Dimmers are devices that are used to lower the brightness of a lamp or light. The dimmer allows you to control the voltage applied to a bulb by lowering or raising the intensity of the light output. Dimmers can be as small as the size of a light switch, or very large in the case of architectural lighting installations and large theatres. Small dimmers are usually controlled directly or with a remote, while larger ones run on a much wider system. Dimmers used to be built from variable resistors, but recently they have switched to semiconductors because they have a much higher efficiency.
There are many different types of dimmers, which can make it overwhelming when it comes time to purchase some for your home. The Leviton 6673-10W is one of the best reviewed dimmers available. It works with both incandescent bulbs and dimmable CFLs, and comes with an Auto-Mode, which allows it to automatically adjust the lights according to the time of day. The installation process is quick and easy because it uses standard wiring, and it comes with the option for three-way dimming. The Lutron TT-300NLH is another very well reviewed model. It is ideal for floor and table lamps, and doesn’t require any installation. All you have to do is plug your lamp into the fixture on the dimmer, and then find an outlet for the dimmer to be plugged into. It has a standard slider to adjust the brightness and an on/off switch. Dimming the light by just 50% will extend the life of the bulb by 10 times, saving you money in the long run. Lastly, the Pass & Seymour is a perfect option for people who own ceiling fans, because it comes with both a dimmer and a fan speed controller.
Pros & Cons
There are several benefits of owning a dimmer. For starters, it can save you money. Dimming a light can save you anywhere from 10-80 % on your electric bill, because dimming reduces the amount of electricity being sent to each fixture. It also gives you ultimate control over the lighting in your home, as you are able to control how much light is in a space at any given time. Lastly, dimmers can lengthen the lifespan of a bulb, which also saves you money. The biggest drawback of installing dimmers is the fact that they may not work with all light fixtures in your home, and you may have to do some electrical work to ensure a dimmer is installed correctly.
One of the best parts about dimmers is that they are usually relatively cheap. Leviton and Lutron, for example, both manufacture very well-reviewed models, each costing less than $25-the Leviton 6673 comes in around $22 while the Lutron TT-300NLH costs $14. If you want a dimmer that controls the speed of a fan, such as the Pass & Seymour LSDSDC16PIV costs a bit more at $40. Considering the amount of money dimmers help you save on electricity, though, it may be worth the investment.