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Dimming Halogen Lights

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by GagHalfrunt, Jun 4, 2003.

  1. GagHalfrunt

    GagHalfrunt
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    I need to replace my lights in my lounge with halogens.

    Are there any issues with dimming them? I know I'm better off with Mains Voltage but these seem too bright (50W+) and I was more intending to go for lots of dimmer ones instead to even out the light.

    I don't have a lot of money left. I was looking at a Futronix thing to dim them.

    Anyone with any experience?
     
  2. LV426

    LV426
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    I presume you mean Low Voltage halogens (usually 12 volt) run off a transformer.

    You can buy either (or preferably both)

    > Transformers specially designed to be dimmable (from Maplins)

    > Dimmer switches that are designed to cope with low voltage transformers. eg: http://www.homecontrol.co.uk/MDWallDimmer.htm
    and others

    or regular hand-operated ones from Maplin, B&Q, John Lewis et al.

    Just make sure they stipulate suitable for Low Voltage lighting.
     
  3. GagHalfrunt

    GagHalfrunt
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    Yeah, that's what I meant sorry.

    I noticed that most mains voltage lights (easier to dim) seem to be 50W+ but LV go down to 25W which may be better.

    Thanks for the info.
     
  4. Geoffc10

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    I used mains voltage ones because of the remote dimmer controller i have. i have 6 in one room and they are not that bright, in fact a lot duller than i thought. £21 for 5 and £8 for one. and £35 for the remote control dimmer
     
  5. alistair

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    I was tipped off about these guys TLC . I used them recently, not expensive and very good delivery times. Be careful to read the info on the page as I ordered the wrong one at first. they were quite prepared to take it back but it was so cheap that the return postage made it easier to keep it and save it for another part of the house.
    Haven't wired it up yet but works with learning remotes too.
    Have a look in the Home Automation section if you haven't already.
     
  6. Mike Swannick

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    The User Manual for the Futronix units are available for download at their website. It says that they will dim LV (12V) halogen lamps provided the transformers are good quality 'leading edge' electronic transformers. Apparantly most modern transformers offered for sale in the UK are this type.

    Some all in one LV light kits which have a slow start function are not dimmable.

    LV lamps go as low as 10W if you get the bi-pin capsule type lamps. B&Q do a kit of 10 x 10W 'Starlights' in white, brass or chrome here http://www.diy.com/bq/search/search...Lighting&selectType=category&limitProducts=no

    The traditional shape LV lamp come in at least 2 sizes MR11 & MR16 and rated at either 20W, 35W or 50W.

    The mains halogen are GU10 bulbs. They seem to be getting more popular with retailers but the replacement bulbs are expensive.

    Hope that gives you some ideas.
     
  7. GagHalfrunt

    GagHalfrunt
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    Thanks for the useful info guys. It's cleared a few things up I was confused about.

    Has anyone used Eyeball lights or are they too directional for a lounge?
     
  8. LV426

    LV426
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    Eyeball lights are a great way of focussing the various 'pools' of light from your halogens on interesting features, such as pictures, you may have on your walls etc.
     
  9. avanzato

    avanzato
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    My experience of Halogen lights:

    You can only run a certain number of LV lights of each transformer. So if you're using lots of lights you'll need several transformers.

    Halogen lights are dimmer than you think and remember spots direct the light in certain directions only. 20w LV are so dim you won't need a dimmer.

    They run hot and your electric bill will probably go up as you use so many of them.

    The bulbs seem to last about a year.

    They give a nice whiter light and a clean installed look.

    And why are you worried about the 50w being to bright.. just dim them :smashin:
     
  10. LV426

    LV426
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    Depends on the transformer. Maplins sell (IIRC) a 250W item, thats 12 x 20w lamps.
    Watt for watt, halogen lamps are brighter than ordinary filament lamps. And the colour temperature is slightly higher, giving better colour rendition (at full brightness)
    5 x 20W halogen lamps uses roughly the same amount of power as 1 x 100 bulb.
    Ever noticed that bulbs nearly always fail when you switch them on? If the dimmer you use has a 'soft start' ie. always fades in when switched on (either electronically/automatically, or because it's a rotary switch with off at the extreme anticlock direction) the bulbs will last for many years. You can also extend the life of any filament lamp by double, by running it at 90% brightness.
     
  11. GagHalfrunt

    GagHalfrunt
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    I always thought that halogens shouln't be dimmed but by the sound of things it's OK.

    I think I'm going for a load of Mains Voltage ones with a Futronix P400 dimmer.
     
  12. LV426

    LV426
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    All filament lamps can be dimmed. But doing so changes the colour temperature (they get 'redder', the dimmer they are). So, if you want good colour rendition without brightness, lower wattage lamps are better. And, given the focussed way in which halogen lamps throw their light, more, lower wattage lamps, gives a more even light distribution than fewer, higher wattage ones.
     
  13. topgooner

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    speaking as a sparky dimming halogen lights keep total loading to about 75% of capacity,ie 800w dimmer and transformer 6oow lighting load ,i know most manufacturers do not tell you this but this is the tried and tested way i have used for 15 years plus,my own dimmers are from tlc using cheap dimmerble transformers from city electrical factors about a tenner 105va
     
  14. MrSafety

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    Ok, I'm confused but intrigued by what I read here.

    I have bought a TLC infra-red dimmer and it's cool!!!! (well, warm to the touch actually but the instructions do say this is normal).

    Now I currently have this dimming 2 standard 60w bulbs which, frankly, looks tacky - and want to replace them with some halogens on wires so that I can run a set of lights in some kind of pattern on the ceiling - maybe the whole length or width of the room, or maybe one length with lights pointing at the screen and another length with lights pooling on seating or whatever.

    Anyway, if my dimmer is 2-gang 400w then I assume that's 200ww per gang, and if I currently have 2x60w bulbs (on 1 gang - the other gang lights a walk-in cupboard) then I am loading below the 75% threshold mentioned above. Should I stick to this limit with halogens - ie., no more than 6x20w halogens? Will this be darker than 2 bog-standard light bulbs? Will it not be worth dimming them? Does it make a difference if they are low-voltage ones with a transformer built-in or does that screw up the 75% calculation somehow?

    Oh, I wish I'd paid attention in my school Physics classes when we did electricity instead of sitting at the back playing connect4 ......
     
  15. BigAde

    BigAde
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    Have had dimmable low-voltage halogens in my house for the last 5 years and can't say I'm over-impressed...

    Because they BUZZ and it drives me mad!!!

    No idea if they've been fitted incorrectly or what, but when you dim them down, the buzzing becomes quite noticeable and indeed causes RF interference to my AV gear, so the buzzing comes out of the speakers as well. This is particularly noticeable during quieter patches in films and music. Also, when I turn the dimmer full-on, usually one (and it's always the same one) of the lights powers off completely. Dimming the lights slightly brings it back on. Seems to me that the transformers could be underated for the number of bulbs on the circuit. I've no intention of trying to sort the problem out now, coz I'm about to move house.

    I love the lighting affect they give, but would be very wary about fitting them to my new place. Will maybe fit dimmable 240V bulbs instead. Anyone else with LV halogens had this problem???
     
  16. LV426

    LV426
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    Nope. Got 2 sets of 6 in the lounge/cinema and nine in the kitchen. All 20W low voltage lamps running of electronic converters with soft-start thyristor dimmers. Dimmer switches themselves 'chatter' very quietely, sometimes - you have to get right up to them to hear it. Otherwise, no problems. All lamps work. All lamps dim OK.
     

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