Monday, 29 November 2010

Dysfunctional tech

We had a broken light that Dave fixed. After it was fixed we decided we really ought to change to energy efficient bulbs.

We couldn't figure out why the light worked with regular bulbs but not with energy efficient bulbs.

After a process of elimination (husband is an engineer) we discovered that if all three bulbs were energy efficient the light didn't work. If only two were energy efficient and one was regular then the light would work.

The thing that enabled the light to work with all energy efficient bulbs was to change the light switch.

We're a fan of dimmer switches but for some reason these are incompatible with energy efficient bulbs. Which is ridiculous!

Does anyone know why and if there's a workaround? My whole life is a workaround.

1 comment:

Rana said...

Surely any engineer should be able to tell you why the energy efficient bulbs would not work with dimmer switch?

Old style light bulbs simply heated up a thin tungsten wire more or less in proportion to turn of dial. A bit less voltage means a bit less current means a bit less bright. But any sort of fluorescent bulb would not glow in proportion to voltage - a particular voltage would be needed to cause electrons to jump to the next energy level to cause photon emission. Current is very non-linear. Ohm's law does not apply. Quantum physics perhaps. But it's the sort of quantum physics they are teaching in school these days.

PS That was guessed, not looked up, I'm not an engineer, just the sort of weirdo who thinks he can explain these things