Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray
Many homes use a ceiling fan-light fixture as the primary source of light for a room. However, sometimes the lights on ceiling fans can be too dim.
Why is your ceiling fan light so dim? The main reasons for dim ceiling fan lights are: The remote control setting for your ceiling fan light is set to dim without you knowing, the bulb fixtures are weak with low lumen output, or the ceiling fan has a wattage limiter installed.
In this article, I will cover the most common ways that you can fix a dim ceiling fan light.
Option 1 – The Remote Control
If you have a ceiling fan that came with a remote control, something similar to this popular Hunter Ceiling Fan (link to Amazon), then I’m willing to bet that you can solve your problem with the push of a button.
The remote controls that come with ceiling fans will almost always have the ability to control the brightness and dimness of the ceiling fan light. Many people do not know this, and many manufacturers exclude this feature from the user manual. Why? Who knows?
Buttons and controls will vary from one manufacturer to the next. From what I’ve discovered, you can press and hold down the light button on your remote control to adjust the brightness or dimness of your light.
If holding down the light button doesn’t work for you, then try holding down the on/off button. You’ll need to experiment a bit with your remote control before going out to buy new bulbs, or worse, try to rewire your fan.
In most cases, the remote control is the solution! Sometimes you’ll get the fan from the suppliers with the setting on dim. Kids also tend to play with remote controls and may accidentally dim your lights without you knowing. So, as a first bet, I would try this option!
Option 2 – Replace the Bulbs
If the above mentioned remote control trick doesn’t work, and you’re absolutely certain that the light bulbs are at maximum brightness, then you’d definitely want to replace your light bulbs.
Most of the issues I’ve read about involve 40W filament light bulbs. Filament bulbs are the standard bulbs with the wire in the middle. They’re not very bright and they also draw the most energy.
Most ceiling fans will have a label indicating the maximum wattage for a light bulb you’re allowed to install. So don’t freak out if you see a maximum of 40W allowed. You don’t necessarily require more wattage output for more brightness…
Light-bulb brightness isn’t measured by watts, they’re measured by lumens. So basically you’re looking for more lumen output from a light bulb. My top recommendation for maximum lumen output (and brightness) is LED light bulbs.
Here’s an example…
A normal 40W filament light bulb has an output of about 450 lumens. This means that the filament bulb will draw the maximum wattage allowed (if it’s installed in a 40W-max fixture). However, LED bulbs draw FAR fewer watts than filament bulbs.
Manufacturers always compare LED bulbs to the traditional filament bulbs by providing a wattage equivalent value on their packaging. So for example, a “40W-equivalent” LED bulb indicates that the bulb’s performance is the same as that of a 40W filament bulb, but the best part is that it will only draw something like 9W. This means that you get the same lumen output while drawing about 80% less energy. What this ALSO means is that you can install LED bulbs with much more lumen output, and it won’t come close to your maximum wattage allowed.
Replacing your old bulbs with new LED bulbs will guarantee a brighter room. These are great, 60W-equivalent LED bulbs with 800 lumens. (link to Amazon) I find this the perfect brightness, as you wouldn’t want to go TOO bright that it becomes uncomfortable.
I created the below table to show you how much wattage both the incandescent and LED light bulbs will use to provide the same lumen output:
|Lumens||Incandescent Wattage||LED Wattage|
|250 Lumens||25 Watts||4 Watts|
|450 Lumens||40 Watts||9 Watts|
|800 Lumens||60 Watts||13 Watts|
|1100 Lumens||75 Watts||18 Watts|
|1600 Lumens||100 Watts||24 Watts|
|2000 Lumens||125 Watts||26 Watts|
|2600 Lumens||150 Watts||40 Watts|
Remember to make sure that the new bulbs will fit in your light fixture.
Option 3 – The Wattage Limiter
A wattage limiter, also commonly known as a current limiter, is a little black box found in some ceiling fan light kits. The purpose of this box is to cut off excess wattage and limit the total wattage to 190W or less.
I will admit, I didn’t go THAT deep into researching why the wattage limiters are in place and whether or not it’s still a modern day requirement, but the general consensus is that these devices are outdated and useless.
Plenty of electricians and handymen advised on online forums that it’s safe (and recommended) to remove these devices if your fan kit has them installed. The device is usually connected between the light source and pull switch, so removing it will require you to connect the pull switch directly to the light source.
I urge you to please rather consult an electrician or handyman if you’re not familiar with electrical wiring. Safety first!
Wattage limiters not only have the potential to keep your lights dimmer, but can also stop your lights from working altogether.
I found a useful article here that simply explains what a wattage limiter is and how it’s removed. I also found the below YouTube video that also gives a quick summary of what to do, as well as a visual of what a wattage limiter looks like…