smart led vs dimmable bulb

New Smart LED vs. Dimmable Bulb: What’s the Difference?

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Smart LED vs. Dimmable Bulb Intro

LED and dimmable bulbs are two different types of light bulbs. Smart LED is a new technology that has been around for just a few years, while dimming bulbs have been used for over 100 years. Smart LED, also known as “smart” or “connected” LED, is a type of light bulb that interacts with your Wi-Fi signal to allow you to change the color and brightness from anywhere in the world.

Smart LED lights can make it easier for you to create specific moods depending on what time of day it is; this makes them perfect for retail stores! Dimmable bulbs, on the other hand, don’t require Wi-Fi because they only need an electric current (aka electricity) to work like any regular lightbulb would. What’s most important? The answer might surprise you!

Dimmable bulb Types

What is a dimmer switch?

modern dimmer switch

A dimmer switch is a mechanism that allows you to control the intensity and therefore brightness of a light. Dimmer switches accomplish this in one of two ways. First, by either reducing the voltage going into a light bulb or by switching current on and off. This is accomplished using resistors or eliminating the top part of the waveform. Traditional incandescent bulbs are easily dimmed and work well with a wide range of dimmer switches. LEDs on the other hand are a bit trickier.

You’ve certainly heard by now all the great benefits of LED lights. One of the technology’s most appealing aspects is the energy efficiency. LEDs don’t use as much power as a traditional light bulb saving up to 75% more energy as compared to traditional light fixtures. One of the keys to this increased efficiency is reduced voltage. That’s right, and remember one way we said a dimmer switch works? By reducing the voltage going into a light bulb. The key here being that these dimmer switches were designed to function with high-power circuits. They are restricted by something called minimum load.

Minimum load is the lower limit of voltage that a switch can provide. Most often minimum load for dimmer switches is higher than what and LED light requires. They were not made to operate at the low voltages that LED lights use. This is where a lot of folks experience problems: LED bulbs on dimmer switches made for incandescent or other types of bulbs.

For example, a traditional bulb that uses filament may require 60W to be powered. That same bulb is used with a dimmer switch that has a minimum load limit of 25W. Dimmable LED bulbs operate at a range of power less than 10W therefore rendering the dimmable LED bulb useless with the dimmer switch.

What makes an LED dimmable?

Circuitry (or a driver) within an LED uses Pulse Wide Modulation to cut incoming current into pieces so that the LED turns on and off very fast resulting in a dimming effect. LED lights, by their nature, have 2 states: On or Off. Unlike traditional bulbs, which send varying amounts of current through a filament to produce light, LED lights have complex built-in circuitry (also called a driver) that can only control the diode to be either on or off.

The circuitry, or driver, within an LED converts the high-voltage AC input current to low-voltage DC current to power the light. It falls upon the driver of an LED to take whatever electricity the switch is feeding into the LED bulb and turn it into something that is digestible for the LED to produce the light we want.

The desired dimming effect we want from an LED is reliant upon the driver. For this, LED drivers employ something called Pulse Width Modulation or PWM for short. Pulse Width Modulation is a method of reducing the average power delivered by chopping it up into discrete parts. Pulse Width Modulation is a fancy way of saying we turn the light on and off really, really fast. So fast that you can’t tell it’s being turned on and off and instead it looks like the light is being dimmed.

Why is my dimmable LED flickering?

Dimmer switches made for traditional bulbs will pass too many watts to your dimmable LED bulb and cause it to flicker. Dimmer switches have a minimum load that restricts the lowest number of watts that can be passed to a light. Traditional bulbs use much higher amounts of watts compared to dimmable LED bulbs.

This can be fixed by using a lamp or dimmer switch that was specifically made for LED bulbs. These lamps and switches will have a minimum load that is within the normal watt range of an LED bulbs. Also, sometimes a simple reset will do.

What are common dimmable bulb issues?

