I have a lamp with a dimmer switch (which I believe was made to dim incandescent lights), and I've tried a couple of LED bulbs labeled as dimmable with it, and without exception they go from off to full brightness.

Is some newer grade of dimmable lamp needed to work with LED lights labeled as dimmable?

If I need to buy a different kind of lamp to work with dimmable LEDs to get proper dimming, what kind of dimmable lamp do I want?

If I need to buy some more specific kind of dimmable LEDs, what kind of dimmable LEDs do I want?

2 Answers 2


Dimmable LEDs work off of a different technology than an incandescent bulb.

With an incandescent, you turn down the power and the bulb doesn't produce as much light.

With an LED, you turn down the power and it produces zero light. Instead, you need short pulses of full power, just like a microwave. To dim to 50% illumination in an LED, the power is on at 100% for 1ms, then off at 0% for 1ms (or so, I'm not sure of the exact times - it doesn't matter, this will do as an example). Our eyes can't see that rate of flicker, but we just perceive it as being "dimmer" than on full time. For other levels of dimming, the light is on for different ratios of time.


You will need a new lamp if you want it to dim LED bulbs. You will be able to use your current dimmable LED bulbs with an LED-compatible dimmable fixture/switch.

  • I did not know this! Excellent info.
    – matt.
    Oct 21, 2023 at 16:58

The age of your lamp is important. If it was manufactured more than 5 years ago, it probably does not have an LED compatible dimmer.

Your description of the issue sounds like the dimmer and bulbs are not compatible.

New LED bulbs can be dimmable or non-dimmable. You need to start with dimmable bulbs. Then look for a new lamp that is labeled as "LED dimmable compatible."

What type of lamp, is answerable only by you.

Sometimes newer LED lamps come with the bulbs, or have LEDs integrated into the fixture.

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