Lighting and Dimmers Buying Guide
Let 360renos and their team of licensed electricians help you make the correct choice when installing dimmers. With the wide array of potlights, ceiling fixtures and bulbs available it can be a daunting task selecting the correct dimmer for your lightng needs.
By reducing the amount of energy provided to the lighting fixtures they control, dimmers are an easy and effective way to save energy and extend the life of the bulb. They also offer an ideal way to create ambiance in a room or adjust lighting to meet the requirements of a specific task or activity.
There are a number of factors to consider
when choosing a dimmer to ensure the
desired results are achieved:
1) Dimmer and Bulb Compatibility
2) Dimmer Wiring Options – Single Pole,
3-Way, Multi-Location Dimming
3) Dimmer Wattage
4) Dimmer Style
Dimmer and Bulb Compatibility
With the wide variety of bulbs now available on the market it is important to choose a dimmer wisely since
not all dimmers are designed to control all types of bulbs. Pairing dimmers and bulbs which are incompatible
can result in lights flickering and fluttering, limited dimming range, slow start-up, and inconsistent illumination.
To avoid these types of issues it is important to know the features of the types of dimmers available
and compare them to your needs and the type of bulb you wish to use.
Universal - Universal Dimmers are designed to control incandescent, halogen, dimmable LED
and dimmable CFL bulbs. They offer full-range dimming, smooth start-up, and eliminate
flickering and fluttering of lights. When using LED or CFL bulbs with a dimmer, be sure
that the packaging on the bulb indicates that it is DIMMABLE. Most dimmer and bulb
manufacturers provide bulb compatibility information on their websites that can be
referenced to ensure that the brand/type of dimmer chosen will function properly
with the bulb selected.
Incandescent/Halogen -Dimmers are designed to control incandescent and halogen
bulbs. They are not designed to control LED and CFL bulbs nor dimmable LED and
CFL bulbs and using them to do so may result in inconsistent or limited performance.
Additionally, incandescent dimmers are not safety listed with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to control LED and CFL bulbs nor dimmable LED and CFL bulbs.
Electronic Low Voltage Dimmer (ELV) -
ELV Dimmers control electronic low voltage transformers (ELVs) and dimmable LED
power supplies such as those found in ELV track lighting, under cabinet lighting and
LED strips. ELV Dimmers require a neutral wire for installation.
Magnetic Low Voltage Dimmer (MLV) -
MLV Dimmers are suitable for recessed lights which are most often magnetic low
voltage. Magnetic low voltage lights tend to be larger and heavier than electronic
Fluorescent - Fluorescent Dimmers control only fluorescent fixtures that incorporate rapid start fluorescent lamps and dimming ballasts.
High Wattage Dimmers - Dimming devices specifically designed to control high wattage lighting, generally 1000W. It is recommended, however, that a 1000W dimmer be used to control any lighting exceeding 600W. This would include large chandeliers or recessed lighting that controls multiple bulbs with total wattage exceeding 600W.
Dimming Sensor - This innovative device combines the lighting level control of a dimmer with the energy savings and convenience of a motion sensor. It is compatible with dimmable LED, dimmable CFL, incandescent and halogen bulbs.
How Dimmers Work
Dimmers control the brightness of lighting by controlling the amount of electrical energy supplied to the bulb. They do this using an electronic component called a triac. The triac is a very fast-acting switch that can turn on and off hundreds of times a second. When a dimmer is turned to full brightness, the triac keeps almost all of the power turned on to supply the lighting it controls. But when the lighting is
dimmed, the triac turns the power off for a longer period so the bulb receives less electrical energy and in turn gives off less light.
Dimmers come in various models which are designed to control different wattage levels and loads. You should select a dimmer based upon your wattage requirements. The easiest way to do this is as follows:
- Add up the total wattage of the bulbs you wish to control. For example, a fixture with four 60W bulbs has a total wattage of 240 (4 bulbs x 60 watts).
- You can use a 600W dimmer to control this load. It is advisable to use only one type of bulb – combining different bulb types, for example incandescent with LED,
may result in diminished performance.
Did you know that rebates are often available for purchasing and installing energy efficient lighting through manufacturers, provincial rebate programs and local power companies?
For instance, many CFL and LED bulbs qualify as do sensors and Energy Star products. Before you buy it pays to investigate what rebates might be available to you.
Learn more at: saveonenergy