Guide to the Best Inline LED Dimmer Switch for Plug-In Lamp

Over the past few years, LED bulbs have transformed the way we think of your homes’ lighting. For over 100 years, traditional incandescent bulbs ruled the day. There were minor advances in materials and engineering, but the basic principle remained the same.

Electricity passed through a wire filament, causing it to heat up and glow. This was an effective way of producing light, but it wasted a ton of energy through heat. Not only that, but incandescent bulbs are very fragile. You can bump a floor lamp and jiggle the filament enough to cause it to fail.

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Fluorescent bulbs first appeared in the 1930s, and had a number of advantages. They were far more energy-efficient, and barely produced any heat at all. However, they weren’t used very often in people’s homes.

For one thing, fluorescent tubes are bulky, so they’re only really suitable for large fixtures. For another thing, they wear out quickly when they’re frequently turned on and off. That’s not an issue in an office where the lights are on 24/7. But it can be a problem in your bathroom.

Manufacturers eventually released compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs in the 2000s. These bulbs could fit in a regular light fixture, but they took a minute to “warm up.” This could be frustrating, and they didn’t gain a ton of popularity.

Modern LED bulbs are the best of both worlds. They’re even more efficient than CFLs, and they fit in a regular socket. They also light up instantaneously when you flip the switch. Compared to other types of bulb, they’re very durable – and they’ll last for years under most conditions. Not only that, but many LEDs are dimmable, just like incandescent bulbs. All you need is a good quality dimmer switch.

Choosing the Best Inline LED Dimmer Switch for Plug-In Lamp

We’re about to review three of the best inline LED dimmer switches for plug-in lamps. These are all reliable options that are designed to be used in-line. In other words, you can use your existing lamp. As long as your LED bulb is dimmable, these dimmers are going to work for you.

That said, these dimmer switches all have their own unique quirks. To find out which one is right for you, we’ll have to take a deeper dive into their features and functions. We’ll talk about how they’re designed, and how you set them up. And of course, we’ll discuss their dimming capabilities. After that, we’ll know everything we need to know to deliver our verdict. Let’s begin!

Lutron Credenza LED Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Switch

Lutron Credenza LED+ Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Switch

Lutron is a respected, established manufacturer of lighting and lighting controllers. A while back, we reviewed their motion-sensing light switch outlets. So when it came time to review LED dimmer switches, it made sense to take a look at theirs.

The Lutron Credenza LED+ Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Switch is straightforward. It’s a simple two-prong plug that will work with any North American power outlet. The head is narrow enough to fit in a power strip or multi-outlet extension cord. In the back is a 2-prong pass-through socket where you plug your lamp in. This means you don’t have to do any cutting or splicing. Just plug your lamp into the socket, plug in the switch, and you’re ready to go.

Lutron Credenza LED Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Switch

The dimmer itself is a rectangular fob, which is sized to fit in the palm of your hand. It won’t take up a ton of space on an end table or nightstand. At the same time, it’s not so small that it’s easy to lose track of. On top of the dimmer is a slider, which you can move back and forth with your thumb. Push it forward for maximum brightness, or backwards to lower the brightness. Slide it all the way back, and it will click off.

The dimmer connects to the side of the power plug via a 6-foot cord. That should be enough to reach your lamp or another convenient location. The cord has a light gauge, and is easy to flex around corners. And the entire assembly is available in black, brown, or white. You can match it to your lamp’s power cord, or to your room’s surrounding décor.

Lutron Credenza LED Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Switch

Dimming Capabilities

The Lutron Credenza dimmer switch is compatible with up to a 100-watt LED bulb. That’s an insanely bright bulb – far brighter than anything you’ll use in your house. It can support a similar-powered CFL bulb if you’re using one of those. You may have some issues with CFLs, but Lutron has a full list of compatible bulbs.

In addition to LED and CFL bulbs, this dimmer is also compatible with incandescent and halogen bulbs. For those bulbs, it will support up to 250 watts. Unless you’re controlling a garage shop light, you’ll probably never exceed that wattage at home.

Leviton TBL03-10E Tabletop Slide Control Lamp Dimmer

Leviton TBL03-10E Tabletop Slide Control Lamp Dimmer

Leviton is another manufacturer with a long track record. In the past, we reviewed their USB Type-C Wall Outlet. It’s a traditional 1-gang wall outlet with a pair of 30-watt USB Type-C ports. We were impressed with its performance, so we were eager to get a look at their LED dimmer.

In many ways, this dimmer is similar to the last one. It sports a pass-through plug, designed for 2-prong lamps. The controller is mounted on the end of a 6-foot cord, so reach is not an issue. It’s only available in black, which can be a bit of a downer if your other cords are white or brown. On the plus side, the slider itself is a bit larger and easier to operate. The big recessed tab moves back and forth effortlessly, and clicks off at the bottom of its track.

Leviton TBL03-10E Tabletop Slide Control Lamp Dimmer

Dimming Capabilities

The TBL03-10E can support up to a 150-watt LED or CFL light bulb. Once again, that’s more wattage than you’re ever going to need around the house. It will also support up to a 300-watt incandescent bulb. That’s the wattage of a bright flood light, so once again you’re pretty well covered.

This dimmer will work in almost any temperature conditions, from 32 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as it doesn’t freeze, you’ll be good to go. Leviton backs this with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. If any part of the unit fails prematurely, you’ll get a refund or a free replacement.

Seaside Village Inline Lamp Switch

Seaside Village Inline Lamp Switch

The Seaside Village Inline Lamp Switch is entirely different from the last two. It’s a simple dimmer dial, mounted on a little fob. It’s made from black plastic, and comes in a 2-pack, so you can use it with two lights. It’s also nice and compact, measuring 4.02 inches long, 1.18 inches wide, and 0.94-inch thick.

Seaside Village Inline Lamp Switch

This dimmer is a true in-line unit; it doesn’t plug into the wall. Instead, you splice it into your lamp’s cord. Then it simply becomes a part of your lamp. Because your lamp presumably has an off switch, there’s none built into the dial. It can make your light very dim, but it won’t click all the way off.

Assembly is pretty simple. All you have to do is unplug your lamp, cut the cord, and strip off the insulation on both ends. The Seaside Village Switch unscrews to accommodate up to a 7mm diameter cord. The wires themselves will go into a set of metal clamps which take a few seconds to secure. The whole process can be completed in less than five minutes, even if you know nothing about electronics.

Seaside Village Inline Lamp Switch

Dimming Capabilities

This dimmer is designed for ordinary interior lighting. It works with LED and CFL bulbs with between 2 and 25 watts of power. That’s enough for any indoor lamps. It also supports 5 to 80-watt incandescent and halogen bulbs. That’s not enough for a full-sized lamp. But it’s enough for under-cabinet halogen lighting or incandescent candelabras.

Seaside Village provides a two-year manufacturer’s warranty. That’s more than enough time to determine whether there are any defects in materials or labor.

LED Dimmer Basics

An LED dimmer can turn an ordinary lamp into an attractive piece of accent lighting. But how do you install one, and how do you know whether it will work with your bulbs? Here’s a quick guide to choosing the right dimmer.

Examine Your Light Bulb

First things first – you need to find some information about your light bulb. Check to see if the bulb is dimmable. This should be written somewhere on the ballast. But if it’s not, you can check the packaging. A dimmer won’t work with a non-dimmable LED. Instead, it will just cause the bulb to flicker or turn off altogether. A dimmable bulb, on the other hand, can be used on either a dimmer circuit or a non-dimmer circuit.

If it turns out your current bulbs aren’t dimmable, don’t worry. There are plenty of options out there. In fact, we recently reviewed the best LED candelabra bulbs.

You also need to find the bulb’s wattage. Keep in mind that this is often given as an incandescent equivalency. So a “100-watt” LED bulb may only draw a maximum of 10 watts.

Make Your Calculations

Most modern dimmers will have specific ratings for LED bulbs. So if the dimmer is rated for a 100-watt LED, it’s rated for a 100-watt equivalent bulb. This was the case for all of our options today, and you don’t have to do any math. But if you’re shopping around, you may run into dimmers that don’t have an LED rating. In that case, you’ll have to do a little math. Don’t worry; it’s simple.

If your dimmer doesn’t have an LED rating, divide your bulb’s incandescent equivalent rating by 10. So if your LED bulb says “100-watt equivalent,” assume that it draws 10 watts at maximum brightness. So you want a dimmer switch that’s compatible with 10-watt incandescent bulbs.

Keep in mind that if a dimmer has a minimum rating, your wattage must exceed that. If you’re drawing less than the minimum, your LED bulbs will start to flicker. This will also put a strain on your bulb, and cause it to fail prematurely.

Look at the Dimmer’s Specifications

When you know how much wattage you need, you’re ready to choose an LED dimmer. Find one with a load rating that’s right for your bulbs, and make sure it works with yours. If you do that, you shouldn’t have any compatibility issues.

One other thing you may run into is a “trailing edge” or “leading edge” dimmer. These are simply different types of dimming technology. Leading edge dimmers are an older technology that works best with incandescent bulbs. Trailing edge dimmers are a newer technology that’s ideal for LED bulbs.

Final Verdict

All of these dimmers will do a great job of controlling your LED light. But which one is the right choice for your needs? Let’s cover what we’ve learned about each one.

We started by reviewing the Lutron Credenza LED+ Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Switch. This is a simple, straightforward switch that can be used with any two-prong LED lamp. The 6-foot cord gives you plenty of reach, and the slider is easy to operate. We appreciated the three different color options, and we also liked that you can use it with incandescent lights.

Next, we examined the Leviton TBL03-10E Tabletop Slide Control Lamp Dimmer. This dimmer is only available in black. On the other hand, it’s a bit more powerful, and can control all but the brightest bulbs. It also has a well-engineered slider, which is very easy to operate.

The Seaside Village Inline Lamp Switch was last on our list, if not in our hearts. It takes a little more work than the other two, since you have to wire it into your lamp’s cord. That said, it’s far more discreet. It can also be installed with under-cabinet lighting, which wouldn’t be practical for the other dimmers. If you want a truly in-line switch, this is the choice for you.

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