New ceiling fan w/CFL lights flickering

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Old 06-27-09, 05:58 PM
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New ceiling fan w/CFL lights flickering

I installed a new ceiling fan a couple of weeks ago and it has the new small light sockets with the 190W limiter on the lights. I put in 4 Sylvania CFLs and now they flicker horrendously. I have found that if I unscrew one, the others will stop flickering for a while, then start back up. I have taken the CFL's out and put them in a chandelier and they worked without flickering. Now here is the wierd part. If I leave three of the four CFL's in the fan, and put in an incandescent for the 4th bulb, they stop flickering.

Is this a problem with the wattage limiter? or the CFL's. I have been using CFL's in the house for 10 years and never had this problem before. The lights flicker so bad, that we cant even turn them on. They are flickering at about 10HZ.

Any thoughts?
Scott E.
 
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Old 09-28-09, 03:46 PM
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Funny... This exact thing just happened to me...

I bought one CFL for my garage door opener, but it didn't fit right, so I decided to put it in my ceiling fan, and the light and the appearance was great... So I went out to buy 3 more... When I screwed them all in, they flickered like mad...

And it wasn't until I replaced one of the CFLs for a normal incandescent bulb that things went back to normal...

Did you ever find a fix to this? I do have a dimmer switch on this fan unit, but have the setting turned all they way up... And this is a fan that is controlled wirelessly and I am not sure that I can get a switch that is not a dimmer unless I change the wiring so that the fan operations directly off of a wired switch...
 
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Old 09-28-09, 04:10 PM
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Old 09-29-09, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeekiM View Post
I do have a dimmer switch on this fan unit, but have the setting turned all they way up... And this is a fan that is controlled wirelessly and I am not sure that I can get a switch that is not a dimmer unless I change the wiring so that the fan operations directly off of a wired switch...
I underlined the problem above. You can't use non dimming CFL's on a dimmer. They will flicker just like you posted even on "full" brightness. Your only options are to use incandescent lamps, get dimable CFL's, or rewire it so the lights will be on a standard switch.

Same goes for Scott E. (I feel like I'm talking to myself ) but I'm guessing he may not be back since it was a few months ago.
 
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Old 02-06-10, 05:24 PM
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Angry

Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
I underlined the problem above. You can't use non dimming CFL's on a dimmer. They will flicker just like you posted even on "full" brightness. Your only options are to use incandescent lamps, get dimable CFL's, or rewire it so the lights will be on a standard switch.

Same goes for Scott E. (I feel like I'm talking to myself ) but I'm guessing he may not be back since it was a few months ago.
Just ran into the same problem, but it is not only the dimmer (i don't have dimmer switches neither is the fan dimmable) but looks like some gov agency is making fan makers put watt limiters in new fans and that is what is causing the flickering. Wish i know that before i put it up now it's 14' up and i got to take it down to bypass the limiter.

and look what is working against the whole purpose of the law

Federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act Regulations for Ceiling Fans and Ceiling Fan
Light Kits As A Result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005

http://www.americanlightingassoc.com/members/files/CeilingFanInfo_9-08.pdf
 
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Old 02-28-10, 06:35 PM
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watt limiters

Originally Posted by jimmyzshack View Post
Just ran into the same problem, but it is not only the dimmer (i don't have dimmer switches neither is the fan dimmable) but looks like some gov agency is making fan makers put watt limiters in new fans and that is what is causing the flickering. Wish i know that before i put it up now it's 14' up and i got to take it down to bypass the limiter.

and look what is working against the whole purpose of the law

Federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act Regulations for Ceiling Fans and Ceiling Fan
Light Kits As A Result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005

http://www.americanlightingassoc.com/members/files/CeilingFanInfo_9-08.pdf
That's interesting information! But I'm wondering how it's possible to go above 190W with 4 CFLs. The ones I use are 13W each and once the bulbs warm up I find them to be too bright. I suppose if your ceilings are really high (14 ft) you'd use a higher wattage, but still seems kinda hard to go over 190W. Plus, the regulations state that the fans are supposed to be packaged with enough lamps for the light kit, and those lamps cannot exceed 190W total. What kind of lamps were your fans packaged with (if there were any?) Seems like those would have been tested and should work as long as there is no dimmer.

