How to Dim String Lights?

String lights aren’t just festive ornaments. They also help to galvanize your mood or set the tone of a feeling you may need for an activity. 

For instance, you’ll need a brighter set of string lights to offer you that energetic feeling to take on hard tasks.

A well-dimmed set of string lights on the other hand would help a lot with relaxing or watching a movie.

In this article, we’re going to put you through how to dim string lights.

So you can galvanize your mood while making your room more visually pleasing.

how to dim string lights

When Do You Need to Make Your String Lights Less Bright?

There are various times of the day that may require you to dim your string lights:

1. Nighttime

Because it’s nighttime and you wouldn’t want your indoors or patio to be exposed. 

2. While Relaxing

If you’ve set up string lights in your sitting room or bedroom, then you might want to dim it down. 

3. When Watching A Movie

To enjoy a better viewing experience, it’s far better to dim the lights.

So that you can appreciate the colors, contrast, and other viewing details that can be interrupted by bright lights.

How to Dim String Lights?

To know how to dim string lights, you need to understand how they work.

So take a look at your string lights at hand, you should notice a tiny string within the bulb pointing towards the top of the bulb.

That string is called the filament. This means the bulbs on the string are incandescent bulbs. 

Once an incandescent bulb is turned on electric current passes through the filament to trigger heavy resistance.

Which will in turn cause the filament’s temperature to rise until the bulb glows.

And the level of voltage you feed the incandescent bulb is directly proportional to its brightness.

So, to make your string lights dimmable, you must be able to manipulate the input voltage.

In such a way you can reduce input voltage or increase it whenever you need.

The best device to give you such power is the leading edge Dimmer switch.

This device enables you to increase or decrease the brightness of all bulbs on the string with a simple switching system.

Of which there are usually four modes of brightness. Such as ultra-bright, medium bright, slightly dim, and dim.

Also, the leading edge Dimmer is tailored for incandescent String lights due to their high minimum load requirement.

This is far more than the trailing edge Dimmer as it deals mainly with low-wattage led bulbs.

How To Dim Incandescent String lights?

  • Connect the plug of the Dimmer to the nearest socket.
  • Connect the string lights to the dimmer.
  • Adjust the brightness of the bulbs with the Dimmer switch or remote control (if present).

What If My String Lights Consisted of LEDs… 

In this case, you’d notice a diode within the bulb, instead of a string (as seen from incandescent bulbs). 

As current passes through the LED bulb, the semiconductor material (the diode) within the bulb will heat up.

This will then cause the semiconductor to light up by releasing photons which is the byproduct of the overall reaction.

Are LED String Lights Dimmable? 

It depends on if the LEDs are made specifically to be dimmable. As the load (wattage) on regular LED bulbs is so low it seems like it only undergoes two states. On or Off.

Thus making it hard for even low load trail edge Dimmers to manipulate their power input.

Note: This is why it’s best to purchase dimmable LED string lights. So that their load can match the minimum requirements of a trailing edge Dimmer unit.

How to Choose the Right Dimming Controls for Your String Lights? 

There are various ways you can manipulate the brightness of your bulbs. Here are the options:

1. Dali Dimming System 

DALI stands for Digital Addressable Lighting Interface. It allows you to manipulate the brightness of your LEDs via computer software.

2. Radio Frequency Controllers

This is one of the most comfortable options for Dimming your strip lights.

As it involves a remote in hand and a receiver attached to the strip lights.

This device will allow you to manipulate the brightness of your LED light strip or light string without the need to walk over to the other room. 

3. Zigbee

Zigbee is an LED control system that can help integrate your lighting system into a smart one.

As you get to manipulate the brightness of the bulbs via smartphone apps or voice activation. 

4. Mains Voltage Dimmers

There are two types of main voltage Dimmers. They include a leading-edge Dimmer and the trailing edge dimmer.

How do they work? These dimmers will allow you to reduce your bulb’s voltage input to dim the bulbs.

Other Methods to Make String Lights Less Bright

You might not have a Dimmer in hand but there are various ways to reduce the brightness of lights without them:

1. Cover Them Up

Seal up the bulbs with slightly opaque paper or sheet. This method would help reduce light intensity.

2. Make Use of Shade

Yarn shades are great for reducing light intensity. They can also give your surrounding room or patio a color theme.


By now you should be able to dim your string lights or LED strip lights.

All that’s required is a functional and load-compatible Dimmer device as explained above.