Install a CFL Dimmer Switch

CFL-compatible dimmers do the job

Compact fluorescent bulbs can work well with dimmers—if they're the right type of dimmer. Replace older, standard dimmer switches with CFL compatible models, and make sure you buy dimmable bulbs.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

When to replace a dimmer

Many dimmable CFL bulbs don't work well with a standard incandescent dimmer. If that's your situation, don't blame the bulb. Standard dimmers were never designed to run CFL bulbs and can cause “drop-out” (the bulb turns off before you finish dimming) and “flicker” (the bulb turns off when a high-voltage appliance goes on). Or the bulb won't light up on “dim” settings, forcing you to push the dimmer to full bright and then bring it down again.

Replacing a conventional dimmer with a CFL-compatible electronic dimmer switch will solve the problems. Lutron DVWCL-153PH Diva or Leviton No. 6673-10W are two models available at home centers and amazon.com. They're pricier than standard dimmers, and they only work with certain brands of CFLs (check the manufacturer's Web site for compatible bulbs). Just swap out your existing dimmer for one of these new models and dim the light fantastic.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Electrical tape
  • Non-contact voltage tester

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • CFL-compatible dimmer switch