September 1, 2009

Blight bulbs, part 2.

Henry says:
I've inadvertently stockpiled 7 compact fluorescents. That's two boxes minus one bulb.

I thought I would swap them in the basement fixtures as the old incandescents burned out. It took a year or so, but as soon as I screwed in the first one I realized my mistake.

At first I was sure I had purchased the wrong wattage. The turd-shaped bulb worked up a feeble bruise-colored flicker and paused, as if exhausted.

In a few minutes, though, as I went about my work, it came to life, casting violet shadows across the room from its forsaken corner. I walked over and stood under it. It didn't so much make light as well-defined edges. It was like walking into the afterimage of a instamatic flashbulb. Except that it's permanent.

Since the damn things last forever, I figure ten years from now I will use that corner of the basement to interview my daughter's boyfriends.


traditionalguy said...

We fell for the flourescent spotlights down a hallway to hopefully not Heat the house during the summer. Now we have to turn on that switch and wait 5 minutes for the hallway to come up to full light. That seems annoying because we are so used to new improvements coming out from free market capitalism. But now we are mere cogs in the regulated national goals set by Assinine fake scientists using government power to enrich themselves.

David said...

Henry nails it.

But don't despair completely, Henry. These things fail a lot more than advertised, especially if you have a power surge,

wv=hatum (no comment)

Lem said...

I know you all have probably seen it. I hadn’t until recently.

The 100 year light bulb with its own cam.

Lem said...

Btw we are coming up all 9/9/09 at 9:09 am and again at 9:09 pm next week.

Useless information # 9.

k*thy said...

*smile* When life gives you lemons...y'know? Thanks, Henry.

Donna B. said...

I dislike being forced to buy flourescent bulbs, but I don't mind living with them. There's very little aesthetic about my house as I'm a horrible decorator, haphazard housekeeper, and have a warped sense of style.

We've been using them for years.

SteveR said...

When the White House, the homes of all members of Congress and Al Gore are incandescent free, lets talk. Until then STFU.

Bissage said...

(1) Well done, Henry.

(2) Lem, that was LOL funny and, no, I didn’t know about it at all so thanks.

* emails link to friends *

G Joubert said...

I'll never be incandescent free. About 10 years ago I discovered "Decade" bulbs by Feit Electric. These are for all intents and purposes your standard issue incandescent bulbs, and at the same price as GE and Sylvania bulbs, except these bulbs last for years and years. They claim they last for 10 years (hence "Decade"), but I can't quite verify that based on the way I use them. It's more like about 5 to 7 years each, which is still far better than anything else on the market. I've stockpiled enough of these with a variety of styles and watts to last me for the rest of my life, which at 5 to 7 years each at my age really isn't all that many.

AllenS said...

I started last winter buying Feit Electric flourescent bulbs for my shop. Turning on the lights in the winter with incandescent bulb was a royal pain. They wouldn't last even a year in the really cold weather. The only ones that work, what I consider really well, are the Daylight 100s. All others are crapola.

Rose said...

Not only do these stupid twisty light bulbs turn a dimmer yellowish grey within a short period of time, not only are they laden with mercury and a hazard to dispose of, BUT - we had three brownouts this summer, and ALL of the twisty flourescent bulbs burned out. Thought it was a fluke and replaced them the first time. After the second complete burnout, I have gone back to all regular lightbulbs.

Ever braindead legislator who pushes for laws mandating these things, and every braindead legislator who votes for this ought to be tossed out on their ear(s).

The world has gone mad when our legislators really think this is any of their business anyway. But we need to figure out a way to import a stash of regular bulbs if this stupid legislation takes hold.

Korten said...

I resent being forced to buy the damned things. It's not that I don't use them - I do, where it makes sense - but in a free society it ought to be MY choice. They are especially useless in three-way lamps. And then there's the mercury that'll soon be in the landfills because no more than a handful of people will deliver spent CFLs to a recycling center.

Joe said...

I tried some CFLs a few years back. They all failed within 90 days. Unfortunately, on the way to failure they took on a ghastly green hue and were very dim.

Even when new, the output of of the CFLs were equivalent to 45 watt incandescents, not 60 watt. This 3:1 ratio has been observed by many people I know.

Skyler said...

I've had to replace about a dozen CFL's so far because they stopped functioning. The line that they last for a long time is a myth.

Skyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DADvocate said...

I've replaced 75% of the bulbs in my house with flourescents. I can't tell any difference in my electric bill.

I put one in the porch light and the damn thing attracts bugs 10 times worse than an incandescent. I've had several go out too. They haven't lasted as long as advertised.

Marcia said...

Next year, challenger candidates for the House should run on an incadescent platform, wherever the incumbent voted for the ban.

It's an issue that really irritates people in terms of both practicality and principal. It's like Congress has been taken over by the most obnoxious member of the most micromaning HOAs in the country.

And if the only defense is, "I didn't know that provision was in the bill when I voted it," then all the better.

Sofa King said...

While I strongly disagree with government regulation of the matters, I do enjoy fluorescents for some applications and feel that their bad reputation prevents some people from enjoying what they have to offer. Here are some tips if you want to use them effectively:

1. Do not use them in places where the lights are turned on and off very frequently, or where immediate full brightness is very important. Bad applications: closet, bathroom, pantry. Good application: reading, floor and table lamps, kitchens, other work areas.

2. Don't mix and match. In a given space, either use all incandescent or all CFL. If you do use CFL, use all the same brand and color temperature.

