Are Incandescent Bulbs Dimmable?

We're used to flipping a switch to have the light we need in any room or while outside at night. Some designs come with a slide and a switch, giving you two options to control the area's illumination profile.


The switch turns the light on or off, while the slider controls how much power goes to the fixture.


If you have a dimmable light installed in the fixture, it will change its brightness levels when the slider component is activated.


Are incandescent bulbs dimmable?


All Incandescent Light Bulbs Are Dimmable


Incandescent bulbs produce light by heating a filament contained in a controlled environment. When you reduce power to this process, less heat is generated. That creates a change to the product's illumination profile.


That's why an incandescent bulb has the most extensive controlled dimming range in the industry today. Depending on your needs and the switch controller, you can have the filament at 1% or 100%.


If you operate an incandescent bulb at less than its maximum rating, you can potentially extend its lifespan.


This function is possible because a standard dimmer controller reduces the voltage to the fixture to produce less light while encouraging the bulb to continue operating.


Since this technology is older, it is compatible with most homes. If you have a different light bulb type to use, the results are more variable.


Here's a closer look at the other options you can try if you're ready to upgrade from incandescent bulbs in your home.


Are LED Lights Dimmable?


It would help to verify that the LED lights you purchase are dimmable. The product might not be compatible if you have a standard dimmer switch that reduces voltage. That's because this bulb uses a fraction of the wattage that incandescents require.


Your dimmer switch might not register the load when upgrading to an LED light. That means it might stay on without perceivable dimming. Some products start noticeably flickering or stop operating.


You must upgrade to an LED dimmer switch to use this feature, especially when living in an older home.


Some LED lights have the same dimming range as incandescents, but it's more common to see them operate at 10% or 30% of capacity at the lowest setting. Your dimmer switch plays a role in what is possible here.


Are Compact Fluorescent Lights Dimmable?


Some compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are dimmable. The package or product should indicate that this feature is available to use.


Older dimmer switches aren't always compatible with this light bulb type. You might only receive about half of the illumination profile on some fixtures before the light shuts off.


Before trying this option, it helps to verify that your switch is rated to handle a CFL.


If you have a non-dimmable CFL installed on a dimmer, you'll know immediately because the bulb won't light until you have provided it with full power.


Linear fluorescent lights are a little different. The design makes them naturally dimmable, much like an incandescent product. Before you can use this feature, you'll need to inspect the ballast.


A dimmable ballast is necessary to utilize this feature with linear fluorescent lights. Most are electronic, providing an outcome that reaches between 1% to 10%of the full illumination profile.


As with CFLs, you'll need to verify that your dimmer switch is compatible with the ballast.


Are Halogen Light Bulbs Dimmable?


Since halogen lights are a “cousin" to incandescent designs, all of them are dimmable. That includes krypton and xenon options.


The difference with this design is the quartz capsule and incorporated gas included with the light bulb. These features slow the filament's burning process to provide a longer lifespan.


You can place a halogen light on any standard dimmer without worrying about compatibility. Incandescents and halogens can even be on the same switch.


Although halogen lights are dimmable, it's not considered a best practice to use this feature. When the bulb doesn't receive full power, the filament gases begin building up on the glass instead, causing the filament to burn out prematurely eventually.


Dimmable lights help you control your home's environment in unique ways. When you verify switch compatibility with the type you prefer, you'll maximize the lifespan of your chosen product. ​


Sign up to our newsletter to receive LEDVANCE product launches, company news and promotion and contest information straight to your inbox.