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CFLs on a dimmer?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by JD, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like the perfect "no budget" answer.

    I am not sure why, but there is a current epidemic of people putting "stand alone" self ballasted CFLs on dimmer systems. I think they need a bigger warning on the box, like the WHOLE box! I was in a Home Depot last week and overheard one of their sales people tell a customer that CFLs were ok on a dimmer. I didn't interrupt, but I did go over and grab a box of the shelf and read it just to makes sure it wasn't some new form of product, but it clearly stated "Do not use on a dimmer."

    Although not in the scope of this forum, there is a big lag in public understanding of the limits of CFLs, and as we can see by this thread, that trickles over into our industry.
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    So every permanent ceiling fixture in my house is on a dimmer. Until there is a CFL that I can screw into the existing socket(s), I'll stick with my various wattages and beam spreads of incandescent R lamps.:twisted:
     
  3. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I heartily agree. And I hope that the idiots in congress don't go and make blanket laws like they are considering elsewhere: global ban on incandescents. CFLs have their place, and definitely not in a landfill which is where most of them end up anyway! >:^(
     
  4. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    CFL's suck. I'm sorry I hate their quality of light. Period.
     
  5. dimwatt

    dimwatt Member

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    I'm with Grog12 on this. The light is just so wishy-washy and bland. No feeling or atmosphere, not even stark coldness, just bleugh.
     
  6. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Don't completely discredit the Home Depot employees, some CFL's are dimmable, but in the same breath, some are not.
     
  7. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I've ranted about this before. I still don't have truly functional houselights in my new theater. The dimable ballast I have won't work properly with my CFLs. While the contractor and designers are arguing about who is going to pay for it I've purchased a bunch of spare S4 PAR's with XWFL lenses to use as house lights. Because even when they do work the CFL's are horribly UGLY and have no place in a theater setting. We'll use them for classroom time, rehearsals and works.
     
  9. IlyaSmirnov

    IlyaSmirnov Member

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    I agree completely - they're fine when the light quality doesn't matter, and they're often better than the fluorescent tubes used in institutions and other non-residential buildings... some are alright for use at home, even. But in a theatrical setting, they're good for worklights and that's about it - too harsh.
     
  10. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    From JD's Dictionary-

    [size=+2]CFL lamp:[/size]
    Obnoxious little lamp, sometimes shaped like the screw that it is. Also known to be full of trace poisons such as mercury. Can not be disposed of in the same fashion as incandescent. Breakage requires toxic spill cleanup procedures. Government implied mandated use due to the outlawing of "real" light bulbs.

    Dimming curve: Casino curve. How lucky do you feel?

    Color- light vomit white.
     
  11. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    I'll be stocking up on incandescents over the next few years. Government intrusion with no benefit really irritates me.

    And from what little I know, CFL need to be disposed of properly, there's mercury in them, etc. It's like recyclable food containers. You spend more time and energy washing them out than you save in recycling them.
     
  12. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    I recently was bugging the janitors to replace the house bulbs with all 200 watt bulbs because A) half were burnt out and B) they were all different wattages. I told them even just give them to me and I'll do it myself. They said that they'd do it themselves so I said OK. They replaced the ****ing things with CFLs!!!!! :evil: Don't get me wrong, I'm the president of my school's environmental club, I understand their benefit, but not in a theatre environment! So, other than the fact that they don't dim, is there inherit danger in having them on a dimmer becuase please say yes and I will get them replaced much sooner rather than a bit later.

    I also asked them to give me bulbs to replace work lights and they said they'd replace them themselves too, but I've been waiting a few months now and I've still yet to see them get replaced when I told them that all they had to do was give me the bulbs and I'd be happy to replace them.
     
  13. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    Of course there's inherent danger, feeding chopped dimmer waveforms into a device not designed for it is dangerous and I have "lost' enough mirror ball motors, effects projectors and uv fluoros to be painfully aware of the problem.
    [the joys of working in schools]
    Usually the "do not use on dimmers" on the side of the box is a clue.
     
  14. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    So from what I understand, you're saying that it's dangerous to have the CFLs on the dimmer even if I'm using it at full power? If that's the case, I'll have them switched, otherwise I'm going to have to grin and bear it. Any input as to what may happen in the worst case scenario? Bulbs explode?
     
  15. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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  16. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    They are most unlikely to blow up, they will just fizzle out.The usual criteria for "dangerous" is "within the parameters specified by the manufacturer" and "not suitable for dimmers" fits this criteria.But I'd be prepared to lie to get rid of the awful things.
     
  17. KKeen

    KKeen Member

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    Funny thing is (or unfunny, depending on how you look at it), you can totally dim self-ballasted CFLs with an autotransformer. I'm doing it right now. Looks horrible, 0% to 30% is totally black, but you totally can. Actually you can "dim" any ballasted fixture (HMI, LEDs, flos, rainlights, ACLs, etc) with autotransforming dimmers like the old-fashioned dial dimmers ("squeeze" dimmers for film folks), ETC's fancy SineWave dimmers, or any dimming product with IGBTs (ETI makes sweet dimming sticks with these; no more filament hum! longer lamp life!).

    the math is too confusing, the physics seem wrong, but you could ifyou wanted to (or needed to). you can even dim neon with squeeze dimmers.

    (don't let your directors know!)
     
  18. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    you can dim ballasted lights down to a point where they drop out but you certainly can not dim up an HMI, not possible, it needs full voltage to strike.I've had the misfortune to work on many of the fluoro dimmer systems and you can get everything working one week and the next week you have flickering or other problems, all the systems I've seen seem to be inherently unstable, not a good feeling in a live theatre.
     
  19. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    So from what I hear I should tell them that they will explode and get them replaced? Maybe even tell them that they are damaging the dimmers? :)
     
  20. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Sorry, they won't damage the dimmers. They look ugly in use, don't dim, and are likely to burn out quickly... but that's about all you can honestly say about them.
     

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