Dimmable energy saving bulbs are usually labeled as "Use only with standard dimmers. Not to be used with touch dimmers, electronic dimmers, timers, ..." After reading https://diy.stackexchange.com/a/7931/4390, I also understand why that is.

The problem: I'm living in a rented apartment with the following circuitry: To dim one lamp, I can use a push-button on one side of the room, and a touch sensor button on the other side (push and hold to dim up and down). Both are used to dim the same lamp (similar to a changeover switch). I'd like to keep this setup (and probably wouldn't be allowed to replace it anyway).

But when I install an energy saving bulb, it flashes brightly at about 5 or 10 Hz, when the dimmer is at OFF (probably due to the leakage current of the touch sensor).

Since filament lamps won't be available in the EU for very long anymore (and my new light fixture can't even be used with filament or halogen lamps anymore due to low heat resistance), I don't really know what to do.

  • Are there energy saving lamps which work with touch/electronic dimmers, timers, etc.?
  • Or are there suitable dimmers which allow me to control dimming from two locations in the room?
  • Have you checked with the landlord? They might be willing to change the switches to ones that work with energy efficient bulbs.
    – BMitch
    Nov 28, 2011 at 13:32
  • @BMitch: Maybe they will, if this is the only way to solve the problem. But we aren't sure, if such switches even exist. I'd prefer to just change the lamps, but I'd like to find out, which options we have. Nov 28, 2011 at 13:55
  • In principle, a filter between the dimmer and the bulb could convert the waveform produced by your dimmer into the one of a “standard dimmer” (presumably one which is sinusoidal but lower voltage). I don't know whether such devices exist or would be practical.
    – Kevin Reid
    Nov 28, 2011 at 18:31
  • One problem is probably that most touch dimmers are electronic and probably don't have 'air gap' switches in them, where there is actually a contact being opened when the air gap switch is used. In the US, wallbox dimmers have little switches that slide to turn off. This is a different type of dimmer but notice the little air gap switch at the bottom. Manufacturers don't expect us consumers to use these but dimmers are supposed to have them here to meet UL. Sorry I can't be more helpful, but I will keep checking around at work.
    – lqlarry
    Nov 30, 2011 at 5:18
  • I ran out of room but my comment about the air gap switches are for electronic dimmers only. Standard dimmers use an actual air gap switch when turned on and off at the dimmer.
    – lqlarry
    Nov 30, 2011 at 5:20

2 Answers 2


I had the same issue when outfitting two homes with Insteon dimmers (which support both multi-location control and full home automation with an optional computer link) over the past 6 years. For CFL bulbs, it comes down to the design of the ballast. I used a combination of forum research and experimentation to find no-flicker bulbs, and have the following recommendations (in order of availability & price):

  1. TCP SpringLamp series
  2. Overdrive Lighting dimmable spiral
  3. EarthTronics / EarthBulb
  4. Dimmable CCFLs from LiteTronics or TCP (no high-lumen models)

All of them work wonderfully for me with a wide range of dimming and no flicker. One caveat: very low dim levels cause an audible whine on some of the bulbs, particularly the TCP models.

I've read about positive results with LED lamps as well, but the price isn't right (for me) yet.


I have seen many labeled in the store for use with a dimmer. GE has a FAQ on it that basically just says check the package. GE Faq

I have used them and they seem to work. I am not sure about the life expectancy. I have yet to have ANY CFL last as long as they claim.

  • What kind of dimmer are you using? (My question is specifically about electronic/touch dimmers.) Feb 4, 2012 at 13:06

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