Can Rope Lights be Dimmed?

Rope lights are becoming increasingly popular among those who are looking for lighting to decorate their rooms. The key advantage of these lights is that they can be used both outdoors and indoors. This ensures that you don’t have to compromise on the lighting effect in any environment. They are also available with incandescent lights and LED bulbs.

Can Rope Lights be Dimmed

Having the ability to dim your rope lights makes them even that much better. Depending on the situation, you may not want your rope lights to shine at full power. The question is, can all rope lights be dimmed?

Not all rope lights are dimmable, it mostly comes down to the bulbs being used. Some bulbs are designed to be dimmed while others aren’t. However, even if the bulb is dimmable, you need a dimmer switch to utilize it. Also, do not put a non-dimmable light bulb on a dimmer switch. This won’t work and will cause flickering and other issues.

In this article, we will take a deeper look at rope lights and how to tell the difference between dimmable lights and non dimmable lights. We will also look at some great dimmer switches and look at why you shouldn’t put a non dimmable light bulb on a dimmer switch.

How to Dim Rope Lights

Often, rope lights are used with their natural brightness especially when they are turned ON at night. However, you may want to reduce the brightness if you want them ON during the daytime. This is when you can opt for a dimmer.

Using a dimmer is not at all complicated and requires just a couple of basic connections. One of the two wires in a rope light can be fixed with a dimmer to support the dimming functionality.

Some lights come with an inline dimmer saving you the hassle of buying a separate dimmer switch. It’s always better to opt for such lights than those that require separate external dimmers because there is no possibility of the bulbs either flickering or buzzing. 

Choosing the Right Dimmer for a Rope Light

The type of bulb used in the rope light and its wattage play a key role in determining the type of dimmer that can be used with it. Check out the specifications of the dimmer to make sure that it supports the wattage of the rope light.

Incandescent rope lights with a 120V rating can be dimmed with a standard wall dimmer that is readily or easily available. If you use 12V lights, you might want to opt for a magnetic low voltage dimmer along with a dimmable transformer.

On the other hand, if your rope lights feature LED bulbs, opt for a dimmer that is designed to be compatible with LED lighting. This will prevent or lessen the chances of dimming failure. However, not all of these dimmers support daylight dimming the same way as incandescent dimmers.

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This is because the power consumption of the LED bulbs is far lesser than that of their incandescent counterparts with high wattage. These lamps operate better and with more efficiency when they work with trailing-edge dimmers in comparison to leading-edge dimmers.

Such dimmers have a much lower power rating. Also, both LED 12V and 24V rope lights require a step-down transformer or an LED driver. Similarly, dimmers used with rope lights that are meant for outdoor use must feature outdoor rating.

Checking for Dimmability in LED Rope Lights

Often, LED bulbs that are found in rope lights used for residential lighting support dimming. They come with dimming ranges. It is advisable to opt for a wide range to get the best results. If you are still not sure about whether the bulbs can be dimmed or not, watch out for a warning label on the bulb that says it should not be used with dimmers. Such LED rope lights must not be dimmed.

Using a Dual-channel LED Rope Light Dimmer

As the name indicates, this rope light dimmer comes with two channels and is intended to work with LED lights. Often, each channel can be turned ON and OFF independently as well as dimmed individually using a regulator.

Plug in the power cord into a compatible power outlet. Connect the rope light to one of the outlets behind the dimmer and turn the corresponding channel ON. Use the appropriate regulator to adjust the brightness of the LED lights to the desired level.

Pairing Dimmable LED Bulbs and Non-dimmable Light Switches

It is quite safe to use your rope light featuring dimmable LED bulbs with a regular light switch. This has absolutely no adverse effect on the bulbs. They will function at 100% output and will render the same performance as when they are associated with a dimming switch.

However, if you plan to keep the rope light ON for most of the day, you might consider investing in a dimming switch in place of the regular switch. This is because it is often better to invest in such LED bulbs rather than non-dimming ones.

Pairing Non-dimmable LED Bulbs with Dimmable Light Switches

On the other hand, the lighting is likely to be erratic if you use a rope light that has non-dimmable LED bulbs with a dimming switch. The lamp and its circuitry have high chances of adversely getting affected. Apart from flickering as mentioned above, the bulbs may show signs of buzzing.

So, if there is no option to put them to use with a regular switch, the best way to get the maximum out of these bulbs is to operate them at full power with the dimmer fully ON or at 100%.

Flickering LED Bulbs in Rope Lights

The key reason why the LED bulbs in a rope light flicker often are because they have been associated with the wrong type of dimmer in the corresponding lighting circuit. Once you get your dimmer replaced with one that is meant exclusively for these bulbs, the rope light also lights up steadily without any flickering.

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In some cases, you may get LED bulbs that are compatible with standard dimmers for a higher price. You can always check the packaging of the dimmer that you plan to buy to ensure its compatibility with LED bulbs. This will save you the hassle of having to go in for a replacement.

Another reason why the LED bulbs may be flickering is that they are not intended to be dimmed. If your rope light has such bulbs and you have set them up to operate with a dimmer, there is a high chance of flickering. You will have to associate these LED bulbs with a normal switch to stop the flickering.


Rope lights are extremely versatile because of the ability to use them just about anywhere. A rope light with incandescent bulbs is worth buying if you want the bulbs to have a colored effect when it is turned OFF. But, if lessening your electricity bills while using them for long hours is your goal, opt for a light with LED bulbs. Additionally, the ability to support dimming makes rope lights ideal for any lighting environment.

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