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The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa gave away free CFL bulbs, while on the campaign trail in 2009.  (Source: Getty Images)

CFL lightbulbs are burning out 3 years faster than originally expected, disappointing Californian regulators.  (Source: Paul Swansen/Flickr)

Less customers are buying CFL bulbs than expected, despite tax incentives that total nearly 3 dollars per bulb, cutting the price to one third the standard MSRP.  (Source: Walmart Corporate)
State government concludes that it will not realize the savings it expected

It was all flowers and roses when the state of California launched its $548M USD program to help promote consumer use of compact fluorescent lamps.  Manufacturers and utilities were onboard because they received bonus pay to enact rebate programs.  Citizens were happy as they received cheap CFL bulbs, which promised to save them money on power expenses.  And the politicians were happy, as they looked sufficiently "green" to satisfy the eco-minded voters.

Now that utopian vision of futuristic lighting has dissolved into rancor and disappointment.  A multi-million dollar program by the state designed to evaluate the actual results has concluded that energy savings were not as good as expected and that utilities were being over-rewarded for their performance.

At the heart of the problems is the fact that utility provider Pacific Gas & Electricity Corp (PG&E) has forced to cut estimates of CFL life average lifetimes from 9.3 years in 2006 to 6.3 years.  The shorter-than-expected lifetime was due largely to people turning CFL lights on and off, and the fact that CFL bulbs were often put in disadvantageous locations like bathrooms or recessed lighting.

The state studies say that the shorter lifetimes led to the utility missing its proposed energy cuts.  PG&E disagrees, claiming it narrowly made the targets.  Now state regulators are left to argue whether to award the utility its expected bonus pay.

Another thing working against PG&E is that, despite its up-front investment of $92M USD for a CFL rebate program, fewer bulbs were sold, fewer were screwed in, and they saved less energy than PG&E anticipated.  While Californians only pay $1.30 for the subsidized bulbs versus $4 in states where they were not subsidized, the citizens didn't all seem interested in jumping on board and moving away from traditional incandescent lighting.

One headache for utilities is that they are only rewarded for the energy saved by customers who, when surveyed, say they would not have otherwise purchased the bulbs.  

Still, for all PG&E's complaining, it did receive $104M USD from two rounds of funding ($143.7M USD initially, and $68M USD in December 2010) -- more than its rebate program, which it has not even completed.

The California government is now considering switching from rewarding utilities based on energy savings, to rewarding them based on the amount of adoption.  Many, including some utilities, argue that the switch would simplify the accounting process for everyone and reduce the penalties for cooperating utilities if, outside their control, the products fail to deliver the expected savings.

The aftermath of the California CFL mess is perhaps, just a sign of things to come.  California, the leading state in promoting CFLs, began phasing out incandescent light bulbs on January 1.  Next year the rest of the nation will follow.  By 2014, incandescent light bulbs will be gone from shelves, for better or worse.

The transition is a win for one party, at least -- China.  Chinese manufacturers produced the vast majority of the 100 million CFLs installed in California since 2006.

Worldwide, many nations, rich and poor are also eyeing major CFL campaigns.  The World Bank, as part of its charitable efforts, donated away five million CFL light bulbs in Bangladesh in one day alone.  Its also giving away CFL bulbs in many other nations in an effort to make lighting more affordable in impoverished nations. 

CFL lighting will likely eventually be replaced by LED lamps, which are currently almost prohibitively expensive, but offer even longer lifetimes.



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Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 1/25/2011 4:35:49 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
The shorter-than-expected lifetime was due largely to people turning CFL lights on and off, and the fact that CFL bulbs were often put in disadvantageous locations like bathrooms or recessed lighting.


Yup. I have five 75W equivalent spiral lights recessed in my kitchen ceiling that replaced 5 incandescent bulbs. They were supposed to last 7 years according to the box (Philips brand). However, I've already have three of them blow out, and we've been in this house for less than two years.

I also had one blow out in the bathroom as well. I replaced just about all of the lighting in my house with fluorescents when we moved in. All told, I've probably replaced about 6 or 7 in various parts of the house despite the fact that they're supposed to last for years...




RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By johnsonx on 1/25/2011 4:41:01 PM , Rating: 2
same experience here. I only started using flourescents 3 years ago at most, and I have a box full of dead ones. At least I never paid full price for any of them, or I'd be pretty irritated.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By chmilz on 1/25/2011 5:01:53 PM , Rating: 3
I make regular trips to the store I bought mine at to replace them under their 5-year warranty. I have 10 bulbs in my two bathrooms, and have replaced at least a dozen individual bulbs over the last two years.

My power bill has gone down, but if it weren't for the no-hassle 5-year exchange warranty, I wouldn't have saved any money.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By dubldwn on 1/25/2011 5:43:23 PM , Rating: 2
Wow. That’s amazing. It almost sounds like there’s something wrong. I’m curious what brand all you guys bought. I have all incandescent because I don’t like CFL. I moved into my new place in September of 2004 and I have not replaced a single bulb. Zero.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By sprockkets on 1/25/2011 5:54:10 PM , Rating: 2
Depends. You shouldn't use CFL in bathrooms.

In any case, the flood lamps lasted me around 7-8 years. The usual cheap bulbs maybe around 2-3 on average.

The original Lights of America ones that cost a lot from early 2001? Still going.

My halogens in the bathroom have yet to be replaced. Been there for 4 years so far.

I'm willing to bet if the $4 a bulb CFLs were still sold they would also last "forever."

Also, Home Depot also now recycles CFL's for free.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By StevoLincolnite on 1/25/2011 9:30:59 PM , Rating: 4
Incandescent light bulb's aren't allowed to be sold here in Australia and we were given promises how CFL was essentially our savior.

Not denying the electricity companies may have saved money...
Did we save money? Nope.
Incandescent bulbs were multiple times cheaper and the electricity companies just increased the costs of electricity anyway.

So far Halogen Bulbs are pretty much my only option until LED bulbs get cheaper as CFL's give me headaches.
Not to mention CFL's have Mercury which isn't good for the environment.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Spuke on 1/25/2011 9:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
I bought 19 CFL's about 5 years ago. All are still working except for the one's used for the front and back porches (5), the outside garage lights (2), and the one's in my office (2). The one's used outside only lasted as long as the incandescents so I went back to those. Going to start replacing some interior lights with LED's sometime this year.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By michael67 on 1/26/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By michael67 on 1/26/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By kingius on 1/26/2011 7:14:00 AM , Rating: 2
The key is to buy 'warm white' ones.

I just switched out all of the ceiling lights on my boat for LED's and the saving on the battery is about six times; that is I can switch six ceiling lights out on and be using the same power as the old halogens.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By michael67 on 1/26/2011 6:20:41 PM , Rating: 1
Did i get a -1 because i posted a bad post.

Ore did i get it because i double posted, because the freaking ad website was taking for ever And i was thinking i miss-clicked and DT after years of people complaining still dose not have a edit button ?


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By MrBlastman on 1/27/2011 12:19:44 PM , Rating: 2
I think you got a -1 for bad grammar and spelling, not because of the subject matter or the double-post.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By EricMartello on 1/28/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Dark Legion on 1/29/2011 4:24:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
yet most of them work in $30K per year tech jobs with no future - now that's funny.

Pot, meet kettle.
And no, what he said was not fully understandable. Sure, not everyone can speak/write English or had it as their first language, but that's not an excuse for those who can to butcher the language or get lazy. And if someone doesn't know, why not correct them and try to teach them, rather than have them making the same mistake every time.

To answer your question, many people do, which is evident alone in the comment section of most DT articles.


By Astral Abyss on 1/27/2011 12:24:09 PM , Rating: 2
"I bin using them sins they came out" was as far as I needed to read to determine the -1 was well deserved.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By plonk420 on 2/1/2011 2:15:06 AM , Rating: 2
of the 3-4 brands of CFLs i've gotten, i rather like the Lights of America. i don't think they're more than 2-3 years old, but they haven't burnt out yet (my most often used set is in my bathroom).

i still prefer incandescent (or even halogen) in my living room, however.

i have LED in my kitchen and bathroom, tho, running 24-7, so that i can try to move around without any other lights on (i have a front projection system in my living room right off my kitchen).


