Digital light dimmers

We almost all are well comfortable with the idea of a light dimmer, it’s a simple device that usually changes a resistor in series with the an incandescent or halogen lamp to allow reducing or increasing the light that it makes. It ha a very nice effect when you want to have a more softer tone of light in a room, for instance a bedroom.

There is one huge problem with light dimmers though: they work only with lamps that reduce their light depending on the current that passes through them. It does not work well with LEDs (it works up to a point, if my electronics skills tell me good, but it’s not very efficient anyway), and does not work at all with fluorescent lights.

So what is a digital dimmer? Well, it’s not a dimmer at all, at least the one I’m thinking about ;)

You can easily achieve a softer light tone without using actual dimmers and incandescent lights, by using different lamps with different light bulbs. I wrote about this before, I think, saying that I prefer using LED lights in bedroom as they give a softer tone to the light, which is perfect to read, or play the PS3, without getting the eyes tired. Unfortunately, it ’s not very good to clean when there is no light coming from outside.

My solution to this would be to replace the ceiling light with a different one, with, say, five Edison connectors, wired 32 with two different switches. I’m just looking around for what I want to use. The idea is then to put two CFLs on one switch, and the tree LED lights on the other: when I need to clean up the room, I could just light up the CFLs and be done with it.

A similar thing I want to do in my office, which is now empty to be cleaned up and refurnished. Instead of changing the light support there, which is quite nice for me and quite nice to light the room, I want to use different lamps entirely.

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A picture of my 2008 home office desk with a fading LED lamp on top.

You can already see in the photo on the right that I have a desklamp on the desk (well, I had, the desk is now closed in half waiting to be replaced too), with a LED bulb that I use when I’m working the night and I don’t want to stay awake too much. It gives me light reduced to the area around the monitors and the keyboard. I used to have a CFL on that lamp, and it made a nice halfway to light most of the room, with a softer tone. As I can’t replace the bulb every time I need a different kind of light, I thought of a different solution for the problem.

I have an old standing lamp, very nice design, let me just ignore for a second the pink glass on it, but it’s not so bad to have around. Unfortunately, it is designed to use halogen lights, and it hasn’t been used for many years now because of that. The bulb in it is a 300W halogen light, so you can think of how bad it is. I’m thinking of removing the dimmer it has, replacing it with a big pushbutton (designed to be pressed with your foot), and replace the circuitry so that I can put a fluorescent light in it. I’ve seen kit with all the circuitry needed at a local shop, it shouldn’t be too difficult to adapt to put it in the lamp.

When I’ll have analysed the structure of the lamp and I’m tearing it down to replace the circuitry I’ll see to blog about that, maybe with some photos, it might be useful to others :)

3 thoughts on “Digital light dimmers

  1. Today, most dimmers you find in houses are thyristor based. They work by only letting part of the sine wave from mains through.Those are quite incompatible with anything that isn’t a purely ohmic resistance to AC (i.e. anything involving a transformer, motor or a nontrivial capacity). This is why most dimmers don’t work properly with low voltage halogen systems.As for dimming LEDs, one could think about only switching on/off a certain number of an LED cluster. Wiring would be nasty, though. Plus you’d get varying wear on the LEDs of one cluster which might be undesireable.One very adhoc solution is to have more than one lamp inside the fixture but not all full screwed in. You can then add light by screwing them in full. Of course this is not a solution when you want to change lighting often (or the fixture makes access a hassle).

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    1. I’ve actually seen this recently on a video by bigclive — sounds like I wasn’t that far off with the idea.

      (Note that this is a 12 years old blog post, WordPress has an annoying bug where it’ll re-share any post I edit for typos if it was imported from the previous incarnations of the blog.)

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