If you’re looking to decorate your house for the upcoming holiday season, you may be wondering if there’s any way to do so without having to commit to extremely bright lights. These lights can make it hard to sleep and maybe too flashy for your tastes.
Unfortunately, LED Christmas lights aren’t dimmable on their own. If you’ve bought an LED light strip that doesn’t already include a dimmer, there isn’t much you can do to bring the brightness down without bringing in outside equipment. Simply changing the voltage won’t dim LED lights.
You may feel disheartened when reading this, especially if you’ve just bought new LED Christmas lights without a dimmer. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to bring the brightness down on your holiday decorations.
Why LED Lights Don’t Dim?
Where normal incandescent lights are easily dimmable, LED lights are a bit more difficult to dim. The reason for this lies in the way LED lights work.
Incandescent bulbs get their brightness directly from the electrical current that runs through them. This makes them very easy to dim. All you have to do is reduce the voltage flowing into the bulb and it will automatically reduce its brightness.
LEDs don’t function like this. Instead of passing the current directly through a filament, LED lights to pass it through a diode. The diode is a semiconducting material that heats up, causing the LED to produce light.
This is why LED lights aren’t as simple to dim. The brightness isn’t correlated directly to the voltage like in incandescent lights.
How To Make Your Christmas Lights Dimmer?
All that said, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to dim your holiday light display. Here are four easy ways to do so.
Buy LED Lights With A Dimmer Switch
If you’ve already bought LED holiday lights and found them to be too bright, you may want to search out a different set of LED lights with a built-in dimmer switch.
LED lights typically require multiple elements to be dimmer-switch compatible to dim properly. Additionally, there are multiple ways to produce dimmer LED lights from a manufacturing perspective.
Because of this complexity, it’s far simpler to just purchase LED lights that have been properly set up with a dimmer than to try to dim them yourself.
While LED lights with built-in dimmer switches are typically a bit pricier, this is one of the safest and most straightforward ways to reduce the brightness of your holiday display. The LED lights are guaranteed to work perfectly because the entire system has been manufactured to dim properly.
Buy An Adaptable Dimmer Switch
If you already have LED string lights and you don’t want to buy a new set with a dimmer switch, you can try to use an adaptable dimmer switch. These switches plug in between the outlet and the string lights, allowing you to control the electrical current.
Not all dimmer switches work with LED lights. Traditional incandescent lights work using forward phase control dimmers. If you attempt to use this type of dimmer with your LED lights, you’ll face a high chance of malfunction and may even damage your lights.
Instead, you’ll need a dimmer that works through reverse phase control. While still not perfect, there is a far greater chance of success when using this type of dimmer with your LEDs.
Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that a dimmer switch will work properly with your LED lights. The dimmer switch isn’t the only component involved in dimming LEDs, so if your lights aren’t compatible, this method won’t work.
Buy Incandescent Lights
If you’re looking for an easy way to create a dimmer holiday light display, you may want to switch to incandescent lights.
Incandescent lights are considerably less bright than LEDs. If you find that LEDs are overwhelmingly luminous, making the switch may bring the brightness down to a more reasonable level without you even having to consider dimmer switches.
That being, if the incandescent bulbs are still too bright, incorporating a dimmer is far easier than it is with LED lights. Because they work by running electricity directly through the filament, these bulbs can be dimmed with simple devices that reduce the voltage of the current.
You don’t have to spend much time worrying about the compatibility of different dimmer switches either. Incandescent bulbs will work well with most available dimmers.
One final bonus, incandescent bulbs are significantly cheaper than LED lights.
All that said, incandescent lights don’t last nearly as long as LEDs and may not produce the same kind of vivid colors.
Use Fewer Lights
If you truly don’t want to buy anything extra but want to try to dim your holiday string lights, you may be able to do so just by using fewer lights.
Try using fewer strands and placing them in places that are somewhat covered. For example, wrapping lights around a pine tree may make them appear dimmer as the dense needles will block some of the light.
You can also try unscrewing every other bulb along the strand. If your lights are very bright, they should still cast plenty of light to look continuous, but the removal of some of the bulbs will produce an overall dimmer look.
Be careful when handling the bulbs, as they can easily break and cause injury.
Can you plug LED Christmas lights into a dimmer?
In some instances, LED Christmas lights can be plugged into a dimmer switch without issue. That said, the type of dimmer matters. LED lights require a reverse phase control dimmer if they are to dim properly.
Is it bad to dim LED lights?
Dimming LED lights can be done without any negative effects so long as it’s done properly. The best way to dim LED lights is to buy light fixtures that include an LED dimmer switch built-in. This ensures that all the components of the light fixture are set up to dim your LED bulbs, preventing any malfunctions.