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What's the difference between Leading and Trailing Edge Dimmers?

What's the difference between Leading and Trailing Edge Dimmers?

Dimmable lights can be a great way of controlling the atmosphere within a room, but how do you know if you need a Leading Edge or Trailing Edge Dimmer? What's the difference?

Leading Edge Dimmer

Leading edge dimmers were originally designed to work with inductive loads such as incandescent and halogen lights. As a result, a leading edge dimmer usually has a high minimum load which often isn't suitable for LEDs which are energy efficient and typically have a low power consumption.

Trailing Edge Dimmer

Trailing edge dimmers are newer and more modern than their leading edge counterparts.

A trailing edge dimmer is designed to work with capacitive loads such as LEDs, LED drivers and low-voltage transformers. As a result, a trailing edge dimmer is more suited to LEDs with a lower power consumption when compared to incandescent or halogen lighting.

Trailing edge dimmers also provide benefits over leading-edge dimmers, such as:

  • Smoother dimming
  • Less interference and buzzing


Compatibility between the LED/LED Driver and the dimmer is important. It's worth noting that some LEDs cannot be dimmed and will not be compatible with neither a trailing nor leading edge dimmer.

Additionally, it can also be possible to get a dimmer switch that can be configured to operate in either trailing or leading edge mode, such as the Varilight V-Pro dimmer.

Smart Dimmer Switch

The Shelly Dimmer 2 is a smart lighting dimmer which can be placed behind a traditional light switch to provide the light switch with "smart" capabilities, allowing you to control your light from the Shelly app.

The Shelly Dimmer 2 can work in either leading edge or trailing edge dimmer mode.

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