questionsdo i have a bad switch? or bad cfls?

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Does the fan have a dimmer option or variable speed control?

Sounds like they're not getting enough juice.

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Nope, no dimmer, and the fan has it's own (traditional, 3-pull string) switch.

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Try replacing with similar bulbs. If that doesn't fix it then @durkzilla's comment sounds correct...low voltage/loose wiring.

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I swapped them into the other fan in the den, and they work fine in that fan. I'll check the wire tomorrow or Monday and see if anything is loose.

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This is crazy, I was just talking to @AnOnion about this in the IRC. It's funny that @anoRion- oh wait, hey onion man.

I say you avoid the mercury and go with a good ol fashion flaming hot incandescent bulbs. You know those work for sure, just use what works.

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I put some CFL bulbs into a lamp with a two-setting switch and on the low setting they seem to have the same brightness as the high setting but they flicker at a rate that would give me a headache. I tried putting a CFL bulb in my garage door opener light, but it didn't work there at all.

Some things just seem to be incompatible due to the voltage requirements of the CFL bulbs. A standard incandescent would just burn dimmer on a lower voltage line, of course.

If you're curious which is the case, you could pick up a cheap-o volt/ohm-meter at your local hardware store (like the one they give you for free when you buy something at Harbor Freight) and check the voltage at the fixture. Or just stick with the analog technology the cowboy way.

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It's probably not the bulbs, but the way the fan switches the light on and off. Cheaper designs use a triac instead of a relay, which doesn't play well with CFLs.

Stick with the incandescents here.

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@liquidblue1: If I can't fix it, I'll probably just replace the fan. The energy savings for the month of June alone would offset the cost.

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@anorion How do you figure that? You must have some damn expensive electricity.