I did some of that with Xmas lites, yes, but my parents indulged me
with electrical stuff from the hardware store as well. I had a bunch or
light sockets, battery holders, switches, wires etc. that I could play
with, even some "house current" stuff. I only blew the fuses a few
times. I also dumpster dived a lot, for example I'd scrounge phonograph
turntables as flywheels for DC motor/generator systems, which taught me
something about regenerative braking.
The bulbs are a dull red-to-orange at 1/10th to 1/5th voltage, and it
takes one-to-several seconds to warm up to final brightness, but they
generally do light. I said "5 to 10 bulbs" because it depends somewhat
on the particular traits of the bulbs. By adding more in series, each
runs at a lower voltage and takes longer to come to final brightness,
such that your eye has enough time to follow the changing luminosity,
up to the point where there are too many to see them light at all.
Yeah, well, the memory is the second thing to go, and I can't remember
what the first one is.
Yeah, me too. Never forget the time I had my mom by me a plug fuse,
with me thinking it was a different kind of light bulb.
Screwed it into the lamp; turned the switch... and;
well, you know the rest.
Fuses actually do make great light bulbs; they just don't last very
You spoke the truth and tought me something I didn't know.
I wouldn't have believed that there'd be any light in the visible
spectrum at 1/10 voltage, but I just played around with a few small "12
volt" automotive bulbs and my bench supply and they all put out a red
glow visible in dim light right down to 1 volt; and some even below.
I found one bulb which at 0.7 volts produced a little dull red in the
middle of the filament (The furthest point from where the filament
supports were sinking the heat away.)
I suppose it's because as the filament is cooler running at reduced
voltage, the resistance drops, so the current falls off more gradually
than voltage, and the power and filament temperature are decidedly
nonlinear functions of voltage.
Impressive commentary! Thank you for clarifying the triac methodology.
That was quite the observation for a 6 year old. I trust that was quite a
while ago...!!<g> So that speaks well of your memory, too. Seems you were
I have an attractive light fixture, which has been dark for years. The
fancy bulbs required for it burned out within days of
installation...ridiculous. Got tired of feeding cash into this fruitless
effort. There are four bulb sockets. The fixture is controlled by two
3-way switches; it's at the base of stairs.
This thread has renewed my interest in reactivating the fixture. I will put
a standard (non 3-way) slide-dimmer at each of the two switch locations.
SLIDE is critical, to force the user to warm the bulb filaments gradually.
The catch is that TWO DIMMERS cannot cohabitate in the same 3-way circuit;
because it seems highly imprudent to put two dimmers in series. Your
rebuttal would be welcome.
I'll should split the fixture sockets. Two sockets will be controlled by
one slide switch; the other two sockets by the other switch. This way, at
least there will be some light, if only one switch is slid to its "on"
I have another stairwell, which has two 3-way switches. One is a
push-button dimmer; of a 3-way nature. The other is a conventional 3-way
lever switch. The bulbs controlled there *never* burn out. I hesitate to
use this proven configuration with the fixture whose bulbs die so quickly.
I want those delicate bulbs to *always* light up slowly.
Hi, I told you already, take a look at thermistor or diode "bulb savers"
they'll give you a soft start or the effect of reduced voltage you need.
They are available to suit both standard and candelabra base sizes
For the little money they cost it's worth giving them a try before
bothering to start rewiring stuff, isn't it?
Or, you could try the solution which I described as working for me in
our bathroom. use a conventional multi location toggle switch control
system and add a lamp dimmer just ahead of the bulbs, located out of
easy reach, and set it to "90%" or so.
You are correct about there being no easy way to just use two off the
shelf slide dimmers to accomplish a soft start from either of two
locations without adding a LOT of complicated electronics.
Those are apparently the "diode" version of bulb saver, not the
thermistor. According to Don Klipstein's webpage (somebody already
mentioned that link, here it is again,
http://members.misty.com/don/bulb1.html ), they reduce light output by
70 percent while reducing power by 40%. So that's 30% of the light for
60% of the power, meaning you're paying twice as much to get the same
light. The same page explains the tradeoff of bulb life and bulb
efficiency: with the electricity cost far exceeding the cost of the
bulb, it appears these devices are false economy.
