How to Make LED Strip Lights Dimmable?

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Do you wish to dim your LED strip lights? Dimmable LED strip lights are a great way to enhance your room or project’s décor. They also provide some dynamic control with regard to the brightness factor. However, there is a right way to dim your LED strip lights.

So, let us check it out and learn more!

Are All LED Strip Lights Dimmable?

First off, almost every LED strip light available in the market is dimmable. Of course, there are exceptions. If you were to purchase A-style LED bulbs, they don’t fall under the dimmable category. It is because the circuit system inside the bulb cannot interpret the dimmer’s signals. Before you go ahead, make sure you understand what dimmers are.

However, LED light strips are connected directly with the line voltage (For example, a 120 volts AC socket). It also requires a consistent power supply that converts high AC voltage into 12V/24V lower DC voltage.

An LED strip light must be connected with a power supply to ensure that the wall dimmer functions properly. Whether or not your LED strip light is dimmable or not depends on its power supply module. This also helps it interpret the wall dimmers’ dimming signal.

With the right DC electric signal, the brightness of any LED light strip can be adjusted. However, if you also wish to adjust the colors, a LED Strip light controller would be required. So, how can you ensure that the LED receives the right DC signal for dimming purposes?

Here are 4 common choices available for you.

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Solution-1: Use the Traditional Wall Dimmers+ Dimmable Power Supply (TRIAC)

If you love the classic wall dimmers, TRIAC technology is an ideal choice. These traditional dimmers & power supply options are elegant & permanent for LED strip installation. It is also perfect for under-cabinet LED lighting needs.

Most LED wall dimmers tend to use TRIAC dimming signals. For this, you need to get the best TRIAC power supply for LED strip dimming needs.

TRIAC dimming power supply features dual functions that include:

  • Reduce & rectify the high 120V AC electric signal to a lower 12 or 24V DC electric signal. The latter is compatible with an LED light strip.
  • It interprets the TRIAC LED dimming signals that are produced by a wall dimmer. Next, it translates it into a corresponding light output for the LED strip.

TRIAC dimming power supply can be connected directly with the wall dimmer. The TRIAC power supply’s output end is connected with the strip. These components most likely won’t have any visible connectors or plugs. They would be concealed within a high-quality electrical box. Additionally, the strip should be closed to the LED’s power supply. This ensures that the voltage drop effect is mitigated.

In case there is a problem with the installation, it is important to hire a professional. Electrical work should always be carried out by licensed and qualified individuals. Seeking professional help ensures you can dim the LED without compromising light quality.

how to make led strip lights dimmable

Solution-2: Opt for Low-Voltage PWM DC Dimmers

If you don’t want to mess up the electrical wirings in the wall, you can use the regular setup. This option requires you to install a PWN DC dimmer between a standard power supply (Non-TRIAC) & the strip. This PWM dimmer has a dial or potentiometer to adjust the strip’s brightness.

The strip’s power supply doesn’t necessarily have to be a TRIAC dimmable variant. It can be a standard DC supply as well. They are generally low in cost & readily available. They are also cheaper as compared to the TRIAC dimmable components.

PWM DC dimmers have a simple circuitry that works best with portable or smaller installations. It is also ideal for dimmers that don’t need to be fixed into your wall. The standard dimmer supply features 2-prong plugs designed to be plugged into a wall outlet.

These dimmers are simple and easy to assemble. Plus, they can conveniently be connected with the LED strip & power supply unit. You might not need any major tool for the assembly process.

Connect your 2 output wires that emerge from the strip’s power supply with the dimmer. Next, connect the 2 input wires emerging from the strip with the dimmer. This dimmer simply serves as a valve. The light’s power supply automatically provides the rated voltage & current to the strip. This would vary depending on your dimmer’s knob and its positioning.

This is favorable if you want to move the LED strips from one location to another frequently. However, it isn’t ideal if you want a permanent or minimally cluttered solution. Additionally, PWM LED dimmers will have to be placed closer to the strips to function properly. Failing to do so can lead to voltage drop.

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Solution-3: Use RF Dimming Controllers

RF or Radio Frequency dimming controllers are wireless controllers. They can be used to dim the LED strip lights wirelessly. To implement its usage, first count the total number of LED strip lights connected.

