How to dim LED Panels, LED Strip Lighting & LED Tape

How to dim LED Panels, LED Strip Lighting & LED Tape

There’s a lot of hearsay across the electrical industry that suggests dimming LED panels, LED strip lighting, or LED tape is too complicated or simply can’t be done outside of expensive and bespoke lighting control systems. It’s not true, but it makes sense that the majority believe that, because most installers just haven’t come across a solution that makes dimming these sorts of LED products (with challenging LED drivers) simple, as well as time and cost-effective.  

No one really has the time, and the end-user wouldn’t have the budget (unless really high-end) to install an expensive bespoke system to dim a few LED panels in an office, so we understand why adding lighting control to these sorts of installations is often written off. 

But when you think of the benefits dimming control would add to the above scenario or any situation where LED tape, panels and/or strip lighting are used, why wouldn’t they if they could get their hands on a lighting control product that’s as easy-to-install as a standard dimmer? 

Here’s what you need to know and the steps you need to follow to make dimming these sorts of LED fittings possible... 

Do your calculations first  

Calculating Inrush gets a bit more complicated than usual with LED panels, tape and strip lighting since you’re dealing with a much larger wattage than you normally would. 

When it comes to dimming LED tape and strip lighting, wattage is listed per metre; and Inrush data is very rarely published on the box.  

However, it's the LED driver - and the huge Inrush current consumed by the driver - that skews the wattage listed on the label significantly. You really want to calculate the tape wattage by using the driver information. Where a reputable brand of LED tape has been used, this information should be published in the small print on the product’s box. 

Most scenarios that use LED tape, panels and strip lighting in big quantities will need a lighting control solution that can handle the inrush produced by these drivers.  

Then turn to the ZBARLED 

To dim LED strip lighting, panel or tape effectively, you will require a product that can handle the significant inrush consumed by LED drivers. This product is known as the ZBARLED. 

The ZBARLED is a remote dimming pack that is designed to dim large loads easily and cost-effectively. What’s more, the ZBARLED also allows installers the opportunity to add up to 32 control points to any one dimming pack, so it’s ideal for installs that might also require multi-point control. 

Because it can handle large loads, the ZBARLED is the only product available — outside of expensive bespoke systems — that can dim LED tape, strip lighting, and panels straight off the shelf.  

You can use it for any load — it comes in two wattage versions 0-300W/VA LED and 0-1000W/VA LED - and at the top end one remote dimming pack can handle up to 1000W/VA LED by itself, but if you need to control larger loads than 1,000W/VA LED, all you need to do is wire additional ZBARs in parallel. 

The only difference between the ZBARLED and a standard module, grid or plated LED dimmer (aside from its more powerful capabilities when considering large loads and multi-point ability) is that it needs to be installed through a break in the circuit or junction box. 

So as long as the product is factored in at project specification stage – you won’t have a problem. It’s often a challenge (but one we see regularly no less) to revert to the ZBARLED once an install has been completed and it’s uncovered that the dimmer in play cannot handle the current load on the circuit. We do call the ZBARLED the ‘get out of trouble’ product as it does get installers that are otherwise left in a sticky situation out of trouble. It’s a cost-effective solution for them to complete their jobs at hand but it will require a bit of a rejig around as unlike a standard grid or module dimmer the ZBARLED needs to be installed out of sight and won’t be able to fit into your standard back box.  

Jobs for the ZBARLED 

As long as all LED fittings and fixtures are dimmable, here are a few installation examples where the ZBARLED can and very easily could be used as an alternative to expensive, bespoke lighting control systems:  

  1. Take an open-plan office that needs upwards of 10 LED panels, the Inrush current that the LED drivers will consume is going to be significant. This would call for a few ZBARs added to the circuit. 
  2. A large function room that requires a run of LED tape that’s over 50 metres in length. It’s worth checking out the ZBARLED for these sorts of projects too.  
  3. If a warehouse needs a number of dimmable high bays, it's entirely possible to add lighting control to the mix with multiple ZBARLED remote dimming packs. Just do your calculations precisely.  
  4. A large domestic new build with an ambitious and bespoke lighting design that includes LED strip lighting mixed with other LED fittings is well within the capabilities of the ZBARLED.  

These are just a few scenarios where the ZBARLED would really come into its own.  

If you need any help choosing the right dimmer for a big job, try our product finder, or give us a call on 0345 519 5858.  

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