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Fluorescent dimmer switches

Houghton123's picture

Weekend worrier here - actually, retired guy finally getting around to all the stuff the house needs.

California's energy code requires, in new construction and remodels, either high-efficacy lights or dimmer switches*.  The high-efficacy versions of the light fixtures we're looking at in the current remodel are twice the price of the low-efficacy versions (for one fixture, this wouldn't be bad, but we're putting in five).  This makes dimmer switches more attractive.  Since incandescent light bulbs are moving in the direction of halogen, not a terribly efficient light, my plan is to buy the low-efficacy fixtures, which take incandescents or CFLs, and put CFLs in them.

This then requires a dimmer switch rated for fluorescent lights; we'll be putting in two three-way switches, one at each door into the room.

OK, that's the setup, here's the question: looking at the installation guide for the Leviton switch, it appears that these dimmer switches do not require a neutral, just the usual hot legs (incoming and outgoing) and, of course, the equipment ground.

Is that right?

*My son and I shake our heads over this.  Maybe modern dimmer switches save electricity, and we just don't know; certainly the older ones just reduced output voltage without really reducing net energy use.

Are you remodeling or just

Are you remodeling or just changing out some fixtures? Unless you're pulling a permit I wouldn't worry about what the state wants.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

Yes, we have a permit

It's a major remodel, with a permit.  So we do have to care.

Dimmable fluorescents are a

Dimmable fluorescents are a fiction.  I recommend you skip a generation and go straight to dimmable LEDs.

Some dimmers require a neutral, some don't.  In general, it's a lot harder to get a neutral-less dimmer to work reliably.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Okay, you have to care. We're

Okay, you have to care. We're talking ceiling or bathroom  fixtures here? Why can't you use CFLs without dimmers? They are about as efficient as you can buy. Even at California electric rates you'll never save enough electricity to pay for LEDs 

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

LEDs cost maybe 3x what CFLs

LEDs cost maybe 3x what CFLs do and last at least 4 times as long.  And the price is sure to go down.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

And when they go down in

And when they go down in price they may make economical sense

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

They already make sense,

They already make sense, economically, given their long life.  I know you don't WANT that to be the case, but you probably didn't want it to be true of CFLs either.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

What a stupid remark. Why

What a stupid remark. Why would i not want cheaper light bulbs or more effieciency? As I've stated on many other posts I have and have had for almost 8 years nothing but CFL bulbs in my house, To say i was an early adopter would be an understatement. As I've also stated in other post in which you took part I carry incandesent, halogen, CFL and LED bulbs in my truck all the time to demonstrate how well they light in different situations and how quickly they come to full power. I think I'd be willing ot take any bet you want to make about real life expereinces with the different types of bulbs,

I like LEDs but I can do math. My customers don't like LEDs at all because of the price and because when compared to CFLs their break even point is sometime in the far off future.I can buy a CFL for $1.80 every day, a CFL is $30.00. My CFL's have lasted about 7 years each so far so for the price of one LED I can buy 15  CFLs.  15 CFLs should last at least 105 years by my experience.

When LEDs come down in price  to the point that they make sense I'll have them in my house.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

LEDs are under $20.  CFLs

LEDs are under $20.  CFLs last a year or two in normal daily use.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Baloney on both counts. You

Baloney on both counts. You know how I know? Because I'm out buying bulbs, talking to  custoemrs about bulbs and using them everyday rather than sitting at a  computer running Google searches about therm. 

At Home Depot or Lowes the cheapest 60 watt LED is $29.99. They sell 5 packs of CFLs for under $9.00. At Walmart a 12 pack of 13 watt CFLs is $19.99.  Yes, you can buy them from Amazon cheaper but that's not where most people buy lightbulbs and of course you can buy CFLs cheaper there too so the math still stands.

Apparenrtly you didn't read what I just posted. The CFLs in my house are over 8 yera old and going strong as they are in my rental units and my customers homes. I have them in cans where they aren't supposed to be used and yet they are still going strong. All of our table lights have  CFLs and as my exterior floods burn out i replace them with CFLs.

I can buy CFLs in any of 3 color tempertures at HD

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

I bought two 60W LEDs at HD

I bought two 60W LEDs at HD about the first of December.  Under $20 each.

And, to get back to the whole point of this thread, you can't dim CFLs (even if the label says you can).


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville