Dimmers and CFL/LED, z-wave, upb

shtojo

Member
Regarding dimmers and CFL/LED bulbs...
I have not made the plunge into a lighting control technology yet... but looking at options...
From what I understand, UPB dimmers support dimmable CFL/LED (they use neutral and therefore do not require a minimum load), and can be configured to 'snap' also. Apparently z-wave users have no option when it comes to dimmable energy-saving bulbs. It seems that few people know that incandescent bulbs are being phased out in the US starting in just two years, and assuming people don't stock-pile bulbs and do actually switch to CFL or LED, these no-neutral z-wave dimmers will be unusable (they require a minimum load ~40 watts).
I realize that they make non-dimming switches that use neutral (and a relay) and this would work of course, but it seems that z-wave users have no CFL dimming options. I understand that many dimming CFLs are don't dimm very well anyway and sometimes buzz and have other annoyances, but I believe that the bulb dimming technology will improve, especially as more users are forced to energy-efficient lighting.
I'm planning to jump in with either z-wave or upb and while I like the vizia switches I am not sure I can afford pumping so much money into switches unless I am confident that I will get many years use from them. Maybe the safest bet is to buy the non-dimming switches and give up the dimming options.
I wish leviton made dimming switches that do use neutral and require no minimum load (I have neutrals in all my boxes), or maybe I'll use UPB, but even at the low delay setting of 300ms, I think the delay may still bug me, where-as vizia will instantly turn the load on when operated locally.
I guess I'm just thinking out-loud here and looking for comments... or corrections
Thanks.

-Shawn
 

oberkc

Active Member
It seems that few people know that incandescent bulbs are being phased out in the US starting in just two years, and assuming people don't stock-pile bulbs and do actually switch to CFL or LED, these no-neutral z-wave dimmers will be unusable (they require a minimum load ~40 watts).

The only mandate that I have heard of is that of minimum efficiency for bulbs. There is not specific mandate to eliminate any particular type of bulb, so long as they meet minimum efficiency standards. I also understand that the efficiency of incadescents are improving enough that they may meet minimum standards. I guess we will see.
 

KentDub

Active Member
If you notice the 300ms at all, you'll get used to it in a couple of days. I thought it would bother me too; However, the switches provide so many functions and are so customizable that IMO it's completely worth the tradeoff. Don't stress yourself over it like I did - I am thrilled with my UPB dimmers.
 

shtojo

Member
oberkc, you are right, the bill does not specifically state that 'incandescent' will be phased out, although many legitimate internet sites do say that incandescents are being phased out. I guess they will be by 'tier 2' but that's years later. The energystar web site clears it up with the statement below. Thanks for correcting me.

From energystar:
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (the “Energy Billâ€), signed by the President on December 18, 2007 requires all light bulbs use 30% less energy than today’s incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014. The phase-out will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014. By 2020, a Tier 2 would become effective which requires all bulbs to be at least 70% more efficient (effectively equal to today’s CFLs).
It’s not entirely correct to say "CFLs will be required" or “incandescents will be phased out†because the standards set by the bill are technology neutral, and by 2012, a next generation of incandescent bulbs could satisfy the 30% increased efficiency. There are also other lighting technologies, such as halogen and LEDs that will be able to meet the new requirements and are expected to both increase in performance and drop in cost over the next few years.
 

dtremit

New Member
I suspect there will be significant improvements in dimming circuitry for at least LED bulbs in the next few years -- National Semi has an LED driver chip (LM3445) specifically designed to be dimmed on cheap triac dimmers. It's been out for about a year, so I suspect it'll start making its way into products fairly soon.

Interestingly, one of their presentations pictures an X10 switch as an example of a triac dimmer.
 

oberkc

Active Member
oberkc, you are right, the bill does not specifically state that 'incandescent' will be phased out, although many legitimate internet sites do say that incandescents are being phased out. I guess they will be by 'tier 2' but that's years later. The energystar web site clears it up with the statement below. Thanks for correcting me.

In fact, just today at my favorite orange home-improvement store, I noticed some energy star incadescents. These were 70 watt bulbs putting out about 1500 lumens, which meet the intial, 2012, requirements. I have seen LED bulbs putting out fewer lumens/watt.
 
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