I have a dimmable ceiling light fixture in the Dining room. I put in CFL bulbs a few months ago. It all seems to work fine, no problem. I went to a hardware store yesterday and saw that there were CFL bulbs that were labeled as "dimmable". They were ~$10 for a bulb that puts out light equivalent to 100 W incandescent bulb.

What's the difference between a dimmable and a regular CFL bulb? Do I really need a dimmable one? My regular CFL bulb seems to work fine right now.

  • I don't know the answer but you may want to check out the following links:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp#Components | dimmablecflblog.com
    – Mike B
    Sep 16, 2010 at 17:21
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    Wow, I'm really surprised that the non-dimmable one works on the dimmer at all. Does it buzz or flicker when you try to dim it? Sep 16, 2010 at 17:26
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    I agree, it's surprising that the bulb works at all with a dimmer. My guess is the CFL sells the same bulb in both dimmable and non-dimmable packaging (just charges a premium for the dimmable ones). Sep 21, 2010 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


Do not use a non-dimmable CFL with a dimmer. It shortens the CFL's life, and, in rare cases, a dimmer operating a CFL could result in fire. Change it out with a switch to be safe.

Dimmable CFLs aren't as good as incandescent for dimming. Their lowest settings are nowhere near that of incandescent, but they are good if you want the option to save on power and still be able to dim the lighting. Sometimes you will have to turn up the light to get it to kick on and then dim it. They can also be audible at their lowest setting. If you buy some, save the receipt as you may not like their drawbacks.

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    Also, using a non-dimmable with a dimmer voids the warranty. Sep 21, 2010 at 17:50
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    Light bulbs have warranties? Sep 22, 2010 at 21:18
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    With incandescent bulbs, the warranty isn't really something you think about. But CFL bulbs are more expensive, and rated to last longer. So, if it dies, you're more inclined to care about the warranty. I had an outdoor Feit CFL fail after a few months. Called them and they mailed me a new one. (And they DID ask if I used it in a dimmer or electronic timer :-) Sep 24, 2010 at 12:51
  • LED bulbs are even more expensive (comparable to the price of a dimmer), but usually these are dimmable without any side effects.
    – 9000
    Dec 1, 2011 at 23:55
  • @9000 - however LEDs aren't available to replace all types of dimming incandescents. For instance, I haven't seen an LED equivalent for the 100W A21 ("standard" 100w lamp bulb). CFLs, despite their drawbacks, are available in more bulb shapes and higher-wattage equivalents.
    – KeithS
    Dec 15, 2011 at 20:29

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