Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dimmers getting dimmer and dimmer and I'm not sure I can see the light any more

The problem is that all the decisions are interrelated, and it's very difficult to make one without having already made several others. Change one and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down and needs to be built up again.

Having given up on the idea of the great low-voltage series cable light system and chosen some LEDs that will dim, I then had to go back to find a suitable dimmer and power supply. The site that sells the LED was very insistent that I needed a magnetic dimmer switch and a magnetic transformer. I did a little research into these and found that they are difficult to find in Japan. Where I could find them, they were for hundreds of watts, while I'm looking at around 20 watts for each of my circuits. This may or may not be a problem in terms of delivering reliable low current and low voltage, but it seems like using a pneumatic drill for dental surgery, and may lead to a system that hums but doesn't dim. 

Because the dimmers work on mains voltage, I would need two of these transformers, each one literally more highly rated than all the lights in the house.

Kingdom of consumer electronics that it is, in Japan wire-wound transformers are like antiques, and difficult to find among the slim and efficient switching transformers on the market here. They are at a premium, perhaps due to all the copper in the wire windings.

It seemed a much better bet, and around 10% the financial risk, to go back to AudioQ and get one or two of their constant current power supplies, sending it straight to the row of lights but this time putting them in parallel. While they had nothing for 36 volts, they do have some adjustable power supplies for 1400 mA, between 5 and 25 volts, which should get the LEDs going.  

I wanted to get some idea of whether this would work or not with the circuit inside the LEDs, which are from Earth Leds and I even emailed them for technical support. I asked a couple of times about their Leds with their wonderful and trademark Lumiselect dimming technology, and whether it would respond to a variable current signal.

The only answer I got, in increasing tones of frustration, was that I needed a magnetic dimmer and a magnetic transformer, and everything would be fine. 

And perhaps they were right, and everything would have been fine if I'd spent over the odds for their LEDs, a transformers and dimmer switches, which I may also have had to import from the US.

As for the transformer, copper's quite valuable at the moment, so it might have been a good investment. 

But we'll see. 

Or not, if the lights don't work at all.

Further Reading for the Link-Lustre

Here are a few of the magnetic dimmers I was looking at, but didn't buy. Click at your own risk.

6613 PLW

Reading the reviews reveals that some of these switches are very delicate, or perhaps they guy runs a karate school. This is a really good one. I should spend more time reading product reviews on Amazon:


Diva DVLP 600P

Maestro family

29.99 on Amazon

In Japan:

info on them