Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

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Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby Lava » Jul 3, 2008 3:44 pm

Does anybody have any recommendations for a CFL or LED bulb that actually dims well on a standard household dimmer switch? I have tried supposed "dimmable" CFLs in the past, and they all sucked when dimmed. I can't seem to find an LED bulb that will dim on a standard dimmer switch. The wife is getting mad at my quest to go totally CFL/LED - the last incandescent bulb in the house, which was on a dimmer, died the other day. She's okay with CFLs, except in the room with the dimmer. I am trying to get a new CFL/LED replacement in there before she gets even more upset!
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby David Grimes » Jul 4, 2008 5:02 pm

Is dimming ability really that important? I know most LED household bulbs put out as much light as a filament bulb and only use 1 watt or less but I don't think I have ever come across one that is dimmable. My problem is they are generally pretty expensive by comparison. This is a link to a website that claims to have dimmable LED home lights. I cannot say if they work well or not but I have bought lights from them that were good quality but not dimmable.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby ian mckenzie » Jul 5, 2008 12:47 am

We eagerly await dimmable CFLs here in western Canada, but you can't get 'em here yet except for the recessed 'pot light' sort.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby Lava » Jul 5, 2008 1:06 am

Dimming is important if you want bright light for working and mood lighting for relaxing!

Bought two supposed dimmable CFLs today. They both sucked, although they are much better than the ones I bought a couple of years ago. In another five years they might just get it right.

That website only has dimmable LEDs that run off of a wall-wart power supply, they don't have any that plug right into any standard AC lamp socket.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby Todd » Jul 6, 2008 3:05 pm

Don't know about CFLs, but I've looked into LEDs to replace some lighting where I work and from what I can tell, you'll have to get a special dimmer if you want LEDs. Everything I've read says that they operate at their most efficient and last the longest if fed a certain voltage (Or maybe current... I'm no electrician, so I may be using the wrong terms here) Standard dimmers only decrease the voltage, which works fine for a filament bulb, but can cause problems for LEDs.
The dimmer you need is called a "pulse width modulation" dimmer. It sends power to the LED in small pulses, so it's flickering on and off very fast, but at the proper voltage (or maybe current) each time.
The only PWM dimmers I've seen output 12 volts, so you'd need LED clusters that are designed for that. (They make little MR-16 style LED lights that would go into track lighting or recessed ceiling fixtures) The screw-based replacements all run on 120VAC and have their own circuits inside the "bulb" to convert it to the right DC voltage. I don't know if a PWM dimmer would work with AC current, so you probably can't dim the 120V clusters.
Right now it looks like you're stuck with what works in your existing fixtures, or you re-think the wiring and lighting layout in your house.

Here are some links to sites I was looking at:
http://www.besthomeledlighting.com/
http://www.ledsmagazine.com/press/16462 (Press release claims that this new MR-16 style LED is fully dimmable, but it doesn't say how)
http://theledlight.com/index.html#24 (Some links to dimming info and wiring on this one.)

Be wary of LED clusters you see in a hardware store or big-box place! I bought a set of 3 hockey-puck sized clusters for $20 that were marketed as under-counter lights. (I was using them on an aquarium) They were nice and bright for a few weeks, then faded till they were unusable. They were probably being over-driven to make them brighter, or maybe heat dissipation was bad, but it caused them to wear out fast.

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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby NZcaver » Jul 23, 2008 9:55 pm

Be aware that if you use PWM to dim LED lighting in the house, it will likely cause some RFI. This can potentially manifest itself as an annoying buzz or hum which may interfere with your TV, stereo system, wired and cordless phones, cellphones, MP3 player, computer etc. Similar to the old flurescent light issues, and perhaps even worse. For LEDs, a regulated constant voltage/variable current dimming system may be slightly less power-efficient but a little electrically quieter in your home. Or I guess you could just try designing some uber-effective filtering to go with your in-house PWM system.

Sounds like a fun project. Maybe if I had a normal home of my own, I'd be tempted to play with this idea. But then I already have enough spare regulated LED caving headlamps to light an average house rather well. :big grin:
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jul 27, 2008 8:37 pm

The NY Times has an article on LEDs for "general" lighting. They say that a normal incandescent bulb is about $1. A compact fluorescent is about $2. An equivalent LED is $107.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/28/technology/28led.html
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby ian mckenzie » Jul 29, 2008 1:14 pm

Domestic incandescents are scheduled to be banned in Canada altho there is a very long phase-out period.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby Teresa » Jul 29, 2008 1:51 pm

ian mckenzie wrote:Domestic incandescents are scheduled to be banned in Canada altho there is a very long phase-out period.


They are supposed to be banned in the US, too. I am in disagreement with this, since I have a number of heirloom lamps (including the main lighting for my living room) which have bulb clip-on shades, and a number of other, smaller wattage lamps (like my desk lamp) where CFLs will not fit.
Heck, they haven't even considered things like auto lamps (the one inside the passenger compartment and trunk), refrigerator lamps, and Christmas lights, (they'll probably keep making those-- too much profit involved). I've got incandescent bubble lights, and they will pry those from my dead fingers.

Are we really solving the resource and energy crisis if we force people to buy new fixtures (which require resources and energy to produce) just so we can have all funny lights that look like they were squirted from toothpaste tubes?

My grandmother's lamp has done reliable service for over 75 years -- and I've only changed the bulb twice in the last 13. We changed to CFLs everywhere we could about 5 years ago when they first hit the market. But I predict there will be a black (flea) market in incandescents for at least the next 25 years, if not longer.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby mgmills » Jul 29, 2008 6:43 pm

Teresa wrote:
ian mckenzie wrote:Domestic incandescents are scheduled to be banned in Canada altho there is a very long phase-out period.


