Halogen Lights and Dimmer Switches?

Category: Restore & Repair

So, we haven't posed a question to our readers in a while. While I've researched this issue myself I'm not yet sure so I thought I'd throw it out here to see if any arm chair electricians could give me some thoughts...

Specifically, is it safe to use a dimmer switch with a halogen lamp? While I've used Lutron's dimmer switches elsewhere in the house (they're great!), I've only used them with incandescent bulbs so far. Now I want to use them with the cool Ikea lamps we got to go with our PAX wardrobes...

So far, the only "expertise" I find is in discussion forums like
this one, but they never write again later to confirm that their house didn't burn down.


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Found this (http://www.lightingfacts.com/Dimmer%20Switches.html):

"120 volt halogen bulbs can be operated with a regular dimmer, 12 volt halogen bulbs need special halogen dimmers, there are dimmers for use; with electronic transformers and other dimmers for use with heavy magnetic coil type transformers. All dimmed halogen bulbs should be turned back to full power one minute for every hour it's dimmed. A bulb dimmed to half brightness uses roughly half the power therefore dimmer switches are energy efficient devices."

I've noticed the literature usually says if it should not be used on a haolgen. Unfortunately, it's kind of hard to read that when it's in the package. ;)

I have under cabinet halogen lights mounted in my den. They are operated by a plate that you tap to adjust them. It is not a variable dimmer but I do not think that makes a difference. My lights are the 12 volt type and have a transformer that controls 3 lights at a time.

Halogens actually are a type of incandescent ( The light is caused by a filiment, that incandeses or burns. They just burn much hotter than a regular edison bulb, because of the gas in there. The only thing to remember about using a halogen with a dimmer is that every once in a while you have to let the light be on full...otherwise they will last no longer than the regular light bulbs. ( Something about the heat causes the carbon from the burning filliment to re attach itself, and if it burns cooler ie. on a dimmer, the carbon will just attach to the side of the glass and the filliment breaks faster than normal. Really the one kind of lighting that you have to be careful with dimming is flourescent.....you CAN do it, but it gets expensive with a special dimmer, and a special ballast, both of which are PRICY!
So, are you guys in the room yet? I bet you are SO excited! At least I am for you!

we have a dimmer on our halogen track lights. it works fine but makes an annoying buzzing sound. it is a more expensive dimmer that can be used with halogens though. i forget the technical reason, but it is likely that you will get the buzzing with any dimmer.

I put a Lutron dimmer in my bathroom just last week and have halogen lights in. The package (I think even the back of the package if I remember correctly) said I could use a 120 volt halogen , so I gave it a shot. There is a slightly annoying buzz (although certain points in the dimmer seem to buzz more than others), but I still prefer the dimmer and the halogen.

The buzz people are hearing is the transformer for low-voltage halogens. If your low-voltage halogens are the type with the transformer attached to the can, you'll get a buzz if you attempt to dim it. Other systems use a centrally located transformer, and these can have a dimmer sans buzz.

House-voltage (120V) halogens can be dimmed just like any other bulb - no buzz.

But then, you have to get into is the transformer for the low-voltage halogens magnetic or electronic, and Lutron make dimmers that work for for both....if you get the corect dimmer for the correct transformer....No Buzz. So....if you are buzzing you need the dimmer for a different type of transformer, and it may need to be special ordered. ( I seem to remember the ones for the Electronic transformers were a bit more money....but not a HUGE amount...But who knows, my memory may be faulty):o)

Dimmers switch the current on and off at 120 times per second, causing an incandescent filament to vibrate and buzz (www.lutron.com). You can purchase in-line modules designed to eliminate buzz, but these come at an steep price. The secret is to find a bulb resistant to buzzing. This may take some experimentation, but first try bulbs with heavy-duty filaments. These will be less buzz-prone than their ordinary counterparts.

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Lutron has a good line of halogen rated dimmers. I suggest you go to a Authorized distributor, grab a lutron catalog, as they do list which are suitable for halogen etc. Here is a link to authorized distributors (I am one - but I'm in Canada!)

Good luck.


Go to the above site to get some really good info on dimmers and there applications. I had the same question as started this thread,and it was answered pretty thoughly there.


Great info guys. many thanks. I have 8 low voltage (low wottage) halogen bulbs and I need to buy a dimmer. I guess I'll try the lutron site. any further advice?


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