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Dimmable Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

I made an off-hand remark at the end of a recent post about Al Gore stopping by with a "low-energy [dimming] bulb" which I claimed had not yet been invented.

Someone quickly pointed out in the comments that compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs can now do dimming… if you find the proper ones.

I've spent awhile looking and the bulbs aren't widely available by any stretch of the imagination. Many seem to suffer buzzing and/or flickering problems. They have both spiral and floodlight versions available, but comments for both (at,, etc.) indicate the same problems.

So, it appears I'm going to be holding off on replacing the many dimmable lights in the house with low-energy bulbs. I hope the technology advances soon. I believe replacing incandescent bulbs with CFs is a pretty easy way to save money and energy.

11 Responses to "Dimmable Compact Fluorescent Bulbs"

  1. I managed to find some that dim, but I wasn't impressed. Unfortunately, the people who built our house 20 years ago went crazy with dimmer switches! I changed what I could, but until this problem is truly solved, there are simply a lot of light fixtures in my house that aren't compatible with CF technology.

    That, and will they ever have CF bulbs with a chandelier thread? I have seen them on the internet, but never in a store so I can get a good idea how they work.

  2. I have a fancy (mac powered) home automation system. All the switches are dimmers. I've tried dimmable CFs and gave up. They don't turn on until about 25% power and they don't have much of a dimming range. Not to mention the buzzing and flickering.

  3. I just stopped dimming stuff, radical, I know.
    I've replaced virtually all of my incancesdents with CFLs. The few I have not replaced are either out-of-reach, the ones that illuminate the back yard, CFLs are too big like the glass-domed light on the fan in the dining room that has no extra room for a CFL (its probably 50 years old :)), and a few smaller specialized fixtures like wall sconces that don't even take regular-size bulbs.
    Having CFLs was more important to me than dimming 🙂 Mostly though because I feel guilty for wasting energy in other ways 🙁

  4. I have the same issue with dimmers. 70% of the lights in my apartment are dimmers with 60W incandescent dimmer bulbs. I've replaced all other bulbs (within reach) with CFLs. I need to replace some 40W incan. ceiling-fan bulbs, but WOW! The CFL replacements aren't cheap 🙁

    I guess until they come out with more suitable dimmer bulbs, I'll just avoid using the dimmers.

  5. Running incandescent bulbs on dimmers will help to save energy too. Check out Don Klipstein site on light bulbs specifically the Incandescent part.

    Be sure to explore the whole site!

  6. My understanding is that the newer "cold cathode" CFLs work better with dimmers. (they can be dimmed down to about 10% of maximum.) The downside is that CCFLs are less efficient than normal CFLs. (a 13 watt CCFL has similar light output to an 8 watt CFL)

    CCFLs aren't widely available yet, and probably cost more than other CFLs.

  7. I'm very unhappy with my dimmable cfls -- Philips Marathon 65w. I installed 5 about 3 months ago, and 2 are already burned out. Plus, the buzzing when dimmed is awful. I'm switching back -- after blowing a lot of money on the dimmables.


  8. We've changed all the incandescents that we can w/CFs. One thing we'd like to do is change the lights that are on dimmers to CFs BUT with Full-spectrum or Natural Daylight "bulbs." We've also got two kitchen fixtures and a dinning room "chandelier" that use globe incandescent bulbs... we are looking to replace these too... the two in our kitchen are large globes, the ones in the chandelier are tennis ball-size, perhaps slighly larger...

    anyone know where "bulbs" for these can be purchased?

  9. I ma agree with Tim Buchheim because we manufacture dimmable CCFL( cold cathode fluorescent lamp) . It's do have better function of dimming than normal CFL, although it is a little dearer than CFL. But CCFL have more long life ( 15000H) than CFL(8000H), addition, It carry out really dimmable for different switch. If you are interesting, you can visit our website: for more information.

  10. I agree with Greg Smith. Dimmable are great and save energy. We'll all have to replace ordinary bulbs sooner or later, believe me.

  11. Have been trying to use dimmable CFs which cost around $8 per lightbulb (compared to the non-dimming ones which are almost free due to heavy PG&E subsidization).

    The dimming part doesn't work because they either flicker or buzz. That would be fine if I could just use them without dimming. But they don't even work AT ALL 95% of the time.

    So, what are my options? Is it enough to remove the dimmer switches or do I have to replace the recessed lighting sockets as well?