Sign In to join the community | Help

Dimming low wattage incandescent bulbs... help.

I have a short string of 7 incandescent mini bulbs - each of which is 3.5 watts.  I'm having trouble finding a dimmer that has a low end setting that doesn't fry the bulbs.

These are your typical Christmas tree bulbs (NOT C7 or C9's).  In a string of 50 or 100 I have no problem, but when the bulb count is only 7 they blow easily when too much power is applied.

Any recommendations?
Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question
Posted 2017-02-06T16:41:59+0000  by MrFitz MrFitz

Hello MrFitz,

Thanks for your question and for joining us here on the community.

Depending on what type of dimmer you use will determine if and how well your incandescent bulbs can dim.

Typically, almost no one dims these, as they are a low wattage already for ambient lighting...which is why you are most likely running into this issue.

Make sure you are running them on a low wattage capacity dimmer. Most demands for in-wall hard wired dimmers start at 150 watts for the newer versions in LED and CFL grade dimmers. If your bulbs are 120V to power them, then you can use these.

Again, these bulbs are installed in the wall, and not as an in-line switch. This is the only solution I can offer that could work for your bulbs. These dimmers are available at your local Home Depot store by Leviton and by the CL line by Lutron.

The CL by Lutron has a dial made specially for lower wattage bulbs. You can try this and see...but again I've never heard of anyone dimming any bulb with that low of wattage, incandescent or not. 

Let us know if you have any further questions,


Posted 2017-02-06T17:28:49+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
I was looking at Lutron dimmers, but even after asking their tech rep, I was still unsure which one might work.  (He incorrectly assumed I was working with standard C7 or C9 bulbs.)

You mentioned the CL series, can you be a bit more specific?  (I'm seeing tons of them and not quite sure which one one you're suggesting.)

About 15 years ago, I used a standard run-of-the-mill rotary dimmer and it worked.  When that dimmer finally bit the dust, I purchased a new one (which promptly blew all the bulbs).  I'm assuming the low end of the new dimmer was just too much power for the string - ergo the research into a lower wattage version (and this post).

BTW, the bulbs are part of a wall decoration (a sun face) I made many moons ago.  I embedded a shortened string of tree lights in the "rays" (looks really nice!).  I use a timer to light it up every evening.
Posted 2017-02-06T18:36:44+0000  by MrFitz
It's really any line of CL dimmers by Lutron I was specifically referring to.

I didn't give you a link because there are more than one design that is sold, and I didn't know which version you preferred. In either case, the CL dimmers, all of them, has the rotary dial to set down the dimming capacity to 150 watts instead of 600 watts.

You can either look them up online (their specs are almost all the same), or just come into your local Home Depot store if one is near you. In fact, coming into your nearest store allows you to view them in the various choices all at once, and you can simply grab them and be on your way. 

Just look for the CL dimmers by Lutron. However, MAKE SURE this is being wired into a 120 V line. If your string lights have any type of low voltage transformer, then these will not work.
Posted 2017-02-06T20:23:26+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
Alas, it didn't work.  I purchased the "Skylark" model, hooked it up, and on it's lowest setting blew the bulbs in about 30 seconds.

In the F.Y.I. column, you can't see (or search for) a "CL" model on the web site, but when visiting the store, the model grouping was plastered all over the boxes.

Thanks for your suggestions!
Posted 2017-02-08T17:29:48+0000  by MrFitz
Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question