Can I Use an Incandescent Dimmer With Led Lights

An incandescent dimmer is a great way to control the light in your home. It gives you the options to set different levels of brightness from high to low.


While this may be an excellent option for some, it’s not always the best choice for all types of bulbs. If you’re using LED lights, an incandescent dimmer won’t work because of their voltage needs and wattages.

This blog post will discuss what type of bulb you need if you want to use an incandescent dimmer with LED lights or a different bulb that doesn’t work well with them. 

Summary: Using an incandescent dimmer with LED lights can present compatibility issues, as the two technologies function differently. Incandescent dimmers were designed to work with traditional incandescent bulbs, which have a simple resistive load. LED lights, on the other hand, use a driver to regulate the current, making their electrical load more complex. As a result, using an incandescent dimmer with LED lights may cause flickering, buzzing, or even reduced lifespan of the LED bulbs.

To ensure proper performance and compatibility, it is recommended to use an LED-compatible dimmer switch when installing LED lights. These dimmers are specifically designed to work with the unique electrical characteristics of LED bulbs, providing smooth dimming without any undesirable side effects. When purchasing an LED-compatible dimmer, make sure to check the compatibility with your specific LED bulbs, as not all dimmers work with all types of LED lights.

Additionally, ensure that the LED bulbs themselves are labeled as “dimmable,” as not all LED bulbs are designed to work with dimmer switches. By choosing the appropriate dimmer and LED bulbs, you can create an efficient and reliable lighting system that offers the benefits of dimming while maintaining the energy-saving advantages of LED technology.

How Do Dimmers Work?

Dimmers work by adjusting the voltage that’s sent to a bulb. They do this by altering how much power gets through, based on how dim or bright you want the light in your home.

It works well with incandescent bulbs because they produce heat when they’re turned on and can adjust the bulb’s brightness based on how hot it gets.


If you’ve ever used a dimmer switch, then you might have noticed that the bulb changes color from white to yellow as it gets dimmer.

The reason for this is because these types of a switch aren’t able to put out enough heat at low wattages, which means they aren’t producing light either.

You may think this won’t work for bright bulbs or dim ones, but it’s a common problem.

Reasons Why You Can’t Use an Incandescent Dimmer with LED Lights

1. Incandescent bulbs have no resistance, so you can dim (trimmed back) with a standard linear incandescent dimmer.

2. LEDs are very different from incandescent light bulbs because they have some built-in resistance to reduce the amount of voltage reaching the bulb and put out less light per watt.

3. LED lights that are installed in dimmable fixtures must be replaced with LED bulbs designed for dimming, like the TriLiteĀ® Control-LED.

4. If you try to dim LEDs with an incandescent dimmer, they get very heated and could catch fire, or the bulbs may explode.

5. Lower wattage LEDs will have a shorter life span if used on an incandescent dimmer

6. A standard linear-style dimmer can damage LED lights because it is designed to dim incandescent lights.

7. The average life expectancy of the LEDs is 100,000 hours when used on a linear-style dimmer. It may become even shorter if you try to use an incandescent dimmer with them.

What to Do if You Have Incandescent Dimmers and LEDs in Your Home?

1. Try a Dimming Kit

Many people have found the most affordable solution by installing dimming kits. These kits are available at local hardware stores, and they work with incandescent bulbs as well as LEDs so you can keep your existing dimmers operable.

In addition, the lights will be more efficient when on low, and you won’t have to replace your dimmers.

2. Stay With Incandescent Bulbs If You Are Frugal

If you don’t want to invest in a new dimmer, you can try replacing your LED bulbs with incandescent ones and continue to use the old incandescent dimmers.


LEDs are meant for use with dimming systems that will reduce the amount of energy they use.

However, prolonged use of LEDs without a decent dimming system can shorten the life of your LED bulbs, so you should check the wattage on existing dimmers and choose bulbs that are compatible with those lower wattages.

3. Replace Your Incandescent Dimmers With Programmable Models

If you want to use LED lights and still have the benefits of a dimmer, try replacing your existing incandescent dimmers with programmable models.

The switch will be the same size as an old-fashioned one, but it will include sensors that can remember the light level and set it to that brightness every time you turn the lights on.

You can also install an app for your smartphone or tablet computer that will let you take control of the lights from anywhere in the house, so they’ll never be too bright or too dim if you’re trying to go to sleep.

Things to Consider When Installing a New Dimmer Switch for Led Lights

Following are the few points that you need to keep in mind before installing a dimmer for LED lights:

1) All LED bulbs usually have six small diodes on their base. These diodes help to convert electricity into light. When you dim a LED bulb, it just lowers its brightness and does not dim or change the color of these diodes.

That is why when you dim an led bulb, the same appears brighter than before because there are no changes in its lighting capacity or color.

2) The light emitted by a LED is relatively calm, so it can be dimmed using almost any kind of dimming switch.


However, you also need to consider that the heat generated from other bulbs is very high and thus cannot be operated at low temperatures. That is the reason why it makes impossible to use incandescent dimmers with LEDs.

3) You can use a dimmer switch to save electricity. The heat emitted by incandescent bulbs is relatively high, and thus they need a lot of energy for operating.

Therefore, if these lights are dimmed, they will consume less energy, and this way, you can also lower the cost of electric bills.

4) The significant advantage of using LED bulbs is that they last longer than other kinds of lights. As a result, they won’t get damaged easily, and even if somehow damaged, you can replace them easily.

5) You should also know that LEDs are smaller in size and lighter in weight, which makes them easy to install at various places.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use a Normal Dimmer With Led Lights?

A normal dimmer will work with LED lights, but you may need to use a higher voltage for the dimmer to work properly. If your LED light uses a lower voltage, then you can use a normal dimmer. However, if your LED light uses a high voltage, then you will need to use a special dimmer that is specifically designed for LED lights.

What Kind of Dimmer is Needed for Led Lights?

There are a variety of types of dimmers that can be used with LED lights, including digital and analog dimmers. Digital dimmers are the most common type, and they work by sending a signal to the light fixture that tells it how much power to output. Analog dimmers work in a similar way, but they use a rotating dial to control the power instead of a digital signal. Either type of dimmer can be used with LED lights, but digital dimmers are generally preferred because they are more accurate and easier to use.

Can I Use My Old Dimmer Switch With Led Bulbs?

Yes, you can use your old dimmer switch with LED bulbs. Just make sure that the wattage of the LED bulbs is lower than the wattage of the dimmer switch, and that the dimmer switch has a neutral wire. If your dimmer switch doesn’t have a neutral wire, you can use a 3-way switch to connect the black and white wires from the dimmer switch to the black and white wires from the LED bulbs.

How Do I Know if My Dimmer Switch is Compatible With Led?

There are a few things you can do to test if your dimmer switch is compatible with LED lighting. One way to test is to turn on the light and then adjust the dimmer switch until the light reaches the desired level. If the switch works with LED lighting, it should operate at the same frequency as traditional lightbulbs, which is typically 60 or 100 Hz. If the switch does not work with LED lighting, it may be because the frequency of the LED light is different from the frequency of the switch. In that case, you may need to replace the switch or purchase a compatible one.

Final Words

So, can you use an incandescent dimmer with LED lights? Yes! But it’s also important to know what type of dimming system your LED light has.

For example, if the LEDs are connected in series and have a TRIAC ballast, they won’t work with a standard on/off switch or any other device that does not support PWM control.

You can still use a traditional light dimmer if your LEDs are on a low-voltage system.

However, we recommend consulting with professionals about which type of dimming switch to purchase and how best to install it. So let us know if it has been helpful in the comments section.

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