The LED Dimming Dilemma

Robust dimming bulbs presents a considerable challenge to LED light manufacturers. The fundamental problem is that dimmers that have been in use in most homes over the past decades take advantage of the nature of AC current and the fact that incandescent bulbs are essentially analog devices to achieve dimmable bulbs. A great from article "Electrical Construction and Maintenance" summarizes the inherent problems - The LED Dimming Dilemma.

Our testing in our labs confirms that dimmable LED bulbs that work well across all types of dimmers are few and far between. Even the ones that work well, have had to make compromises and perform different across various dimmers.

The latest thing on the market is digital dimmers from Leviton and Lutron. Even these dimmers have their flaws. For lighter loads these dimmers come on at full power and then go to the dimmer setting. Likewise, many of these dimmers have a calibration control to allow you set the lowest dimmer amount. This is because many dimmable LED lights have minimum values at which they start to strobe like disco balls.

We at Mansa are trying to source dimmable bulbs that work well on most dimmers, but the bottom line is that no dimmable bulb on the market today works well with all types of dimmers. Investing in a dimmable bulb may very well mean investing in a new switch designed to work well with the specific bulb have purchased. Over the long run this may be the right way forward as most LED bulbs save a lot of money and last for 20+ years, but expecting legacy dimmers to work well with LED bulbs remains a gamble at this point in time.