LED light bulbs have many advantages that set them apart from most other bulb types. But can you dim them too?

Many LED bulbs are dimmable, but not all. You can confirm whether they’re dimmable by checking the packaging or the technical specs. Generally, dimmable LEDs cost more, but it also depends on the manufacturer, the material, and their application.

This article will explain how to identify a dimmable LED bulb and properly use LEDs with a dimmer switch. Let’s start!

Are All LED Lights Dimmable? How Do You Know Which Are?

As I said, LEDs can be dimmed, but only some. As such, you will have to look for hints to determine if they’re the dimmable kind.

three dimmer switches in a white switch plate next to our newly renovated kitchen
I had dimmer switches installed for the new LED can lights in our second netzero home renovation. LED lighting already uses such low amounts of energy, but dimming takes it down even more while allowing you to conveniently control your light levels to boot.

Here’s how you can check if LEDs are dimmable.

It says they’re dimmable on the packaging. Most bulb companies openly state that their LED bulbs are dimmable. Many have the word “dimmable” written on the lower left side of the box. However, some prefer to use the dimmable symbol, an arc within a circle. The arc becomes thicker from left to right, and the entire symbol is usually colored black.

It says they’re dimmable on the specs. You can also check the technical specifications on the back of the packaging. Amidst all the numbers stated on the product information, you should see a small label indicating if the light is dimmable. You can also look for the model number online to check if it’s dimmable.

Do Dimmable LEDs Cost More?

Dimmable LEDs cost more than non-dimmable LEDs, but only a little bit. The technology required to dim the light increases the cost of the bulb. This includes the components that regulate current entry.

Still, other factors come into play, including the manufacturer, the materials used, and how you will use them.

Although prices vary, you can be sure dimmable bulbs are more expensive than non-dimmable ones.

However, in the long run, they do save you more money. Dimming lights saves energy and extends the lifespan of your bulb due to the lower power output.

Still, the market for non-dimmable remains big, as many people still want consistent lighting in their homes.

Can You Use a Dimmer Switch on LED Lights?

A hand adjusts a silvery dimmer switch installed on a beige wall
You can adjust your LEDs with a dimmer switch if they’re dimmable.

You can use a dimmer switch on LED lights if they’re dimmable and compatible with the dimmer. Leading-edge dimmers, for example, are made for incandescent bulbs and will not work with your LEDs.

You’ll need trailing edge dimmers instead, which are LED-compatible.

Some bulb manufacturers also request that you only use specific commercial dimmers. General Electric has released a list of dimmers that observe minimal to no flickering.

Can You Use Non-Dimmable LED Bulbs With a Dimmer Switch?

You can use non-dimmable LED bulbs with a dimmer switch only if the switch is fully turned on. The LED gets the normal current when the dimmer is 100 percent.

However, dimming it may cause flickering and whirring sounds. Sometimes, it may flicker enough to the point that the irregular current damages the LED.

How Dimmable LED Bulbs Work

There are two ways to dim an LED bulb, and both involve regulating the current flow.

Pulse-Width Modulation Switches Light On and Off

The first method is pulse-width modulation, which turns the current entering the bulb on and off. You can’t see this because switching is so fast that the human eye can’t catch it.

The more you want your lights to be dimmed, the higher the time for the lights to be turned off. Fully switched on means there is no switching.

Constant Current Reduction Controls Current Entry

The second method, constant current reduction, limits the entry of electrical current into the LED. As you may know, having brighter lights means higher consumption of energy.

The good thing about this method is that it doesn’t place as much stress on the bulb as pulse-switch moderation does. Also, it is generally much quieter.

Regardless of your dimmer’s dimming mechanisms, I would not advise sticking a non-dimmable LED to a dimmer because it will not get the proper voltage.

A row of medicine cabinet lights at various dimness levels
Check the packaging to confirm if your LEDs can dim, as not all can!

Components will not work correctly, and you may have to replace the bulb altogether.


Dimmable light bulbs exist for those who want better control over their lighting. Although they come at a high price, they save consumers money in energy costs due to the required power of the bulbs.

Still, some prefer consistent lighting, which is what non-dimmable LEDs provide.


RBW: Leading Edge Vs. Trailing Edge Dimming | GE Lighting: Lighting Dimming Compatibility | MDPI: Dimming Techniques Focusing On Improving Luminous Output

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