Light Switch With Dimmer: Criteria For Choosing A Dimmer

Home appliances have changed over time, becoming safer and more convenient to use. Relatively recently, dimmers - devices that change the wattage of lamps - have become widespread.

A light switch with dimmer is a very convenient device that does not differ much in appearance from a normal device.

Let's understand together the construction features, advantages and disadvantages of dimmers and connection variants of devices with dimmer.

Content of the article:

  • Design of a dimmer switch
  • Models of dimmer switches
    • Thermostatic and triac dimmers
    • Features of dimmer design
  • Dimmer and lamp compatibility
  • Benefits and drawbacks of dimmers
  • Two basic connection schemes
    • Lamp dimmer Connected to the light dimmer
    • Switch with dimmer
    • Switch with push-button
  • Best manufacturers of dimmers
  • Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Design of a light dimmer switch

Dimmers are special devices, The dimmer is a special device used to gradually control the level of artificial light. A dimmer can be used to dim or fill a room with light.

The first device with a mechanical principle was patented in the 1890s in the United States. It was used for the gradual darkening of a theater hall.

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

The typical functions of such fixtures, which allow the change of voltage from 0 to 220 volts, are to turn the lights on and off and to change the degree of light

The range of options of modern devices is much wider. They can be programmed to switch off automatically by setting a timer, or they can be programmed to simulate the presence effect. This involves switching on/off, as well as changing the brightness of the light for a certain time, e.g. 24 hours according to a preset mode.

Devices that allow remote or voice control have also become widespread. All these dimmers are perfectly integrated and play an important role in the \"smart home\" system.

Dimming switch models

The profile market offers a wide range of models that can be classified according to various criteria:

  • the operating principle;
  • design features;
  • dimming equipment;
  • compatibility with different types of lamps.

Let us have a closer look at the above classifications.

Thermostatic and triac dimmers

All the equipment can be divided into two big groups of basically different functions.

Rheostatic dimmers

In the beginning the dimmers were made with a set of resistors. By changing the resistance with a lever, it was possible to adjust the light. By increasing this, the amperage would drop and the light in the lamp would become weaker. Conversely, by reducing the resistance, the light output could be increased.

Similar devices have a fairly simple construction, but dimmers vary from manufacturer to manufacturer because of the quality of construction and the components used. This variation affects the stability of operation (especially at low voltage) and the smoothness of operation.

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

Rheostat-type dimming devices. The disadvantage of these devices is their lack of economy, especially when used with incandescent

Rheostat type dimmers convert light energy into heat energy, so their use hardly reduces electricity costs.

Simistors based dimmers

A more modern version is the one based on triacs, semiconductor devices.

The working principle of such devices is as follows. In order to turn on the lamp, a current must pass through the triac, i.e. a certain voltage must be created between the electrodes. This is achieved by charging the capacitor from the potentiometer R, and the latter will change the phase angle.

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

This diagram shows a simplified dimmer circuit which can be used to control the light in a variety of lighting fixtures

If the voltage on the capacitor reaches a certain value, the triac will open so that the electric current can flow through it. The resistance of the device will drop, so that the light bulb will burn stronger. A similar process is seen with both positive and negative half-waves. This is due to the symmetry of the diac and triac, for which it does not matter which way the electrons flow.

The voltage on the active load is an alternation of positive and negative half-waves, which follow alternately at a frequency of 100 Hz. Because of the extremely short sections at low voltage, flicker can be observed, which rheostat dimmers, as well as dimmers equipped with frequency converters, do not have.

Dimming device design features

There are several types of devices, the most common being modular, monoblock and box type.

Modular light dimmers

Dimming devices of this type are usually fitted in electrical distribution boards. This type of dimmer works well with incandescent lamps and halogen devices equipped with step-down transformers.

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

Modular type dimmer appearance and operating diagram. Most often this kind of dimmer is used in public places: for lighting hallways, staircases, similar rooms.

These devices are operated by means of a key or a button. By quickly pressing them the user switches the lamp on or off and by holding a finger for 5 seconds or more it is possible to control the light output.

Wiring box dimmers

Similar dimmers are installed in boxes used for switches and sockets. They can be combined with incandescent lamps and halogen devices whether they are equipped with electronic or step-down transformers giving capacitive or inductive loads.

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

The diagram shows the dimmer installed in a mounting box

To control this type of dimmer, simply use a button which is mounted on top of the device fitted. The installation is done in the same way as a traditional switch with the polarity being strictly observed.

For more details on how to choose a dimmer for incandescent lamps, please read this article.

Monoblock devices and their types

Such devices are a complete unit installed in the installation box similar to a traditional switch. To install such a device one must first take care of the installation socket, the size of which depends on the parameters of the dimmer (the size range starts from 26 mm).

