Back to
share on facebook
share on twitter
Elemental LED leducation rss feed

Are LED lights dimmable? How do you dim them?

Yes, many LED lights are dimmable. Almost all of the lights in the Elemental LED catalog are dimmable when paired with the correct dimmer. This guide will explain how to dim our LED lights with either a 120V AC magnetic low voltage dimmer switch or a 12V DC dimmer switch, and how dimming works.

If you want to use a 120V magnetic low voltage dimmer switch with your new LED lights, our 12V Dimmable Drivers are made specifically for use with this kind of switch. (Don’t be confused by the phrase “magnetic low voltage switch.” It doesn’t mean that the switch is low voltage, just that it’s compatible with a low voltage driver.) Our dimmable DC drivers are designed for use with high voltage dimmer switches that are rated for magnetic low voltage loads or that are stated to have symmetric forward phase control. These drivers are wired between the switch and the LED fixture.



We sell several 12V and 12V-24V dimmers that are for use with all of our standard Adapters and Drivers, switches like theREIGN™ LED Dimmer and the 12V Inline Dimmer Switch. These drivers are “electronic low voltage” power sources, so they require a dimmer switch that has reverse phase control. Unlike switches used with our dimmable drivers, the 12V dimmer switches are connected between the driver (or adapter) and the light. These switches are not compatible with any of our dimmable drivers, even though the driver is 12V, because they have opposite phases. Our 12V dimmers are also known as a PWM switch.


Unless noted otherwise in the product page description or Tech Specs tab, all of our LED fixtures are dimmable.



led dimming

There are four terms to know about dimming LED lights and they go in pairs. The first is “forward phase control”, which is a characteristic of “magnetic low voltage” power sources. The second is “reverse phase control”, and it’s a feature of “electronic low voltage” power. The “phase” in “phase control” just means the shape of the frequency of electricity. When a light is dimmed, it’s being turned on and off rapidly, 120 times per second. That means that, for 50% of a phase cycle, the light is on. “Forward phase control” means it’s on for the first half of the cycle, and “reverse phase control” means it’s on for the second half. That’s it! So if you have a dimmer switch with forward phase control, you need a 12V driver with the same phase.

forward phase led dimmingreverse phase led dimming

Another term you’ll need to know is Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). Some dimmers reduce the actual voltage going into the LED fixture, which can damage the LED bulbs. A PWM dimmer instead chops up the steady 12V current, turning it rapidly off and on for different periods of time, depending on how dim the light should be. Our 12V Inline Dimmer Switch is a PWM dimmer, while 120V AC dimmers are not PWM.

11 Responses

  1. Admin says:

    This sounds correct, just make the sure the switch is rated for 12V DC and is installed between the lights and the 12V converter and is not connected to 120V power. Also check that the LED lights are rated to be dimmed.

  2. Barry says:

    I have LED equipped bathroom mirrors with 100v AC – 200v AC power converter to 12v DC. Can I use a PWM switch after the power converter?

  3. Admin says:

    We don’t sell any DMX LED Bulbs and, in fact, find that other types of LED setups, like 12V linear or spot lighting, often accomplish the same desired effect of a bulb and perform at a much greater level with no flickering or noise. Check out our LED wall washers, most DMX compatible, as well as our dimmable puck lights and strip lights paired with a 12V dimmer. Feel free to call us at 877-564-5051 to talk with a representative who can go over all your options with you.

  4. Ric Ackerman says:

    Are there currently any dimmers for 120v led bulbs that are DMX and don’t have drop outs, flickering or noise for commercial refit situations. We have refit with LED dimmable bulbs but cannot find a dimmer that will dim smoothly from 100% to 0%.

  5. Admin says:

    Since these products didn’t come from us, we aren’t knowledgeable as to their technicality and functionality so are not able to provide information on how to solve the problem. I would suggest you contact the manufacturer.

  6. Ben Barbre says:

    I bought Sulvaynia Mosaic Flexable Light Kit with color changing and demable remote from Costco. I want to put the LED’s on a dimmer switch in my kitchen for under cabinet lighting and keep the remote options. I can get the switch to turn off the LED strip, but not dim the LED strip. It will only dim by using the remote. I bought a LED dimable switch. Can anyone help solve my lighting problem or it its even possible to do.

    and how do I keep my remote optons, but still dim it from the switch.

  7. Admin says:

    Greetings Helene, You would be correct in assuming that you wouldn’t be able to place two dimmer switches on the same run of LED lights this is due to the fact that dual command signals cannot be sent back to a single dimmer switch or power supply you are using. If you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact us here!

    Corey Whitfield
    Customer Service Supervisor

  8. Helene says:

    Hi, it is a very interesting article. We are just wondering now if it is possible to fit 2 dimmers, one on each end of a 2 way circuit, providing that we use a system with 12V dimmable drivers and 120V magnetic low voltage dimmer switch. I think it is not possible but we have a difference of opinions about it with my partner about it Lol Many thanks in advance,


  9. Ilona says:

    Hi Patrick, our customer service team will email you back to help you with your question. Please note you can always reach them directly at 877-564-50501,, or live chat.

  10. Patrick Bryce says:

    I am installing LED lighting in recessed fixtures. This is remodel work fixtures. The bulbs I have bought are dimmable and connect directly to the 120v supply into the normal threaded light socket. Do I need some type of electronic dimmer and if so can u direct me as to the correct one for my application? I will be running 4-5 lights that pull about 7.5 watts each and they will be between 20 and 50 feet from the source. Also, confirm exactly what type of wall switch with dimmer can be used. Thank u.

  11. P. Nichols says:

    I was interested to know
    if Christmas tree lights are
    dimmable ?

Explore LED industry news, project tips, and LED education and inspiration on the Elemental LED blog

Find Elemental LED on Facebook!Find Elemental LED on Twitter!Find Elemental LED on LinkedIn!Find Elemental LED on Flickr!Find Elemental LED on Youtube!
Sign up to receive our newsletter and get a 10% off coupon.
Customer Service: 1.877.564.5051  |  |  Live Chat
Products  |  Our Company  |  Policies  |  Shipping Info  |  Contact Us  |  Careers  |  Press  |  Sitemap
Copyright ©2014 Elemental LED. All Rights Reserved.