How to Make LED Lights Dimmable

With the proliferation of light bulbs and LED luminaires appeared new problems with our interior lighting: flicker of the LEDs see flicker, but also noise hum unpleasant when there is no background noise. These problems are even more common when one wants to vary the LED bulb , or because the drive is not necessarily intended for LED and works only with conventional sources such as halogen or incandescent, or the bulb or fixture is not it not designed for “dimmable”  (a term commonly used to talk about changes in lighting).

The only choice we previously had to do by going to the store to choose a drive were the color and style. With the new technology of LED that has changed and has become much more complex.
You may be a chance that your LED light bulb works with classic dimmable lighting, but in general, you will experience inconsistent performance with such results in a vibration noise on the inverter or LED light, see the two at the same time which can be very unpleasant, until just light bulbs or LED lights that do not light at all.

The different drives

Dimmers that are found everywhere in millions of homes are so-called phase-cut dimmers that have been developed for incandescent lamps.

They are therefore generally not appropriate and interféront most likely with the performance of LEDs.

An incandescent source is built to work around the fluctuation of our 230 volts alternative that constantly changes direction. The drive does not decrease this tension, but rather breaks the circuit each time the current changes direction and there is a current execution zero voltage across the circuit.
This happens so quickly (100 times per second) that it is not visible to the naked eye.
Since the filaments of incandescent bulbs take time to cool down when the controller removes a portion of the AC voltage, dimming appears smooth and uniform.

LED by cons are driven by a constant current, when electricity flows only in one direction. A transformer is used to convert alternating current into low voltage direct current, and must maintain the average current at a constant level.Since the circuits of LEDs are generally optimized for full power it is unfortunately still common to see a stroboscopic flicker at low dimming levels with many bulbs or lighting LEDs.
To be compatible with dimmers so it is in the transformers also called LED lighting drivers need to check the integration with a system of variation.
On LED no filament that glows, LEDs are either lit or extinguished. So for varying, the LEDs are turned on and off at very high frequency, with a system called “Pulse Width Modulation” (PWM).

LEDs by nature react very quickly to the ignition and the current extinction. That’s one reason that even a slight gradation can cause many unpleasant side effects.
This applies to LED lamps (bulbs) which have not integrated replaceable drivers since it must be understood that live 230v LED bulbs do not exist, it’s just that the transformer is hidden and ultra miniaturized base or LED bulb in the bottom of the source.

So you must be careful to identify the term “dimmable” on the product so well to be sure you have the opportunity to do so vary. Unfortunately this term meet any specific standard, so it is too vague to rely on it and be sure you can vary a LED bulb, because as I wrote above your drive will not necessarily be compatible with your source.

You will have to check two elements for success varying an LED bulb:

  • that your drive is compatible with LED
  • your bulb or LED light is also compatible for the change . Because many power supplies of this type of source is not dimmable.

But the only way to really know if you can vary LED bulb without problem is to test . Alternatively, if you buy a known brand LED bulb, ask the manufacturer directly an array of compatible drives. These manufacturers like Osramor Philipps develop or test drives compatible, so you know indicate with what brand and what drive model (Legrand, Hager, Schneider, …) they are compatible.

Choosing the right dimmer for varying LED bulb

If you do not have the opportunity to know the consistency of your drives for LED bulb, you must be careful with these elements to make your selection before purchase:

  • The maximum load: given in Watts is the maximum power that the drive can support. Be careful though, if the drive is not a special LED, I recommend to reduce this maximum power by 3 for an LED bulb causes a current call to spark much superior to another source such as halogen or incandescence. For example if the inverter 100w indicates maximum load, therefore install than 33 watts maximum LED sources. If the drive is a special LED in this case not the maximum power of this problem is expected to surge at startup, you can rely totally on performance data.
  • The minimum load: also given in Watts is the minimum load required on the drive circuit to operate and can turn on and changing an LED bulb. This information is very important because for example, if the minimum load of the LED drive is 20 watts and you have 3 LED bulbs 5 watts on this circuit, and of the minimum load of the drive not being reached, the inverter will simply not turn on the light circuit.

I hope I was clear enough on this rather complex today on how to vary an LED bulb, which I admit was much simpler before the arrival of the LED. Feel free to ask me your questions on the subject.

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