Dimmable CFL vs. CCFLs

CFL Light Bulb

In the battle of dimmable CFL vs. CCFLs, you need to understand what each one is before you can choose your side in the battle. Most know that CFL stands for compact fluorescent lamp. A dimmable CFL light bulb is a special form of this bulb that allows the consumer to use a dimmer switch to reduce the amount of light coming out of the lamp. CCFL stands for cold cathode fluorescent lamp. This is a form of CFL. It uses a cathode that does not receive direct heating. Many people are looking at these two options for keeping energy costs even lower.

Dimmable CFL bulbs were the original solution people turned towards when the shift started away from traditional incandescent. But, they come with a major problem. Most people want to adjust their lighting from dark to light. A CFL needs to start at full power before you can adjust their light down. To accommodate this, you need dimming switches that can handle this warm up requirements. On the other hand, CCFLs work much the same as incandescent bulbs. They do not require a warm up before they are ready for dimming. You can use them with conventional dimming switches. This is an important aspect of the dimmable CFL vs. CCFLs debate.

When looking at the dimmable CFL vs. CCFLs, you need to keep a few things in mind. CCFLs offer some advantages that the dimmable CFLs do not. CCFLs have a longer life. They average four times the life of a typical dimmable CFL. They emit less heat as well. They come on instantly instead of taking a second to warm up enough to illuminate. They come with less flickering than a typical CFL does. They offer dimming with any dimming switch on the market and do not require special equipment. One of the major advantages is that manufacturers have been able to reduce the amount of mercury significantly in CCFLs in comparison to a dimmable CFL.

Before you make your decision in the dimmable CFL vs. CCFLs debate, you probably will look at price. A CCFL is typically more expensive than a dimmable CFL. However, with the longer working life, this brings the cost down significantly over time. They also come in many sizes and shapes not available in a CFL bulb. When making your decision, you should look at what works best for you. Save some money and see which lamp will fit your home best by shopping with us at 1000Bulbs.com.

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1000Bulbs Staff

  • Bruce

    I’ll be interested to see the lumen-per-watt efficiency of the CCFLs and their Color Rendering Index numbers. It’s nice to hear that their mercury content is lower than the dimable CFLs. At this point, LEDs are not quite there, and it would be helpful to have an alternative light source that will fit existing fixtures that can be controlled with dimmers. Thanks for the information!

  • 1000Bulbs

    Thanks for the comments Bruce!

  • Randyyh

    At this point , the dCFLs have an almost pathetic dynamic range. By my eye, they go between 100% and about 75% before they clicker out. Almost useless either for power savings or optical atmosphere. My two questions are 1) are the dCFLs going to get better, and 2) are the CCFL endowed with a better dynamic range?

    • http://www.idimllc.com Dana Petran

      100%-75% of what? AC Power? Or Vrms? Or possibly light output measured with a light meter? And what brand of CFL, and what kind of dimmer?
      I agree you will not save much on power when dimming, but you saved on power when you replaced your incandescent bulbs. With right choice of CFL and a dimmer, you can achieve nice lighting. Forgive to engineers that they cannot fully meet your expectation as far as depth of dimming goes-they have been fighting the law of physics for years, becausevit is not as simple as incandescent. They made a huge progress recently, and CFLs prices are much lower then just a few years ago.
      LEDs are great, and technically they are market ready, but prices are ridiculous.

  • tedg

    The other big question that must be addressed is interfernce on other electrionics. All of the dimmable florecent options that I have tested (admittedly none in the past 2 years) have produced heavy noise in sound equipment used in the same room. Has this been solved with the current technology? Anyone tried it?