Imagine being able to control the mood of your home’s lighting with just he touch of a switch. You don’t need to upgrade to an entire smart home to enjoy this control and flexibility. Simple light dimmers are easy to and quick to install, and they provide the ability to control light throughout your home. As an added bonus, they help reduce your energy costs.

Take a look at everything you need to know to decide where to install dimmer switches throughout your own home.

What Does a Dimmer Switch Do?

Technically, what a dimmer switch does is reduce the amount of energy flowing through the light circuit. (That’s why using a dimmer switch saves you money.) It does this by switching the circuit on and off so quickly that you perceive the light as being dimmed.

But let’s move beyond the technical to looking at what dimmer switches can do for you. They’re the easiest way possible to provide a great deal of flexibility in your lighting, with no need to wire your whole home up to a virtual home assistant.

The greatest benefit of a dimmer switch is its flexibility. With multiple dimmer switches in a single room, you can balance light sources and draw attention where you want it. You can make the most of a small space by changing the lighting, so that a room that’s lit brightly for work in the daytime becomes a place to relax when you dim the lights in the evening.

When you install dimmer switches, your home’s lighting becomes an aesthetic choice rather than something you’re forced to live with. You can even choose COLOR SELECTABLE LED RECESSED LIGHTING and change things up a little.

You can also use dimmer switches to add a layer of safety to your environment, leaving dim lights on in hallways and bathrooms at night, or lighting exterior portions of your home without spending a fortune.

Can You Put a Dimmer Switch on Any Light?

Most light fixtures work with a dimmer switch, and you can use a dimmer switch with all sorts of light bulbs, including incandescent, halogen, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and LEDs. 

You do, however, have to make sure that the dimmer switch you’re choosing is compatible with the specific types of bulbs you’re using in any given light fixture. LEDs and CFLs work differently from other types of bulbs and typically require technology designed to accommodate them.

Also, make sure that the dimmer switch you’re choosing can handle the wattage of the fixtures it will control. For example, if you’re planning to dim a set of 10 60-watt bulbs around your bathroom mirror, you’ll need a dimmer switch capable of handling the total 600-watt output of the fixture.

Where Can You Use Dimmer Switches?

Once you’ve matched the bulbs and the dimmer switches appropriate, you have all sorts of options. Take a look at some places where dimmer switches can make life more enjoyable:

  • Kitchens. How often have you wandered into the kitchen late at night for a snack or a drink of water, only to wince when you flip on the light switch. You’re not limited to the light from the refrigerator once you install a dimmer switch. Dimmers are also ideal if you have a large eat-in kitchen, as they give you the opportunity to dim the lights in the cooking and cleaning area while you enjoy your meal in the dining area.
  • Hallways. Dimmed lights bring extra safety to your hallways during the night, and they add a layer of reassurance for young children who might not feel comfortable walking down to their parents’ room in the dark.
  • Porches and Exterior Lighting. If you like the sense of security that comes with having exterior lights burning all night, you can save a lot on your energy costs by installing a dimmer switch. Lights burn low all night, but you still have the option to turn them up full when needed.
  • Bedrooms. The amount of ambient light is one of the signals your body uses to start winding down and preparing for sleep. A dimmer switch in the bedroom lets you control the amount of light so you can start to relax.
  • Living Rooms, Media Rooms, and Family Rooms. No one wants to watch a movie or binge on your favorite TV series with bright lights reflecting on the screen. Installing a dimmer switch lets you enjoy full lighting for playing board games or getting homework done while turning down the lights for viewing and quiet conversation.
  • Bathrooms. That dimmer switch is a lifesaver when you head to the bathroom in the middle of the night or even when you’re getting ready for an early morning at work or school. And imagine the luxury of soaking in a hot, bubbly tub with relaxing dimmed light.
  • Dining rooms. Focus attention on your guests, your family, and the food with dimmer lights that draw everyone in and let your candlelight sparkle.

What Happens if You Use a Non-Dimmable Bulb With a Dimmer Switch?

The answer is, that depends. If you’re using an old-school incandescent or halogen bulb, you should be fine, as all of these bulbs are dimmable. Just make sure your dimmer switch is rated for the same voltage as your light fixture (typically 120 volts). In addition, as noted above, the dimmer switch must be able to handle the wattage of the light bulbs it’s controlling.

The situation gets a little more complicated if you’re using CFLs or LEDs, however. These bulbs are either dimmable or non-dimmable. While you can use a dimmable CFL or LED light bulb on a non-dimmable circuit, you could run into problems if you try to pair a non-dimmable bulb with a dimmer switch.

Non-dimmable CFLs become a fire hazard if they’re connected to a dimmer switch. As for LED bulbs, if you keep the dimmer switch at 100% (essentially, never using its dimming properties), you can safely use a non-dimming LED bulb. But if you dim a non-dimmable LED bulb  you’ll experience buzzing noises and flickering, and ultimately you’ll damage the bulb and have to replace it very soon.

If you’re interested in installing dimmer switches in your home, Upstate Electrical Solutions is ready to help. Contact us today to see how we can help your home’s lighting make life more pleasant.