How to Use CFLs in Touch-Sensitive Lamps

Updated July 20, 2017

Compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) use less energy than traditional bulbs. Most types of CFLs are interchangeable with traditional bulbs. In the instance of a touch-sensitive lamp, however, not all CFLs are exchangeable with traditional light bulbs. Touch-sensitive lamps have a dimming circuit that lowers or increases power to the light bulb to adjust the amount of light output. Traditional CFLs require very little power to function, and touch lamps cannot provide enough power at a low light setting for the bulb to function. Only newer, dimmable CFLs can function within a touch lamp. When using a touch-sensitive lamp, you must use dimmable CFL bulbs.

Unplug the lamp from the electrical socket.

Unscrew and remove the existing light bulb(s) from the lamp.

Screw in and install dimmable CFL(s) into the lamp, and plug the lamp back into the power outlet. Only CFLs specifically marked as dimmable will function in touch lamps. Standard CFLs will not function in the lamp.


If the lamp is not working with dimmable CFLs, try another brand of dimmable CFLs. CFLs have numerous electrical components, and the specific components used by one manufacturer may not function with your lamp. Installing a CFL made by another manufacturer could correct the issue.

Things You'll Need

  • Dimmable CFL bulbs
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About the Author

Michelle Keefe has been writing professionally since 2008 as a freelance writer. She has had numerous articles published in online magazines and websites. Keefe has a bachelor's degree in education and an associate degree in computer information systems.