The only non-diode, drop-in soft starters I could find were Bulb Boss
I think I remember seeing Bulb Boss drop-in dimmers at home depot.
Not really. If you are willing to pay a little extra, Lutron (and
maybe Leviton too) make "smart" dimmers that can be dimmed from either
side of a 3-way switch and remember their previous positions. They
presumably use an X-10 like signalling between the switches to keep
them synced and avoid the problem of two dimmers in "series"
Hey, how about a simple series resistor.
Cause about 10% of the drop to be across it, sufficient wattage.
Anybody ready to calculate it for a 100 watt bulb?
Wouldn't need any dimmers, synced or not.
Wouldn't be a soft start, since it would be based on hot resistance rather
than startup, but net result would be longer life to the bulbs.
The Lutron Maestro or Faedra series, and the Leviton Mural, TouchPoint
and True Touch series match your description. Earlier I suggested the
Smarthome.com ToggleLinc and SwitchLinc multi-location dimmers.
Thanks for the complement. I was a natural at some things but a failure
I like the Lutron sliders for the reason you describe.
Technically I think dimmers in series should work, but of course if you
turn any one off, the other(s) cannot turn the system back on. With
dimmers in parallel (with each other), all would have to be turned off
to make the light go out. So I agree it's imprudent.
I have Lutron 3-way sliders which push on and off. Each slider teams up
with a normal 3-way at the other side of the room. When I turn the
lights off at the slider by pushing it, I place the slider in the 60%
position so that when I turn it on at the other switch, I don't get
blinded by the bright light. It has also anecdotally lengthened the
life of the bulbs, several years since a replacement.
Another option is to use X10 or remote-multiway type dimmers. The ones
I like best are the Smarthome ToggleLinc line, because they use regular
switchplates. I've used their Togglelinc PLC (X10) switches to control
compact fluorescents. Anyway, if you don't want/need to have X10
compatibility, then by using the same wires as a "regular" 3-way
configuration, you can use the "hardwired only" Deluxe Dimmer 23897
with the multiway companion 23892
I'm seriously thinking of doing this myself, because the dimming
function would then be available at both switch locations.
Commercial Electric compact fluorescent light that sells for $5
each claims to have a lifespan of about 7-years. I keep burning out my
$0.17 bulbs far too many times (around three weeks on a 126VAC.)
Mostly right after the switch is flipped on. I now use the $0.17 bulbs
only on dimmable reading lamps.
Like most fluorescent lights, the compact fluorescent bulbs won't burn
out within the 7-years period but would usually slowly deteriorate in its
The Commercial Electric compact fluorescent lights are very slow to
brighten compared to incandescent. I recently had four of them installed.
Each had a light output equal to a typical 56-watts bulb within in 20-
seconds (they claim 60-watts.) Since each consumes only 17-watts of
energy I now have three bulbs per bedroom and not have to worry
about a ladder for four or five years.
I like the CE, Sylvania and some other brands CF lights for certain
applications. They are "instant on" and can even start at 0 degrees
Fahrenheit, even though as you note they have a warmup time. One other
thing worth noting is that some fixtures have a limit of 60W per bulb,
incandescent. You can substitute 23W or 28W CF bulbs and achieve better
CF bulbs are not as good where you'll turn them off before they'll
achieve full brightness, meaning they're most effective where they'll
be on for minutes to hours at a time.
I like dimmable halogens for reading lights.
I had the same problem.
Solution: Have your electrician put a whole house surge suppressor on
immediately after your meter. My file serve kept a log of incoming line
voltage - very dirty inspite of what power company said. Peak volts varied
from 94 - 160. The suppressor clamped them at a peak of 129 v. Light bulbs
last a long time.
Others have already mentioned to check the voltage. I had this problem a
couple of years ago. Early in the morning, the electric company increases
the output to be ready for all the industrial startups between 6 and 7 AM.
I was getting readings of 142 volts in the AM, but it would be normal the
rest of the day. My point is to check the voltage a few times during the
day to be sure it is not just certain times. The power company was able to
fix my problem by repairing their equipment.
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