control, where they affect lights, and even the lights they control. A single pole dimmer works for the lights controlled by only one dimmer, which turns your lights on and off or dims them. A three-way or four-way dimmer is appropriate for lighting systems that have a single dimmer and other switches to control their light output.

A multiple-location dimmer is useful if you want to control a light fixture from more than one room. The plug-in dimmer is one that plugs into a wall outlet and controls your table and floor lamps.

Other Important LED Considerations

When you’re deciding on the right dimmer for your home, you’ll need to know the maximum wattage load. Electrical professionals note that it is important not to overload the capacity of the dimmer switch. Electricians often suggest using no more than 25% of the maximum watt load for the switch.

The easiest way to choose a dimmer that is capable of working properly with the LED power requirements is to buy a dimmer made specifically for that sort of light.

Control Styles to Choose From

Like fixtures and types of dimmers, there are a variety of controls for dimmer systems, wall mounted and other controls. Slide switches often include an on/off switch that’s a push button or toggle, in addition to the slider to set the level of dimming. Toggle switches look just like traditional light switches. In addition to the on-off switch, there may also be a touchpad to raise or lower the dimming level.

Rotary dimmers are an older style. These adjust with a turn of a knob, and turn off by pushing the knob in. Digital dimmer controls often look like the slider models but have a touchpad for controls. These can be programmed for specific light settings at specific times.

There are several controls specifically designed for lamps too:

  • Tabletop dimmers plug into the wall, and the lamp. The dimmer control sits on a surface to make it easy to reach.
  • Cord dimmers are on the electrical cord of the lamp. These are often circular switches and turn with pressure.
  • Socket dimmers replace the bulb socket in a lamp. These convert a regular socket to a dimmable lamp.

Choosing the Right Light Fixture or Lamp

Once you’ve chosen the right LED dimmer mechanism, it’s time to start thinking about your light fixtures, or lamps. And no, these aren’t the same thing. To avoid issues, it might be a good idea to choose the same brand or model for all of the fixtures or lamps you want to use LED bulbs in. This ensures that they will work with the same driver and power load. Fixtures are things like recessed lights, or under cabinet lighting.  Fixtures designed for LED lights usually have an external driver. Lamps have sockets that bulbs screw into. LED lamps have internal drivers for determining the dimming capability.

Contact Randy’s Electric today with any inquiries regarding LED light and dimming options!

 
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Patrick Prendergast

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