Dimming Fluorescent Fixtures

Dear NH,
I have a light box that my customer wants to put a dimmer switch on. The fixture is fluorescent. I have questioned the manufacturer about the kind of ballast inside the light box, so I can order the correct dimmer.

Before I take the next step and take apart the light box (to get the information that I need), is it possible to put a dimmer on a fluorescent fixture?
DL from Orlando, FL

Dimming fluorescent fixtures have special ballasts designed to work with special dimmer switches. The ballast of the fixture must be compatible with the dimmer or they will not work together.

Standard fluorescent fixtures will not fire properly with a dimmer switch installed, so I wouldn't waste your time unless you know for a fact that the fixture is designed to dim. Very few fluorescents are designed to dim.

If you remove the ballast cover on the fixture, it will be prominently labeled as "dimming." If not, you may be able to purchase a dimming ballast, though the cost of the ballast (around $50 for a two-40 watt bulb fixture) plus installation may be more than a new fixture, unless the fixture is very classy (or has sentimental value).

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