Can You Put Fluorescent Lights on a Dimmer? A Beginner’s Guide

Can you put fluorescent lights on a dimmer? The quick answer is yes. However, you need the right equipment if you want it to work successfully. The equipment includes a good-quality dimmer switch, a ballast, and a cable.

If you’re planning to dim fluorescent light bulbs by using a dimmer, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about putting fluorescent lights on a dimmer. So, stick around!

What You Should Know Before Putting Fluorescent Lights on a Dimmer

Dimmers create a relaxing ambiance. They can help you control bright lights and set the mood if you want to relax after a tiring day at work.

Although dimmers are originally designed just for incandescent lights, you can now use other bulbs, such as fluorescent lights.

Before attempting to dim fluorescent lights though, here’s what you should know about fluorescent lights and dimmers:

Dimmers on Their Own Aren’t Compatible with Fluorescent Lights

Keep in mind that a dimmer switch on its own won’t be compatible with fluorescent light bulbs.

Unlike old halogen, LED, or incandescent lights, fluorescent lights don’t use filament. Fluorescent lights use a combination of phosphor and transparent glass instead, which illuminates when exposed to radiation from an ultraviolet source.

In addition, it doesn’t use a semiconductor to produce light. Instead, fluorescent lights depend on the flow of electricity through a sealed gas located inside the bulb. As a result, the fluorescent lights turn on slowly because the bulbs take a few seconds to conduct electricity.

Plus, there won’t be a smooth transition if you’re switching different levels of brightness or turning it off.

Moreover, a traditional light dimmer interrupts the flow of electricity multiple times per second. This interruption shuts off the fluorescent light’s conduction of light. Consequently, the fluorescent light fixture will keep on restarting when you try to use the standard light dimmer.

Worse, the fixture won’t work at all.

Some Types of Fluorescent Lights Need a Ballast

It’s worth noting that fluorescent lights have three different kinds: Non-integrated CFL, integrated CFL, and the standard fluorescent light.

The fluorescent lights are standard long tubes, which is pretty common when it comes to fluorescent bulbs. In contrast, CFL lights have twisted tubes that establish a compact bulb shape.

The non-integrated CFL lights, in particular, require a separate ballast. It needs to be installed on the light fixture.

On the other hand, integrated CFL lights already have a built-in ballast located in the base of the bulb. Hence, you don’t need to purchase a separate ballast.

You just have to make sure that the integrated CFL light bulbs are dimmable. This way, you can be sure that the built-in ballast is a dimmable one.

How Do You Put Fluorescent Light on a Dimmer?

Dimmers allow you to control the brightness of light fixtures. As a result, you can easily create a relaxing ambiance right in your home. Although putting fluorescent lights on a dimmer is doable, it becomes a little tricky, especially if you’re a newbie.

Here are some tips that you should know:

Get the Correct Type of Dimmer Switch

Make sure that you get the right type of dimmer switches that are meant for fluorescent lights. Bear in mind that dimmer switches aren’t compatible with fluorescent lights because some switches are specifically made for incandescent lights.

If the dimmer switch isn’t compatible, the fluorescent lights will overheat and burn out quickly. Plus, you can’t use the switch to adjust the brightness of the fluorescent lights. Instead, the dimmer will only serve as an on-and-off switch.

To ensure that you get the correct type of dimmer switch, you can always go to your local hardware store and ask for a suitable dimmer.

Purchase a Dimmer Ballast if Needed

If you’re using a standard fluorescent light and non-integrated CFL light, you’ll need to purchase a separate dimmer ballast. Unlike the integrated CFL light, they don’t have a built-in ballast.

You should also ask your local hardware store if the ballast fits your fluorescent light fixtures. Otherwise, the screw holes in the fixture won’t be compatible with the mounting screws of the ballast.

In this case, you’ll need to drill new holes for the ballast. Unfortunately, the process might be too complex if you’re still a beginner.