Will Philips Master LED lamps work on all Dimmer Switches?

Last year, when the Philips Master MR16 LED was still quite new, Philips released some information about their dimmable LED's.

Even today very few LED retro-fit lamps are actually dimmable. One of the distinct benefits of this product is that it can work on existing dimmer switches.

Not surprisingly, Philips received quite a few questions about this. Now, I have too, so I dug up some information from Philips and have shared the key points here.

'Phase cut' dimmers

Most mainstream dimmers employ phase cutting technology to achieve dimming. This works by cutting off part of the mains voltage to vary the average (or 'RMS') voltage fed to the lamp.

The brightness of the lamp can therefore be controlled by increasing or decreasing the RMS voltage.

There are two ways to cut off the mains voltage: either at the beginning of the sine wave or towards the end of it. A dimmer where such 'cutting off' is done at the beginning is called a leading edge dimmer and a dimmer where the 'cutting off' is done towards the end of the sine wave is called a trailing edge dimmer.

Dimmer switch classifications

There are three popular types of traditional lighting loads that dimmers are designed to be compatible with:

  • R type load: for GLS (General Lighting Service, incandescent) and HV (High Voltage) Halogen
  • L type load: LV (Low Voltage) Halogen with magnetic transformer
  • C type load: LV Halogen with electronic transformer

Using this classification, we have the following dimmer types:

  • R - which can be compatible with R type load (leading edge dimmer)
  • RC - which can be compatible with R type and C type load (trailing edge dimmer)
  • RL - which can be compatible with R type and L type load (leading edge dimmer)
  • RLC - which can be compatible with all three types load

Philips Master LED compatibility

Philips offers a range of dimmer-compatible LED lamps, with specially designed electronics so that the lamp works on most common dimmers.

But, given the vast diversity in dimmer types and quality, they do not guarantee 100% compatibility. Some compatibility issues include flickering lamps at certain dim level or an audible noise (hum).

Philips reports that their LED lamps are tested on more than 30 reference dimmers, and they perform well with most of them. The lamps work well with most R and RL dimmers, but not RC and RLC units, nor any dimmers with neon/LED light indicator.

Summary

The vast majority of halogen downlights in Australia are "L type." As a result, most dimmers employed are "RL" units which (luckily) work very well with the new range of LED downlights (click to see Philips MR16 LED installation photos).

- Ryan McCarthy

next post → ← older post

Stay in Touch

Got a Question?

Please view our FAQ, delivery, and product pages for commonly asked questions and answers.

About us

Reduction Revolution Pty Ltd (ABN 74 141 672 764) is an Australian-owned company focused on energy efficiency and sustainability.

Since 2010 we have supplied thousands of customers with training, advice, monitoring, lighting, and innovative energy saving products.

You can read more about us here.

Latest Blog Posts

  • Tesla Semi Truck Cost, Battery Size, & Availability in Australia

    If you are a Tesla fan like me, you probably already sat through the full Tesla Semi truck launch video. Even if you did, there were many details missing like: cost / price, battery size, and availability, which I have... read more

  • Here's why we have a plastic problem

    If you ever need convincing that we have a problem with plastic, just take a walk down a remote beach. I was on leave recently and lucky enough to be walking down a remote beach on Kangaroo Island in South... read more

  • Confused by the 'National Energy Guarantee'? Here's what you can do

    Many people are confused and/or disappointed with the Federal Government's newly announced energy policy the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). Not surprisingly, it's short on any real detail, but two things are clear: the existing Renewable Energy Target will not be... read more