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My church has the Sanctuary lights on a dimmer switch. The fixtures currently have 200 Watt incandescent bulbs. As those bulbs burn out, we would like to replace them with the equivalent in an LED bulb. We know we will need a new dimmer switch, but is there a dimmer that will work with both types of bulbs throughout the fixtures at the same time?

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  • How many of these 200W monsters do you have on your dimmer setup? Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 2:44

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Consider: A tungsten bulb typically has a 2000 hour life span. A 200 watt bulb will use 400 kWh of electricity in it's life span. If you are at a typical 12c/kWh rate that means $48 worth of electricity over it's life, many times the cost of the bulb.

How much are you saving by delaying the replacement?

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Yes. Screw-in, incandescent replacement LED lights are actually fairly complex peoducts with a lot of smarts. They are not merely "bare LEDs with a limiting resistor" (though low-voltage LED lighting does exist which is this).

The smartness of these bulbs makes them naturally immune to dimming. (they will simply disregard what the dimmer is trying to do). However, "dimmable" LEDs have additional intelligence, and are able to reverse-engineer what the dimmer is trying to do, and set their brightness accordingly.

However, dimmers need power of their own, and most get it by "leaking" power through the incandescent bulb. Some older ones react badly to the way LEDs work. (Though, many dimmable LEDs have features to ease that problem, and there is also equipment you can use to do the same). We see it all the time where a set of dimmable lights work great with incandescent, work great with some LEDs and 1 incandescent, then fail with all LED. That is when you want to use that equipment. If that doesn't work, replace the dimmer.

Sometimes, especially in theatrical work, people find LED dimming to be too limiting - it won't go dim enough, etc. That is a good time to go low-voltage LED dimming/control as I mentioned before. This is an amazing world where anything is possible, and you've seen showcases of this technology. It can be done in colors, can be sequenced and automated, etc., and the dimming can go as low as you want to go.

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Most high voltage LED equivalent bulbs will work fine with a standard incandescent dimmer. Plus, it is fine to mix incandescent and high voltage LED on the same dimmer. The worst that would happen would be the dimming range is abrupt but this can be fixed by replacing the dimmer with a Lutron CL incandescent type dimmer that comes with a range adjuster to soften the abruptness.

What you don't want to do is mix magnetic and electronic low voltage but it doesn't sound like you have that issue.

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how much money would you be throwing away if you threw out all the 200W globes? is it really worth the effort to try to run a mixture of different lamps off a single dimmer.

LED lamps dim at a different rate to incandescents, LEDs respond to current, incansedcents to power, but incansedcents also change hue as they are adjusted. while LED lamps do not.

Getting LED lamps to mimic the performace of the incandescents will be hard.

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Lutron Diva C.L Dimmer for Dimmable LED, Halogen and Incandescent Bulbs, Single-Pole or 3-Way, DVCL-153P-WH, White – Amazon

See at the bottom right, where it has little pictures : INC / HAL - CFL - LED

enter image description here

The problem is that you have 200 Watt incandescent bulbs, and most dimmers including this one are only good up to 600w. You need some commercial hardware ($$$) or one of these for every three lights.

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  • ... and if you have to chop some of the fins off to fit them in the box together, now you only get two per (I forget how much you have to de-rate for taking fins off, but it'll make it less than 600w and that's game over).
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 1:43

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