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Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

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Archive for the ‘Motion detector’ Category


Motion detector & compact fluorescent lamps

Sunday, January 4th, 2009


The box of a motion detector light fixture says “Do not use CFL”.

Why not?


R. Reyna

R. Reyna:

This statement does not apply to all motion detector devices, but it may apply to “cheap” models. Lower cost electrical switching devices are designed for “resistance” type loads like an incandescent bulb, which is easy to turn off and on.

Any electrical load having a transformer type load (older fluorescent lights have ballasts) produce much higher loads on the switch contacts in the motion switch when they open. Also, newer compact fluorescent lamps have replaced the ballast type transformer with an electronic ballast, which sometimes either affects, or is affected by, the electronics in the motion sensor.

More expensive devices have added switching capacity and filters.

I once had a motion sensor light overheat and melt down when connected to a modified sine wave inverter due the cheap quality of the motion switch not being able to handle the power quality. Like they say, you get what you pay for.

Good luck and buy a fire extinguisher,

Jeff Yago



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