Different Ways of Dimming LED Lights

The ability to dim your lights offers great flexibility over how you can use a space.

The option to have brighter lights for the day and a softer glow during the evenings is a benefit, allowing you to enjoy the space in different ways and for varied activities.

There are many different types of dimming available, and they all have their own benefits. It is crucial to know which light fittings you are using and how they will be dimmed BEFORE any cables are installed since they might require additional wires. Here’s an overview of the various options:

Phase (Mains) dimming

This is the most common type of dimming and uses standard cabling, which is why it is so popular. There are two different types of phase dimming, leading and trailing edge, so you will need to determine which is compatible with your lighting.


This is a very stable and reliable choice of dimmer which removes the chance of flicker in light fittings. However, it does require additional cables between the dimmer and driver/light fittings. This is why phase dimming is sometimes selected over 0-10V/1-10V. This method of dimming is much more stable since the driver of the LED is fed with a fixed mains voltage input, rather than phase dimmed, where it is rapidly turned on and off. It then uses a separate potentiometer to send a dimming signal to the driver in the light fitting. The driver then uses the potentiometer signal to adjust its output accordingly, giving it very good, stable control over the light output.


This stands for Digital Addressable Lighting Interface.  It is a very flexible system that provides individual control over each fitting. You can have a maximum of 64 fittings wired together, and individual control groups can be decided after installation. It is also a very reliable method of dimming. However, it does need additional cables between drivers/fittings and the dimmer. In addition, the required programming at the end of the project, so can sometimes mean a simpler option is favoured.


This dimming method originated in theatre control and as with DALI, it provides individual control over fittings. Up to 512 fittings can be linked together with DMX. This requires additional cables between the controller and the drivers/fittings and involves extensive programming when complete. The control cable needs to be daisy-chained between each individual fitting, so the wiring can become quite complex for large installations. Because of the complexity in wiring and programming, DMX is often only used for colour change and moving light fittings.

By having an awareness of the dimming options available, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each method, you will be able to make an informed decision regarding which will best suit the needs of your project.

If you are interested in how Ember could help with your project then contact us today.

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