Dimmer Switch Compatibility
Not all dimmers can handle the same load or types of devices. Some are fan controls, while others only dim the lights. All incandescent and halogen lights are dimmable. The lighting is dimmed by simply reducing the electric current, or voltage, supplied to the light. This is how standard incandescent dimmers work, so compatibility isn't an issue. As a bonus, reducing the voltage not only decreases the brightness of the lighting, but also has the benefit of increasing the average life span of the lights. The dimming technology of CFLs and LEDs work differently and are only compatible with specific devices. Dimmable CFL and LED bulbs sold by Four-Bros.com will all have a Dimmer Compatibility PDF or Spec Sheet on the product page that shows a list of light dimmers tested and approved to work with that bulb. If you've recently switched to dimmable LED bulbs and you're experiencing flickering or the bulbs aren't dimming down very far, you may be using them with an incompatible device. You'll also want to look at the max load rating of the switch to see if it can handle all of the lights on the circuit. For example, a 600 Watt max dimmer switch can dim ten 60 Watt bulbs whereas a 300 Watt max switch can only handle five 60 Watt bulbs.
Single Pole vs. 3-Way and Multi-Location
- Single Pole: designed for fixtures controlled by a single switch. It would not replace a three-way switch on the stairs where there's a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs both controlling the stairwell lighting.
- 3-Way: one device controls the light level, but additional light switches can be used to turn the light off or on to the setting controlled by the dimmer. A 3-way dimmer cannot support additional dimming locations or remotes.
- Multi-Location: can be paired with companion dimmers. Using multiple dimmers allows full dimming control from more than one location and could be used for stairwells or other rooms when replacing more than one light switch on a circuit. Dimmers listed as Single Pole/Multi-Location can be used either as the only switch for a fixture or paired with companion light switches.
What is 0-10V Dimming?
0-10V dimmers have an additional wire that applies 0-10 Volts DC to adjust the lighting intensity of dimmable fixtures. When applying 10 Volts, the light is at full brightness and at 0 Volts, the light is either off or at the minimum brightness supported by the lamp without turning off. These dimmer switches are compatible with most LED fixtures and LED light bulbs that use 0-10V dimming.
Types of Dimmer Switches
- Toggle and Slide: uses a toggle switch for on/off controls and a small slider next to is to control the dimming.
- Paddle and Slide: used with decorator wall plates. It uses a large paddle button for on/off control. Similar to the toggle and slide switch, this dimmer uses a slider next to the paddle to control the dimming.
- Rocker and Slide: uses a flip switch for on/off and a slider for dimming. In most cases, the slider takes up about two third of the switch with the on/off rocker underneath.
- On/Off Rotary: uses a rotary dial instead of a toggle or slider. Spinning the dial dims the lights and pressing it turns the lights on and off. Sometimes spinning the dial to the lowest setting will turn the lights off, but some LED bulbs only dim down to a certain percent instead of dimming to off the way incandescents and halogens do.
- Table Lamp: plug-in dimmer switches that are designed to use an electrical outlet rather than being permanently installed. They can be a cord with a slider in the middle, or may be a unit with additional receptacles for the lamps to plug into near the wall.
- Wireless: Depending on the product, it may be a standalone switch that you can control via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, or you may need a connecting bridge. The range of wireless dimmer switches varies as it may be limited to the same room or have remote access for times when you're on vacation and can't be sure you turned off all the lights in your panic to catch your flight. Some of these switches may be compatible with certain smart-home systems, such as Apple Homekit and Google Assistant. Check the spec sheets for each product or call one of our lighting experts for assistance finding the correct wireless switch for you.
Wall Plates and Accessories
Be sure to pair your new dimmer switch with a matching wall plate. However, since the ivory color from Lutron may appear slightly different from the ivory from Leviton, we recommend using the same brand wall plate as the dimmer for color consistency.
See our blog to get more information on how to install a dimmer switch.