do i really need a fancy dimmer switch?

maggiemaFebruary 4, 2011

I am about to in stall two 30" Robern MTFLGCH dimable florescent lights on either side of my Robern medicine cabinet, but the manufacturer's installation guide calls for a Letoilier ZP600EB dimmer switch, which is going to cost about $125.00 (ouch!). Is there a genuine need for this added expense, or might there be a comparable option that is less expensive?

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Dimming florescent lights requires a matched dimmer and ballast.

There is not a lot of sales volume for either, running the cost up.

A conventional triac dimmer is very unlikely to work, and may destroy an electronic ballast in short order.
It will cause a real magnetic ballast to overheat and catch on fire.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 3:02PM
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Hi Brickeyee,
I am grateful for your information because I had no idea that these light bulbs weren't conventional. They will be installed by a professional electrician, and he would most likely know how to handle, or know from reading the installation guide. It's always reassuring to get feedback from this forum. Thanks! Is there anyone else who can provide additional info?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 7:51PM
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I looked up the datasheet for the Lightolier dimmer you mentioned and it says it's designed to work with an Advance Mark 10 ballast (Advance is a brand name, now owed by Philips). According to Phillips, Mark 10 ballasts are compatible with controls manufactured by a host of companies (see the link).

My suggestion is to confirm the ballast used in your medicine cabinet and then pick a control that works with that ballast.

Installing a dimmer isn't that complicated. Most come with pretty complete directions but if you haven't done any electrical work, you might be better off hiring an electrician.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mark 10 Ballast

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 8:24PM
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My only comment is you likely dropped close to $1500 for this medicine cabinet and lights, and you are "ouching" over another $125 for the proper dimmer????

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 9:30PM
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Thanks Mike
Your suggestion is really helpful. I will definitely research further and check out the link you suggested.
And Petey, you are almost right. I spent about $900.00 for both and it nearly killed me. I am going to do the right thing to properly install, but any thing saved along the way is a win. Good taste is a curse, but I'm not foolish enough to pay any more than necessary. I just figured that a dimmer switch would cost way less than $125.00, but I was wrong.
Thanks guys, I really appreciated the help!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 11:55AM
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"I had no idea that these light bulbs weren't conventional. "

They are not incandescent, and that requires a special dimmer to operate with a ballast designed for dimming florescent lights.

Regular dimmers chop the voltage going to the light, reducing the power and making the light dim.

This process does not work with florescent lights.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 12:02PM
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