3. Buy as bright as possible. Do not purchase anything less than a 100-watt equivalent bulb. Keep in mind that the safety rating on your fixtures is for the actual power consumption, not the equivalent. I.e., you can safely use a 150-watt equivalent CFL in a 60-watt fixture because that CFL is only probably using about 35 actual watts.

4. Give higher color temperatures a chance. CFL bulbs are better at cool (bluer) temperatures than they are at simulating the very warm (orange/yellow) temperatures of an incandescent. Natural sunlight has a very high color temperature and contrary to popular belief is best approximated by a cool white bulb. Try using a daylight white or cool white CFL, particularly in shaded lamps or fixtures. After a short adjustment, you may find it pleasing in a way that incandescents are incapable of.

Aside from the fact that CFL bulbs are more energy efficient, I like the flexibility of being able to use much brighter bulbs in a given fixture, as well as being able to choose from some cooler whites (and the colored party CFL bulbs are amazing too). I still use incandescents for some things, of course. As always, each thing has its place.

jimspice said...

Check out these LED version:

$50 a pop, but LEDs use a fraction of the juice, and supposedly very sturdy. They even come in a "warm" version, and can be equipped with a recessed unit like a flood.

I had seen another LED bulb about a year ago going for $125.

Sofa King said...

LED's are not quite ready yet. Be careful at the products out there, there's a lot of flim-flammery. For example, notice that the LED bulb you linked to does produce 1000 lumens, but over across a much lower angle - overall less light output. And while it does use less electricity, note that it relies on a cooling fan to keep it cool! Those little fans are notorious for crapping out, and when it does, the LED inside will burn itself to death.

LED lights have two problems: first, heat dissipation. While it's a relatively small amount of heat, it comes from a very tiny source and so has to be dissipated rapidly. This ends up requiring big aluminum heat sinks and things like cooling fans. Second, droop. An as-yet-unexplained phenomenon is that as you ramp up the power, LED efficiency decreases. This means that at low levels, LED lighting is awesome, but once you start getting into high-brightness territory, efficiency trails off dramatically. This is a good article explaining the problem:

Sofa King said...

Bottom line is that as yet, at high-power light output suitable for general illumination, fluorescent bulbs are actually still the most efficient form of lighting, even more efficient than LED. (Not necessarily CFL bulbs, though, FWIW.)

DaveW said...

I use them where the quality of light doesn't matter. So contrary to sofa king I have them in closets, the pantry, hallways, front and back porch and garage.

I don't use them anywhere quality of light is important - the bathroom mirror strip where the wife puts on her makeup is a good example. On the other hand, the potty room is fine with a CFL and I doubt she knows its there.

They fail far FAR more often than advertised - it is appalling how bad they are in this area especially considering how they were sold. The supposed 'long life' has been a pile of rubbish in my experience. I replace them at least as often as regular bulbs, even fancy ones (halogen, three-way, etc).

Sofa King said...

The supposed 'long life' has been a pile of rubbish in my experience. I replace them at least as often as regular bulbs, even fancy ones (halogen, three-way, etc).

They definitely don't like being switched on and off a lot - that's probably the reason you're getting so many failures. Used in task lighting that is usually on for longer than a few minutes at a time, they really do last much longer.

tim maguire said...

Funny how all CFL threads seem to add up to the same thing--CFLs are just another enviro-scam. They don't last longer, they're lots more expensive, the light quality sucks and best of all, they don't even save much energy.

So take heart Henry, as others have pointed out, your CFLs will burn out much much sooner than advertised and you can go back to good-old incandescent bulbs if your local nanny state enthusiast hasn't banned them.

kentuckyliz said...

I will gladly smuggle contraband to get my paws on illegal incandescents. That flourescent CFL hell gives me a headache and makes me feel vaguely ill.

I would join the Bright Ideas political party...they should use the light bulb logo from the Monopoly property card for the Electric Company.

They'd have to be anti-crap n trade too...otherwise we won't be able to afford the NRG to flip the light switch at all, and we'll go back to cooking over open wood or dung fires like most of the world's population. So much for the Greens.

Henry said...

Thanks David, Kathy, Bissage, (& Ann).

I figure that the ones I have are the really high quality ones that never burn out. That pure Kodak glare must evidence some kind of great engineering. And the light by the boiler, where they are all destined to go, doesn't get turned on that often anyway.

Louis said...

The only way to use Congressional Dim Bulbs is to buy a $2.50 adapter at Home Depot that lets you put 2 bulbs in your lamp.

LeRoy said...

I've had very poor luck with compact fluorescent bulbs. They burn out FASTER than incandescent bulbs. I live in an apartment which seems to have varying power. I use RURAL bulbs with a higher rated voltage and they last longer than any. But the Canuck government will be banning sale of incandescents in a few years, meaning candles may be me only choice.

Gregory Kong said...

You know, I must admit that I don't understand how you can put up with the crappy QA for CFLs that must exist in the USA.

I'm in Malaysia. These bulbs cost about USD6 each. Contrasted with USD0.20 for an incandescent, of course.

Still, they don't crap out anywhere as much as I'm reading about in blogs like this one. They do put out a significant amount of light (I never had reason to complain about the amount of light they put out), and they're instant-on.

Now, I do have one that takes an eon to warm up, and see if I will ever buy that brand again. The others work just fine, though, and they keep slogging on through tress falling on our power lines, daily lightning storms and such.

So, in a 3rd world country like mine, I can get fairly good CFLs, and the ones in the USA are crap, I can only assume QA issues, and I ask, how can you put up with it?