How to Install a Dimmable CFL How to Install a Dimmable CFL

What You'll Need
Ladder
Work gloves
Light bulbs

To control energy bills and provide for varying light levels and light needs, you should install a dimmable CFL or compact fluorescent light bulb. A CFL is a fluorescent light bulb  that is designed to fit where standard incandescent bulbs are normally installed. CFL’s are available for a variety of different applications, both indoor and outdoor lighting. It’s important to remember that since these light bulbs are fluorescent, they will take up to 60 seconds to heat up and come to full power, so you will need to keep this in mind when turning one on and attempting to dim it per your needs.

Types of CFLs

CFLs are made to fit in a wide variety of applications. Be it a refrigerator bulb or a flood light bulb, or almost anything in between, you’ll be able to find a CFL for your particular application.

Types of Dimmers

Dimming is accomplished by limiting how much electrical current is allowed to reach the bulb. This can be accomplished in two ways. The first is the 3-way dimming light switch mounted in the light socket. These have historically been labeled 60 watts, 75 watts and 150 watts. The other kind of dimmer is continuously adjustable using an electrical device known as a potentiometer. This is an adjustable resistor that allows almost unlimited adjustment of the light output.  This type of dimmer switch is available as a rotary knob or a slide lever.

Once you’ve decided on a conversion to dimmable CFLs, you need to install them. To learn how, read on.

Step 1: Turn Off Power

Whenever you work on anything electrical, it’s important to remember to turn off the power before beginning work.

Step 2: Remove the Old Bulb

If the light fixture with the bulb you’re changing is mounted on the ceiling or high on a wall, you’ll need to positionyour ladder. Make sure the ladder is placed so that you won’t have to reach more than one foot to either side for wall mounted light fixtures. If the fixture is ceiling mounted, you should place the ladder so that when you ascend the ladder the light fixture being worked on is directly in front of you and not more than an arm’s reach from the second step down.

Also, make sure the ladder’s feet are level and stable and that the spreaders are fully locked. Once the ladder is properly set, you need to remove the old bulb. If you have just recently shut off power, you will either need to let the old bulb cool off sufficiently or wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands and fingers from the heat of the incandescent bulb. Bulb removal is accomplished by turning the bulb counter clockwise.

Step 3: Install the New CFL Bulb

Now that you have the old bulb out, you need to install the new one. This is done by inserting the base of the bulb into the socket and turning clockwise or to the right until it will turn no longer.

The preceding paragraphs contain information describing what CFL’s are, the methods of dimming available and how to change to a dimmable CFL.

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