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Help with: Dimmable Compact Florescent Bulbs

4086 Views 19 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  hychesee
Sometime lurker first time poster.

As some of you may know, I wanted a very bright play area for my unique kids room basement project.

I purchased a pilot number of these: GE R30 Compact Florescent Lamp (CFL)

They claim to dimmable. From the package “works with most dimming switches”

They work very well on a regular single pole configuration.

I believe them to be of type: Magnetic Low Voltage MLV – CFL.

I purchased this dimmer from Lutron Maestro the only where it said it was for incandescent was in Spanish so I missed it. While it is clear that they make types specifically for MLV, this dimmer seems pretty “standard” to me. So,as you may have guessed, it didn't work.

So, I returned to my favorite money sink: Lowes and purchased a different model of dimmer that specifically, on the package, said is was for Magnetic Low Voltage-type devices. It was of the type Cooper Wiring Devices ASPIRE™ Slide Dimmer

Hooked it up and guess what? It didn't work either.

So I said “:censored: this, to hell with the environment” and hooked up the original Lutron dimmer back up and started counting the number of regular incandescent fixtures I would need.

It was dark, no lights duh, and I replaced the first of 6 lights with an old incandescent I had.

Here is where our story takes a twist: All the lights came on. In fact, the incandescent worked correctly and the CFLs dimmed to some degree. :huh:

You should know that I had a professional wire this system and the CFLs work on a regular switch and also the dimmer works with regular bulbs. (scientifically tested.)


  1. Am I correct? Are these actually MLV-type ballasts?
  2. Any technical reason why the Lutron dimmers didn't fit the type of “most dimming switches.”
  3. Any hypothesis as to why the replacement dimmers didn't work?
  4. Any recommendations as to how this turkey can be made to fly?
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Magnetic low voltage dimmers are not really designed for CFL applications. MLV dimmers are for low voltage fixtures that have magnetic transformers. Dimmable CFL's should work with a standard dimmer. I would reccommend trying to start the fixtures at full bright and work your way down.

This is reason #45 in a long list of why I hate these lamps.
They do say to turn them up to full power, then to dim
I don't mind the CFL's at all
But I only have 4 dimmer bulbs so far & they work
I don't think so
Kitchen used to use over 300w & light was poor
I switched to CFL & now use 65 watts if the 5 main lights are on & the light is excellent. If we turn the hockey puck lights on we use another 4w

I use a LOT less electricity on lights then I used to
My bathroom light no longer shuts off due to the heat sensor
Since the 23w cfl puts out the equiv of 100w light bulb but NOT the heat

Bathroom used to use 220 watts
Now I use 52w & thebathroom is MUCH brighter

I have over 200 cfl bulbs in my christmas display which saves me about 8,000w an HOUR

And MOST of them were FREE after instant coupons at Home Depot :thumbsup:

CFL's ROCK :thumbup:
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Leds rock
cfls suck
cfl= mercury in landfills
leds=lifetime bulbs
My bathroom light no longer shuts off due to the heat sensor
don't put more than the max. bulb in the fixture and it won't do that
don't put more than the max. bulb in the fixture and it won't do that

Max is a 100 watt bulb
It shuts off with a 100w bulb
So you are wrong about that
Leds rock
cfls suck
cfl= mercury in landfills
leds=lifetime bulbs
LED's are still very expensive

CFL's = less mercury in the environment, it's a proven fact
CFL's are MUCH better then incandescent
Until all the problems are worked out with LED's , overheating & electronic issues they are the best bet for the $$

LED's - one person lost all 3 after a lightning storm
They are not lifetime bulbs, they can & will burn out
LED's are the future. Of course they are expensive. Of course they burn out, but the downsides are small compared to the problems with CFL's. I hate the color rendition, the mercury content (small but present) the start time, the flicker, and the dimming issues. I don't think we'll really see widespread LED applications for resi in the very near term but it is coming.
If you want to see some really next level stuff, check out OLED's. I've seen one of them. Picture a 2 x 2 fluorescent fixture that is about 1/4" thick. The TV's are pretty incredible too. So thin you can bend them.
Well I don't know where other people buy their CFL's
But I've bought NVision, bright effects, GE & Sylvania & do not have any problems
That includes 200 in cold weather in my Christmas display

Once incandescents are "banned" then LED & CFL's sales will increase. Until LED's come down in price the vast majority of people will not buy them

It's unfortunate that the Utility Companies/Govt will not push the LED rebates as much as they are pushing CFL's. I can buy a 4 pak of CFL's for less then $3. That's what I used to pay for incandescents years ago. The last 4 pks of of incandescents I bought were .42. With the economy the way it is people will buy the least expensive product

Until LED's come way down in price I will not even consider them
I have 3 LED hockey puck lites in the kitchen & LED rope light (clearance) Plus LED night lites (clearance)
That's it

I have been switching my Christmas display over to LED
But switch-over that stopped in 2007
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Dave, I agree that cost is a concern. How do you like your LED rope light? I considered buying one, but I was worried that the light was going to appear blueish. What was your experience?
The rope light is pretty good
We use it after dinner to light the kitchen
It uses about 10 watts for 18' length
I bought it on clearance - I think 75% off
It's 1/2 wave rope light & there is a little flicker to the light
But its a crisp white light - not blue & not yellow

I also have a sting of LED christmas lights on the front 3 season porch as a nite light. They have been running on a timer for 3 years now

One problem with LED lights you can run into is "flicker"
Full wave lights do not flicker
1/2 wave lights do flicker

I'm pretty sure most of the LED bulb Mfgs make their bulbs full wave
But when you run into Christmas lights & rope lights the lower cost ones are 1/2 wave, not as bright, & will have flicker
Many people will not notice this flicker
But some people will, & some it will really bother

Full wave strings have a part of the electric wire that looks like it swallowed an AA battery. I'm not positive of the name but I think its a rectifier?
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Max is a 100 watt bulb
It shuts off with a 100w bulb
So you are wrong about that
Yeah 100w max...but what kind of bulb....Par38, a19, r30...what?....if you put a 100 watt a19 in it, more than likely it will overheat...par38, not so much
Its a standard 100w light bulb
Its not a recessed can
then, what heat sensor are you talking about...never seen one in a "bathroom light"
I thought they were fairly common?
Weird thing is I bought the light for my old house
It was the only wooden one I could find
I was there 7 years, CFL's worked fine

We buy a new house
Same fan & light in the bathroom :laughing:
After 5 years the fan is going - bearings
So I am buying a new one soon
Dimmable CFLs should work with any dimmer designed for them.

And I also have to agree with scuba Dave, LED bulbs are just too far off to consider for everyday household use. I'm too old for the fifty year payback and don't care about the trace amount of mercury in CFLs which is just an ed bagely cop out and partial ruse.
Nobody says squat about any of the millions of office buildings, shopping malls, industrial complexes etc etc who all run fluorescent tubes with mercury in them that when totaled would make every CFL ever made and those made for next two decades look like a teaspoonful of mercury in comparison. not an excuse to dump it in the land fills just an observation.
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