Also, the OP solved the flickering by replacing one CFL with an incandescent. Seems that that would increase the wattage, not reduce it. no?
 
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Old 02-28-10, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by oh bother View Post
That's interesting information! But I'm wondering how it's possible to go above 190W with 4 CFLs. The ones I use are 13W each and once the bulbs warm up I find them to be too bright. I suppose if your ceilings are really high (14 ft) you'd use a higher wattage, but still seems kinda hard to go over 190W. Plus, the regulations state that the fans are supposed to be packaged with enough lamps for the light kit, and those lamps cannot exceed 190W total. What kind of lamps were your fans packaged with (if there were any?) Seems like those would have been tested and should work as long as there is no dimmer.

Also, the OP solved the flickering by replacing one CFL with an incandescent. Seems that that would increase the wattage, not reduce it. no?
It doesn't make it go above the 190w but cfls don't like dimmers and that is what they are using now to regulate the 190 watt limit. If you put 60 watt lights in instead of 40 watt, they will not be the brightness of 60 watt lights and will dim more when you turn the fan on. I did what others did i have 2 incandescent 60 watts and 2 13w cfls. ceilings are 14' need the brighter lights. Now i'm using 146 watts instead of 52 bc of the regulations.
 
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Old 04-30-10, 11:07 AM
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how to take out limiters

jimmyzshack,
You mentioned removing the limiters. Can you explain how to do this? I have a 3 light fan and they flicker really bad with CFL bulbs. its very annoying and I know they will not last as long doing this.

thanks,
Damien
 
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Old 05-03-10, 07:01 PM
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I have the same problem. The lights came with 4 40watt bulbs. I like a bright room, so I put in CFL bulbs. Flickered very bad. I called the company. he ask me what kind of bulbs I was using. He sent me a new piece to replace in my light kit. I replaced, and still have the problem. Wish I had just stayed with my old fan. I will try a norman bulb & see if that helps
 
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Old 05-04-10, 01:20 PM
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I bought 4 four pack of dimmable 14W CFL Bulbs (65W Equivalent) from Home Depot and set them in the 4 can lights I have in my living room (and all work on a dimmer), but it flickered at all settings.

I encountered the same issue with the dimmable CFL candelabra which I put in my ceiling fan. We have a remote control for this one and it flickered even when it was off.

Does anybody know any energy saving bulbs that do not have these issues?
 
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Old 05-07-10, 05:30 AM
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From what I have heard, LED bulbs can be fully dimmed but are VERY expensive.
 
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Old 07-26-10, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jimmyzshack View Post
Just ran into the same problem, but it is not only the dimmer (i don't have dimmer switches neither is the fan dimmable) but looks like some gov agency is making fan makers put watt limiters in new fans and that is what is causing the flickering. Wish i know that before i put it up now it's 14' up and i got to take it down to bypass the limiter.

and look what is working against the whole purpose of the law

Federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act Regulations for Ceiling Fans and Ceiling Fan
Light Kits As A Result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005

http://www.americanlightingassoc.com/members/files/CeilingFanInfo_9-08.pdf
Just wondering if you had any luck bypassing the limiter. I just bought and installed a new Hunter fan before realizing it would give me this problem. I'm thinking about taking it down to bypass the limiter, but would like to know where it is and how easy it is to get to first. There's a lot of exposed and accessible circuitry inside the light kit, and if the limiter is there I don't see a problem. But if it's in the fan motor housing it would take a lot more effort to get to and I don't think I'm willing to try that. (My fan is only about 7' above the floor - but, I'm lazy).

Thanks.
 

