A Clash in Technology

Who is guiding whom? The whole world is trying to switch from incandescent light bulbs to the more energy efficient, low wattage compact fluorescent and cold cathode lamps. You would expect the new lighting fixtures to accommodate them. On the surface, it would appear the new ceiling fan fixtures now available at most of the popular building supply sources are being imported into the USA with light bulbs sockets that encourage using low wattage. So, what’s the problem? You can’t use the new energy saving bulbs because they won’t fit into the fixtures, which are intentionally being made with smaller lighting compartments. Even if you were able to make them fit, you still couldn’t use them because the entire unit is controlled by a remote rheostat for dimming and speed control, effectively eliminating the use of compact fluorescent lamps.

Why are the manufacturers designing these beautiful new ceiling fans that will only accommodate candelabra or intermediate base bulbs, and with only enough space to allow tiny, low-light, incandescent night lights? It appears that we are being forced to use lower wattage bulbs in order to save energy, but must sacrifice adequate lighting in order to do so. With the technology available today, this is not necessary! Obviously, the incandescent light manufacturers are leading this movement in order to prolong a rapidly diminishing marketing base. The switch to CFL usage must be happening a lot faster than they had expected!

The new ceiling fan designs are very attractive, but it is extremely difficult to install or change-out the short-life bulbs you are forced to use. The remote dimmer and speed control is a nice feature, but it will not work with a standard CFL. It will work with a cold cathode, but usually that wattage is so low that the light is inadequate for the application. Many of the large ceiling fans are selected by a homeowner to be the only light source in the room. The amount of light they will emit is just not adequate and people are disappointed after paying an electrician to install them.

I recently helped an electrician install a very attractive ceiling fan fixture with six lamp sockets. Five of the sockets were in small compartments above the fan. He had to remove the glass bowl cover held in place by screws, and then remove five more screws to get to the compartments. The smallest 2-watt CFL would not fit. Only a short life incandescent night light would go into the tiny compartment. After watching him put it all back together while balancing on a ten foot ladder, I wondered how the home owner was going to keep light bulbs in that fixture. The bottom bowl under the fan had a light bulb socket that we were able to get to by removing six screws and handing down the heavy glass bowl. The socket was an intermediate base, which is smaller than the common medium base, and yet larger than a candelabra base. We were able to acquire an adapter to change from intermediate to candelabra. The highest watt possible that would fit into the space allowed was a 9-watt CFL, which is comparable to a 40-watt incandescent light bulb. This was definitely not enough light to illumine a 20’ X 30’ room with 14’ ceilings. Of course, it wouldn’t work anyway with the dimmable remote. So, what’s going on?