Posts Tagged ‘dimmers’

Dimming CFL and LED lamps

October 3rd, 2011 No comments

Dimmers & CFL or LED Bulbs


We’ve previously addressed the upcoming phase out of the incandescent bulbs and discussed the different Pros & Cons of Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs and LED bulbs.  Maybe you are replacing incandescent bulbs as the burn out, or selectively replacing the bulbs in certain light fixtures.  Have you tried CFLs or LED bulbs in the dining room chandelier or any of your other fixtures with dimmer switches?  Did the new bulbs work?  The result was probably bulbs that did not dim at all, flickered at lower light levels, or had a limited dimming range.  Perhaps in disappointment you thought, “I know I bought the CFL lamps that are dimmable”  and you double-check the packaging to confirm you did buy the correct bulbs.    What the heck is going on you ask?!  Odds are the bulbs are not the problem, the old style dimmer switch is the problem.



The dimmable CFL and LED bulbs need to be used in conjunction with a new CFL and LED rated dimmer switch.  This is very important for a couple of reasons, but the most important reason is that the new CFL and LED rated dimmers are UL Listed for use with these new bulbs.  This means the dimmer switch was tested to the UL Lab’s standards to be safe and not cause fires or electrical shocks when used with CFL or LED bulbs.  The other reason to use a new dimmer switch is that they have an adjustable dimming range when being used with CFL or LED bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs to prevent flickering.

Many companies offer CFL and LED approved dimmer switches.  Leviton and Lutron are probably the most commonly available brands.  They can be picked up at any local big box home improvement store.  Dimmer switches are relatively easy to install yourself after you have turned off the power to the circuit at the load center.  If you are not comfortable or confident in your abilities to work on your electrical circuits, please be safe and consult your preferred local electrician.

Electrical Tip of the Day: Updating your lighting, 5 things you must know

October 14th, 2009 No comments

In many of the homes built in the late 80’s and 90’s little attention was paid to the lighting.  Likewise, historic homes and one-of-a-kind custom homes often share a common problem… bad lighting design and layout.  So here are 5 tips to help you out with some potential lighting updates.

#1 – There are no rules! You can do whatever you want… like anything else the lighting in your home can and should be a statement about you.  Some folks prefer lighting that stands out and is a point of interest in a room, others prefer lighting that is ambient and becomes “part of the space”.  Either way is fine – but do not be afraid to be daring.  Chandelier in the bathroom?  Why not!  Really like that historic fixture?  Get it restored!

#2 – Sconce Lights and table lamps can be your friend! Lighting in a room tends to look better and more interesting when it comes from multiple sources.  A combination of ceiling lights, wall mounted sconces, and table lamps can really help get the look and feel of a home dialed in.  I am a big fan of adding sconce lights to living rooms and dining rooms.  This can be a very cost effective way to spruce up a space and really change the look of a room, both with the fixtures themselves and the layering of the light.

#3 – Kitchen lights can be cool too! As I said earlier, there are no rules.  Nothing says that you have to keep that old fluorescent  surface mount light in the center of the kitchen anymore…  and those old can lights over the bar with the yellow stained “eye ball” trims, maybe it’s time to retire them.  A combination of under cabinet lights, pendant lights, reseeded can lights, and hidden “nook” ambient lighting can make a huge difference in a kitchen.   Many of these changes can be done on a tight budget, and in most cases can be done in several phases to spread the cost out into affordable bites.

#4 – Outside lighting sets the mood! No matter what time of year it is the exterior lighting on your home is the mood setter.  At night when you come and go it is the most striking visual feature of your home, embrace it.  There are a lot of considerations for exterior lighting… be it security, landscape lighting, architectural feature lighting, lot lighting, path and drive way lighting, and so on.  As with lighting in the interior of the home “layering” your exterior lighting is the secret.  Using the structure of the home, the landscape, the decks and garages, and any other building feature to get varied elevations of light really brings things to life.  Here is another quick tip – landscape lighting always looks better when done in non-symmetrical layouts, with several different types of fixtures and lamp types.  If you are sporting the “runway” landing strip lights down your front sidewalk let’s talk.

#5 – Dimmers, Dimmers, Dimmers! The amount of ambient light that comes in a home changes with the seasons, the weather, the time of day… and so too does all of our moods.  Being able to dim the lights in a given space is one of the quickest affordable changes that can be made to dramatically affect the lighting in a space.   The light level needed in a room to play a quality game of RISK with the family is certainly not the ideal amount of light needed for movie night (especially if it is scary move night) – dimmers to the rescue.  I also find that installing dimmers for your exterior lighting is a very cool and helpful way to dial in the look of a patio or outdoor living space.