One of the hallmarks of LED lighting is the vastly superior energy efficiency compared to traditional lighting technologies. And it makes people wonder — can you save even more energy by dimming LEDs? The short answer is absolute. But there’s a caveat to LEDs and dimming that you need to understand.
Not all LED lights can be dimmed, but those that can are grouped into two categories that represent how the dimming process works. One method of dimming LEDs is called pulse width modulation, or PWM, and the other method is analogue dimming.
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) involves turning LEDs on and off at a speed faster than the brain can actually comprehend. When a dimmable LED bulb flips between being off for 75% of a second and on for the last quarter, it appears dimmed to about 25% of its total brightness. The light is brightened or dimmed by adjusting the length of time the light is on per cycle. There is no perception of flashing or flickering light, and this method offers specific control over both dimmability and energy usage.
On the downside, PWM can produce a buzzing noise that is audible to some people. Low-quality PMW systems can use inferior parts that vibrate, distorting light and reducing control over dimming.
Analogue dimmers control the flow of energy into the LED. The lights are continually operational, but brightness is raised or lowered based on the amount of energy flowing into the light. With this method, an LED driver works as a switch box to increase or decrease DC voltage. That means no issues with noise and great control, but the shifting voltage means light quality can be inconsistent. It’s also relatively inefficient, as there’s always some level of energy loss, and the dimming range itself is dependent on the current and quality of the driver.
Yes, You’ll Save Energy
There are pros and cons to both methods, but the fact remains that dimmable LEDs absolutely save energy. What’s more, that energy savings is directly proportional to the wattage you choose. If your dimmer is around 50%, you’re saving the same percentage in energy. That’s a huge benefit to businesses, giving you the flexibility to choose the appropriate level of light at any time of day or night and reducing your carbon footprint. Plus, dimming the lights minimizes heat stress and protects your bulbs.
Learn more about how dimmable LEDs can benefit your business by contacting Have Lights Will Travel, northern Nevada’s leading mobile electrical contractor. We can answer all of your questions about the capabilities of LEDs for your needs.