to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), advancing the broad adoption of
LED lighting could reduce energy usage by almost 4 trillion BTUs per
year in the United States alone. If the US switched to LEDs
“overnight”, annual energy savings would amount to over $37 billion!
Magnitude has determined that broad adoption of LED lighting hinges
upon one remaining technical issue: a broad-based and inexpensive
solution to the problem of dimming.
Over the course of the past 15 years, dimming of Lighting Sources has
become common place. Consumers expect to be able to purchase any
standard dimmer, install it in place of the on-off switch, and thereby
customize their lighting and the ambience of any room as they see
fit. Despite the dramatic cost savings associated with LED
lighting, consumers resist any change that retracts an element that they
learned to take for granted. They’d rather pay more—even up to
7-times more—than give up the ability to dim.
Aside from saving energy, dimming lets homeowners change the ambience
in any room. Essentially, any room can be adjusted to the mood
and wishes of the occupants, and accommodate the different usages they
may want to make of the room. In situations where homeowners are
retrofitting LEDs, the existing building may have dimmers already
installed. In such situations, it is important that the LED driver
is compatible with standard dimmer switches.
Industrial users understand that dimming reduces electricity costs,
extends the service life of LED lights and permits adaptive lighting in
spaces while eliminating the need for separate circuits of fixtures of
varied luminosity. Despite their informed awareness of the
advantages of dimming, they reject solutions that require re-wiring,
expensive retrofits, and non-standard solutions they might find
difficult to adopt and maintain.
Common approaches / Common problems
Researchers have proposed many solutions and quite a few have come to
market, with limited success. These approaches “offended” users
by requiring one or another sacrifice, or by reducing the applicability
and increasing complexity. Studies have identified four categories
that limit the adoption of the first LED dimming solutions:
- Reliability and Predictability: Due to
incompatibility between drivers and dimmers, the dimmer switch can fail
to work at all or it may cause the lamp or fixture to pulse, flicker or
turn off unexpectedly. Many consumers report one or more “bad
experience” with such issues that have made them wary when choosing
their next solution.
- Variability: Many “first generation” dimmers
caused color changes when the lamp or LED light source is dimmed.
Users find it offensive when the light changes color (often becoming
“yellowish”) when all they wanted was a dimmer light.
- Annoyance Factor: Humming. Some dimmers cause an annoying audible humming noise.
- Operational: When operating most if not all
current solutions, the dimming fails to achieve a consistent effect on
the brightening or dimming of the light source. Users experience
this as “dead spots” on the dimmer when turning or sliding the
control. They interpret this lack of consistency as
worrisome—electrical controls are supposed to be deterministic and
function in a predictable manner. When they don’t, it can mean
that the device is faulty or that a bulb needs replacing.
- Adoption: Re-wiring is not an option.
Some solutions (especially the so-called “1-10″ dimming) requires
placement of an additional wire. Aside from being costly, this
solution is limited to new construction and even so is susceptible to
disruption if not shielded from full-current wiring.
The above dimming effects and problems are typical when existing
incandescent dimmers are used with LED powered lamps. They are
caused because the dimmer is designed for resistive electrical loads
rather than electronic loads and loads that are much higher than
required by the typical LED sources.
The High-Tech / Low-Cost Solution
Instead of vainly waiting for expectations to change, the industry is
in need of a high-tech, low-cost solution. At least in the first phase
of adoption, this solution must permit existing, standard TRIAC dimmers
to predictably adjust LED intensity. Also, the solution must not
require re-wiring or re-training of electricians; apply to all classes
of LEDs; as mentioned above work with all standard dimmers; and
achieve predictable behavior without humming, changes in coloration or
Solution of Choice
Magnitude’s technology addresses the need for broad-adoption by
solving these problems our series of small-form factor dimmable LED
drivers. Designed for residential and commercial
applications, Magnitude Drivers eliminate all common LED dimming
problems, delivering predictable dimming to any application. In
short, they do not make dimmed light sources warm or yellowish in color
when dimmed and eliminate flicker, poor dimmer quality and performance.
In short, they allow the LED light sources to act as though they
Magnitude. We drive Light.