Can you use non-LED-dimmer switch for LED lights?

I recently installed some new LED light fixtures. We happened to have an incandescent-only dimmer switch already there. I know there are special dimmer switches designed for LED lights however this switch appears to work splendidly.

I’m wondering what can go wrong if I use this switch instead of getting a proper LED switch since it appears to work? Does it damage the light or the switch? Is there some other problem?

There are several types of dimmers using slightly different circuits. If it works with your lamps, you’re good. I just installed a Lutron Maistro dimmer and at the lowest level they are barely on. With some dimmers they might blink off at 30‰ or so instead.

Your lamps are rated for dimmers, right?

The lamps are rated for dimmers. I actually have another area of lights where I did install an “led-rated” dimmer and I think the “incandescent only” works better. I was just wondering if there was unseen damage occurring in the lamps if the electricity is not being regulated properly or something like that. I know the electrical issues involved can get pretty complicated, but if it isn’t causing any harm, I’d just as soon stick with the dimmer I have.

I’m not claiming to be an expert on dimmers, but IIRC, the only issue is if they dim evenly and as low as you’d like. Some may dim half way then blink out or might not come on at as low a level as you’d like.

Dimmers for incandescent lights are designed to work with the both characteristics of a glowing filiment and the optic sensitivity of human eyes, so that they seem to work evenly through the whole range. That is, a 10% change in the dimmer control will make the light seem 10% dimmer or brighter. (That’s rather complicated, because incandescent lights do not respond linearly to voltage changes (for example, a light bulb burning at 50% voltage will appear to be only about 25% bright); and because human eyes also do not respond linearly to light.)

So this means that a LED light might not seem to respond proportionately to a dimmer designed for incandescent lights. You move the control to halfway, but that doesn’t set the LED light to about half-bright. That might take sime getting used to, but it won’t likely hurt the LED light.

Thanks for the input. Since it apparently is more a matter of aesthetics than anything else, I’m pleased with the current switch. Two things I like better is it does not have that 1/2 second delay when turning on and the full-on setting is a bit brighter than with the LED designed switch. I don’t know exactly how linear the dimming is however it is not something that bothers me.

Unless someone has input to the contrary, I think I’ll stick with what I have.

Yes, that’s one of my major complaints about LED bulbs, is that they behave wildly different than standard bulbs on dimmers (Every light in my house is on a dimmer- I have them fade on over 3 seconds, and have several that have to be on at low levels that LEDs aren’t capable of for nightlights and my home theater). Second the vote that if you’re fine with how they behave there’s no harm done. Some LED bulbs will specify “leading edge dimmers” but I believe most consumer dimmers are and they don’t want a return if someone uses them with the odd one that isn’t. LED dimmers I’ve tried on demos in the store seem to work better as far as range, but don’t solve the minimum brightness, aren’t available for the Insteon system, and I couldn’t see replacing a $50.00 dimmer just to make it work a little better with an LED bulb.

The flickering is bad enough when they’re on full. When they’re dimmed, it’s worse and drives me a bit nuts. Fortunately, my wife found some plug-in LED nighlights that work great, and I just don’t bother using the dimmers on other LEDs we have (we try to use mostly LEDs). In places where we want dimming, it’s not places where lights are on a lot of the time, and we use incandescants. Well, as long as we can still get them.