Last edited by tizzo; 07-26-10 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 07-26-10, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by oh bother View Post
That's interesting information! But I'm wondering how it's possible to go above 190W with 4 CFLs. The ones I use are 13W each and once the bulbs warm up I find them to be too bright. I suppose if your ceilings are really high (14 ft) you'd use a higher wattage, but still seems kinda hard to go over 190W. Plus, the regulations state that the fans are supposed to be packaged with enough lamps for the light kit, and those lamps cannot exceed 190W total. What kind of lamps were your fans packaged with (if there were any?) Seems like those would have been tested and should work as long as there is no dimmer.

Also, the OP solved the flickering by replacing one CFL with an incandescent. Seems that that would increase the wattage, not reduce it. no?
Solid state power switching circuitry (or at least the transistors from which they are built) generally require that the current drawn by the load remain within a range in order for the transistor to switch properly. The device employed is designed to limit the amount of current at the top end to that which equates to 190W.

As there is no specified lower limit, they had to make a design decision as to the minimum current that could be drawn, and my guess is that the value they chose was less than what is drawn by one incandescent and three CFLs, but more than what is drawn by four CFLs.
 
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Old 07-31-10, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by tizzo View Post
Solid state power switching circuitry (or at least the transistors from which they are built) generally require that the current drawn by the load remain within a range in order for the transistor to switch properly. The device employed is designed to limit the amount of current at the top end to that which equates to 190W.

As there is no specified lower limit, they had to make a design decision as to the minimum current that could be drawn, and my guess is that the value they chose was less than what is drawn by one incandescent and three CFLs, but more than what is drawn by four CFLs.
I have a possible alternative explanation, and one that's unfortunately more insidious. The ballast inside the CFL and the limiter inside the fan both have feedback loops that keep the maximum current stable. Putting the bulb inside the fan means that these two loops are interacting. Basically you now have a third loop where current is oscillating back and forth between the two parts.

The net effect is the same though, it needs the uniform resistance of an incandescent in order to damp down the feedback loop. The bad part is that an LED lamp could end up with the exact same problem, because it also has a potential feedback loop (in the form of its transformer coils). Usually this sort of problem is avoided by the manufacturer of a piece of hardware. But with the devices of two different manufacturers interacting... yuck.

Makes me wish I'd upgraded my ceiling fan a few years back. If anyone bypasses the limiter in their fan, please tell us what the part looked like and where it's located.

Edit: Okay, that's not so bad. Only fixtures built with smaller sockets have to have the limiter. So if it uses standard bulbs it's fine... and if you want candelabras you can put reducers into a fan with standard sockets.
 
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Old 08-08-10, 10:28 PM
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I can say that i have no experience with CFL's or LED's flickering in a fan unless a dimmer switch is involved.

This is just a fyi, but LED's will flicker because they reach unpublished lower limits of a dimmer switch load. We found this to be true when we retrofitted several hundred Chili's restaurants to LED and we had to combine circuits to increase load minimums to dimmers, and recently we had a customer with ceiling fans and flickering led's, we had to replace the digital dimmer with a standard dimmer.

In the case of Dimmable CFL's leviton makes a dimmer especially for Dimmabel CFL's that works fabulously.


You should never modify a UL listed device such as a ceiling fan as you could potentially cause other problems, but if you are able to do so... we all know that you will. I would be very curious to see if you would have the same problem if using cold cathode lamps.
 
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Old 08-11-10, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by tizzo View Post
Just wondering if you had any luck bypassing the limiter. I just bought and installed a new Hunter fan before realizing it would give me this problem. I'm thinking about taking it down to bypass the limiter, but would like to know where it is and how easy it is to get to first. There's a lot of exposed and accessible circuitry inside the light kit, and if the limiter is there I don't see a problem. But if it's in the fan motor housing it would take a lot more effort to get to and I don't think I'm willing to try that. (My fan is only about 7' above the floor - but, I'm lazy).

Thanks.
Well, I did it, and it was almost trivial.

