Dimming LED strip lights have become increasingly important for many lighting applications, from residential homes to commercial buildings.
With traditional incandescent lights, dimming was achieved by reducing the power supplied to the bulb, but this method is unsuitable for LED strip lights.
This is where Triac dimming comes in, a technology specifically designed to control the brightness of LED strip lights.
This article will provide a comprehensive guide to Triac dimming for LED strip lights, covering everything from the basics of Triac dimming to the key considerations when choosing a Triac dimmer switch.
What is Dimming?
Dimming means lowering the output of light, which also leads to reducing the brightness of a light.
The measurement of light output is carried out in lumens; when the light is dimmed, the lumens are also decreased.
Dimming of lights could be achieved through various methods, and separate fixtures are usually needed to implement the dimming in light function.
Dimming of lights may be needed to adjust light brightness depending upon the place’s nature and the person’s mood.
Hence this proves to be an essential aspect of every light fixture.
Methods of Dimming
There are various methods through which a light source can be dimmed, which could be done either to reduce the power consumed by the light or to lower the brightness required in a space.
VIDEO – How to dim an LED – the two MOST COMMON ways
Triac dimming is one of the very commonly opted dimming methods that use a high-speed dimmer switch to control the electrical power that passes through the light or a bulb.
It comprises a trigger point that decides whether the electricity will be controlled or supplied at full power.
In this method, the time taken by the switch to react is on which the power is dependent.
The faster a switch reacts, the more power is allowed, and the slower it reaches, the lesser power is passed.
PWM stands for Pulse Width Modulation and is used widely for dimming in LED neon strips and even LED strip lights that comprise drivers with a constant current.
The PWM dimming has a technique that adjusts the current’s duty cycle, changing the current flowing in the string.
Where accuracy is needed in dimming, the PWM dimming method is the best choice because it comprises the ability to handle high dimming ratios.
PWM dimming is very suitable for such lighting systems where the lights need to be dimmed consistently below 40 percent because of its precise properties in dimming.
LED 0/1-10v Dimming
LED 0/1-10v dimming is a method that helps control multiple devices when it comes to dimming, but this will need low-voltage wiring, which is an additional requirement.
This method uses the direct current supply between 0 to 10 Volts, so lights of different intensities can be produced and controlled.
When 10V is chosen, the light is at 100 percent brightness level, whereas at 1V, it is at 10 percent brightness level, and at 0V, lights are either turned off or are at the lowest dimming level possible.
It is mainly used for dimming fluorescent bulbs, but even in LED strip lights, it could be used. However, the application of this method is seen in offices, homes, and various retail spaces.
Dali stands for Digital Addressable Lighting Interface, offering network control of the lighting. The Dali equipment can use relays, modules, dimmable ballasts, dimmers, power supplies, and much more.
Dali dimming is a very straightforward setup for dimming where one switch controls multiple lights; hence this eliminates the control of circuits to be separate for each fixture.
The network of Dali consists of having LED ballasts, device groups, and power supply to be connected to one network.
Hence, this dimming method is suitable for large buildings, huge campuses, and office buildings. You can consider investing in the DALI DT8 tunable white LED driver to achieve dimming for LED strip lights in such places.
Dali offers two-way communication between the lights and is an improved version of LED 0/10V dimming the DALI Driver DALI-15-100-700-E1A1 is also quite popular to achieve dimming with low voltage LED strip lights that may range between 12V to 24V.
DMX stands for Digital Multiplexing, mainly implemented for dimming lights in places like theaters.
This dimming method is versatile and allows for dimming controls, which are efficient. It is expensive to control lights, but the flexibility, quality, and functional capability are commendable.
However, this system is suitable in places where special wiring is being carried out because it works very well there; in the usual wiring setups, it might not perform well, so it cannot be used everywhere.
What is Triac Dimming?
Triac dimming is a widespread kind of dimming method used in domestic and commercial places.
