Dimmable?

cfmuehlingSeptember 22, 2010

Hi all!

I have given up on the stupid excuse for dimmable CFL bulbs. On or off is not dimmable. So, that whined:

I have been given some gorgeous LED bulbs for my can lighting. I can't find anything that discusses whether or not LEDs are dimmable! If you use a CFL that's not dimmable, it'll eventually blow the socket. (Been there, done that a few times.) I don't want to take that chance and damage another socket or the bulbs themselves.

Any info on that?

TIA,

Christine

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lightguy

Hi there. Yes, LEDs *generally* are dimmable. Although not always.
But it really depends on the LED you have. The best bet is to contact the manufacturer of the bulb to see 1) if it can be dimmed and 2) what type of dimmer you should use.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 5:19PM
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johne62

Hi - do you mind sharing what brand LED bulb you are using. I am looking for bulbs for my 4" cans.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 8:40PM
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DavidR

I have some older (6-8 years ago maybe?) Philips brand dimmable CFs which work tolerably well, though they dim only to perhaps 20% before going out.

Litetronics claim their cold cathode CFs dim down to 5%. I haven't tried any of these but plan to soon. They interest me for their very long life (18,000 hours stated) and resistance to frequent on-off cycling. The principle is the same as LCD computer / television display backlighting.

http://www.litetronics.com/new-products/11-watt-micro-brite-br30.html

At only 450 lumens, I don't know whether those would be have enough light output for you, however.

LED retrofits and fixtures have electronics in them just as CFs do, though the principle of operation is completely different. Thus they may or may not be dimmable. If they're not specifified as dimmable by the manufacturer, I'd say don't risk it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 8:51PM
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cfmuehling

These are by Lights of America. Never heard of 'em. They're cool, though, with a kind of plastic snow-ball-ish texture to them. They're meant for can lights, of which I have 30 or so. They'll also do fine in some pendants I have. They're only 40 watts, which is cool, since they're so bright.

Since originally posting, I can also tell you that like CFLs, you can't use them in motion sensors. They stay on, period. CFLs flicker.

I find dimmable bulbs are an afterthought once they've worked out some of the kinks with a new product. CFLs, being kind of stepping stone light, are not of interst to me and I have a TON of them to give away. C'est la vie. God bless Freecycle.

So I'll play with these and see what happens.
Thanks for the input.
Christine

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 9:25AM
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DavidR

I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Lights of America. I used to have their CFs in many of my lights.

LoA have been around for quite a long time and in fact were one of the first manufacturers to offer a wide range of CFs in the US. I bought a lot of their CFs when I was first converting over in the 1990s, partly because the choice was so much wider than other manufacturers'.

Until maybe 5 years ago they were AFAIK the last US-based manufacturer left standing, still assembling CFs in California from components sourced in Asia. Now from what I can tell all their CFs are made in China, like most of the other brands'.

In the early 1990s, LoA got something of a bad name for advertising inflated incandescent equivalence of their CFs (something that several manufacturers are now doing at least as blatantly with LED lighting).

They straightened that out, but many of their CFs were later (late 1990s - early 2000s) subject to premature failure because of underrated components. That's my view of the reason; I took some of them apart. I give LoA credit for some clever engineering, but I think they were probably trying to compete with the overseas manufacturers by cutting costs [too close] to the bone.

That said, I have several of their last US-made helical CFs and they are terrific. By the mid-2000s they seemed to have solved the durability problems, and the light quality and startup time were IMO outstanding. These retrofits cost between $4 and $7 each, at the time a very good value for reasonably long-lived retrofit CFs.

However, I've since bought a 3-pack of their Chinese-made retrofit CFs. One of them failed within minutes of first use, the first time that had ever happened to me. I don't know how the others fared as I (hesitantly) installed them in lights at a rental property, but I'm not too optimistic.

I know, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data," but I haven't bought anything with the Lights of America brand on it since.

If you're considering their LED retrofits, I'd suggest carrying out a web search for the terms "Lights of America" and "LED" before making a decision.

From what I've just read, I suspect that your "40 watt" LEDs not only consume far less than 40 watts of power - probably less than 1/20 that amount - but their claim of "replacing" 40 watt incandescents is also rather optimistic. But if you're happy with them, great!

Here is a link that might be useful: LED lights from LOA (Circa 2008)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 9:07PM
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dim4fun

Both Lutron and Leviton now make dimmers designed specifically for dimmable retrofit compact fluorescent lamps and each has a list of approved lamps tested to work with the dimmers. The Leviton product is now shipping in white only. Lutron's should ship soon and probably in many more colors plus work with some LED lamps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Leviton

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 4:32PM
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cfmuehling

Thanks all.
I'm not screwing around (get it?) with the dimmable CFLs. They are a total waste of time IMHO, given the fact I'd have to replace my dimmer switches and am not willing to do that.

After a fire in 2005 I am just this month getting switches and outlets in 1/2 of my house. Replacing these new ones to accommodate soon-to-be-obsolete CFLs is a no brainer. Not.

The LEDs I was asking about are fine. They're definately not on the 75 watt side, which is OK. They're still terribly bright. But when you haven't had electricity in your house for 5 years, a candle can blind you.

Thanks again,
C.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:04PM
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DavidR

Hi C,

Good luck with the project! Please come back here a year from now, and let us know how those Lights of America LED retrofits are performing. I'd love to hear that LoA have gotten their act together on LEDs.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 1:56AM
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