When is a On/Off Switch Better than a Dimmer Switch?

Is there a use case where an On/Off switch is better than a Dimmer Switch?
The price difference between the two is not an issue and i have LED Dimmable Bulbs, and I’m trying to decide if there’s any reason why I would want an on/off switch to install instead of a Dimmer Switch.
I have the GE/Jasco switches, and about to install them to 4 different areas around the house.
Any advice is appreciated.

  1. if you want to use smart dimmable bulbs, like Hue or Osram, you can’t use a dimmer switch that controls the current to the bulbs. They’ll confuse each other. You can use a smart dimmer switch which doesn’t control the current to that bulb. Or you can use dumb dimmable bulbs. But not a smart bulb and a dimmer ( Smart or not) that controls the current to the bulb.

  2. some other devices should not be put on a dimmer switch (again smart or not). This includes most motors, including fans. It also includes some types of fluorescent lights. It just has to do with how the device draws current.

  3. but if you’re just talking about dumb dimmable LEDs, they work fine with dimmer switches that are rated for LEDs.


Thank you, @JDRoberts! I thought about sending you a DM before posting :smile:, but thought some people might be asking the same question, so posted my question instead.

Yeah, i intend to just use a dumb dimmable LED, on floor lamps in each room, through an outlet, controlled by a switch on the wall. Dimmer switches it is.

1 Like

Just to add to the above, often on/off relays are rated for far higher power levels than dimmers (as they are intended for appliances rather than lights). Some of the more popular ones can also control two feeds.


Another thing to consider is that ON/OFF switches may make more sense for lighting such as exterior lighting - Front Porch, Focus Lights, Patio Light etc - It would serve no purpose to have dimmers there. Even places like closets, garages, rest rooms etc would be better off with ON/OFF switch. Where as places like Living Room, Kitchen, Corridors, Bedrooms etc would be better with dimmers so that one can set scenes, use motion to turn on light at different brightness during different times of the day etc.

I personally prefer dimmers in all interior areas where one would spend time the most …and use ON/OFF switch for even some of the bedrooms and other areas I mentioned above. If a bedroom has recessed lights and a light in the FAN, then I recommend using a ON/OFF switch for the light in the FAN and a dimmer for the recessed light.

Considering dimmers in areas where you have too many bulbs on one switch also makes sense…so that you can control the brigthness… it gets too bright otherwise.

Hope this helps.

I actually use dimmers for some exterior lighting as well such as the front door so I can match the lumen output to what the landscape lighting puts out. Otherwise the front of the house looks “unbalanced”. Which brings up another “pro” for ON/OFF switches…low-voltage landscape lighting with a transformer.

In addition, I also use ON/OFF switches for outlets that are controlled by switches. I didn’t want to move the curio cabinet in front of the outlet, so I replaced the switch with an ON/OFF instead of a dimmer or worse, moving the curio cabinet and switching the outlet to a z-wave controlled one.

Totally agree with the motor comment above and that includes bathroom ventilation fans and any appliances you have on switched outlets.

1 Like

You will also want to consider your personal preferences for how lights turn on and off. I use the GE/Jasco switches, so experiences may be different with other brands. For those the switch does an immediate power on of the light while the dimmer will fade on/off over a second or three.

1 Like

Fibaro Dimmer 2s (which I favour) are very highly configurable. Parameters can be set to make them on/off only (no dim) and also to specify the startup time for a really slow, atmospheric dim up on switch on, or an instant on.

This negates pretty much any reason I can think of to use the fibaro relay over the fibaro dimmer for lighting, as they’re the same price. Other brands may vary in price of course.