Dimmer switches have been around for quite some time, but were widely recognized in 1959 when Joel Spira, owner of Lutron Electronics, introduced the first dimmer switch that could be used in homes.
Throughout the years, we have heard of the potential to save energy and reduce utility expenses when switching to dimmers. However, before you start changing your regular switches to dimmer switches consider the following:
1) DETERMINE THE NEED FOR DIMMER SWITCHES
Consider which room makes the most sense to have a dimmer. You will find that not every room needs to have a dimmable fixture to be a functional room.
2) UNDERSTAND WHAT TYPE OF SWITCH YOU CURRENTLY HAVE
Once you have decided on which room requires a dimmer switch, determine what type of light switch you current have:
Remember, the more complex your light switch system is, the more complex it will be to change to a dimmer switch.
3) COMPATIBILITY OF BULBS TO DIMMER SWITCHES. DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT WATTAGE?
To be confident in your dimmer choice, the best thing to do is to review your fixture’s spec sheet, which will indicate the compatible dimmer options. If the spec sheet does not indicate this information or you do not have this information, it is always advised to contact a Lighting Specialist or the manufacturer of the product. This is the most effective method because you are not guessing what will work.
For general guidelines, keep these tips in mind:
You cannot dim a non-dimmable bulb (bulb designated non-dimmable)
Incandescent bulbs tend to work with all types of dimmers
LEDs and fans often require a particular type of dimmer
You need to know the minimum/maximum load range
If you switch out incandescent for LED bulbs, you need to account for the wattage difference. LEDs require less wattage, so it might not satisfy the minimum/maximum load range. You may need to change the type of dimmer to avoid causing flickering or potential harm to your electrical.
Don’t mix your led bulbs and incandescent bulbs in one fixture when you are using a dimmer switch. Be consistent in what bulb you are using and from which manufacturer to ensure consistent performance.
4) FINAL THOUGHTS
Dimmers are a great feature to add to a home as it helps conserve energy and as a result extends the life of your bulbs. In addition, dimmer switches allow you to adjust light levels in order to set the mood of a particular space.
The downside when purchasing dimmers is that you need to make sure the dimmer is compatible with your light source, or you end up with performance issues. Some problems that might occur if the dimmer switch is not compatible is flickering, flashing, insufficient dimming, failed driver, and potentially breaking the dimmer itself.
Dimmer switches are also priced higher than regular switches, and depending on your existing switch, there might be more electrical work involved to change it to a dimmer. However, the cost will be offset with longer bulb life, and less energy cost.
If you are considering adding dimmers to your home, feel free to visit our showrooms or contact us, our ALA Lighting Specialist are trained to be up-to-date on the latest lighting technology, and to ensure you are confident in the lighting choices you make.