Good CFL recessed dimmable brands?

rogerv_gwNovember 30, 2009

We currently have 5 5" recessed light cans that have 90 Watt halogen lights that we seldom use because of the 450 Watt consumption issue.

I'm thinking that we would use these more if we replaced the PAR 38 bulbs that are in the fixtures now with CFLs that use more like 20 to 26 watts. I'm not buying the usual 4 times figure that you see for the difference between CFL and incandescent wattage...seems more like about 3 times to me.

Anyways, we're looking for a good brands and models of CFL PAR40 or R40 dimmable bulbs for the recessed lights. I've seen some threads on this, but most seem older, so I'm wondering what's good now? I've seen GE, Philips, Neptun, etc., and am wondering what's good? The going rate seems to be about $16-$17 per bulb for what looks like good quality to me.

Thanks for sharing your experience.


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Putting a "retrofit" CFL (ballast in the lamp base instead of the fixture housing) is asking a lot of a lamp from a retail chain store. The heat of the ballast in an enclosed space will drastically shorten the life of the lamp unless it is unusually well made.

Go to a contractor electric supply house and ask for the best retrofit CFL for a 5" recessed fixture, or dim the 90w halogen lamps down to the light output of the CFL lamps, or use the new energy saving IR PAR halogen lamps that are said to be 30% more efficient.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sylvania dura-one

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 7:14AM
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Look at the CRI (Color Rendering Index) if the "naturalness" of the light is important to you. For me, anything below 90 is very different from the quality of light I want to have in a non-office setting.

You might want to look at CREE and see if they have an LED product that meets your needs. They aren't inexpensive, but they have a significantly better CRI than any of the CFLs I am aware of. They apparently are dimmable down to a moderate level, but not a mere glow as you could an incandescent.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 10:36AM
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Equivalent LED lights are very expensive, especially for equivalent lumens.

For the IR PAR halogen lamps, there's plenty of light, but not the power reduction that I'm looking for.



    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 5:10PM
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Can I suggest, that before you make any switch, that you compare the light output of the various options that you are exploring.
Everyone today is talking wattage, which I agree will affect the cost of energy consumed in your home.
But the light fixtures are there to provide adequate lighting levels for living in your space.
Compare the lumen output of the various products, and the centre beam candlepower of them as well.
On ceilings over 9', LED's and CFL's do not produce adequate light levels on your horizontal surfaces.
One more consideration,
60 year old people need 3 times the light levels as a 25 year old.
Too often today the power companies and manufacturers don't talk about the loss of light output when converting to different light sources

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:02PM
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I agree that lumens are what matters (along with light temperature, etc.), that's why I'm looking at equivalent lumens...the 90W halogens produce a very white light that is hot, and is most likely overkill for the use. I think that 75 Watt halogens would have been enough, perhaps even 60W or 50W so I need to look at their lumens, not the 90W halogen lumens. What I might do is to buy a couple of halogen lights that I know the lumens of and try them out to see which one is "enough", then I'll have a guide as to how many lumens to look for.

The ceiling over the couches is probably about 8 feet, pretty average at that point (the ceiling slopes).

However, I'm still not getting much about the most reliable brands. The reason I ask is that you can buy the same bulbs from many different sources, so if I know what I'm looking for I stand a better chance of not paying top price *smile*. And not having to do the purchase part more than once.



    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 9:35PM
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So glad to see this thread. I went to a lighting specialty store today to ask about this. I was looking to get a toggle dimmer switch (the kind with the tiny slider to the side, that fits in a standard switch plate). The salesguy told me he'd heard of problems using dimmer switches with CFLs--making the bulbs flicker and then blow out prematurely.

The dimmer switch (Lutron brand) says "incandescent or halogen" on the packaging (that is what prompted my question). Can anyone enlighten me? I am mere hours away from my electrician starting work to install 6 can lights and the whole idea from the start was to use CFLs on a dimmer!!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 2:39PM
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FYI The bulb "macv" listed, the Sylvania DURA-ONE BR30 CFL Reflector Bulb 29535, specifically says no dimmers.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 2:42PM
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One dimmer that I've seen referred to on the internet that works with CFL's that are dimmable is the Lutron "Diva". I think that there was one other Lutron mentioned, but the Diva was mentioned several times so I remember it.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 6:24PM
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My advice to you is to leave dimmable CFL's for the foreseeable future, as they are just now approaching the reliability and performance levels that are acceptable.
The importance of a good quality dimmer is part of the recipe for success.
Two factors must be considered..the performance of any CFL is compromised by installing them in a recessed housing, which increases the ambient temperature, and decreases the length of life.
The other factor is that fluorescents dim differently than incandescent lamps.They have no colour shift as they dim,as incandescent lamps shift to reddish tones as they dim.
Also to the human eye, there doesn't seem to be the same dimming range as incandescent lamps, especially when looking directly at the lamp.
Install incandescent or non-dimming flourescent CFL's now, and wait for technology to catch up to expectations

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 9:51PM
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The technology of dimmable CFLs is never going to catch up to expectations. The reason is that it is an entirely different technology when compared to incandescent. If you are waiting for a dimmable CFL to perform in the same fashion as an incandescent, you will have a very long wait.

Many of the dimmable CFLs are quite reliable today, but may not give the residential user the look they want. I still like the cold cathode series from Ushio. The dimmable series from Neptun probably represents one of the better values as their newest line of products seem to work pretty well.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 7:33AM
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Thanks...I'm not looking for or expecting the same performance as incandescent recessed lights, just for reliability and light *smile*. I'm not worried that they don't dim all the way for example, that isn't a problem for me.

How are the "cold cathode" CFL's different? Do they not heat up as much? That would be a good thing, from what I've heard.



    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 4:56PM
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