It can be used in different modes and types, and each kind is suitable for different light fixtures, including incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs, and LED fixtures like LED strip lights or LED neon strips.
Definition of Triac Dimming
The TRIAC dimming has switches that control the power supplied to the bulbs and lights for which it is being installed.
These high-speed switches control the flow of electricity to the lights that can be adjusted as required.
How Triac Dimming Works
Triac is a triode for alternating current; therefore, TRIAC dimming uses TRIAC to control the electric flow to the bulbs and lights.
Triac is a semiconductor that can be turned on or off by applying a small amount of current to the gate terminal of TRIAC.
When the TRIAC is turned on, the current starts to flow, and it can be controlled with the help of a gate current that can be carried depending upon the required control.
Video – Triac, clearly explained
TRIAC Dimmers Used in LEDs Strips
LED lights are nowadays very commonly used in all places, and they are adopted because of the multiple benefits they offer, like low consumption of power, efficient lighting, and durability.
However, there is one downside of LEDs, and that is that they are not dimmable; hence TRIAC dimmers can be of great use in this case, and they help to vary the current while it flows through these lights and dims the lights.
TRIAC dimmers work by opening and closing the switches they have very quickly, which helps the current adjust for dimming.
However, to ensure that the TRIAC dimmer works well with the LED, it is essential to ensure that it is compatible with the LED light chosen and the rating of current is also sufficient for the LED.
The connection between the LED strip lights and the dimmer must also be created perfectly while the wiring process is carried out.
TRIAC dimmers offer the most suitable method for dimming the LEDs, and they don’t even flicker and are highly compatible with almost all kinds of LED lights and bulbs.
What Makes TRIAC Dimming Suitable for LED Strip Lights?
One of the significant reasons for choosing a TRIAC dimmer for LED lights is that it comes with a very low-cost installation; therefore, there is no need to invest a considerable amount in these dimmers.
The best and the most affordable dimmers may include two options; EX5 Dimming European-style touch panel and EX8S RGBW Touch Panel.
Also, the TRIAC dimmers are very small in size, have lesser weight, and offer high accuracy for adjustment of brightness.
The process of dimming the lights using a TRIAC dimmer is straightforward and can be carried out with the help of a remote control.
TRIAC Controller & Receiver
TRIAC comprises controllers and receivers, and the controllers can be turned on or off when the brightness of the light has to be dimmed.
These controllers are suitable for use in applications that need high power, like heating, lighting, or controlling the motor.
The frequency of these controllers can be switched at a higher amount of current compared to the standard switches; therefore, this decreases the interference produced by electromagnetism.
The TRIAC receivers track the voltage between the two terminals of the circuit and control the power supplied to the light.
The TRIAC dimmer receivers control the power supply, motor speed, and lights; apart from domestic applications, the TRIAC receivers can be used for plasma cutting machines and welding machines.
What is Leading Edge?
Leading-edge dimmers have been quite popular with either incandescent or halogen bulbs, and these bulbs always need a massive amount of power to work.
As far as LED neon strips are concerned, they do not require too much power; hence, the leading edge dimmers are not a suitable option as they provide minimal value.
The leading edge dimmer uses the current, which is turned off as soon as the waveform of AC starts and crosses zero.
Using Leading Edge Dimmers With LED Strip Lights
LED strip lights are known for consuming less power; therefore, the leading edge dimmers might need to be more suitable to meet the load requirements of these lights.
Leading-edge dimmers will be used with these lights but will offer different effectiveness and dimming results expected of them.
LEDs aim to give maximum light and offer more brightness; therefore, the leading edge dimmers might need to improve when one LED light strip is used.
To dim lights with lower wattage that may range as either 12V or 24V, the trailing edge dimmers prove to be a better option instead because these are sensitive to smaller voltage changes.
What is Trailing Edge?
Trailing edge dimmers can be called the new and improved version of leading edge dimmers and are better in numerous ways.
Compared to the leading edge, these dimmers have a slower fadeout rate, and the interference and buzzing are also reduced in these dimmers.