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

Manufacturers produce a large range of monoblock models that differ in size, color, design. This makes it possible to match any fixture to the most refined interior

Dimmers of this type are particularly recommended for installations in thin partitions where, due to the insufficient wall thickness, it is difficult to place conventional fixtures. The difference between monoblocs and the previous category of devices lies in the two-wire connection, which makes it possible to connect them at the break of the phase load circuit.

In considering the regulation method of monobloc devices, several varieties can also be distinguished:

  • push-pull;
  • button;
  • rotary;
  • touch;
  • remote.

These options are shown below.

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Swivel light controller

Key control Light control

Touch light control

Remote light control

Touch control rotary knob is activated by pressing the knob, while its rotation allows to adjust the light level.

Lamp and dimmer compatibility

When selecting dimmers, pay attention to the type of lighting fixtures for which they are intended.

For incandescent as well as halogen lamps designed for standard voltage, almost any device is suitable. The important thing to remember is that the color of the luminous flux will change as the voltage decreases. At low voltage it has a reddish tint, which is not only unpleasant, but also harmful to the eyes.

For regulating low voltage halogen devices (12-24V), fixtures compatible with step-down transformers (RL) are suitable. If an electronic transformer is intended, we recommend preferring a dimmer model that is marked C.

Dimming devices for low-voltage light sources are usually equipped with soft on/off mechanisms. It is important to keep in mind that these devices are particularly sensitive to mains voltage variations, which can lead to a significant reduction in operating time.

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

Matched to various types of lamps, these devices allow you to beautify the room while making it more comfortable. The attractive design of the switches also makes a great addition to the interior

Light dimmers for high voltage circuits are most often used to control the brightness level of theater halls. As there is considerable energy consumption in this case, it is important to ensure that the dimmer model chosen is designed for heavy loads.

The design of dimmer switches designed for luminescent light sources includes a special trigger to convert the supply frequency in the 20-59 kHz range. This makes it possible to change the values of the current flowing through the circuit, which makes it possible to influence the brightness level of the lamps.

The dimmers used for LED lights are based on the pulse-width modulation method of operation. The degree of luminous flux is adjusted by varying the duration of the current pulses that are fed to the LEDs with an optimally calibrated amplitude. Due to the high pulse frequency of up to 0.3 MHz, flicker of the lamps, which is detrimental to eyesight, is avoided.

Marking of dimmers and their compatibility with different luminaires can be found on these devices:

  • The Latin letter R on the dimmer indicates that it can be used to control light in incandescent lamps with \"Ohm\" or \"Resistor\" load.
  • The letter L indicates that the dimmer may be used with voltage reducing transformers and inductive loads.
  • The Latin letter C indicates that the instrument may be combined with electronic transformers (\"Capacitive\" load).

A special symbol indicating the approval of the dimmer function is also present on fluorescent and energy saving lamps.

Benefits and drawbacks of dimmers

The advantages of the different dimmer types include the soft start of the lighting system, which allows a significant increase in the life of the light (the lifetime of incandescent lamps is increased by up to 40% in this case).

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

Dimmers can be used not only to control lights but also to control the voltage of other appliances (kettles, irons, heaters). In this case it is important to match the power of the device with the load it puts on it

Such devices create unlimited interior design possibilities. With their help it is easy to make spot lighting of a chosen area, to create interesting light pictures. A valuable quality of dimmers is also the ability to control light sources remotely or by means of sounds.

But such devices also have their disadvantages. Dimmers can only be used to control light sources whose power corresponds to that of the device. Due to the characteristics of the output voltage, step-down transformers may not work properly.

Devices may cause electromagnetic interference, which will interfere with radio and other devices. Certain types of lamps (especially those equipped with additional devices - ECG, driver) in principle can not be combined with dimmers. The efficiency of dimmers when working with incandescent lamps is quite low. Decreasing the brightness of the lamps has little effect on the electricity consumption, which is converted into heat instead of light.

The three basic connection diagrams

Dimming dimmers are built into the power circuit, which allows these devices to regulate the voltage supplied to the lighting devices. Several mounting arrangements are possible.

A typical variant that is particularly recommended for the connection of rheostats and sensor fixtures is the single place unit.

In bedrooms, regulation from two places is often used. In this case, one unit is installed by the bed, the other one by the entrance, allowing the brightness to be adjusted while lying in bed.

Light switch with dimmer: criteria for choosing a dimmer

In the picture above you can find two versions of dimmer connection: the usual one and the multi-button one that allows control from several places

The universal version allows control from one place and control from two. With this version, a switch is placed in the entrance, while the controls are placed in two different areas of the room.

In large rooms (especially elongated rooms) a scheme in which the regulation is also done from one place and the control from three is recommended. In this case it is advisable to use pass-through light controllers which allow the lamp to be switched on in a certain area of the room, while switching off the lights in other areas.

Let's look at some of the most popular ways to connect dimmers: directly to the switch, built-in type and with a remote button.