They are supposed to be banned in the US, too. I am in disagreement with this, since I have a number of heirloom lamps (including the main lighting for my living room) which have bulb clip-on shades, and a number of other, smaller wattage lamps (like my desk lamp) where CFLs will not fit.
Heck, they haven't even considered things like auto lamps (the one inside the passenger compartment and trunk), refrigerator lamps, and Christmas lights, (they'll probably keep making those-- too much profit involved). I've got incandescent bubble lights, and they will pry those from my dead fingers.

Are we really solving the resource and energy crisis if we force people to buy new fixtures (which require resources and energy to produce) just so we can have all funny lights that look like they were squirted from toothpaste tubes?



I agree with Teresa that the plan doesn't seem to be well thought out for banning incandescents.

In my house (just finished building the house in March of 2007) all three bathrooms have the "light bars" over the mirrors that use the incandescents that are clear and globe shaped. We don't use those lights often and have the same bulbs in them we put in when we built the house.

I also have several night lights, sconce lights and pendant lights that use smaller base low wattage bulbs that I haven't seen any CFL replacements for. I noticed the other day when I got on the wrong aisle at Lowes that there are lights like I purchased still for sale.

I guess I better go stockpile bulbs now so I don't have to buy all new light fixtures.

I guess maybe they will develop some additonal styles of CFL's. For my outdoor porch lights I use yellow "bug light" bulbs - haven't seen any of those in CFL either but then I haven't really looked for them. I wonder what the plan for "security lights" is. We don't use ours often but we do have them to activate if we hear unusual outdoor activity at night.

Like Teresa, I have a few favorite older lamps (some are family heirlooms) that have shades which clip to the bulbs and those shades do not work with the CFL's. (I have seen kits to add to lamps to use the other type lamp shade but finding a new lamp shade that goes with the style of the lamp isn't exactly easy.)

(Yes, I know I'm whinning)

I have several lamps that I am using CFL's in that were made for those 3 level wattage bulbs that were like 50/100/150 watts. I had switched them long ago to single wattage bulbs because the others got hard to find and I rarely used the higher settings anyway. I have to double click the switches to turn them on and off.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jul 29, 2008 7:44 pm

The new law only covers *some* incandescent bulbs. It doesn't go over the 100 W incandescent and I don't know how low they go.

My big complaint with CFLs is that no matter what they *say* they are as a comparison of, say, a 100 W bulb, they're not. I want more wattage. So if I had a 60W light, I'd buy a 75W comparison bulb. However, they only generally go up to the 100W equivalent, and since I wanted the real equivalent, I needed more. Plus I have several torchier lamps that have 150W bulbs. I ordered over the internet and got 150W equivalents and they stick up over the top of the torchier. Yuk.

The other problem I have is that those dim CFLs are kinda yellow. So I went with the "bright" CFLs. They have that annoying fluorescentness to them that one doesn't like. Sigh. I think technology will solve much of this, but right now things need to evolve.

Oh, and if you're reading this thread and haven't tried them yet, they take a few moments (minutes?) to warm up. They come on dull and slow brighten. Be forewarned.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby mgmills » Jul 29, 2008 8:51 pm

Squirrel Girl wrote:The new law only covers *some* incandescent bulbs. It doesn't go over the 100 W incandescent and I don't know how low they go.


Anyone have a link to the "law"? What about the 40 watt small base bulbs used in sconces and pendant lights?

Squirrel Girl wrote:Oh, and if you're reading this thread and haven't tried them yet, they take a few moments (minutes?) to warm up. They come on dull and slow brighten. Be forewarned.


Yeah, I have the CFL in my kitchen ceiling fixture and it is very annoying - I flip the switch and have to wait on the light.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jul 29, 2008 9:50 pm

mgmills wrote:Anyone have a link to the "law"? What about the 40 watt small base bulbs used in sconces and pendant lights?

Not handy, and not in the mood to hunt it down. But I have purchased those types of bulbs in CFL. I don't *think* they're part of the law, but I could be wrong (just this once, anyway :tonguecheek: ). Those were less difficult for me to accept than the "normal" bulbs.

I have a CFL in the lamp right next to me now. And I've decided that for this one light, I don't mind that it is slow to warm up. It is nice to wake up in the dark and not be blasted by too many photons when I turn it on. Sometimes I get impatient, but it's OK. If I need instant light, I turn on the 150 watt-er a few feet away.
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby Teresa » Jul 30, 2008 12:35 pm

Martha...if the lights in your bathroom light bar are round and about 3.5-4 inches in diameter, you can get CFL frosted equivalents at Home Depot. We had 4 inch frosted incandescents when we moved in, and have replaced as they have burned out.
(And Home Depot recycles CFLs, once you get past the minimum wage front desk clerk).

CFLs won't fit in my desk lamp from the 80s, which takes the mid-sized 60W incandescents. I haven't gone looking for a small 40 watter for my light table, but maybe I should stock up now!
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Re: Dimmable household CFL/LED bulbs?

Postby InTucky » Jul 30, 2008 2:51 pm

Image

http://theledlight.com/

Theres tons of led lights out there, and they'll only get better with time. I think I can deal with slightly whiter light, and save a ton of money.

Heres a good comparison chart......
http://www.ledlight.com/information.aspx

I hope everyone with the cfl's are properly recycling them! Theres enough mercury in the soil & water already!
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