Also, LED lights use less power; trailing-edge dimmers go well with these lights rather than leading-edge dimmers.
Using Trailing Edge Dimmers With LED Strip Lights
When used in association with the trailing edge dimmers, LED lights are quite suitable; if the incandescent bulbs can handle 400W for the LEDs, they can control the 40W at max.
The trailing edge dimmers can handle the lower wattages, so if multiple LED strips are even used, the effects you need can easily be attained with these dimmers.
Differences between Leading-edge and Trailing-edge Dimmers
Leading edge dimmer switches were developed for dimming incandescent and halogen bulbs as they have been easier to install and cost-effective compared to trailing edge dimmers.
The halogen and incandescent bulbs possess a high load; therefore, the leading-edge dimmers go well with them.
Whereas the LED strip lights are low-power lights, and hence the leading-edge dimmers don’t give the same dimming results.
Compared to leading-edge dimmers, trailing-edge dimmers are very complex; hence, the complexity causes smooth and quiet dimming, which is suitable for various buildings.
The lower minimum load of trailing-edge dimmers makes them suitable for low-power LED lights.
Hence they are chosen for smaller and low-power bulbs and lights compared to leading-edge dimmers.
The leading edge dimmers use the AC waveform current as it begins and crosses the zero, producing a massive voltage after every half cycle; hence, the current produced is also a huge one.
However, on the other hand, the trailing edge dimmers use the current from the AC waveform when it ends.
Still, before it reaches and crosses zero, these dimmers are also suitable with LED neon lights and electronic drivers.
The training-edge dimmers do not create a rush of voltage, whereas the leading-edge dimmers do create it and go well with high-power light fixtures.
What is A Dimming Curve?
The dimming device, as it works, lists down the parameters; that is when it processes the input signal.
The output of the light is matched with the function already set up with the time ahead of it.
Once the device has started to handle the input signal given, the processing will begin, and so will the fading of the light.
It is imperative to pay attention to the dimming curve when investing in a dimming device because it significantly impacts the light’s output.
The way the dimming device works is also represented by this curve physically in terms of output and input.
Types Of Dimming Curve
There are two kinds of dimming curves, and they differ in terms of their looks; one is a linear dimming curve, and the other is a logarithmic dimming curve.
Linear dimming curve represents that the input of the light and output of the light is the same.
Hence, if 20 percent of the energy goes inside the system, the same amount of energy will also come outside.
However, the input value will change depending on the dimming levels in the logarithmic dimming curve.
In this case, when the brightness level has reduced, the signal sent to the driver will change slowly, whereas when the brightness level is increased, it will change faster.
Dimmer acts as an input driver that has a curve programmed within it, it could either be a “soft linear” curve or it could be an “S” curve which gives control over the input very precisely.
Therefore, the input and output devices will function more effectively if you get the dimmers programmed with either linear or logarithmic curves.
Video – Dimming Curves For 0-10V, DMX And DALI
Understanding LED Strip Light Compatibility with Triac Dimming
Dimming LED lights is a very challenging task with TRIAC dimming; hence LED drivers need to be chosen that are compatible with these to allow them to achieve the purpose.
LED Driver Requirements
The TRIAC LED driver tends to eliminate the issue that is faced by LED lights, usually where they are not compatible with TRIAC dimmers, and so the use of TRIAC drivers may be needed.
A TRIAC LED driver is a power supply that comprises dimmable voltage and works with the dimmer switch.
Using a single cable, the low-voltage LEDs may be controlled through a TRIAC driver, and various lighting applications that comprise LED fixtures tend to use it.
The requirements for the TRIAC LED drivers in the LED lights consist of a frequency which is between 50 to 60 Hz, an input current of around 0.06A, and the maximum output it gives is 20W or 60W with an output village of 12 Volts.
LED Driver Compatibility with Triac Dimmers
The LED drivers offer a dimmable voltage-based LED power supply that works with the dimmer switch of TRIAC and can be controlled using one cable.
