Are there CFLs or other energy-saving light bulbs that work on a dimmer-regulated light fixture?

Asked by Alisa Moore
San Francisco, CA

The CFLs I have purchased don't seem to work with a dimmer.


David Bergman

Answered by David Bergman

New York, NY

David Bergman Architect

April 8, 2010

It's a good news and bad news sort of story.

The good news is that, yes, there are dimmable CFLs and they will usually work on standard dimmers.

The bad news is that they aren't as widely available and you probably won't find them in a hardware store or a Home Depot.  Back to the good news:

  • you can find them online at places like this and this
  • as well as green building supply and green home stores.

But then the bad news is that they don't dim as nicely as those energy-hogging incandescents. They will dim down to what seems like about 40% - 50% of the full on brightness and then, if you try to dim them more, they will usually flicker or shut off.

Those factors, combined with the mercury issue, mean that CFLs are useful for us as an interim solution:

  • they are much more energy efficient than those incandescent toasters,
  • but the real -- and hopefully not too distant -- solutions will probably be in LED and OLED lighting.

I can't wait for that to be the good news.


For more information:

To learn more about energy-saving light bulbs, read David Bergman's Ask A Pro article, "I want energy efficient lighting, but hate the cold light of fluorescents. Can you help?"

Tagged In: cfl, lighting

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