The Secret Art Of Dimming: Everything You Need To Know

1st February 2022

Picture this: candles, incense, and Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” playing in the background. It’s the perfect recipe for a romantic evening, right? Well, sort of, if you don’t want a second date. Nothing says “please fall in love with me” like some smooth lighting. And adding some dimmable LEDs into the mix will instantly upgrade the ambience in your room.

So, dimming—how do you do it? Also, what even is dimming? How does it work? Will it really make my partner love me? In this article, we’ll unpack the fundamentals that you absolutely must know to learn the art of dimming. But, rekindling your relationship? Well, we hate to break it to you, but that’s in your hands.

“I just want to eat” - You

Ok. We get it; that deep-fried cauliflower is looking delish right now. And you’d rather eat your romantic dinner and leave the dimming to the experts. What should you focus on? Your lighting driver.

With so many dimmers on the market, you need a driver that works with most of them. And our adaptive digital drivers are just that—they’re compatible with most leading, trailing and universal dimmers in Australia. They have a fancy integrated circuit that detects the dimmer type and phase and dynamically adjusts the driver characteristics to match, producing delish, flicker-free outputs.

What is dimming?

The lights blazing brighter than the sun is good in some settings. Like when you’re trying to focus (on facebook-stalking your ex). But it’s often intense and won’t help you relax.

Enter: Dimmers. And, well, the name says it all—dimmers are attached to light fixtures (usually LED drivers first) and are used to control a light’s output (measured in lumens). These things are hyper-effective in creating a serene atmosphere and even reducing energy consumption. And when you move into more advanced dimming techniques, they can even help with your circadian rhythm.

Types of LED dimmers

There’s a smorgasbord of different light dimmers on the market. You may be familiar with DALI and DMX, but between us—they aren’t as popular as TRIAC (or phase-cut dimmers). And TRIAC dimmers can be split into three types: leading edge, trailing edge, and universal. Each of these dimmers adjusts the sine wave of the mains power supply in different ways.

How do LED Dimmers work?

We’ll focus on TRIAC dimming since it’s the most common dimming method. And don’t worry, we’ve got diagrams.

TRIAC dimming involves ‘clipping’ or ‘cutting’ the voltage at phases of an input current’s sine wave. So, if you clip half of the wave, you’ll reduce the input power to the light by 50%.

can even help with your circadian rhythm.

Leading edge LED dimmers

Leading edge dimmers have been around the longest, and so understandably, they’re the most common. These work by trimming the start of a sine wave, or to get more complicated: altering the voltage and current delivered by delaying the turn on the start of a sine wave.

Trailing edge LED dimmers

Trailing edge dimmers are newer tech and are designed specifically for LED lights. And by no surprise, trailing edge dimming is the opposite to leading edge dimming: it trims the end of a sine wave.

3 simple steps to the art of dimming

Here’s how you become the ultimate dimming connoisseur in three simple steps:

#1. Choose the Correct Lighting Driver

You’ll need a dimmable driver, too. Again, if you use a non-dimmable driver with a dimmer switch and dimmable LED it just won’t dim. Yes, it’s that obvious.

While choosing the correct lighting driver can get tricky, we’ve eliminated some of the obstacles. All of our mains voltage products come standard with our groundbreaking phase-dimmable, digital driver.

#2. Choose the Correct Dimmer

You’ll need to choose a dimmer that’s compatible with your lights. Usually:

  1. Leading edge dimmers work best with traditional incandescent and halogen light bulbs because of their high wattage range (typically between 250W and 1000W).
  2. Trailing edge dimmers work best with LED lights and have lower wattage ranges to match.

But, you know, we’re all about harmony here at Brightgreen. That’s why our drivers will work with all leading edge and trailing edge dimmers, so get in touch if you want to talk compatibility.

#3. Don’t Overload Your Dimmer

A dimmer switch will often have high maximum load ratings. It’s acceptable to use these ratings for traditional bulbs, but with LED lights, you’ll need to do some quick math.

To determine how many LEDs your dimmer can support, you’ll need to divide the dimmer’s minimum and maximum loads by 10. For example, if your dimmer is rated between 100W and 500W, for LEDs this range is instead between 10W and 50W.

A final note

Dimming can be complex. And if you want the experts to do the legwork, head over here. But if you absolutely froth at the idea of lighting (like us), you can get into the nitty-gritty details by reading our white paper on driver design.