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Solandri on 1/25/2011 7:20:36 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Wow. That’s amazing. It almost sounds like there’s something wrong.

Posting is gonna undo my ratings, but I guess I have some better data on this than most people. I worked at a hotel for a few years when they switched from incandescent to CFLs. So we had a sample size of close to a thousand bulbs.

The initial CFLs we bought as tests did very well. Only a few failed within 1-2 years. The (U.S.) manufacturer just told us to send them back for free replacements so we didn't lose any money on them.

The next big batch we bought were cheap discount CFLs made in China. I was concerned that TANSTAAFL and there had to be some reason they were cheaper. But since we were buying nearly a thousand and the price difference came out to over $5k, we didn't really give it much though. At the price difference, we could buy nearly twice as many CFLs. Maintenance reported that these bulbs had a much higher burnout rate than the first batch of CFLs.

Overall it was still a win over incandescents though. The Chinese CFL burnout rate was still better than with incandescents. Instead of our employees having to replace 1-3 burned out bulbs every day with incandescents, it dropped to 1 dead CFL every few days. And by our calculations they ended up saving us over $10k/yr in electricity (never mind the reduced labor costs for changing bulbs in some of the harder to reach places), which more than covered their higher purchase price.

Still, in a free market it's natural for a manufacturer to figure out ways to reduce their costs without impacting sales. Cutting corners on whatever features were giving the first batch of CFLs their longevity would be almost the perfect place for a manufacturer to reduce cost. The customer wouldn't notice anything was wrong for months if not years, by which time you received your payment and they're long past any return period.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mcnabney on 1/26/2011 9:27:34 AM , Rating: 5
Yup, the Chinese business model.

Make it cheaper than anyone else to destroy the domestic competition and make it as cheaply as possible so the customer has to replace it again and again.

This doesn't just apply to lightbulbs. My original microwave oven lasted from 1982 until 1998 (didn't die, my wife just thought it was ugly). In the past 12 years we have had to replace them every 2-4 years. The one we bought three years ago is already making a buzzing sound...


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Alexstarfire on 1/25/2011 11:48:43 PM , Rating: 2
And at our house I don't even remember the last time we replaced a light bulb, that's how long it's been. Hell, after thinking about it I think the last light bulb that went out was really because of a malfunctioning socket.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mooty on 1/26/2011 7:58:59 AM , Rating: 2
Same for me too, and even in the bathroom. I haven't had to replace bulbs for years, except in a faulty socket, that killed 2 pretty quick, and one that met an accident.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By ZachDontScare on 1/26/2011 2:18:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
My power bill has gone down, but if it weren't for the no-hassle 5-year exchange warranty, I wouldn't have saved any money.


Have you factored in how much you spent on gas to go back and forth to the store replacing them? Or the value of your time? I'd be suprised if there was actually a net savings for you.


By AnnihilatorX on 1/27/2011 5:14:06 AM , Rating: 2
But surely you don't go to stores just to buy a bulb. You can get grocery done too.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/25/2011 5:03:17 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
At least I never paid full price for any of them, or I'd be pretty irritated.


Well depending on your tax status you may have paid full price for them, or possibly even more (by funding gov't bureaucracy).

For ever $2.70 rebate, the money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the taxpayers.

Of course, on the other hand, if not all tax payers take advantage of the program but everyone's taxes is going towards it, you might be getting a bargain still -- like $1.30 per bulb + $1/$1.50 in taxes to the rebate program/bureaucratic management of said program.

