General Question

Bill1939's avatar

Can I use an incandescent dimmer with LED lamps?

Asked by Bill1939 (8686points) June 26th, 2014

I have a ten-year-old incandescent dimmer in our bathroom and would like to use LED lamps. Will this cause problems?

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9 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

The answer is…. It depends.
Some of the newer LED bulbs can be used with dimmers. They have circuits specifically designed to sense the reduced voltage and convert it to a pulse width modulated signal at the bulb. .
Some of the newer dimmers are specifically designed for LED bulbs. They pulse width modulate the voltage applied to the bulbs.

So, buy one for less than $10.00 and try it. If it does not work there I am sure you can find another place to put it.

FlyingWolf's avatar

@LuckyGuy summed up our experience perfectly. Some bulbs work and some don’t. It has been hit and miss. We did find that the cheaper ones were less likely to work.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Buy a LED bulb that says it is dimmable.

Bill1939's avatar

The LED lamps say they are dimmable, but the dimmer models suggested are all pulse with modulated. So I will have to buy one of them. Thanks all.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Wait!!! Don’t spend the money yet! Are you sure the unit you have is not PWM already?

I have one that is 15 years old – well before the days of the LED bulb and it is PWM. You can hear the buzz.
Try it. You won’t damage the blub. It will either work or not work.
You might be lucky.

RocketGuy's avatar

All the dimmers in my house are PWM, not resistive. I use dimmable CFL (6 years old) and LED (installed yesterday) with no problem. I think they are designed for PWM. If his old dimmer is resistive, his dimmable LED might not like it. Costs nothing to try though. Worst is that the LED will stay at the same brightness until, at some point, it just blinks off.

On a different note, non-dimmable CFL do not like PWM at all. Many overheat and catch fire after a few hours.

Bill1939's avatar

On a trip to Colorado, the lights over the bathroom sink in a Denver motel were LED lamps. My wife, who had been constantly disappointed by the poor lighting in other motel bathrooms was surprised and please by the brightness and whiteness of these lamps and asked if we could install them above her sink at home.

Upon returning from our Road Scholar trip (a wonderful discourse on the development of Colorado’s railroads, gold, silver and coal mines, and the history of the Ute Indians) I went to Menards and found they only had LED lamps that required pulse modulated dimmers. I purchased three of them along with the required dimmer only to find that it would require the modification of the panel that contained three switches, two with the old style dimmers.

Yesterday I went to Home Depot and found that they had LED lamps that could be used with my existing dimmers. I purchased them and now my wife is enjoying better lighting than she had using three incandescent 60 watt bulbs for the last ten years.

Thanks to all Fluthers who responded to my question.

p.s. the Home Depot lamps were cheaper than what I purchased and will return to Menards.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You were bold to buy 3 bulbs first. I would have only purchased 1 and tried it. If it worked I’d get the other 2. If not I’d put it in another light fixture until I got around to changing the dimmer – maybe in my next life.
I am so glad this worked out for you. Thanks for the followup.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Thanks for the follow-up.

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