At Zano, we’ve always strived to stay ahead of the curve, addressing the most pressing problems in LED dimming and creating innovative solutions. Our Founder and CEO Mark Lewin shares his insight into TRIAC compatibility problems, and explains why flicker & buzz isn’t the only issue.
When LEDs launched onto the mainstream domestic lighting market, dimming posed a major hurdle to the new technology’s uptake. Compatibility was an issue from the start: domestic lighting at the time was entirely tailored to the resistive loads of incandescent and halogen lamps. With LEDs operating on a continuous forward current, major change was needed to bring control systems up to date.
TRIAC – 20th century dimming
Due to simple resistive loads, a TRIAC dimmer would work to dim incandescent and halogen even though sometimes you could hear a buzz. That buzzing came from the coil fitted inside the dimmer, designed to absorb the voltage spikes caused by the Triac switching on and off at the peak of the mains cycle.
Dim an LED with a Triac dimmer, however, and both the dimming range and user experience is restricted (it’s bad news for the lamp’s life span, too). As mentioned, a Triac dimmer switches at the peak of the cycle where there are maximum volts. When the Triac switches off the energy has to flow somewhere. Where does it go? Through to the coil, which tries to absorb it, and across the cable network, which bleeds it in to the LED power supply. The result: flicker & buzz.
However, as this spike radiates out across the cabling on the circuit, it can also disturb wifi, DAB radio, and any other radio signal in the building.
Adapt or innovate?
While some manufacturers attempted to address these LED dimming issue by creating variants of the TRIAC model, none worked completely: it simply wasn’t compatible. Zano Controls’ developers recognised that the coil needed to be removed in order to dim LED successfully, and turned to digital solutions for the answer. The ZGRIDLED was born, which replaced the coil with a digital microprocessor that could control without interference. Since then, we've upgraded our microprocessor technology to create the ZGRIDLED+ and ZLINE plate mounted dimmer, as well as the ZMO150, which is coming to wholesalers this October.
To find out more about how Zano Controls can help you achieve flicker-free & silent dimming, whatever your project, call our team on 0345 519 5858.