Can You Put A Dimmable Bulb In A Non-Dimmable Socket?

Dennis Howard
by Dennis Howard

As the US moves away from incandescent light bulbs in favor of LED lighting, there are some issues to consider. Many people are unfamiliar with the operating characteristics of LED light bulbs and have questions about replacing their incandescent bulbs. One often asked question is about using dimmable LED light bulbs in sockets not equipped with a dimmer switch.

In short, yes, you can put a dimmable LED lightbulb in a socket that doesn’t have a dimmer switch. The LED lightbulb will operate at full power all the time. Doing this will not damage the bulb or the socket. You will still enjoy the savings from the LED lightbulb over the incandescent bulb as well.

LED lightbulbs offer many advantages over older incandescent bulbs. Longer life, less heat, and less power consumption are the main advantages. More and more retailers are lowering their inventory of non-dimmable LED bulbs. This makes it almost assured that you will need to put a dimmable LED light in a standard socket.

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What is an LED lightbulb?

LED lighting is based on the principle of electroluminescence. Don’t let that nineteen letter work scare you. It simply means that an LED produces light by passing an electrical current through a special material that gives off light when energized. This material is called a diode. Thus, a light-emitting diode or LED.

This differs from incandescent lighting, where an electric current is passed through a wire or filament. The wire creates resistance to the electrons passing through and heats up. This heating produces light. This light by heating is much less energy efficient than LED technology.

The Problem With Heat

The major difference between LED and incandescent lighting is heat production. LED lights run much cooler than incandescent lights. It is the constant heating and cooling that causes incandescent lights to fail.

LEDs don’t produce nearly as much heat as incandescent light. This gives LED lights a much longer lifespan than incandescent lighting. The diode technology also requires less energy to produce a comparable amount of light, making LED bulbs much more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs.

What is the Difference Between Dimmable and Non-Dimmable LED Lights?

All LED lights have electronic circuits that control the electrical flow through the LED. Dimmable LED lightbulbs have additional electronic circuits to manage the LED and prevent damage to the diode. Non-dimmable LED lights lack this additional circuit.

Putting a non-dimmable LED lightbulb in a dimmable socket can lead to problems and early failure of the LED light. A non-dimmable LED expects to have full power available at all times. Putting less power into the non-dimmable light bulb can cause flickering of the LED and eventually its failure.

Conversely, a dimmable LED lightbulb works perfectly in a non-dimmable socket. The LED gets full power all the time, causing no problems for the power management circuit in the bulb. You should get the full life expectancy from a dimmable LED light in a standard non-dimmable circuit.

How Long Should an LED lightbulb Last?

In general, most LED lightbulbs have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours. Most incandescent light bulbs have a life expectancy of only about 1,000 hours. An LED light bulb that is used 8 hours a day can last up to 17 years.

Switching to LED lightbulbs saves you money by reducing your expense for purchasing lightbulbs and energy savings.

Are LED Lightbulbs Really More Efficient than Incandescent Bulbs?

LED lightbulbs are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs by a wide margin. In most cases, LED lightbulbs require 75 percent less energy to generate the equivalent light of an incandescent bulb.

For example, an LED floodlamp uses only 11 to 12 watts of power to produce the same amount of light that an incandescent bulb using 50 watts of power. LED technology is more efficient than incandescent technology In many ways. Not only do LEDs take less energy, they run cooler and last longer.

Aren’t LED Lightbulbs More Expensive?

Yes, the initial cost of LED lightbulbs is more than a comparable incandescent light bulb. However, the cost difference is minimal when you consider the other factors that affect the overall cost of each type of lighting

Consider the Efficiency

LED lighting is much more efficient than incandescent lighting. Most homes in the US have approximately 40 lightbulbs installed. Converting these lightbulbs from incandescent to LED technology can show a $300 per year savings on electrical costs alone.

Lifetime Cost Savings Can Be Considerable

The average incandescent bulb lasts for about 1,000 hours before the filament fails. This time can be considerably shorter if the bulb is confined in a fixture that doesn’t allow heat to escape. An LED bulb that produces the same amount of light has an expected lifespan of 50,00 hours. This is 50 times the life of an incandescent bulb.

The extra cost of the LED lightbulb is more than recaptured by not having to replace the lightbulb as often. When the cost savings over the life of an LED bulb are compared to an incandescent bulb, the upfront cost difference disappears.

The Costs Differences are Getting Smaller

The cost difference between LED and incandescent lighting is closing rapidly as technology and manufacturing catch up. With more companies manufacturing LED lighting, competition tends to force the price down. New technologies for producing diodes also has dropped the price of LED lighting over the past few years. You can expect this trend to continue.

Should I replace all My Incandescent Bulbs Now?

We would never suggest replacing a perfectly good incandescent bulb. A much better and more efficient way to change to LED lighting is replacing incandescent bulbs as they burn out. Keep a small supply of LED bulbs on hand and change them out with your incandescent bulbs when necessary.

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Dimmable or Non-Dimmable LEDs. Which is Best?

Dimmable lightbulbs work perfectly fine in non-dimmable sockets. In our opinion, it is well worth the slight price difference to buy dimmable LED lightbulbs for every application. You may not need the ability to dim your lightbulbs in every application, but the price difference is so small it is easily offset by the convenience of only having one style of lightbulbs in the cabinet.

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Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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