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The Best Dimmer for LED & CFL Bulbs

Posted by Doug Root on November 13, 2015

News Flash! 

The good ole light bulb is being phased out so people are now seeking new, more energy-efficient light sources. LED bulbs and CFL bulbs are great, energy saving alternatives to the traditional incandescent light bulbs.  LED bulbs are really becoming the go to source for light in our homes and businesses. However, with any new technology there are always some hurdles that have to be overcome. is a strong believer in the LUTRON C•L® dimmers. These state of the art dimmer switches use technology that limits low end trim and works well with the LED or CFL bulb to give you "the ultimate dim"!

A few questions we get asked about dimming LED's and CFL bulbs are listed below. 

Are all LED's dimmable?

No. Standard CFL or LED screw-in replacement bulbs are NOT all dimmable unless they state it on the box or the bulb. If you want to dim a standard CFL or LED screw-in bulb, you must use a bulb that was designed for dimming.  Bulbs that can’t be used on a dimmer will have the warning statement "not for use with dimmers" marked directly on the LED or CFL bulb.

Can I use the dimmer I have had operating my regular bulbs?

This depends, it may work but is not recommended. If you are using a CFL or LED you are going to be introducing an unknown technology to your dimmer. Old school dimmers for incandescent's simply limit the voltage to the bulb which in turn dims it down. When you limit the voltage to an LED bulb or CFL the lamp doesn't know what to do. These bulbs need to be at full voltage to operate, CFL bulbs really would rather be ON or OFF. 

Standard incandescent dimmers are not UL Listed to work with LEDs, LUTRON does not test them or recommend you use them. To ensure compatibility, LUTRON strongly suggests using their of C•L® dimmers, which include features such as low end trim to help maximize the dimming performance. To learn more about low end trim, watch our video, C•L® Dimmers: Setting the dimming range, found at . Visit C•L® dimmer offering by clicking here

How many LED bulbs can I dim on a LUTRON C•L® dimmer?

Many people look at the box their LED bulb came in and read that it is equivalent to a 60W light bulb. However, the bulb may only be consuming 6-9 watts of power. So when you are figuring out how many bulbs you can dim on a dimmer you will need to find the watts consumed per bulb and divide it into the maximum wattage rating for the dimmer.


Bob has 16 LED bulbs that are dimmable. The bulbs are equal to 60W incandescents. Each bulb uses 8.5 Watts of power. His new AYCL-153P-IV LUTRON dimmer is rated at 150W. 


16 bulbs x 8.5 Watts = 136 Watts of power. This is under the 150W maximum. So you are good!

Why use a C•L dimmer? What makes them so great?

Lutron is the dimming company, this is all they do. So when you are moving to one of the new LED technologies in your home or business please switch out your dimmer. We have clients who do not switch them out even after we tell them they need to and they are always dissatisfied with the dimming of the bulb on the old incandescent dimmer. They come back and buy a C•L so they can get "the ultimate dim"!

C•L dimmers are designed and UL Listed for controlling a broad range of dimmable CFLs and LEDs, as well as incandescent and halogen bulbs. These dimmers feature low end trim adjustment (and on select models, high end trim adjustment) to ensure the best dimming performance and range on your CFL or LED bulb. The "C" in C•L stands for CFL and the "L" stands for LED.

See the following chart for a comparison of features between standard and C•L dimmers.

Incandescent/Halogen dimmer C•L dimmer
UL Listed and approved loads Incandescent and Halogen Incandescent, Halogen, LED, and CFL (MLV on select models)
Minimum load 40W of Incandescent or Halogen 40W of Incandescent or Halogen, or 1* bulb CFL or LED
Ability to adjust trim** No Yes
Compatible Bulb List No Yes
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