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Different Types of Dimmers


Dimmer switches are a great way to reduce your energy output, add ambience, and save on maintenance costs. While all dimmers have these benefits, not all of these devices are built the same. In fact, there are several different types of dimmers designed to work with specific loads and lighting sources.


These types of bulbs require resistive dimmers due to the filaments inside of them. Modern resistors function by switching the light circuit on then off in quick succession. This approach reduces the total amount of electricity traveling through the circuit. The on and off periods may not be equal, resulting in a net direct current voltage.

Magnetic Low Voltage (MLV)

Transformers that reduce higher voltages to less than 30 volts are called low-voltage transformers. In a modern home, some under-counter lighting or low voltage lighting are just a few of the devices that use MLV. Incandescent dimmers can actually damage magnetic transformers, so an inductive dimmer switch must be used. The on and off periods for these switches are equal, ensuring safe voltage.


Not all fluorescent lighting is compatible with a dimmer switch. Those light sources that are require a fluorescent dimming ballast. This is because this type of lighting works very differently than halogen or even LED lights, electrodes are heated in order to excited gas inside the tube. There can be a sudden jump or drop in brightness when adjusting one of these dimmers.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

LED lights are powered by internal or external LED drivers. Because of this, special dimmer switches are often required to change the brightness of these lights.  That being said, not all LED lights are dimmer-compatible. It’s important to know either way before installing a switch in order to avoid serious damage.

From the above, it is obvious that dimmer switches are not one-size-fits-all devices. Each lighting source and load requires special consideration when choosing what switches to use. The experts at 4-Star Electric can help you determine exactly what is the safest and most efficient choice for your lighting set-up. To get started, contact us for a consultation today!

Written by 4-Star Electric

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