Are Under Cabinet Lights Dimmable?

Are under cabinet lights dimmable?

Yes, under cabinet lights are dimmable, but it’s the LED driver and dimmer switch that does the dimming. You can’t dim all types of under cabinet lights as some of them are factory fitted with a non dimmable LED driver.

Mains Voltage vs Low Voltage Cabinet Lights

Mains voltage cabinet lights are easy to order and cost effective, but even though they’re called mains voltage they contain an LED driver (also known as a transformer). The LED driver converts the incoming mains 230V AC (Alternating Current) into a low voltage DC (Direct Current) that the LED needs to power them. The factory fitted LED drivers can’t be replaced. This is when low voltage cabinet lights can be advantageously used for dimming. You can power them with a dimmable LED driver.

Low voltage cabinet lights require a separate LED driver, if you choose the right dimmable driver for them, they can be dimmed. Here are some examples:

12v under cabinet lights

Leyton under cabinet lights come fitted with a small connector called TOP6. You can use the connectors to plug straight into a TOP6 LED driver shown below:

Leyton 12V TOP6 Drivers

Dimmable Strip Lights

Similar to the under cabinet lighting example where you have mains voltage and low voltage versions. Mains voltage LED strip lights also have a factory fitted, integrated LED driver which is non dimmable. These types of fittings are very cost effective but are only available in a few specific sizes and can’t be dimmed. The dimmable alternative to an LED strip light is LED strip tape.

LED strip tape

LED tape operates on low voltage, either 12V or more commonly 24V DC, requiring an additional LED driver you can choose a dimmable version if you want to be able to dim it. You can also choose colour changing LED tape which is not only dimmable but offers a whole host of colour changing effects. When you're selecting an LED driver for use with colour changing LED tapes, it doesn't need to be dimmable because the dimming and colour changing effects are done with the controller.

LED tape can be cut down to size or supplied in made-to-measure lengths with input or output cables of any length. It doesn't have many limitations which is one of the main reasons why its so popular. It can be difficult to order, but we can offer expert advice and help you choose all of the right components for your project.

Dimmable LED Drivers

There are 2 main types of LED driver; constant current and constant voltage. Constant current LED drivers have 350mA or 700mA outputs, as well less popular outputs like 500mA or 1050mA. They're used for LED lights that need a very specific input current. When possible with constant current applications, its better to use the LED driver that the manufacturer of the lights recommends as there are other technical points to consider such as forward voltage, which is when you need to get the voltage range of the LED driver to be within the voltage requirement of the LED lights that are being powered from it.

Constant voltage LED drivers have output voltages of 12V or 24V DC, the voltage doesn't fluctate like it does with AC. This provides the light source with a constant, stable supply voltage. LED tape is mainly powered by constant voltage. Many other small styles of LED light fittings are also constant voltage.

Dimmable LED drivers

Triac Dimmable

Mains dimmable drivers are also known as Triac dimmable. Triac dimming provides smooth and flicker-free dimming results. It is a method of controlling the brightness of a light by adjusting the amount of power that is delivered to it. It works by controlling the phase angle of the voltage that is applied to the light, which in turn controls the amount of current that flows through the light. The dimming is achieved by cutting off part of the sine wave of the AC power supply, the dimming level is controlled by the angle of the cut off point.

Leading Edge or Trailing Edge Dimming?

Leading edge and trailing edge are terms used to describe different types of dimming methods for controlling the brightness of lights. Leading edge dimming adjusts the amount of power that is delivered to it at the beginning of each half-cycle of the AC power supply and trailing edge adjusts the power at the end.

Trailing edge dimming is usually better for smaller loads and leading edge is better for larger loads. If your LED driver is leading edge, you’ll need a suitable leading edge dimmer switch to dim it. The Varilight V-Pro is a universal, LED compatible dimmer switch with both leading edge and trailing edge dimming modes in 1. The leading edge operation is a synthesised mode, not a true Triac leading edge but works perfectly well for the majority of applications.

LED dimmer switch

The reason that the Varilight V-Pro is classed as being LED compatible is that you can fine tune the settings by turning and switching the knob in a specific sequence. It can adapt to the exact LEDs that you’re operating and has no minimum load. It does have a maximum of up to 120W or 10 LEDs and Varilight have other versions with true leading edge such as V-Com, which can dim up to 600W of LED and up to 60 LEDs per switch!

Smart Switches

Lightwave smart switches take things to a whole new level, you can select which dimming mode you want to use from the App and input the exact quantity of lights and wattage load for each circuit. You can even adjust the sine wave to further fine tune dimming results. This is why Lightwave smart switches are one of the best dimming solutions on the market. While they cost more than a basic dimmer switch especially when you consider the hub, they cost less than other home automation systems and provide smartphone control. You can then control a wide selection of non-smart lighting products from Lightwave because Lightwave makes them smart.

Lightwave Smart Switch

Lightwave smart switches can be set to switching or dimming modes in the app and allow you to dim a light fitting from multiple locations, where traditional dimmer switches struggle with 2 way dimming, Lightwave can do 3 way or more. You can combine multiple lights into a single scene that can be activated with your voice. You can either use an additional piece of equipment such as Amazon Alexa or it works just with Siri on an iPhone via the Apple Home Kit App.

Lighting Controlled Anyway You Like

We can provide lighting solutions that allow you to switch or control them anyway you like in the most convenient way, from a basic dimmer switch to a home automation system with Lightwave. If you do want dimmable under cabinet kitchen lighting, you just need to choose the right products or contact us for advice.