I replaced the incandescent bulbs in a 6 bulb fixture with
non-dimmable CFLs. I didn't realize it at the time I did it that the
switch was a dimmer switch. Realizing it was a dimmer switched
circuit I tried dimming them. Didn't work, they were either on or
off. So just to see what would happen I took out two of the CFLs and
put regular incandescent back in. With the inc bulbs there the dimmer
would dim the non-dimmable CFLs. Not as well as real dimmable CFLs
but certainly enough to be dim enough to satisfy my needs in the
dimming department. there is a slight buzzing when I dim this setup
but it's not enough to be a problem to me for the few times I want to
So what's different about the dimmable CFLs compared to the
non-dimmable ones? Do they just add a resistor in parallel inside the
Not sure, but in effect that's what is happening. I would be very
leery of what you are doing, however, because it obviously is running
the CFL's in a manner to which they were not designed. I would expect
that any guarantee about lifetime would be out the window, and also I
would be very careful to see if they overheat under that type of
operation. You're taking an appreciable risk in doing what you are
doing, although I have done the same thing just for a couple of 20
second experiments out of curiosity just like you did.
I'm not sure, but at least as of a few years ago I wasn't able to find
a dimmable CFL that worked acceptably. I did notice more recently
that the "big box" stores started selling dimmers that apparently were
designed specifically to work with CFLs, but even the ones with
displays to test out the various dimmers, timers, etc. did not have
any of them installed. So, after spending lots of time and money
trying to find a good dimmable CFL I just gave up and put
incandescents in the few fixtures that I had that were controlled by
dimmers. Fortunately I was able to return most of the CFLs that I
I'll revisit it again in a few years if the stores ever let you
actually see how the dimmers and CFLs work together, but my suspicion
is that they'll never really work well because LEDs are the new hot
thing and I suspect that they'll be ready for prime time soon enough,
and apparently those handle dimming better than any fluorescent ever
I have yet to find or see a truely dimmable CFL Bulb unless you want
to count how long the damn things take to actually produce the rated
I have replaced most of the lights in my house with CFL's but have
found that they don't last much longer than incadescents and cost more
in the long run.
I bought a dim able cfl at the home depot, over 10 years ago. Worked pretty
good. Really nice color temperature. There is a threshold you have to deal
with. The bad part, it cost over $15.
This was really cool. I modified a 500 watt floor lamp into the cfl, using
the same dimmer. I broke the cfl while moving. Its steal broke.
Bought a batch of feit ceiling cfl floods, said dimmable. One blew out
immediately. The others worked like shit. From costco..
I have 8 of those in my kitchen on a dimmer and nothings gone wrong
with them yet. They are about year old, maybe more. Their range of
dimming isn't nearly as much as incandescent's but it's good enough
for what I need.
I have tried a couple of the dimmable bulbs but was totally
dissatisfied with them and am not about to pay more for the overpriced
experiments that don't work. Based on the bulb price to electric
savings I figure I will be dead and pushing up dasies for 20 years
before I break even.
Fool me once....
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