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Ask the Experts: Light Bulbs & Dimmers

Robin Renner, Construction Director, answers questions about DIY home repairs.

Are there LED light bulbs that work with dimmers?

Q: My original bathroom fixture uses standard incandescent bulbs. A few months ago, I had an electrician rewire the switch plate with a dimmer switch. The dimmer switch seems to work with regular incandescent light bulbs but not LED light bulbs. For environmental reasons, would it be better to change back to a regular non-dimmer switch with LED light bulbs or keep the dimmer switch and use incandescent bulbs? Are there LED light bulbs that work with dimmers?

A: The short answer is that there is an incompatibility with the bulb and dimmer switch. Not all LED bulbs are dimmable. Make sure you are using an LED that specifically says that it is dimmable. The packaging should say “for use with light dimmers,” like this one.

Also, not all dimmer switches will work with LED since they take a lower wattage. It’s also possible (but not as likely) your electrician didn’t install the correct dimmer switch. Check with your electrician to see if the correct one was installed. Most new ones are rated for LEDs, but maybe he had an old dimmer switch, or you supplied one that wasn’t rated correctly for LEDs. It’s possible, if you take the cover plate off so you can see the switch, that you may be able to tell if the switch is rated for dimmers, but not all are marked. Check out this example of a dimmer rated for LEDs.

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