One of the most important reasons behind the popularity of LED lighting systems is the dynamic control they provide over their level of brightness. We can use LED lights with their full brightness for reading purposes and can be dimmed for mood lighting as per our wish. Having knowledge about LED strip dimming methods, open the door to possibilities for upgrading the ambiance of your place. The dimming feature of LED lights makes them appropriate for different purposes and different timing of the day.
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Can Any LED Light be Dimmed?
When the discussion about dimming LED lights start, the first thing you need to know is that virtually all LED strip lights are dimmable. You do not need to buy any specific LED strip if you want to utilize the dimming feature. By providing an appropriate DC electrical signal, one can freely control the brightness level of the LED strips.
But, when you buy a common household LED light, you might see the description on the packaging telling that the light is ‘not dimmable’. The internal circuit patterns of these lights are not designed to interpret the dimming signal given by wall dimmers. To dim any such LED lights the wall dimmer needs to interact with the power supply then only can the dimming happen in such LED lights.
Why do We Need Dimming Feature in LED Lights?
The dimming feature of LED lights is one of the most important features that make LEDs the most popular lighting solution so far. Dimming, in the simplest term, means the process of controlling and varying the light output of a light source. The light source in this context is LED lights. They are growing in popularity for this particular feature in the domestic as well as the hospitality industry.
People want dimming features in an LED lighting system for the following reasons.
- Save Energy – By dimming the light output of an LED light where bright light is not required one can save a sufficient amount of energy.
- Set the Ambience – Varying degrees of lights can set the ambiance of a place and make the place more attractive for different times and moods. A romantic dinner requires the cozy feeling of dimmed light while cooking or reading a book requires bright light; this can be done with the dimming feature of the LED lighting system.
How to Dim LED Lights?
As discussed already, the dimming of LED strip lights requires an appropriate DC electrical signal. We have a few options to ensure that the LED strip light gets the correct DC electrical signal to dim properly.
Option 1: Using traditional TRIAC wall dimmer
For installing a permanent LED strip installation, like in cabinet lighting, the best bet can be using a traditional TRIAC wall dimmer with TRIAC dimmable power supply. Most of the wall dimmers available today use the TRIAC dimming signal that can be coupled with TRIAC dimmable power supply.
The TRIAC dimmable power supply has basically two functions –
- It converts the 120V AC signal to a 12/24V DC signal that is compatible with an LED strip light.
- It interprets TRIAC dimming signals by the wall dimmer and translates it for the corresponding output for the LED strip light.
This system of using wall dimmers involves hard-wiring connections to mains electricity and hence can and should be done by a licensed electrician.
Option 2: Using Low Voltage DC PWM Dimmer
If you do not want to mess up the internal wiring in your walls, the best option is to use a low-voltage DC PWM dimmer. It can be installed between a standard, non-TRIAC dimmable power supply, and the LED strip light. Normally, it contains a turn dial for controlling and adjusting the brightness of the LED strip light. The power supply should be any standard DC power supply.
DC PWM dimmer is a very simple circuit design that can be used with any smaller or portable installations and the dimmer does not need to be built into the wall. The device can be used by connecting it to the power output outlet with a standard 2-prong plug. There’s no need for internal changes or alteration in wirings. If you plan to frequently move the LED strip installation, this option best suits your requirement.
When you want to set the ambiance of your place it is not enough to simply buy LED lights. You need to install dimming setups too. Without the feature of dimming and controlling the light output, you will be utilizing only half the benefits of LED strip lighting. Whether you want a permanent installation or a temporary one, there are efficient options available to help you dim LED lights and set the atmosphere. You just need to choose the right option and get it installed in the correct manner.