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Question DetailsAsked on 2/2/2012

What is causing the fluorescent bulbs in the cans in my ceiling to flicker intermittently when dimmed?

I have four ceiling cans in my family room which run off of a single dimmer switch. They are fine when fully on, but all four flicker when dimmed (sometimes). I assumed it was a faulty switch, so I replaced with a new Lutron CL dimmer designed to work with dimmable CFL bulbs. Problem persisted, I called Lutron tech support and they confirmed that my bulbs were compatible (Philips CFL dimmable bulbs). Any ideas what the problem might be before I hire an electrician? I've already replaced bulbs - could it be the cans or the wiring?

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3 Answers


It sounds exactly like trying to dim standard CFL but these are dimmable bulbs. To tell you the truth, I have yet to these work. Here are a few things:

1. The dimmer and or lights may use ground for a voltage reference as well as the equipment ground for which it is intended. It is common practice to not connect ground to light switches. I don't know if this is code compliant but I see it all the time. Maybe this problem is caused by the absence of ground. Note that if this is an older house, the ground wire in the outlet box may not be connected to anything.
Mention this to the electrician if he starts scrathing his head.
Also, download datasheets, manuals and instructions for both lights and switch. This may help the electrician as well.

2. Sometimes? Maybe there is a motor such as cloths washer, dryer on this lighting circuit or visa versa. Turn off all motors in the house and see if the problem presists.


Answered 8 years ago by Kestrel Electric


I tried both Philips and GE dimmable CFL bulbs in my house about a year ago - ended up getting my money back (and they did not even want the 6 bulbs back) - they both said below about half voltage they will flicker and become intermittent, that if I wanted a dimmable bulb go with a dimmable conventional 12V system or standard dimmer on incandescent bulbs. Guess the state of the art is not there yet for dimming CFL's - and I have heard multi-LED bulbs burn out VERY quickly in dimming use, even if supposedly rated for it.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Thanks LCD

I've installed recessed LED lights on dimmers. They only dim to 10% so the dimmer switch must have an on-off switch as well as a dimmer slide or knob. I've been installing them for almost a year now and, besides the 10% issue, have not has any call backs.

Answered 6 years ago by Kestrel Electric

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