Posts Tagged ‘dimmers’

Lutron C-L Series: A good dimmer choice for dimmable CFLs and LEDs

February 23, 2011
Lutron Diva C-L Dimmer

Lutron Diva C-L

Lutron Lumea C-L Dimmer

Lutron Lumea C-L

Regular readers have seen me rave about the CREE CR6 LED light.  (And if you haven’t—now’s the time to read more!)  I’ve had good success using standard dimmers, with the Lutron Diva working well.  However, Lutron has a new series of “C-L Dimmers” designed specifically for dimmable CFL and LED.  I’ve tried the Diva C-L, the Skylark C-L, and the Lumea C-L.  I like them.  And this line of dimmers does help alleviate some of the dimming problems one encounters with most so-called dimmable CFLs and LEDs. 

While CFLs have been around for a long time, they haven’t worked well with standard dimmers.  Frankly, I’m LESS than impressed with CFL that are claimed to be dimmable.  I found a too-small dimmable range, flicker, and shorter than expected life from the dimmable CFLs that I’ve tried.  And LEDs, I’m not ready to recommend most (the CREE and the HALO are two stand-out exceptions). 

But what if you’ve just invested in the lower quality—but still dimmable—options?  You may be experiencing some of the frequent problems with these bulbs using standard dimmers.  Things like the reduced dimming range I mentioned, sudden drop out as you dim the bulbs low without intending to shut them off, lights not coming on when the switch is in a dimmed position, or annoying flicker.

The Lutron C-L series features a "behind the plate" adjustment dial that helps optimize the dimmer for the bulbs you're using.

The Lutron C-L dimmers do a good job reducing these problems and the list is opposite the problems cited above.  Lights stay on as they’re dimmed.  Lights turn on regardless of whether they when dimmed when shut off or not.  Flicker is reduced.  Lutron handles this with some black box electronic that I’m not privy to—and with an adjustment dial that helps tailor the dimmer to the performance your bulbs can handle.  These dimmers don’t make inferior bulbs better.  But they do improve the experience of using the bulbs.

[And they’re great with those CREE CR6s!]


CFLs and Dimming

July 20, 2010

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) have gotten a bad rap. And in many cases, because they deserved it. Ugly light quality, annoying humming, and much shorter-than-rated lifespans plagued CFLs of yesteryear.     

But thanks in part to improved technology and higher ENERGY STAR standards, today’s CFL are excellent.  Good quality, good light, good performance, and still energy-efficient.    

One of the challenges with CFLs has been dimmability—or rather lack thereof. And most CFLs still aren’t dimmable. However, some are. And when connected to a high quality dimmer, these dimmable CFLs are efficient and good quality. I won’t geek out on the technical issues that have been addressed here other than a couple of short points. Dimmable CFLs have a different ballast than standard CFLs—the ballast are designed to operate as the power level drops, and the ballast sends a decreasing amount of juice to the bulb. And quality dimmers adjust to current to the light.


Philips Marathon dimmable CFL

If you want CFLs that dim, get a dimmable CFL! You’ll get better results with a good dimmer. I like the  Philips dimmable bulbs and the Diva dimmer by Lutron.   But don’t expect the full range of dimmability you’d get with incandescents.  There are some decent ciculine and GE’s double-U shaped bulbs, especially in dedicated torchieres.   [You can get even better results with T-5 linear flourescents with dimmable ballasts–but you won’t have the flexibility of a variety of fixture types.]

When buying CFLs you’ll also want to pay attention to the “temperature” and this works the opposite of what you might expect. A higher temperature number gives a whiter light—often advertised as “cool”. A lower temperature number gives a more yellow “warmer” light than we associate with incandescent lighting and which most people prefer in their homes. Higher/cooler, lower/warmer—hey, I don’t decide this, I’m just reporting! And look for ENERGY STAR. Their spec includes quality standards, and their website includes buying guidance.   



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