Next, count the overall wattage from these strips. In case the wattage turns out less than your controller, you can use just one controller. However, if the overall wattage is higher, connect more than one controller.

For bigger projects, you can make use of a high-quality power repeater or power amplifier. This will help you dim your strip lights using just one controller. Remember, RF dimmers work up to a 20-meter range. So, a power repeater is essential when seeking a bigger signal range.

RF controllers are available in a range of options. Users can select from choices such as:

  • Single-zone dimmers
  • Handheld remote dimmers
  • Wall controllers
  • Multizone dimmers

With single-zone dimmers, you cannot control each strip or section independently. So, all the lights would be dimmed in one go. Alternatively, with multizone controllers, you can manage different strips or sections independently.

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Solution-4: Use a Wi-Fi Controller

Most LED strip light admirers love to use their smartphones to control the brightness. A Wi-Fi controller is an ideal choice for such a situation. It gives you the ease of access in terms of brightness control.

You do not have to walk to the controller to dim the LED strip lights. They work within a suggested range that can vary depending on the brand of the LED strip light.

Your Wi-Fi adapter would require its very own power supply to function efficiently. Select an application of your choice to control your LED strip lights, and you are good to go. You can even alternate it with wall adapters if you don’t want to use the phone control regularly.

So, if ever your Wi-Fi is down or non-functional, you can always have a backup. In addition, you can check the PlayStore for some unique Android apps for LED strip light dimming. Alternatively, if yours is an iOS phone, you can check out the Apple Store.

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Can You Dim LED Strip Lights in Sections?

Yes, LED strip lights can also be dimmed in sections. You can use a DALI dimmable LED strip light controller for this purpose. This professional system can be programmed to dim sections of your choosing in the LED strip.

DALI is an acronym for Digital Addressable Lighting Interface. It is best suited for big projects that require controlling several LED strips. DALI systems allow you to manually switch the lights on or off along with brightness control. They can also be used to activate & run preset lighting programs.

Most offices, hotels, & large stores tend to use the DALI system for dimming. However, it has recently become popular among homeowners as well. DALI system installation should be done the right way for perfection.

First, the DALI receiver needs to be wired between the LED strip lights & the transformer. Once it is set up, connect all the DALI receivers with a signal cable. Next, link them all with the DALI dimming switch.

DMX Dimming for LED Strip Lights: What is it?

DMX or Digital Multiplex Control was designed to operate and link the incompatible dimming systems. It is a fairly old LED strip dimming protocol. You can see it being used in studio lighting, theatres, concert lighting, or architectural lighting.

DMX LED strip light controls can handle as many as 512 channels. This is why it is also known as DMX512. Each DMX strip receiver channel is set with the help of DIP switches. These switches are located on the unit’s side with the help of nine binary switches. Using these switches, users can set each channel to a max of 512.

A decade ago, this dimming system used to cost a lot. But, that isn’t the case today. Earlier, they were built specifically for stage lighting needs. They come with a fun touch screen panel or a unique rotator dimmer. You can operate a DMX dimmer with the help of a smartphone or computer as well.

DMX LED dimmers can be perfect for restaurants, homes, hotels, clubs, or any location of your choice.

0/1-10V Dimming Technique

A standard 0/1-10V dimmer features two independent light circuits. The first is a voltage circuit that can help disconnect or connect the power supply to your lighting equipment. The second circuit is a low-voltage design that determines the dimming of the LED strip light.

Previously, the 0/1-10V dimmers were used for controlling fluorescent lamps. Today though, these dimmers feature driver modules with ample power supply & special circuit controls. This helps the 0-10V dimmers support multiple LED lamp variants.

Talking about the 1-10V option, it’s just the dimmer that is 1-10V. So when the dimmer’s resistance is tuned to 1V minimum, the resulting output current reaches 10 percent (Value might not be fixed).

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Conclusion

Among the two dimming solutions explained above, the TRIAC dimming framework is popular. However, there are multiple combinations and components available for LED strips. So, it is expected that you test out the compatibility before installation.

At times, you might experience problems such as flickering or non-linear dimming. This problem can be corrected with the help of a professional LED strip light expert.

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