I just moved into a new home where some of the electrical appears to have been recently re-done. Nearly every light in the house has a dimmer on it, which is fine with me because I prefer to keep light dim. However, most of the lights are cheap Ikea, non dimmable LED's. I initially noticed some lights in my bathroom ocassionally flickering when I tried to dim them, and discovered they were not dimmable. After replacing them with dimmable LED's, everything is fine. Last night I turned on the living room recessed lighting and dimmed it, for the first time and two lights started flickering, as well as smoking. When I turn the dimmer all the way up there doesn't appear to be any issue. Those two lights were gone but the others are fine.

So, that being said, this scares the hell out of me. Had my son turned it on and not noticed the smoke, it probably would have caught fire within seconds. Is this a symptom of the LED's or something else? Not that I have allowed other lights to flicker, but why haven't I seen this in other rooms.

A little more background information: The seller just had an electrician do a $4000 inspection and overhaul of the electrical as a contingency for the purchase. The 200A panel and breakers are brand new and all the wiring is 12ga or less.

  • Yeah, he threw in the cheapest stuff possible because you forced him. You can bet you've only scratched the surface of the "cheap". The 200A panel is probably 30 space, Homeline, and full. That's whatcha get. Next time just ask them to knock the cost of it off the sale price, and do it yourself your way. That said, Ikea is surprisingly good stuff. I am a quality snob, but Ikea, thumbs up. Don't misapply their products obviously. Oct 1, 2018 at 0:28
  • Actually, I had no choice. I was planning on doing the work myself but the state of New Jersey requires certain minimums to be met to even sell the house. So yes I’m sure the bare minimum was done but I had no choice in the matter. As for quality of IKEA, perhaps on some things. However, I would prefer a dimmer on every light so from my perspective, the quality is inadequate.
    – mreff555
    Oct 1, 2018 at 0:38
  • Sorry to hear that. Yes, government red tape. On the LEDs it's not a question of the quality, it's a question of being matched to the job. Any brand of non-dimmable LED should be expected to fail when dimmed. Dimming is a harsh environment. If you inherited a Ford Taurus but what you really need is a pickup truck, you wouldn't judge Ford as making terrible pickups simply because the Taurus isn't one. Oct 1, 2018 at 1:53
  • @Harper yeah, I agree. It’s just annoying that the seller cheaped out like that. Dimmable leds aren’t much more however dimmers are considerably more than standard switches. Why not just put switches in. To match your example. If ford implied that the Ford Taurus would perform like a truck, I would most certainly hold them to that standard.
    – mreff555
    Oct 3, 2018 at 22:18
  • My synagogue had the ark (holds the Torah scrolls) fixed up recently by a woodworking artist (for lack of a better term). Beautiful job. But not an electrician. He put in LED lights on dimmer switches. Dimming not needed at all - suspect he just had the switch lying around, who knows. One Saturday the lights were flickering. On Saturdays we (Orthodox Jews) don't turn lights on or off. But in emergencies we can have a non-Jew do that. I told the Rabbi I was concerned about a fire hazard and he told me to tell the janitor to switch it off. Before he switched it off I took a look and saw that the May 20, 2022 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


LED lights are made up of two parts the LED itself and a driver which transforms the house power to the operating power of the LED. The smoke is more than likely coming from the driver of the LED if it is non dimmable. The obvious is it was not designed for dimming and that would cause it to burn up. So if you have LED's that are non dimmable then you need to take them off of the dimmers or replace the LED's with dimmable drivers.

Stay safe and good luck

  • Thanks for the explanation. I had full intention of replacing them all. It’s just a matter of finding them. Many aren’t labeled whether the are dimmable or not. I also wanted to confirm that the driver was more than likely the problem and not something intrinsic to the wiring of the house.
    – mreff555
    Sep 30, 2018 at 17:08
  • 1
    @mreff555 for peace-of-mind, replace them all. A bulk lot should be a little cheaper than individual ones.
    – Criggie
    Sep 30, 2018 at 18:43
  • 1
    That’s what I plan on doing. If I bought them all at Home Depot it would be a very expensive.
    – mreff555
    Sep 30, 2018 at 19:21
  • Quality snob here. Go back to IKEA. Seriously, their quality is surprisingly good for the price. What is not good is the standard Home Depot fare, Feit, LoA and Utilitech, avoid like the plague. Out of the blue I just got a $20 check from the FTC after they sued LoA for making junk LEDs. Small victories. If you can't abide Ikea, stick with GE, Sylvania, Philips and Cree, but prepare to pay. Oct 1, 2018 at 0:35
  • Reminds me of an old saying
    – user68386
    Oct 4, 2018 at 19:16

You must make sure that you have a dimmer that is certified for dimmable LED bulbs. If you have the old fashioned turn the knob dimmers aka a rheastat it will cause the bulbs to malfunction.

You have to have the right swtich + the right bulbs for them to be safe.

  • 1
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    – FreeMan
    May 20, 2022 at 18:25
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    May 21, 2022 at 5:17

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