Ghosting

Ghosting for a dimmable bulb is when you’ve turned your dimmer switch down as far as it can go, and light is still emitting from the bulb. This is caused by a mismatch between the dimmer switch range of voltage and the bulbs range. The solution here is to ensure that your bulb and dimmer switch are compatible. Most dimmer switch manufacturers and bulb manufacturers will note what type of models their products work best with. In most cases, the safest bet is to purchase a bulb and dimmer of the same brand if possible.

Drop-out

Drop-out occurs while dimming the light. As your dimmer switch is turned down the light should slowly and evenly fade out until it is completely off. In the case of a drop-out, instead of a smooth transition from light to dark you get a sudden and abrupt transition to darkness. This is caused by a mismatch between the dimmer switch range of voltage and the bulbs range.

Pop-On

Pop-On is the inverse of drop-out. During the increase of voltage to a light you should experience an even transition from darkness to light. If you are experiencing a pop-on, then the transition from dark to light will be sudden and often blinding. This can be very annoying, especially if you have just woken up and your eyes are not ready. This is caused by a mismatch between the dimmer switch range of voltage and the bulbs range.

Dead travel

Dead travel refers to the lack of response between the dimmer switch change of position and light intensity. A dead travel issue can be noticed by changing the dimmer switch position but witnessing any change to the brightness of the light. When a dimmer switch is changed the impact to the light should be immediate. If you are experiencing this it could be for several reasons. First, there may be an incompatibility between the bulb and the dimmer switch.

A mismatch in wattage requirements could be the culprit. On the other hand, if you are using an LED light there could be an issue with the driver and its ability to interpret electricity coming from the switch and feeding it into the light.

Non-linear

The relationship between the dimmer switch and the dimmable bulb should be linear. This ensures that as the dimmer switch is turned either up or down there is an equal and proportional impact to the light intensity. In other words, if the dimmer switch is turned to 25% then you want the bulb to be emitting light at 25% intensity. So on and so forth all the way up to 100%.

In the case of non-linear, you might have the dimmer switch at 25% with the bulb at 25% intensity, but as you increase the switch to 50% the light is now at 75% intensity. This type of inconsistency is frustrating and leads to us not getting the production we expect from a dimmable bulb.

Below minimum load

Minimum load is the lower limit of voltage that a dimmer switch can feed to a bulb. If a dimmer switches minimum load is 25W, as would be required for traditional filament bulbs, but and LED bulb operates below 10W then damage can be done to the bulb.

What is a smart LED?

smart led vs. dimmable bulb

A smart LED is an internet-connected LED light bulb that enables you to control, program, and customize your lighting remotely. Smart LED lights are one of the most quickly adopted home automation and Internet of Things (IoT) goods available. The smart LED industry is projected to be worth $105.2 billion in 2023, up from $8.68 billion in 2018.

Traditional house lighting, in general, is limited to one or two functionalities. First, traditional light fixtures and bulbs may be linked to a toggle switch that simply allows the light to either be in an on state or an off state. Secondly, and perhaps the most advance functionality of traditional lighting is the dimming capability. A conventional light is connected to a dimmer switch that varies the voltage that is provided to the light and therefore passes through the filament providing a higher or lower intensity of light.

smart led app

Smart LED lighting is a sophisticated sort of illumination that may help you save money on your power bill. Smart LED bulbs have software that links to apps, smart home assistants, or other smart gadgets and allows you to automate your lights or control them remotely, eliminating the need for traditional wall switches. It’s not hard to understand why these handy gadgets are being so quickly adopted.

Smart LED lighting is often thought of as a form of automation that takes the hard work out of controlling your home’s lights. Instead, smart LED bulbs and LED-integrated fixtures allow you to administer them remotely with your phone, tablet, or smart assistant, such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

Smart LED Capabilities

smart led capabilities

Smart LED bulbs, as the name suggests, are smart and can be controlled using apps on your phone or tablet. They also allow you to dim or brighten the lights from an app rather than getting up from your chair to change them, so you’ll never have to leave your armchair again.

