As more and more people are switching from incandescent light bulbs to the modern Compact Fluorescent Lights and LED lights a problem is brought up often.

The bulbs which they were told would last for years blows faster than the old style incandescent lamps it replaced.

Assuming it was just a bad bulb they replace but to the same result a few weeks later.

What is the problem?Compact Fluorescent Lights

Strange as it may sound the problem is usually that the new lights are using too little electricity. When common items such as dimmer switches, timers, and ceiling fans that incorporate a dimmer function in the lights are used the new bulbs do not meet the minimum load rating set for the switch. Many dimmer switches are set to a minimum load of 40 watts and virtually no CFL or LED light uses that much electricity. The problem is not with the light itself or the bulb, it is that the switch is failing to recognize whether the light is ‘on’ or ‘off’. The low level of electricity means that the sensors in the switch do not trip one way or another.


An easy check for this problem is flickering. If the bulbs flicker when dimmed or the fan is at a lower setting that is usually the problem. The bulbs are actually flickering at the higher settings as well, but they flicker at such a high rate of speed and brightness it is not as noticeable on the higher settings. The point is that simply not dimming the bulb will not fix the problem. High speed and less noticeable flickering might seem less of a problem but in reality it can cause migraine and eye strain without you even realizing it. It certainly is not a problem you want to ignore.

LED lightThere are two ways to correct this problem.

  1. One way is to add a resistive load, usually referred to as a dummy load. This is really more of a commercial or industrial fix and not readily available for home use. It fools the switch into thinking it is taking more power than actual and making it believe there is enough load to complete the circuit. This sometimes works depending on the set up of the circuit overall within the home. This would require a competent and qualified electrician – it is not something that should be attempted yourself with a quick guide or manual. It would be easy to burn out your wiring if you did something wrong.
  2. The more direct and simple fix is to simply replace the dimmer switch with one designed for LED lighting. This switch is made to work under the reduced loads LEDs have and to give both the performance and energy savings you would expect from LED lighting. You can find them online at and they are easy to install yourself – no more difficult than a regular light switch and no electrician required!

Having the right equipment for the job is not just about tools and hardware – matching switches and wires to the power needs of your lights and electrical equipment can cost you hundreds in the long term.