In the Hunter fan, the device was in the light kit housing, so I didn't have to take anything apart. It was wired in with wire nuts and the wires were all clearly labeled (as if it wasn't easy enough to figure out what was what by how it was connected). The device was even identified with a part number, which Google promptly identified as the offending part. It was almost as if they wanted you to be able to remove it...

I did some testing before I took it out. I put 4x60W bulbs in to make sure I exceeded the 190W load, and turned on the light at full brightness. It operated with no evident performance degradation for about 5-10 seconds, then dimmed to what I assume was ~190W. So the device was obviously doing its damage at that point.

After removing the device, not only do I get the full brightness chosen with the dimmer, I also don't have the ~500ms delay from flipping the switch to having light that I was getting before. I should also now be safe using dimmable CFLs or LEDs, if and when pricing comes down to something reasonable - within an order of magnitude of the 60W incandescents I'd be replacing would be a good start.

Also worth noting is that I removed the device after running the lights for a few minutes as a test, and the limiter was quite hot to the touch. This left me wondering whether the 190W included what the limiter dissipated, or if that was extra...
 
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Old 08-11-10, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mukansamonkey View Post
Okay, that's not so bad. Only fixtures built with smaller sockets have to have the limiter. So if it uses standard bulbs it's fine... and if you want candelabras you can put reducers into a fan with standard sockets.
Yeah - but fans with standard sockets are getting harder to find. My problem originated because I chose a specific Hunter fan that was the best choice for the decor in the room. The store display unit actually had medium base sockets marked that they were rated for up to 60W each. (I had to rely on that because there was nothing on the box about either socket type or power limits on the light bulbs). So it was quite a shock to get the fan home and out of the box and find candelabra sockets marked for 40W only.

When I called Hunter on this, they said that they no longer make fans with any other than candelabra base sockets, and anecdotal results of my internet research seem to indicate that this is a trend.

I'm not even really sure why this is the case, other than the fact that while only candelabra base fixtures require the current limiter, the same regulatory action requires that medium base fixtures ship with CFL bulbs. And since CFLs don't work with dimmers - from the consumer's point of view if he uses your bulbs, that you included with your fan, then it can only be your fault when they don't work - which they won't in those cases (presumably most) where a dimmer is used.

On the other hand, ship with candelabra base, include 40W incandescent bulbs and tell consumers not to use anything bigger, and odds are that almost nobody is ever going to realize that the limiter even exists.
 
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Old 11-17-10, 06:07 PM
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Ceiling Fan Current Wattage Limiter Bypass Option

Warning: If you are unsure about doing electrical work, contact a professional before proceeding.

These limiters have been having some issues since the required installation of them into all ceiling fan light assemblies. Flickering, or no operation after light bulb failures, usually a popping bulb that has shorted out inside causing a bright blue flash...

The question about the 190 watt limiter is simple. It is located next to the pull switch inside the light assembly of the fan. Most fans now have two small black module boxes inside. One is easily identified as a starter capacitor for the fan motor. It is usually labeled with the capacitor hookups.

The second is wired in series, or in line with the light wiring. It is a module with three wires coming out of it. Usually, the power wire comes from the top of the fan mount in the ceiling wiring tie in.

Normally, but not always, a blue wire. This comes down through the fan assembly into the light attachment area. As it enters it goes through the light "Pull Switch" and then would normally go directly to the light socket.

But with the limiter, it leaves the pull switch and enters the Limiter device. The limiter device has three wires, one for power, one for ground or return reference, and one for the light or load.

To remove the limiter, remove power first, then simply cut all three wires. You will have one wire from the pull switch, one attached to the light, and one joined with several other wires to the ground return (usually white).
Using wire screws of the correct size attach the wire from the pull switch directly to the wire going to the light. Then, strip and attach a single wire screw to the wire going to the ground or return line that is left over.

That's it... Again, do not exceed the maximum wattage your fixture is rated for otherwise fire or electrical shock can result causing injury or death!
 
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