When dimmable drivers have opted for, the need for a PWM dimmer is eliminated.
The dimming and power supply is easily controlled in terms of light through these drivers.
These drivers work with the TRIAC dimmer switches and tend to control the current flow to dim the lights when needed.
Testing LED Strip Lights Compatibility with Triac Dimmers
To test whether the LED is compatible with the TRIAC dimmers, the best way is to check the load range of the switch; it must be checked in the minimum and maximum load.
Choosing the Right Triac Dimmer Switch
Since dimming an LED strip light with a TRIAC dimmer could be challenging, it is imperative to ensure that you choose the right dimmer switch as well.
Some of the considerations to keep in mind before choosing these are suggested below:
Types of Triac Dimmer Switches
There are three most common types of dimmer switches under TRIAC dimming, and these comprise the following:
- Incandescent Dimming
Incandescent dimming is a forward phase dimming that cuts and modifies the AC wave from the front half.
This kind of dimming is used mainly with incandescent lamps and offers a very natural and smooth dimming; it is not commonly used with LED fixtures due to needing to be compatible enough.
- Magnetic Low Voltage Dimmers
MLVs are used to control the lighting fixtures that comprise low-voltage magnetic transformers. Such transformers are found to be present in low-voltage light fixtures.
It modifies the same AC wave and is suitable for a lighting fixture with low-voltage transformers.
- Electronic Low Voltage Dimmers
ELV works for dimming purposes using electronic voltage and is suitable in light with low voltage.
It is totally the opposite of magnetic low voltage dimming and it modifies the AC wave half from the back; and is quite popularly used in LED neon light fixtures because of its smooth turn-on and compatibility with LEDs.
Compatibility with Different LED Strip Light Loads
In older times, incandescent bulbs and halogen bulbs were relatively used as a standard, but in the past few years, the use of LED light fixtures is taking the lead, like LED strip lights offer a low voltage load that is 12V or 24V.
The TRIAC dimmers are available in multiple types of switches, and the one that is compatible with LED light fixtures is none other than ELV.
The ELV works with low-voltage light fixtures, and LEDs are one of them; hence, the dimming properties desired could be achieved through it.
Features to Look for in a Triac Dimmer Switch
When choosing a TRIAC dimmer switch, there are some factors that you must take into consideration to make the right decision; some of the factors comprise the following:
- The type of TRIAC dimmer switch you are choosing must be assessed in correspondence to the bulb or a light fixture used.
In this case, if you choose a dimmer for the incandescent or halogen bulbs, you may opt for the MLV, but specifically for LED strip lights, you should have the ELV dimmer switch.
- The chosen dimmer must meet the wattage requirement of the light fixture, or it should exceed it. For instance, if the lights to be controlled are 5, each having 70-watt bulbs, then you will need a dimmer to control the lights higher or equal to 350 watts.
- Another important consideration that you must consider is the aesthetic look the dimmer possesses, for instance, the way you can open or close it, the way it appears, and the colors it is manufactured in.
- The way a dimmer can be used in terms of control is also a matter of concern, some dimmers can work utilizing remote control, and some do not.
Therefore it depends on how one might feel comfortable choosing the dimmer for use.
Installing and Using Triac Dimmer Switches for LED Strip Lights
The purchase of suitable TRIAC dimmer switches is not the last thing to do, in fact, it is equally important to have these dimmers adequately installed and ready to use.
Installing Triac Dimmer Switches
To start with installing the TRIAC dimmer switches, the first thing you must do is ensure that the electricity is turned off for the sake of safety.
Now, start with removing the dimmer switch that is already present there in order to replace it with the TRIAC dimmer switch.
You need to create a connection between the black wires; one will come out of the wall and out of the dimmer switch.
In the next step, connect the white wire that comes out of the wall with the white wire that comes out of the dimmer switch.
Lastly, the connection is to be created between the copper wire in the wall and the green wire on the dimmer to complete the connection.
