Compact Fluorescents and ZWave dimmers

Earlier I reported what the Leviton guys told me about using their dimmers with Compact Fluorescent (CFL 's). I spent some time testing those claims yesterday. I learned two things and can’t recommend them. Round one was to try to get a standard lamp to work. One first gen did work. All of the new ones I have didn’t. the lamps flashed strobe like at about 15Hz. Impossible to use. I switched to a dimmable CFL and it worked, no flashing. However I discovered later that the switch was not transmitting. Simply no response. I checked with a Znifffer and lots of sends but no ACK’s. Swapping to an incandescent fixed the problem.

I’ll bug the Leviton guys to get their input. For now don’t waste your time.

This was triggered buy getting a new lamp fixture with a GU24 socket, works only with CFL’s. Be forewarned.

Have a read through this below article.


My background is an electrician by trade and I did a research project for a large power company here in Canada. I implemented the CFL’s in peoples homes and monitored their activity and usage patterns. The utility company wanted some ‘statistics’ before they pushed the use of CFL’s. During the testing of the product and up until now I do not recommend the use of CFL’s in the home. Flourescent lighting was a great solution for commercial/industrial applications, but it just doesn’t make sense to promote them in residential.

My advice is to stick to using incandescent bulbs and wait for LED bulbs to come to market.


I hope you have better luck with your project.

I would be very interested to learn more on whether CFL are that much better, or not, but that article is not much more then subjective judging by some illogically grouped set of unrelated and incomplete facts…

Yes the above article is a summary of facts. Here is another article about compact flourescents.

Many of the statements in the above article ring true based on my own personal experience using CFL’s.

Here in the UK, the use of CFLs is positively encouraged - so much so that they are part of the ‘enery certificate’ that a house needs to be sold.

My experience of CFLs is that they are definitely different from incandescent but that doesn’t mean they should not be used in a domestic setting. I use them in our kitchen, hallway/stairwell and bathrooms. i.e mostly utility areas. Where I want warmer, atmospheric lighting I use incandescent or a mixture of the two. I also find I need more CFL wattage than the manufactures claim.

I have also found that the bulbs do vary by manufacturer - so there is an element of you get what you pay for.

As for dimming CFLs, I don’t have direct experience. But I know you should not use them with a dimmer unless the bulb is specifically designed to do so. The brand most associated with dimmerable CFLs here in th UK is Megaman and the following link should give more info:

I intend to get a couple of these dimmerable bulbs to test them with my plug in ACT dimming light switches (ZDP210) to see if they work. I’ll report back once I know.

Agree. CFL are different, with their own disadvantages - so what? They still consume 5 times less energy, and this is what’s important in many cases.

Dimmers used with incandescent bulbs are incredibly ineffective energy saving wise.

I prefer to combine, leaving incandescent bulbs only to “sensitive” areas.

As for dimmers in z-wave area, I’d much prefer to see more selection of on/off switches and less dimmers…

I use CFL’s in my house in about 50% of my lamps and lights. I went ahead and purchased an Intermatic switch, and just received it.

I’ll be doing some testing with it and I’ll let everyone know here what I find.

The constraint here is that in most retrofit installations only the hot leads are available. No neutral is available so the switch is powered through the light. Relatively simple with an incandescent but the electronics in a CFL make it much harder to steal power. This is not a simple problem to solve. The situation may be different outside the US. The plug in modules don’t have the power problem.

I received that annoying strobing with the Monster ON/OFF module sold by Micasaverde as well. When it pulsed like that I also lost the ability to control the module. I switched to a different CFL (older non-instant on type) and it did not do the annoying strobing and it working fine again. So it seems that even the on/off modules are susceptible to problems with CFL bulbs.

This is a bit of a concern… will the in wall z-wave plugs also exhibit this problem? It could cause a lot of confusion if only some bulbs work with the modules only.

I have one of the Monster plug modules that Micasaverde was selling at half the normal cost. [url=][/url]

I did have it connected to a standing lamp with a CFL and never saw a flicker occur. I do know I have a sylvania CFL spiral bulb in it and could give more detail if someone needs it.

I now tend to buy the newer CFL’s that have a glass covering that makes it look more like a regular bulb.

Did any of you note the performance differences among CFL bulbs with magnetic ballasts versus those with electronic starters? Or is today’s market of CFL bulbs comprised exclusively of just one type, rendering my question irrelevant?