THE LUTRON TOGGLER CL: DIMMABLE BRILLIANCE

Lutron Toggler CL Dimmer for CFL and LED Bulbs – Model # TGCL-153-PH in Ivory.

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Pros: Works with compatible LEDs – as well as with most lesser, obsolete bulbs.  Toggle style resembles a standard switch.  Low-end of dimmable range is adjustable.  Satisfies single-pole or 3-way applications.

Cons: Multiple product revisions require consumer research before purchasing – early production runs had quality issues.  Consumer must match LED/dimmer compatibility by brand and model.  Like LED bulbs, premium prices prevail.

The appropriate selection and application of lighting can enhance whatever period or style of abode you prefer.  When constructed, my current contemporary surroundings were fitted with the most basic of fixtures, due to cost overruns incurred by the original owner.  Since taking possession, my challenge has been to execute a quality lighting upgrade to enhance the interior’s architectural assets.

Recessed ceiling cans provide an economical, effective light source - but their lack-of-character screams 1980s.
Recessed ceiling cans provide an economical, effective light source – but their lack-of-character screams 1980s.

Bulbous Banter

The current state of LED lighting is one of perpetual flux.  The high cost of LED bulbs is easing as research and development costs are recouped by manufacturers as the technology improves.  Superior in nearly every way, the LED (light emitting diode) has rendered the incandescent and compact fluorescent technology to that of the 8-track tape player, circa 1980.

Mid-Century Mania

My level-3 dining area is part of an open-concept floor plan.  The former owner hung a huge Art Deco fixture over the dining table that over-lit the space and blocked the site-lines toward the mountain views beyond.  Fact is, I strongly disliked it and hardly ever put it on.  I recently changed this out for a more compact, Atomic-era down-light pendant that would make George Jetson proud.

The Glow-In-The-Dark Retro Atomic Pendant Light is the current light of my life.
This Vintage, Glow-In-The-Dark Retro Atomic Pendant is the current light of my life.

Glow And Go

My LED of choice was the 2700K, 15-watt Philips A-21, delivering 1180 lumens (equivalent in output and color temperature to a 75-watt incandescent).  Due to design discrepancies among manufacturers, dimmable LEDs require the use of ‘leading edge dimmers’.  I chose the Lutron Toggler C-L dimmer because of its broad availability (AmazonHome Depot and Lowe’s) and the inclusion of the A-21 on the Lutron list of compatible bulbs.

The Philips A-21 in orbit. [Image: Philips via Amazon.com]
The Philips A-21 prepares to dock. [Image: Philips via Amazon.com]

Toggling-On

Both the switches for the dining room pendant and the recessed bar cans share a plastic 2-gang box.  Until recently, the dimmer switch for the bar’s ceiling lights shared space with a standard switch.  With the dining room pendant now in play, the challenge was to fit the pair of wider dimmers into the box.

My 2-Gang gang in their new home. The subtle difference between the Ivory [left] and the Almond [right] seems to have escaped me at the time of purchase.
My 2-Gang gang in its new home. The subtle difference between the Ivory [left] and the Almond [right] seems to have escaped me at the time of purchase. Note black dim-adjustment dial upgrade to the right of the switch.
[Image: mathix.org]
[Image: mathix.org]

Using both sides of the 16 x 16-inch sheet of trilingual instructions, I successfully wired and installed the new dimmer.  Not only did the new UFO-inspired fixture shine bright upon the tabletop, its frosted, plate-glass rings of Saturn glowed in all directions.  My formerly gloomy corner was now space-alien approved.

Buyer Beware

Due to early production bugs, the Lutron Toggler C-L 153-PH has been subjected to at least three revisions since its introduction.  I was never totally satisfied with the first dimmer purchased.  At certain settings, the Lutron-approved Philips BR30 LED Floods would exhibit a subtle flicker – though they never experienced drop-out or buzzing, as some consumers have claimed.

The Philips 13-Watt BR30 at rest. [Image: Philips via Amazon.com]
The Philips 13-Watt BR30 at rest. [Image: Philips via Amazon.com]

There was also a quality issue with a failure of the inadequate dim-range adjustment wheel, which is used to fine-tune a particular bulb’s lowest possible setting.  The latest model upgrade sports a more durable and practical black adjustment dial and a green ground wire in place of the original white wheel and green ground screw.

The simplest method of verifying a dimmer’s update status is to check for the presence of a black adjustment dial.  A slight separation of the packaging’s flexible plastic cover will allow for this inspection – the dial is located to the right of the switch.

White Dimmer Adjustment Wheel indicates undesirable early production version.
White Dimmer Adjustment Wheel indicates an undesirable early production version.

While installing the new dimmer, I changed-out the problematic, early-production model for one of the current generation.  Both of the new dimmers have a more quality feel to the slide and allow the LED to deliver a stable illumination throughout the dimming range.

 

Don’t Be A Dim Bulb

Early Production Green Ground Screw was replaced by a Green Ground Wire - which makes more sense in a 2-Gang application.
Early Production Green Ground Screw was replaced by a Green Ground Wire – which makes more sense in a 2-Gang application.

The key to success lies in the details.  Find the style of dimmer you prefer, then check the ratings and LED compatibility for that brand and model.  For example, if you click on the above Amazon link and scroll down to Technical Specification, you will find two PDF lists that are organized alphabetically by bulb brand and model.  All brands of dimmers will feature a similar list at their respective websites.

The Lutron Toggler C-L 153-PH is currently available at Amazon.com in White and Ivory.  These colors plus Almond are available at the aforementioned Big Box Hardware outlets.

The Mother Ship upon re-entry.
The Mother Ship upon re-entry.

One-Year Warranty is standard with a complimentary 2nd year granted upon product registration.

The One-Year Warranty becomes a Two-Year just by registering your Lutron Dimmer online. [Image: Lutron Electronics]
The One-Year Warranty becomes Two just by registering your Lutron Dimmer online. [Image: Lutron Electronics]

Lutron Electronics Co., Inc.
Coopersburg, PA  18036
1-800-523-9466

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