PWM Dimmer: 7 Crucial Things You Should know


Have you thought about the possibility of dimming a simple 12V LED system? If your answer is yes, you’re in the right place.

In reality, it’s possible to dim an LED system. But, it would help if you had the proper setup and power supply. Also, you can achieve this feat with a PWM dimmer.

A PWM dimmer is a type of digital signal that needs a lot of wiring. Plus, it works by going in between power and LED strips.

In this post, we’ll take you through the basics. You’ll see the definition, why you need it, how to get the best dimmer, etc.

Keep reading to find out more on the topic.

1. What Is a PWM Dimmer?

PWM Dimmer

As we mentioned earlier, a PWM dimmer is a type of digital signal. And the acronym means pulse width modulation. This digital signal is helpful in different applications. Plus, you can use the PWM to control and dim an applied electrical signal with little energy waste.

With that said, the PMW gives a full range of brightness. And it does this by changing the time the signal is off (low) or on (high). In other words, the LEDs can either get no power or a full voltage.

So, you can refer to the PWM as a simple switch. Besides, it can quickly turn the supply off and on. Plus, you can measure a PWM’s brightness with a duty cycle.

What is a duty cycle?

It refers to the time the circuit is on compared to the whole run time. And its value is in percentage. Hence, 100% translates to fully on. And when there’s a low light input, the rate will be low.

2. How Does PWM Dimming Work?

PWM Dimming Work

Since you know that you need a PWM to dim LED lights, how does it work?

The PWM works at high speed. With this, it turns the LED on or off. While at it, the PWM makes the light flicker. But, you may not notice that it happens so fast.

This digital signal works by using the precise amount of current that an LED needs. Then, it switches fast between the exact amount of wind and zero. At this point, either the LED is off or running on the right amount of power.

3. PWM led dimmer: Advantages vs. Disadvantages

Is there any advantage to using a PWM dimmer? One benefit is that the LED can stay on in less time. Also, it adds to the LED’s lifespan and reduces the internal temperature.

The PWM is perfect for applications that require maintenance of some features like color, efficiency, etc. Plus, it avoids color shifts and offers a broader dimming range.

But it also has some snags. For instance, it may produce noise from the lamp.

Also, the PMW tends to have performance issues in the drivers. And the drivers are usually expensive and complicated.

Enough with the snags.

The drivers can also produce EMI (electromagnetic interference). As a result, you can use them for applications like medical equipment.

4. PWM LED Dimmer Circuit

A PWM LED dimmer circuit is responsible for controlling the brightness of LEDs. It performs two primary functions: producing a PWM signal and changing the power supply to the LED.

But that’s not all.

It produces signals with the aid of aIC (which is a vital part of the circuit) and poses a stable multivibrator.

Interestingly, this IC is popular in various applications like oscillators, timers, etc.

The PWM LED dimmer’s hardware components to include diodes, 12V DC power supply, LEDs, transistors, IC NE55, resistors, and capacitors.

5. PWM dimmer switch

A PWM dimmer switch helps to control light output. And it does this through dimming wires. The dimmer switch has terminals that make contact with the driver dimming wires.

So, the LED controller will increase the LED driver’s output when the duty cycle rises.

6. Do Dimmable LED Bulbs Need a Special Dimmer?

These days, it’s normal to find dimmable LED bulbs. But, the issue is they don’t dim in the same way. And so many dimmers on the market function differently with LEDs.

With that said, your dimmable LED bulbs need a special dimmer. Nevertheless, confirming that your dimmer and LED are compatible would be best.

That way, you may avoid issues like your LED bulbs not shutting off at the lowest dim setting or having a small dimming range (about 70-90%).

7. What Is the Best Dimmer for LED Lights?

Best Dimmer for LED Lights

The best dimmer for your LED lights depends on control style, dimmer type, and light source.

Different control styles are available, ranging from tap & scene selector, slide, rotary, rocker, to toggle. The one you pick depends on your preference.

When it comes to dimmers, we have different types: plug-in, 3-way or 4-way, single pole, and multi-location.

If you have an LED light, confirm that it’s dimmable. Considering the light source, it’s ideal for focusing on your wattage and bulb type. Also, the wattage rating should exceed the LED bulbs‘ total wattage that the dimmer will regulate.

Once you’ve ticked all the factors above, you can look for dimmers in aesthetics and functionality. A good example is the Lutron PWM dimmers.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to dimming LED strips, you have two options: getting an expensive AC dimmable power supply or using a PWM dimmer. Even though both options work, it’s ideal to opt for the latter.

Besides, the PWM dimmer works well from a remote dimmer. Plus, it offers benefits like a broader dimming range and an exact output level. Also, it helps to prevent color shifts by working with the LED’s forward current and voltage.

What do you think about PWM dimmers? Do you have concerns, suggestions, or questions? You can always contact us.

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