Calculated an installation precisely, only to find the circuit overloads as soon as it’s switched on? We take a look at inrush current - an LED installer’s worst enemy.

It’s a contentious subject, but independent testing has found a huge disparity between the wattage listed on an LED’s box and the power it actually consumes.

An LED’s inrush current – that surge of current that flows through the driver as a lamp ‘powers up’ – is often not included in the wattage on the label. In our testing lab, we’ve seen lamps regularly quadruple their labelled wattage, with one 5W downlight reaching 20W..

Aside from misleading consumers over the potential energy reduction of switching to LED, this huge difference in wattage can wreak havoc on your LED circuits and cause frustration when installing lighting controls.

The total wattage of ten 5 watt lamps is well within the comfort zone of a 0-150W dimmer, but ten 20 watt lamps is a very different story.

Not every lamp has such a significant inrush current: some LEDs spike only slightly above their labelled wattage, and many lamps from reputable LED manufacturers keep inrush to a minimum. When calculating the wattage of your installation, it can be frustrating, but if in doubt, leave a generous inrush allowance or have your lamps tested independently before fitting on site.

If you have any questions about LED dimming, call our technical team on 0345 519 5858. We’re happy to help.

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