Ah the wonders of government.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By knedle on 1/26/11, Rating: 0
RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By danobrega on 1/26/2011 11:18:33 AM , Rating: 3
That's not necessarily true, and even if it is, if we started cutting on stupid subsidies for everything bureaucrats remember we might be able to start paying the huge debt we have. You must remember that governments all over the world are not spending what they get in taxes, they are spending much more than that.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By snakeInTheGrass on 1/25/2011 11:15:29 PM , Rating: 3
Ditto. Aside from taking longer to warm up and not having as nice light, they burn out quite often for us too - sometimes more spectacularly, including puffs of smoke - than any incandescents we've ever had. And they're worse as trash. Hmmm. Who, besides the utilities, is profiting? :)

Now I picked up 2 totally overpriced LED bulbs recently out of curiosity, and they are really nice. When prices come down on those, they'll kick the compact fluorescent's butts right off the shelves. And I suspect they use less power as well - similar amount of light, running much cooler after being on for hours, no warmup period, etc. All in all, I'll stick with incandescent until LED comes down in price and skip doing any more fluorescents since they have really been terrible.


By snakeInTheGrass on 1/25/2011 11:19:19 PM , Rating: 2
Damn, missed the bit about incandescents being gone from shelves in 2014. WTF!? I thought European legislators were the only ones dumb enough for that. Didn't give our own politicos enough credit. And nice that they're all coming from China too. Maybe that explains the quality issues - and probably ship some jobs overseas to boot. :/

Still time to stock up on real bulbs, and hopefully the LEDs are lower in price by the time they phase them out.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Hiawa23 on 1/26/2011 3:13:05 PM , Rating: 3
I think we got screwed. I replaced every bulb in my house with these bulbs. I think it cost me over $100, but many of them have already blown out barely 2 years, I had to replace them & I am not sure I have seen any savings or reduction in my electric bill. I continue to buy these expensive, philips, 60watt equivalent, only supposedly uses 13watt bulbs, but really have we been had?


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By lyeoh on 1/31/2011 8:06:58 AM , Rating: 2
If you live in a temperate or cold climate and you heat using electricity (and not gas or other), then you may not save very much if at all.

After all typical electric heating for a house uses kilowatts (even the heat pump ones).

So what's a few 100W bulbs in comparison, especially when those bulbs also produce heat for you (so you may need a bit less heating).

I live in a tropical area and flourescent lighting is common here. But most households tend to use the long tube lights (one tube lights a small bedroom brightly for 40W) instead of the expensive bulb ones. If we used the hot 100W bulbs we'd need to spend more on cooling (plus those bulbs tend to go poof every 1000 hours of usage or so).


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Iridium130m on 1/25/2011 4:47:15 PM , Rating: 3
We lost every single CFL in our house that was on when we took a power surge on top of them not lasting their advertised lifetimes. I seriously doubt i've saved any money by switching the house out to CFLs.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mkrech on 1/25/2011 4:47:58 PM , Rating: 5
And how do you feel about mercury poisoning?


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By ClownPuncher on 1/25/2011 5:12:20 PM , Rating: 3
I feel we wouldn't have had a Mad Hatter without it, what's your beef with mercury poisoning?


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By AEvangel on 1/25/2011 5:26:41 PM , Rating: 5
The CFL have a small amount of mercury in them and have to be disposed of a in a specific manor.

You watch 20 years from now there where be a huge issue with mercury poisoning in all aquifers in America because no one disposed of their CFL lights correctly.

http://www.energystar.gov/ia/products/lighting/cfl...


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By sprockkets on 1/25/2011 5:56:01 PM , Rating: 4
The Home Depot where I live takes them back for free.

Not sure about yours, but they probably all do it now.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By sprockkets on 1/25/2011 6:14:13 PM , Rating: 2
The Home Depot where I live takes them back for free.

Not sure about yours, but they probably all do it now.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Souka on 1/25/2011 6:20:39 PM , Rating: 3
Actually you're more mercury is released throguh the burning of coal to produce additioanl the energy required by an incadencent (65W vs 23W).

quote:
In July 2008 the US EPA published a data sheet stating that the net system emission of mercury for CFL lighting was lower than for incandescent lighting of comparable lumen output. This was based on the average rate of mercury emission for US electricity production and average estimated escape of mercury from a CFL put into a landfill.[51] Coal-fired plants also emit other heavy metals, sulphur, and carbon dioxide.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_l...