The dimmer is connected to the switch

The installation requires the electric current to be cut off. First remove the device cover (one or two-key panel), covering the connection elements.

Then loosen the screws with a screwdriver, then the construction is carefully removed from the wall. At the same time it is necessary to ensure the integrity of the insulating coating of wires. If it is accidentally broken, you need to immediately wrap the damage with insulation tape. The final step is to disconnect the wires from the terminals.

After that you can install the dimmer. Wires are connected to the terminals of the device, then the fasteners are checked for strength. Note that the part of the wire that protrudes beyond the terminal should be stripped no more than 0.3 cm. The excess end can be cut off or insulated.

Without damaging the insulation of the wires, place the dimmer in the place where the switch was. The device is pressed against the wall and secured with screws. All other parts of the construction are also connected to the dimmer.

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With the dimmer connected to the light bulb and adjusted to the minimum power, the life of the product can be greatly increased,

To connect the dimmer, the upper part must first be removed and the nut unscrewed to remove the upper panel

Gains access to the dimmer which has two contact pads, which must be connected to the phase wires

First of all, to connect it is necessary to disconnect the power supply, and to understand the wiring, identifying the zero and phase

Wires pass through the protection, Then the neutral wire is connected directly to the bulb, while the phase wire is led to the dimmer

Phase is connected to either terminal of the dimmer, while the second wire goes to the bulb

Test the assembled circuit. Re-connect the power supply, switch on the dimmer and change the brightness from minimum to maximum

Hang the top panel, screw the nut tightly and then insert the top dimmer

Dimmer connected to bulb

Preparing the dimmer for installation

Wiring, outgoing from the dimmer

Product connected to the bulb

Product, Connected to the dimmer

Checking of work done

Assembly of the dimmer

After completing the work, the electric current must be turned on and the light adjustment process must be tested to verify the correct operation of the device.

Wiring a switch with a built-in dimmer

It is common to find switches on the market whose design involves a built-in element that adjusts the brightness of the light. Installation is the same as for a normal device.

In a hole made in the wall, a switch is inserted and the top cover is removed beforehand. The construction is connected to the wiring and secured with screws. As in the previous case, it is necessary to check the quality of operation: after turning on the electricity, the device should allow you to dim the lights.

Wiring the device with remote button

In the bedroom, it is very convenient to connect the dimmer together with a simple switch, with the dimmer installed near the bed to adjust the light level directly from the bed.

In a similar device, additional adjustment buttons are included, which can be installed up to 50 meters away. From the second terminals of the push-buttons, the wire is transferred to the B terminal of the regulator. The load is connected to terminal 2 of the dimmer and the neutral wire N.

We also recommend reading the step by step instructions how to connect the dimmer. For more information, follow this link.

The leading manufacturers of dimmers

Switches with light control function are included in the catalogs of many companies specializing in electrical equipment. To name just a few of them.

Schneider Electric (France). The power engineering company, founded back in 1836. Branded dimmers (Unica, Merten) are notable both for their good build quality and impressive design (streamlined shape, wide range of colors), so they serve as an interior decoration.

Teco. The Czech company Teco started its activity in 1919, making equipment for telegraphs and telephony. Today, it is a leading global manufacturer of sensors, touch buttons and similar devices. A big place in the catalog is given to dimmers, which bribe by the combination of excellent performance and affordable cost.

Jung. This family German company with more than a century of history offers a wide range of electrical products and specialized equipment, including dimmers. All the company's products are characterized by high technical parameters, functionality, excellent quality of assembly and used components as well as verified design.

Legrand. This French company was founded in 1886 and is currently a leader in producing electrical equipment. The company's products are used for household and industrial purposes, it is also equipped with administrative buildings.

The company pays great attention to the development of innovative technologies, conducting its own scientific research. The company manufactures high-tech dimmer models that fit perfectly into Smart Home systems.

Gira (Germany). Founded in 1905, the German company now has offices in 37 countries, including Russia. The company is characterized by a quick response to customer requests.

This is achieved through relentless monitoring of the profile market as well as the available production and scientific facilities. The dimmers produced by the company are characterized by a versatile classic design and impeccable quality, which guarantees long-lasting use.

Besides that, there are also quality models of other brands on the market, such as the German concern Simens or the Polish firm Godiva.

Conclusion and useful video on the subject

In this video you can hear an expert's view on the most popular models of dimmers with different dimmer types as well as wiring advice:

How to install a dimmer switch with your own hands:

About the interaction of dimmers and lamps:

Light dimmer, with which you can change the brightness level of lighting, is a comfortable device to create a cozy atmosphere in the room and reduce energy consumption. The presented range of such products is quite wide. In order not to make a mistake in choosing, you need to take into account the power of the lamps with which it will be combined, the design features of the device, its planned placement, as well as the appearance of the device.

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