Not only can you control your lights from anywhere in the world, but you may also connect different smart LED light bulbs together to create a single “system”. For instance, all the bulbs on one floor or in one room may be grouped together so that they all operate at once – whether it’s as simple as flipping a switch or turning them off individually.

Depending on the smart LED light bulb you select, you may change the color of the light; pick from 16 million distinct hues to create the right ambience, or choose a tone from cool white, which generates a fresh, bright, clinical glow, to warm white – a comparable hue to when the sun is setting that creates a warm comfortable environment. Some have a geofence function that will switch off the light as soon as you leave your home if you bring your phone with you.

Some smart LED light bulbs are meant to be used in place of your existing bulbs, coming in a variety of fittings. Others, on the other hand, come with side lamps and ceiling pendants that may be swapped for your current home decorations. Even some that are intended to be installed on the walls of your house to create illuminated art-like features

Smart LED lights can also be set to work with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri, as well as other smart home gadgets. However, not all smart LED lights are compatible with every voice assistant, so double-check that it works with your current system before making a purchase. They can dim the light when your smart thermostat activates the heating in the evening to create a warm environment to unwind in or switch on if your home security cam senses motion to scare away potential intruders.

Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi

Many of today’s smart LED light bulbs function in the same way as smart home devices like motion detectors and thermostats, except they connect to your smartphone wirelessly instead of utilizing a physical connection. They can be controlled through a mobile app or a home/building automation hub, allowing individual bulbs to be programmed to alter color or brightness in a specific way.

This connectivity is often established through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Vendors can use edge computing and provide smart LED bulbs with additional capabilities such as built-in cameras, speakers, and presence sensing capability because the smart LED light bulb’s connection enables them to do so.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Some smart LED bulbs link directly to your smartphone via Bluetooth, but because this is a point-to-point connection, you won’t be able to control them when you’re not at home. Other smart LED bulbs connect using Z-Wave or Zigbee wireless protocols, which are somewhat quicker than Bluetooth and enable many devices to be operated simultaneously.

However, if you’re not at home, they can’t be controlled unless you have an optional hub or bridge. If you aren’t on the same Wi-Fi network, this will pass commands from your smartphone to the cloud and back to the smart LED light. It also means you can switch off the bathroom light from your phone at any time, even if you’ve left for the day but forgot to turn the light off.

Manufacturers sometimes offer ready-made hubs, which can all connect to one another. These hubs do not have to be made by the same manufacturer as the smart LED lights; for example, a Zigbee smart hub is compatible with some generations of the Amazon Echo.

Cybersecurity risks

Smart LED bulbs, like all IoT goods, may be used as an attack vector. Attackers can target a smart LED to gain access to a home or businesses’ network and uncover the credentials to Wi-Fi. This can be done through sophisticated attacks on the mesh network that can even pass undetected. To secure your system, we recommend that you conduct a thorough investigation of smart LED bulb technologies for known vulnerabilities, make sure the vendor’s software is up to date, and run smart devices on an isolated network that doesn’t allow access to sensitive data.

FAQ

How do I install a dimmer switch?

Installing a dimmer switch is not as difficult as one might think! The first step is turning off the breaker that supplies power to the light fixture you want to dim. Once the breaker is off, remove the cover plate and unscrew the two screws that hold the light switch in place. After removing the old light switch, connect all the black wires together, all the white wires together, and then twist on a wire nut. Finally, reattach the cover plate and screw in your new dimmer switch!

Can I put a non-dimmable LED in a dimmer switch?

No, a dimmer switch will cause damage to a non-dimmable LED. The circuity, or driver, for a non-dimmable LED is not configured to translate varying voltages from a dimmer switch. This causes the driver to become exhausted and overheated leading to damage and potential destruction.

Is Bluetooth or Wi-Fi better for smart LED bulbs?

When your internet connection is not steady, Bluetooth is preferable to Wi-Fi. Bluetooth will operate even if there are power outages, whereas Wi-Fi is dependent on electricity. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is better if you want to remotely manage smart LED lights. You may control the light from anywhere on Earth using smart LED bulbs connected via Wi-Fi.

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