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Philippine Mango on 1/25/2011 8:19:28 PM , Rating: 3
a 23w CFL is more like the equivalent of 100w incandescent, NOT a 60w incandescent. A 60w Incandescent would be more like 13-15w CFL... Had to point this out.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Souka on 1/26/2011 11:31:54 AM , Rating: 3
Thanks!

I run my house mostly on incadecent... I'm in the NW and keep the house cool. The incadecent lights are like small heaters in each room...and thus I "heat" the room I'm in because the lights are on :)


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Philippine Mango on 1/28/2011 3:35:47 PM , Rating: 2
It's more cost effective to heat a room with natural gas than to use electricity (heat from light bulbs or space heaters) and since you probably have PGE, you probably pay through the nose for electricity.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mindless1 on 1/31/2011 2:08:58 AM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily! Once you factor that A) CCFL and LED bulbs still use electricity, B) Both types of bulb cost more if you're not paying someone to swap them, C) You have lights on in the rooms you are in so you can turn down the central heating thermostat, putting the heat where you are when you are there, letting other rooms drop in temperature a bit.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mariush on 1/26/2011 7:10:51 PM , Rating: 2
They have as much mercury in them as you would ingest by eating a can of tuna every day for about two months. Over the course of your life, you're getting about 10-20 times the amount of mercury inside your body from car exhaust and other food items.

You really don't need to be so careful with them, like that document says.

Just pick up the broken glass, get a wet paper towel so you can suck the very small glass shards from the carpet and the white powder that was inside the bulb and keep the windows open for a few minutes. It's not rocket science.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Alexvrb on 1/27/2011 12:43:48 AM , Rating: 2
Tell that to hazmat. In fact, next time you break one, call hazmat over to show them your awesome technique. If they don't have you naked and hosed down within 10 minutes of witnessing your CFL capers, I'll refund your money.

On a serious note, a single bulb broken is not that big a deal. But collectively, all the improperly disposed of bulbs will pollute quite a bit over the years.

Bottom line, CFLs suck. I'll take conventional incandescent, halogen, and LED instead, depending on application. LED prices will get there, eventually.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Rasterman on 1/25/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mwpotter on 1/25/2011 5:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
The point is that the way these bulbs are made is horrible for the environment. If you break one in your house it can definitely harm you and your family. Heck the EPA had to creat a standard on how to clean them up. The amount of mercury that these things will eventually put into the environment is ridiculous. LED lighting is the only clean way to lower your energy use.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By fic2 on 1/25/2011 6:00:21 PM , Rating: 3
The amount of mercury these things put into the environment is less than 1/4 what an incandescent bulb powered by a coal power plant will put into the environment. About 1.2 mg vs 5.5 mg. If the bulb ends up in a landfill it becomes about 1.6 vs. 5.5 mg.

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls...

Now, if you happen to get your electricity from a non-coal power plant this doesn't apply.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mindless1 on 1/31/2011 2:12:25 AM , Rating: 2
That is an argument not to produce power from coal, not that we can downplay new ways to contaminate the environment.

Further, there are lots of other components in a CCFL, even if "some" CCFLs are recycled that does not mean 100% of the bulb components are.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Souka on 1/25/2011 7:10:40 PM , Rating: 3
Glad you quoted the EPA. Here's another quote

quote:
In July 2008 the US EPA published a data sheet stating that the net system emission of mercury for CFL lighting was lower than for incandescent lighting of comparable lumen output. This was based on the average rate of mercury emission for US electricity production and average estimated escape of mercury from a CFL put into a landfill.[51] Coal-fired plants also emit other heavy metals, sulphur, and carbon dioxide.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_l...

Breaking a CFL in the home is hopefully a rare event, and one you can control. Breathing the air is something hard to control...


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Schrag4 on 1/26/2011 9:28:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The amount of mercury that these things will eventually put into the environment is ridiculous.


You're right. We should stop importing mercury from outer space at once! We should only use naturally occurring elements in our light bulbs!!!


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By AEvangel on 1/25/2011 5:37:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
how do you feel about being in the dark forever?


