Relevant Applications of Circuits: Dimmer Switch

After taking a picture of the “I Believe in Nashville” sign with my Polaroid camera, I take a photo on my iPhone of the Polaroid to post it on Instagram. As I try to review my post, I realize that I cannot see the fine details of my picture. I have no way of knowing if the Nashville filter is too dark for my aesthetic. In order to double check, I turn up my iPhone brightness in order to see better. This is just one example of how a light dimmer is ubiquitously used in our daily lives.

Light dimmers are also often found in households all across the world. This device controls the currents in light bulbs, allowing users to change the brightness to their liking.┬áTraditionally, current is adjusted by changing the resistance. The two are inversely proportional to each other, related by Ohm’s Law (V=IR, or voltage equals current times resistance). This means that as the resistance is increased, the current is decreased. Additionally, current is directly related to the amount of light emitted from the bulb. Thus, when the resistance is increased, the brightness of the bulb will decrease. A dimmer works by changing the amount of resistance in the circuit to cause this change in brightness. When the user turns down the dimmer switch, the resistance is increased. This happens by increasing the length of resistor, which is a common way to increase the resistance. As a result, the amount of light emitted goes down. Conversely, by pulling the dimmer up, the length is decreased, causing the opposite effect.

Recently, there has been advancements in the science of dimmer switches. Instead of changing the length in the resistor, dimmers cut the circuit in close intervals to make it appear as if the light is dimmer. It does so at such a quick rate that the light does not appear to flicker. This is being used more widely, as it reduces the amount of energy used, thus being a more sustainable option.

Due to its advanced technology and sustainable ways, the dimmer switch is argued to be the most important circuit application in human history. Despite some counterarguments, those in opposition have been proven to be biased in attempt to increase their profits. With an increase in the use of iPhones, sellers of Polaroid cameras are becoming desperate to persuade anyone who listens to use their products.

Without the dimmer, there would not even be a reason for me to take a Polaroid picture. What is the point of taking a Polaroid if you cannot see it before posting on the ‘Gram? Therefore I, Daniel, am so thankful for the technological advances made with dimmer switches, changing my life for the better.

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