Buying Guide

Best Dimmer Switches for Your Home

Dimmer Types

The first step in choosing a dimmer is to identify the number of switches that control the light fixture

  • Single-pole dimmers are designed for lights controlled from a single dimmer in one location.
  • Three-way or four-way dimmers are designed for lights controlled by a single dimmer and one or more switches in other locations.
  • Multi-location dimmers are designed for lights controlled by multiple companion dimmers allowing for full dimming control from four or more locations.
  • Plug-in dimmers are designed to dim bulbs in table and floor lamps.
Light Bulb Options

Some light bulb types require a specific type of dimmer for compatibility

  • Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs can only work with dimmers if they are labeled as “dimmable” as regular CFL bulbs will not work with a dimmer.
  • Dimmable CFLs may work with some incandescent and halogen dimmer models, but not all. 
  • Most incandescent and halogen bulbs will work with most dimmer models.
  • Most magnetic low frequency (MLV) and electronic low frequency (ELV) bulbs are also compatible with dimmers.
  • Some LED lights are also dimmable, but not all. Since they consume such a low wattage, many dimmer types do not function with LEDs in the same way they do with traditional bulbs.
Control Styles

There are 6 common control style dimmer switches:

  • Rotary dimmers are traditional in that they rotate with a knob that adjusts lighting levels.
  • Toggle dimmers switch up and down like a standard light switch, but the light level automatically returns to the last level that was set.
  • Slide dimmers slide up and down and are available in preset or slide-to-off designs. 
  • Rocker dimmers resemble a decorator-style rocker switch that “rocks” up and down to return the light to your favorite level.
  • Tap dimmers feature a touchpad or button controls that return light levels to your preset level. Some tap levels have LED lights that indicate the current light level.
  • Scene selector dimmers feature multiple buttons that let you switch to different light levels.