Often the journey to a smart home begins with lights. People want to play with their lights and create different ambiances to suit their varying moods. Therefore, a question comes to their mind – “Can you put a dimmer switch on any light?”
Now for the uninformed, a dimmer switch is a device that controls the intensity of your lights. For example, if you are in a somber mood and don’t want too much brightness, you can lower your lights with a dimmer switch.
Honestly, dimmer switches have been around for a long time, and having just dimmer switches doesn’t make your home smart; after all, these devices regulate the voltage supply.
However, the decision to move to dimmer switches from regular On and Off switches shows that you want more choices in life. For instance, many people (like me) get the rather expensive Philip Hue lights to enjoy their fantastic color spectrum and light up our dinner parties and events. While they may be a bit hard on the wallet, they last for a long time if used properly.
Philips also has an exciting range of outdoor lights that work wonders for your exteriors. Wait! I digress; let’s go back to talking about dimmer switches.
Speaking of digressions, do you remember that dialogue from Thank You For Smoking where Nick explained the power of argument to his son Joey? If not, then here is the clip.
Let’s move on; enough tripping already! Keep reading to discover a clear answer to the question that been going around in your mind; “Can I put a dimmer switch on any light?”
Can You Install a Dimmer Switch On Any Light?
Yes! That’s the straight and short answer.
However, before installing a dimmer switch, you need to check whether the lights are dimmable or not!
Yet, at the same time, not every light can be dimmed. I have put together a small table to highlight the dimming ability of different kinds of bulbs.
|Kind of Bulb||Dimmable?|
So it is clear from the table that if you have CFL or LEDs at home, you need to check the outer packaging to ensure that the lights are dimmable.
Another aspect worth mentioning is that every bulb has a different dimming range. On the one hand, where incandescent bulbs have a very high dimming range, from usually 10% to 90%, CFLs have a comparatively lower dimming range. It is not uncommon to see CFLs shut off completely at 30% light.
So now you know that you can add a dimmer switch to any light. However, before rushing to the market to buy one, read on to understand what factors you need to consider to make the right choice.
Can You Add a Dimmer Switch to Any Light? Here Are a Few Things to Consider
I hope that now have a clear answer to the question; “Can you use a dimmer switch on any light?”
In my experience as an interior decorator who believes in making spaces beautiful, there are 3 factors to consider before zeroing down on the switch to buy.
Neutral Wiring Requirement
Most dimmer switches require a neutral wire along with the line, load, and ground wires.
This shouldn’t be an issue in all probability, but it is advisable to check it once. If you are unsure about this, here is a video to teach you the same.
I would recommend taking precautions whenever you are doing any electrical work.
If you are not confident about your ability to make electrical adjustments, please call an electrician.
Your choice for the right dimmer switch will also depend on what kind of light you are trying to control.
Let me explain further:
- Single Switch
If your lights are controlled via a single switch from one location, you should opt for a Single Pole Dimmer switch.
- Multiple Switches
There are times when multiple switches control a light. For example, a light bulb in your bathroom is controlled by 2 switches; one in the bathroom and another in your bedroom. You would need to go for multi-pole dimmer switches for such cases. Another thing you can do is to install 2 single pole switches at both ends.
- Plug-In Lights
If you are trying to control the intensity of a side lamp is plugged into a power outlet, you will need Plug-In dimmers. For such devices, you will first need to plug in the dimmer switch to the power outlet, and then the light bulb is plugged into the dimmer switch. Read this for the list of the best plug in dimmer switches for lights and LEDs.
- Smart Switches
On our journey to making our homes smart, we want to control every device with a simple touch. As a result, smart dimmer switches that you can control from your mobiles or smart devices are now available in the market. These switches are applicable in any of the above use cases.
Since I am an interior decorator, it pains me to see that people make their spaces ugly in the name of making their homes smart. Therefore I would highly recommend checking if the dimmer switch goes with your wall aesthetics or not.
Typically there are 3 main switch designs:
- Rocker (Paddle):
Choose the one that rocks your boat.
Now, if you are going for smart dimmer switches instead of the standard ones, then there is one extra factor that you need to consider before making the purchase.
Extra Factor to Consider If You Are Putting a Smart Dimmer Switch on Light
You can control a smart dimmer switch via your mobile or smart device, as I mentioned earlier. Therefore, it becomes important to understand the various control protocols and see which fits your scheme of things.
Another point of consideration is if the switch will connect with your smart home networks like Samsung SmartThings, HomeKit, or other such ecosystems. If you’ve invested in such ecosystems, you will want the dimmer switch to communicate with it.
Here is a table explaining everything further:
|Bluetooth||No||There’s no need to connect with the home network.Therefore, no requirement for a bridge.||The distance with the switch needs to be in the Bluetooth operating range, typically 30 feet.|
|Wi-Fi||Yes||It doesn’t require a bridge to connect to the router.||Coverage of Wi-Fi across the house.|
|Zigbee||Samsung SmartThingsAmazon Echo||It is one of the most commonly-used protocols across the smart home universe.||It will require a smart home hub or a bridge to connect to the home network.|
|Z-Wave||Samsung SmartThingsLevitonJascoAeotec||It is one of the most used protocols across the smart home universe.||It will require a smart home hub or a bridge to connect to your home network.|
|Lutron Clear Connect||Samsung SmartThingsLutron Caseta||Works well with Lutron Caseta devices||Will require Lutron Smart Bridge|
Here are My 2 Cents on the Matter:
- If you are not looking to go on the smart home journey for the time being, then I recommend going for Wi-Fi as it’s easy to operate. The switch will communicate with your home network, and then boom; you are good to go. You will also be able to control them via smart speakers.
- If you already have a smart home ecosystem in place, I recommend going for the protocol your ecosystem supports.
I hope I was able to successfully answer the question: “Can you put a dimmer switch on any light ?”
To sum it up, Yes, you can use a dimmer switch on any light provided it is dimmable.
And if you decide to buy a dimmer switch, remember to keep all the above points in mind. I will be happy if this little article helps you make an informed decision.
Do let me know in the comments section below if you need any more help or information on the topic.
As an interior decorator, I am always looking to make homes beautiful but with minimalism. As a part of my occupation, I am always in touch with smart devices that makes your life easy, beautiful and comfortable. I take care of the smart living section for BringUptoDate.
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