Not All “Green” Bulbs Are Dimmable

This past week we had a customer call to say that he had a problem with his control system. Apparently he has replaced his soffit light bulbs at his front entrance several times during the past month, and the bulbs keep burning out within a few days. His soffit lights are controlled by one of our automated LCA switches, and they turn on every evening at sunset at a power setting of 65-percent.

I had suspected that the customer had been using non-dimmable bulbs, and upon meeting up with our crew and removing the bulbs – our suspicions were confirmed. The bulb shown above is a standardly-used compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb (and available at all of the box stores), but clearly marked at its base are the words – … not for use with dimmers.
Before arriving at the site, I had purchased two replacement dimmable R30 flood bulbs that are dimmable – see photo below.
This 65-watt equivalent bulb uses only 15W of electricity, and when dimmed to the 65-percent power level it will be using less than 10W of power.
Ordinary incandescent bulbs are to be phased out in the U.S. by 2014 by an energy conservation act passed by Congress in 2007. In fact, the last GE factory making ordinary incandescent bulbs in the U.S. (Winchester, VA) closed last month.
As the incandescent bulbs continue to be phased out over the next several years, CFL’s will temporarily become their leading replacement, followed by halogen bulbs and finally LEDs. As everyone knows, LED’s are our long-term lighting future and that technology continues to become more efficient and less expensive as time goes on.
So in the short term, you’re doing a great thing by ridding your house and business of incandescent bulbs. Just remember though that you need to use dimmable CFL and LED bulbs in any circuit controlled by a dimmer.

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