Updated: November 2017

Dimmer Switch Reviews:

If the clothes make the man, the lighting makes the room. Often, after we've chosen our furnishings, our paint, the accessories with which we personalize a room and make it our own, lighting is an afterthought. But, really, it is central to not only the appearance of your room, but your enjoyment while in it. Because most of the rooms in our homes tend to be multifunctional (such as the dining room that serves as an office, arts and crafts studio, game room, and even a place to eat), having just one source of lighting is not effective. To use the dining room as an example again, you may need strong, direct light for work, but a softer, more atmospheric light for romantic dinners or gatherings with friends and family. You could have multiple light fixtures, or you could try a dimmer switch. Once you install a light dimmer, you will be able to control your lighting and use it to your advantage. This guide will look at which dimmer switch brands are the best, what to look for, how much they cost, and how much you will love them.
dimmer switches

New and Improved Light Dimmer Switches - Before home lighting went green, light dimmer switches were not terribly efficient. Wire wound dimmers had a coil inside, and when you dimmed your lights, part of the energy went to the lamp or light, and the other part was diverted to the coil. Here, it was converted to heat and wasted. This is why old dimmers and lights would get hot - and why your electric bill would get high. Another side effect was that when the energy was being converted to heat, it made a buzzing sound. You would get the nice atmospheric light you wanted, as well as a background symphony of your energy bill ticking upward. Fortunately, light dimmer switches have undergone an earth-friendly makeover, and they are much more efficient. And quiet. Today's new and improved light dimmer switches work by simply turning off the power to the unit and turning it back on very rapidly. This happens so quickly that your eyes just see a constant glow. Say you wanted to have a nice romantic dinner. You dim the lights to 25 percent of their maximum output. This means that the unit is turning itself off for 75 percent of the time and running for 25 percent. The benefits?

*No buzzing or humming.
*Bulbs last longer.
*Easy to install.
*Cooler bulbs, which can translate into cooler rooms. Every degree counts in the summer!
*Lower energy bills because the light is turned off for a portion of time.

The drawbacks to these energy-efficient light dimmers?

*They cost more than wiring a dimmer switch.
*Choosing one is more involved.

For the first concern, we'll say that they pay for themselves in energy savings. For the second, read on. Picking the Right Dimmer Switch - The hardest part of choosing the right dimmer switches is knowing the wattage of your current lighting system. You want to find the circuit load and make sure you do not exceed the maximum load of the dimmer unit. Say you have 5 50-watt lamps on a circuit. Your circuit load is 5 x 50, or 250 watts. Add another 10 percent to calculate the minimum wattage your dimmer switch will require. You will also want to choose a dimmer that is right for your lamp or lighting fixture. If you use CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, make sure you buy bulbs that are specifically designed to work with dimmers. This will be written on the packaging. One last tip: opt for a universal light dimmer as it will dim low voltage halogen lamps and incandescent main voltage lamps, instead of just incandescents.

The Best Light Dimmer Switches - For all of us non-electricians, the world of dimmer switches can be bewildering. AsktheBuilder, a trusted site for dedicated DIYers, helps illuminate it a bit. Among all the choices, three names emerge as the best:

*Pass and Seymour

Let's take a look at a few of their best models. You can browse the best selling dimmer switches online here.

Best Dimmer Switches:

Leviton 6673-10W Decora Dimmable CFL & Incandescent Sure Slide Dimmer - This Leviton is able to work with dimmable CFLs, as well as incandescent bulbs. It features Auto Mode to determine whether the light is incandescent or CFL and adjusts the dimmer range to accommodate for it. The 6673-10W replaces a regular switch but uses standard wiring, so installation is quick and easy. It can accommodate lighting up to 300 watts - 120VAC CFL and 600watt -120VAC incandescent. The option for 3-way dimming allows you to customize your lighting. This energy-saving dimmer switch carries a limited five-year warranty. For the Amazon cost of just over $22, this is a great investment for your home.

Lutron TT-300NLH-WH Credenza Lamp Dimmer - This dimmer presents an excellent way to control lighting for table and floor lamps. What is great about this dimmer is that it doesn't require any installation and can be moved as needed. You simply plug your lamp into the fixture on the dimmer, and then plug the dimmer into your outlet. You can then use the slider to adjust the level of lighting or turn it off. The Lutron TT-300NLH features an LED locator light so you can find your way in the dark, slide on/off, 6-foot cord, and UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approval. It works with lamps that have a 300-watt maximum capacity and handles both incandescent and halogen lights. If you dim your lights by 50 percent using the Lutron, you save 40 percent of the electricity and extend the life of the bulb by 10 times. This is a great, portable, lighting solution for your home. It sells for about $14.

Pass & Seymour LSDSDC16PIV Decorator Fan Speed Control with Dimmer - This Pass and Seymour is a great option for those with ceiling fans. It features a fan speed controller and dimmer, with side-by-side slider controls. There are 4 preset fan speed controls, and the De-Hummer feature eliminates the hum from the fan's motor. It is rated at 1.6 amp/ 300-watt and has a 3-way dimmer switch. The Pass and Seymour is easy to install, offers exceptional heat management, has power-failure memory, an impact-resistant thermoplastic housing, and is UL listed and CSA certified. It sells for just under $40 - a bit pricier than the previous two models, but you have the dual functions to make up for that. Adding light dimmer switches is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to increase the practicality of your lighting. A great side effect is that you'll decrease your electric bill and proportionately increase the enjoyment in your home. Browse here for an extensive selection of dimmer switches.