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docdockstader Posted - 12/27/2010 : 08:34:17 AM
Two questions;

When doing some researching on dimmable CFL's, I ran across a couple of interesting points. The first (and the first question), is that modern dimmable CFL bulbs require an analog dimmer instead of a digital dimmer. So, are the switchlinc and icon dimmers analog or digital?

Second question, I've read a few sources that state dimming a light bulb does not save energy due to the fact that lights are dimmed using variable resistance, which simply transfers the power usage from the light bulb, to the resistors. I have also read that dimming the lights does save power because it reduces the amount of power used. My understanding of electricity makes me lean towards the first answer. So my question, can anyone provide an authoritive answer on whether or not dimming your lights will save you energy?
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Geo Posted - 12/28/2010 : 4:39:39 PM
See my response to you under "Lighting and Appliance Control". Dimmable CFLs are a waste of money.
docdockstader Posted - 12/27/2010 : 1:41:54 PM
Hmm, very interesting Tfitz, shows some serious ingenuity, thank you for sharing!
Tfitzpatri8 Posted - 12/27/2010 : 10:36:31 AM
Yes, exactly. No special wiring is required, just use fixtures plugged into an ApplianceLinc.

While you could use CFLs in that application, that really begs for high-efficiency halogen bulbs. If you use incandescent halogens you can use dimmers set to an 8 minute ramp rate for a nice simulated sunrise, then as a final step turn on the regular CFL room lighting and turn off the incandescent dimmers completely. You're only going to be running the wake-up bulbs for 10 minutes a day, so using more energy-intense bulbs in exchange for a graceful transition into the day is well worth it, IMHO.
docdockstader Posted - 12/27/2010 : 10:17:23 AM
Thanks Tfit for the clarification on the device name, as well as the answers!

So, is this example correct for what you are saying; install something like 4-6 light fixtures per room, and install low watt CFL's in the light fixtures, and then wire them so that you can control them in sets? Say in groups of 2, so you can essential have 33%, 66%, or 100% lighting capacity?

The reason I'm looking into this is I had a friend question whether or not he could install insteon dimmers in each room, and use them as a way to wake up in the morning. You'd jump on a web app and set the "alarm" for whatever time you want to wake up, and then 10 minutes before you want to wake up, the lights slowly dim up to 100%. While it's a great idea, he doesn't want to give up his CFL bulbs.
Tfitzpatri8 Posted - 12/27/2010 : 09:55:45 AM
Three answers:

First, there's no such thing as a Switchlink. SmartLabs makes a line of *Linc home automation devices (note the 'c' on the end) including an Insteon SwitchLinc v2 Dimmer. If that isn't what you mean, we'll need additional clarification.

Second, that research is just plain wrong. Good thing, too, because all modern automated dimmer switches use digital technology.

That said, dimmable CFLs are *not* all alike (except, perhaps, that they don't have the dimmable range of an incandescent). Some dimmable CFLs dim without much flicker, others flicker badly, and even in the same brand/model you'll see a difference in brightness from bulb to bulb at the same dim level and as bulbs age. Personally, I'm an opponent of dimmable CFLs for this reason. Instead, I prefer to use incandescents or spread light sources amongst more non-dimming fixtures and use lower wattage bulbs, so if you need more light you simply turn on a scene that includes more bulbs. If you are dead-set on using dimmable CFLs, I encourage you to do a search for CFL in the Insteon forum for people's experiences with different units.

Does automation save electricity? The answer changes for different people. If you and your spouse and your kids always remember to turn lights off when you leave the room, if you all have become masters at adjusting the thermostat each and every time you get up and go to bed and arrive and leave your house, if you don't mind coming home to a dark house at night, if you don't need or want to check in on your house remotely via an Internet connection, and if, on those rare occasions you forget to turn off your basement lights you always get out of a warm bed to go down to the cold basement to turn off a switch, then adding automated controls to your home is a complete waste of electricity--unless, of course, you just enjoy having a house that can think for itself.

Each current-vintage Insteon device consumes between 0.15 and 2 watts. You can do the math--if you prevent a 100 watt bulb from being left on overnight one day a week, burning 0.25 watts to turn it off vs. 100 watts to leave it be pays for itself.

Modern electronic dimmers do a very good job of saving electricity. In fact, if you put a meter on a SwitchLinc you'll see energy consumption stays right in line with the dim level.

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