Setting Up and Configuring Triac Dimmer Switches
Once the TRIAC is added to the circuit, the brightness of the LED light fixture can easily be dimmed or adjusted as needed.
However, setting up and configuring its work will require you to pay attention to the three different terminals the TRIAC semiconductor has.
The gate terminal must receive the voltage so the TRIAC semiconductor can be turned on. The voltage from the gate terminal must be removed to turn it off.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Triac Dimmer Switches
TRIAC Dimmers have plenty of benefits when used with LED strip lights or LED neon lights but still some limitations as well; some of the common pros and cons that it offers are discussed below:
Pros of TRIAC Dimmer Switches
- These dimmer switches are very efficient, and so are the LED light fixtures; hence when used in combination with them, if the suitable load range is chosen and they are compatible, they work with high efficiency.
- They have a very compact size that also makes them suitable to use, being light in weight, and can easily be controlled with the help of a remote, depending upon if you opt for such a dimmer.
- These dimers offer very high accuracy and are suitable for use in situations where precise dimming control is needed; hence, LED strip lights may be adjusted easily.
- These dimmers are available in plenty of options, and there are multiple types to choose from; there are many different functions of dimmers, colors, controlling aspects, and much more.
- When used with LED lighting, these dimmers prove to be very cost-effective, which is considered the most significant advantage.
Cons of TRIAC Dimmer Switches
- The TRIAC dimmers have a limited range of voltage, and this may hinder the dimming capability of these dimmers.
- One more issue with these dimmers is that when they are set at the minimum setting, some current tends to flow through them, leading to the flow of electricity, which causes a problem sometimes.
- TRIAC dimmers are not suitable for use in direct current, and sometimes they may trigger in any direction; hence a lot of care must be exercised.
Common Problems and Solutions in Triac Dimming for LED Strip Lights
TRIAC dimming is a commonly chosen method to control the brightness of the LED light.
Still, there could be some problems with this method, and these problems, along with their solutions, are discussed below:
Flicker and Buzzing Issues
LED lights tend to flicker in many instances, and it is common to observe that as soon as the switch is off, it starts to buzz or flicker, and you have to turn it off immediately.
Well, this is not a new issue. It has been in the LED fixtures for a very long time but is now visible very commonly because these lights are used widely; it arises because of lack of resistance.
It is believed that this problem of flickering and buzzing in LED lights can be resolved by adding resistance, and many LED manufacturers are thinking of eliminating the problem.
The dimmer installed in the LED strip lights might not be compatible with the kind of LED, which could cause a serious problem.
Due to the lack of compatibility, the LED light fixtures might not work properly with the lights, and therefore this needs to be addressed.
The solution to this problem is choosing dimmers compatible with LED lights.
Since the dimmers were previously used with halogen or incandescent bulbs, there might be other options than traditional dimmers.
However, the trailing edge dimmers and ELV TRIAC dimmers are suitable for LED lights and ensure compatibility in dimming them.
TRIAC dimmers have minimum and maximum ranges of load that can be handled by them when they work with LED light fixtures.
Sometimes due to overload, the LED lights might not function effectively using the TRIAC dimmer switches, leading to problems.
Hence, it’s always suggested to choose the dimmer that is compatible with the LED strip light wattage and must fall within the range so that it doesn’t cause overloading problems.
As you have gone through a very extensive guide on TRIAC dimmers and how they can be paired with LED strips or LED neon lights, you must know all the minor details.
Choosing the right LED light is always something that matters, and at Potato Lighting, we cater to all your requirements, be it the dimming LED light with TRIAC dimmers or anything else.
Therefore, if you are looking forward to having the best quality LED strip and neon lights with full features and multiple functions, you must invest in the collection available at Potato Lighting.
These lights are always available in bulk quantity, and at a reasonable price, so your clients will also be happy to deal with you.
Therefore, when looking for the right LED strip lights; Potato Lighting is just a call away!