Dimmer switches allow you to adjust the intensity of lighting in any space of the home. Whether you want to create a pleasant ambiance for dining or enjoy a cozy atmosphere before bed, dimmer switches are the keys to comfort. These devices enable you to create a unique vibe or mood in each room of the house.

But while you may have heard the phrases “dim the lights” or “turn the lights down low,” there are advantages of dimmers that go beyond preferences and aesthetics. Dimmers may also provide perks that range from saving energy to conserving the life expectancy of your light bulbs. A look at the top benefits of installing dimmer switches can help you make an informed decision when upgrading your home.

What Is a Dimmer Switch?

A dimmer switch is a variable controller that regulates the output or flow of electricity as it travels from the electrical source to the lighting fixture. This switch either slows the pace of an electrical cycle to create dimmer lights or speeds up the cycle to produce brighter lighting.

Unlike conventional switches that only turn on and off when you flip them, dimmer switches modify the voltage waveform that reaches light bulbs. This can help ensure that your room always achieves the desired level of brightness. Popular locations for installing dimmer switches include living rooms, dens, dining rooms, bedrooms, porches, decks, or any space in which the need for lighting is variable or unpredictable.

What Is Unique About Modern Dimmer Switches?

Traditionally, dimmer switches always used incandescent or halogen bulbs. Incandescent bulbs contain filaments that gradually glow after heating. Halogen bulbs use filaments and gas to produce a halogen-cycle chemical reaction that regulates luminescence, intensity, and glow.

Due to recent advancements in technology, modern dimmer switches often consist of light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs or compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. LEDs use small semiconductors to produce light. They allow you to control brightness without warm-up periods or delay. CFLs use fluorescent tubes to produce light. Both LED and CFL bulbs are energy efficient and tend to have longer lifespans than standard or conventional dimmers.

How Do Dimmer Switches Work?

Dimmer switches contain an electrical element known as a triode for alternating current (TRIAC). This electrical component is the control element for alternating current (AC) circuits. As semiconductors, most TRIACs operate using three terminals. The first terminal is known as the gate. It triggers the input or flow of electrical current to the remaining two terms called the main terminal and the anode. Although TRIACs are similar to other electrical components like silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCR), they are unique because they can conduct electricity equally well in both directions. This makes them ideal for dimmer switches since they can regulate voltage in any electrical phase.

What Are Different Types of Dimmer Switches?

There are several kinds of dimmer switches on the market. Rotary dimmers are also manual and operate using a dial or push-button. Slide dimmers use a tab or “fader” switch to smoothly reduce brightness or lighting, and some have a button that goes back to the previous setting. Touch dimmers enable you to change brightness with the touch of your hand, and these devices may also implement one-touch recall buttons to return to previous settings. Some also have indicator lights to display the current setting.

Integrated dimmers work in designated fixtures and often have remotes or wireless controls. These dimmers allow you to create multiple presets for a single space. In modern homes, you may also be able to install automated dimmers and smart dimmers. These dimmers are often motion-controlled or operable through intuitive apps on your phone or tablet. Some use machine learning, timers, and occupancy sensors to schedule lights to dim or brighten at specific times for your convenience. These dimmers often connect with other smart home functions to help control lighting throughout the house. Finally, you may be able to install universal dimmers that are compatible with most types of bulbs regardless of whether they are incandescent, halogen, LED, or CFL.

A professional electrician can help you select dimmers that are compatible with your preferred room, fixtures, and electrical system. Since dimmers involve electrical circuits and other components, it is important to allow a professional to install dimmer switches to ensure that everything goes smoothly. A professional can ensure that the dimmer type selected matches the light source to prevent damage or malfunction. Professionals also have the training and equipment necessary to lower the risk of safety hazards like electric shock.

What Are the Top Benefits of Installing Dimmer Switches?

Dimmer switches can instantly transform the appearance and mood of a room. Beyond aesthetics, however, there are several other reasons to consider installing this popular electrical upgrade. These benefits include energy savings, light bulb longevity, stress reduction, and home safety.

Energy Savings

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), lighting accounts for approximately 15% of the average home’s electricity use. It is simple to understand that using less lighting can reduce your overall usage of power and electricity, thereby lowering the cost of utility bills. However, it is often impractical for home occupants to avoid turning on the light switch just to save a few dollars.

Installing a dimmer switch is the perfect compromise to reduce the usage of electricity within the household. Since dimmers work by reducing part of the electrical cycle, these devices can reduce the flow of electricity running to a light bulb or fixture anywhere from 50 to 100 times per second. Some dimmers can reduce the flow of electricity by up to 120 times per second. As a result, your lights draw less power from the grid, and this decreased usage can reduce electricity bills. Since dimmers offer a more gradual way to reduce lighting than a stark on-and-off switch, these devices are subtle and classy tools for conserving energy and only using what you need when you need it.

Increased Light Bulb Longevity

Dimmer switches can improve the service life of your light bulbs. According to the Department of Energy, dimming lights can reduce expenditure of wattage and output. In other words, the action gives your bulbs a your much-needed break. The DOE reports that dimming lights by only 25% helps save about one-fifth of the electricity normally needed to operate lights. This reduces wear and tear on filaments or other components within your light bulb. For perspective, the typical light bulb may last five or six months while operating full blast without the help of a dimmer. In contrast, a light bulb with a dimmer switch installed can last up to four years. Dimmers can reduce the expense and inconvenience of constantly replacing bulbs around the house.

Stress Reduction

Using a dimmer switch before bedtime may also help you reduce stress and fall asleep. According to a study published through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), too much bright light before bedtime can suppress melatonin. As a key hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness, melatonin is often crucial for falling asleep. Similarly, too much bright light in the evening can disrupt circadian rhythms. In biology, circadian rhythm refers to the natural changes like sleep or alertness that occur during a 24-hour period. According to the National Institutes of Health, using a dimmer can reduce evening light exposure to restore circadian balance and help you get a good night’s sleep.

Home Safety

Dimmer switches can softly illuminate rooms and help you appear at home even if you are away. For example, a smart or automated dimmer switch can turn on lights at a specific time, and you may also be able to turn on the lights using a smartphone app. This can help provide security without needing to leave bright lights on throughout the house. If you are already home, dimmers also provide a gentle source of light in the middle of the night to reduce the risk of falling.

Contact Us Today

Dimmer switches are beneficial upgrades to any modern home. Carbone Plumbing provides dimmer installation and electrical services to homes in Milwaukie, OR and surrounding areas. Our experts can ensure that your dimmer switches are compatible with lighting fixtures as well as the electrical panel. We offer smart technology upgrades and have the expertise to complete all wiring. If you have other electrical problems, give us a call for inspections, maintenance, or repair. No matter the issue, we can help. Contact Carbone Plumbing today for all home electrical needs.

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