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The dimming challenges presented by CFL and LED bulbs

While the benefits are numerous, traditional incandescent dimmers face a number of challenges when interfacing with compact florescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) – challenges that are overcome by the Lutron dimmer.

With companies around the globe recognizing the importance of energy efficiency, the use of intelligent, environmentally friendly lighting systems to improve performance and save money. Specifically, the use of effective dimming technology like Lutron's line of C•L dimmers helps businesses achieve their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and energy reduction goals. However, not all dimmers employ the same circuiting that enables dimming, nor is every bulb capable of being dimmed. 

The historic problems
Using dimmers designed for incandescent bulbs often cause a number of problems when interfacing with more efficient lamps such as the CFL or LED bulb. CFL bulbs have been especially incompatible with dimmers. One of the common problems experienced when using a CFL with a dimmer is known as "drop out," which occurs when an LED or CFL bulb shuts off before the dimmer's slider reaches the bottom. This is annoying for anyone trying to dim lights, as it is difficult to ascertain at what level the bulb will drop out.

Another challenge for CFL and LED bulbs is turning them back on after being dimmed. Sometimes these light bulbs will not respond unless the dimmer's slider is pushed all the way back up to full power. This is known as "pop-on," and can be challenging in a three-way lighting control scenario. For instance, if one lighting control was used to dim a light, but the light is turned off from another location, say, on another floor of the building, it could present difficulties in controlling the light or finding the problem. Lights have been known to turn off unexpectedly when dimmed due to voltage fluctuations. 

The solution
To address these issues, Lutron developed their line of C•L dimmers with advanced dimming circuitry that enables a user to explore the dimmer's full light range with incandescent and halogen light bulbs as well as CFL and LED bulbs. With this technology, Lutron intends to eliminate the past problems associated with dimming lights. The new C•L dimmers are compatible with a wide range bulbs manufactured by Cree, Philips, GE products as well as numerous others. As a result, lights no longer flicker during voltage fluctuations, the lights stay on as they are dimmed and the full range of light is exploited, taking bulbs all the way down to 5 percent of their capacity. 

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