Dimmer Switch vs. Dimmable Remote: What’s the Difference?

Dimmable lighting sets the mood, helping you seamlessly transition from day to night and providing practical and stylish options to enhance your interior and exterior space.

If you want dimmable lighting, choosing the correct bulb is essential. Older lighting fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs will generally work with most dimmers, but not all LED lights are compatible. Standard dimmer switches can’t always be used with LED bulbs or light strips as the lights won’t always dim properly, either not working at all or causing them to flicker or buzz. Hence, it is important that you check the specifications to make sure the fixtures you are choosing for your home are compatible with your dimmer switch.

There are two basic types of dimmer switches: leading edge dimmers and trailing edge dimmers. Most older dimmer switches are leading edge. Trailing edge switches are recommended for dimming LED bulbs and fixtures. If you are concerned about the compatibility of your existing switches with new LED fixtures, consult with a qualified electrician. If you’re purchasing new, it’s best to do a little research first to ensure your products are compatible.

You may also have considered dimmable remote switches, which you can control with a physical remote or from your mobile device or smart home system. Remote dimmers offer features LED dimmer switches don’t have, like scheduling and scene creation, with hundreds of color choices customizable to your preferences.

So, what type of dimmer switch is right for you? Let’s light it up!

How Dimmer Switches Work

Dimmer switches are installed in the wall, much like a standard light switch. They allow users to adjust the brightness of the light fixture they attach to according to preference, time of day, or activity.

Dimmers can be installed in any room of the house, kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom, or anywhere you like. Lowering the switch reduces the amount of electricity to the light, causing it to produce less light.

How Remote Dimming Works

Dimmable remote-control fixtures allow you to use a remote device to control and dim the light and, in the case of light fixtures with an RGB feature, change the light’s color. Remote dimmable lights are incompatible with a standard dimmer switch, as it will cause the light to flicker.

Haylen is one of MOD LIGHTING’s most popular fixtures. It’s a sleek, minimalist wall light often used in hallways and entryways and offered as a single-colored fixture with warm white (3000K), neutral white (4500K), and cool white (6000K). 

Haylen is also offered as an RGB fixture. From the remote, you can choose from seven single colors, adjust the brightness, or customize a multi-colored scene with one of 358 lighting effects.

Fixtures like Haylen are often used for exterior lighting but they can be used in hallways, staircases, or foyers too. Multiple fixtures are controllable with a single remote and are fully programmable and schedulable with lots of nifty features.

Remote dimmers can also help you control lighting in larger open interior spaces with multiple “zones.” You can group several lighting fixtures on the remote and control them from a single source instead of individual switches.

Difference between Dimmer Switch vs. Dimmable Remote

Dimmer switches work differently from a dimmable remote as the dimmer function is built into the switch itself instead of being a function of the remote control.

Most homeowners prefer to install dimmer switches inside their homes to control their interior lighting. Each dimmer switch controls a single fixture and allows the user to adjust the light level according to their mood and preference.

Dimmable switches do not offer the ability to switch between warm white and cool white; they simply adjust the intensity of the light up or down.

You’ll need to choose dimmable LED bulbs, a compatible fixture, and a dimmer switch to achieve the lighting effect you want.

By the same token, not all dimmer switches work with all LED bulbs. You’ll need to check the specifications on the bulbs or fixtures to ensure the light can be dimmed.

MOD LIGHTING chandeliers like Kendall and Celestial use dimmable G9 LED bulbs, while Obsidian takes dimmable E14 bulbs. As long as the bulbs are dimmable, they are compatible with most dimmer switches, including Lutron dimmer switches.

Chandeliers that feature light strip bands, like Helia, Skyla, or Janet, are compatible with dimmer switches. As long as the bulb or LED fixture is dimmable (the specs will be noted in the product description), they can be connected to existing wall dimmer switches. If the product is not listed as dimmable, it won’t work with any dimmer; it’s as simple as that.

Final Thoughts and Good to Know

Always check the wattage of your bulbs or fixtures to be sure you’re not overloading the electrical circuit. Too many bulbs on a single circuit and your dimmer may not work as expected.

As a general rule of thumb, divide the total wattage by 10 to determine the maximum LED wattage your dimmer can handle. For example, if your dimmer switch has a capacity of 400 watts, don’t connect more than 40 watts of LEDs to it.

Installing dimmers on your interior and exterior lights helps to elevate your design, set the perfect mood, and create breathtaking visual effects with shadow, light, and color. With so many options to consider, don’t hesitate to reach out for expert advice or inspiration. MOD LIGHTING is here to help you discover the perfect way to light up your world.