I must have missed the Environut announcement that stated what we do here was going to blow up the sun.

The point of the comment about Mercury was because CFL's are not what is best right now due to a variety of issues, what they are is best for Corporations who sell them.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By omnicronx on 1/25/2011 5:45:18 PM , Rating: 4
You've clearly missed the point. When CFL's were released they were praised to be energy efficient and good for the environment.

But that only holds true if their ratings hold true. They use far more energy to create and far worse chemicals inside them (including at least 4mg of mercury per bulb) than incandescent light bulbs. (also more expensive for the consumer)

So its nice that we are keeping our landfills a bit more clear, not so nice that instead of a larger mass of garbage, we now have many more chemicals heading for our landfills! yay!

He was hardly trying to say we don't need light, just that the switch may have been all for not..


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By MozeeToby on 1/25/2011 6:00:19 PM , Rating: 5
There's on about 3 mg of mercury in a CFL. If you eat a can of tuna once a week for a year, you'll ingest significantly more than that. Of course, if you follow the really quite simple instructions on CFL disposal I suspect you'll ingest into your body < 1% of the mercury in the bulb meaning that eating a can of tuna is more dangerous than cleaning up a broken CFL.

Of course, here's where you'll point out that there are millions of bulbs being sold that will eventually end up in landfills. The thing is that the mercury used in CFLs is little more than a blip compared to the amount released by coal power plants around the world. Keep in mind, a million CFLs contain a whopping 3 kg of mercury, it's a drop in the bucket compared to burning billions of tons of coal every years at 3ppm.

If you're worried about mercury poisoning you'd be much better off lobbying for proper emission controls at coal power plants than you would be worried about CFLs.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Looey on 1/25/2011 8:04:22 PM , Rating: 1
Why does it say on the CFL package to open your windows and wait 15 minutes if you break one inside you house? That's very alarming. CFL bulbs don't last as long as advertised. I have them on outside lighting I leave on all night and they have averaged burning out anywhere from 18-24 months. The 40 watt bulbs they replaced lasted just as long. On very cold nights the CFL bulbs hardly light up. I have one in my garage (I had 2 but one burned out already) and I have to turn the lights on 5 minutes before I go out there because the CFL bulb is so dim until it warms up. I consider CFL bulbs a piece of crap. I am stockpiling incandescent light bulbs to last me as long as I need them. If the greenies would get out of the way and let more nuclear plants be built you could shut your mouth about coal burning utility companies.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By JediJeb on 1/26/2011 6:14:33 PM , Rating: 2
For outside use in cold weather it is best to keep them on all the time. They will not burn out as fast yet they will use more electricity. If you figure a 60w bulb burning 8 hours per night and a 13w bulb burning 24 hours a day, you still use less electricity than the 60w bulb burning only at night. 13w*24hours=312watt hours versus 60w*8hours=480watt hours. For most of these bulbs you can leave them on constantly and still come out ahead on electricity costs, and they will last longer too, as the article stated the shorter lifetime was mostly attributed to people turning them on and off while the original long lifetimes were calculated from leaving them on constantly. Granted though incandescent bulbs also behave in the same way.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Exodite on 1/25/2011 4:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
So basically bulbs last shorter than the theoretical ideal when in actual use?

Shocker.

I always found the quoted lifetime of lightbulbs to be moderately interesting trivia at best, as the vast majority of bulbs are killed by things other than "natural causes".

Most popular example: power spikes and dirty current/lines.

For this reason I'd expect LED lights to actually get closer to the ideal, as they should be less prone to malfunction from a short power spike.

*shrug* Time will tell I suppose.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By VahnTitrio on 1/26/2011 11:41:12 AM , Rating: 2
When these are tested for lifetime they should be subjected to "typical use conditions". Recessed lighting will trap some heat, which always will decrease your lifetime. Normal on/off cycling should have been used. It actually should be pretty trivial for something like a lightbulb.

Now typical use conditions for something people have in their hands, good luck emulating "typical use conditions". I can do a market trial on a product and people always seem to manage to break million+ cycle materials in less than a week. It never ceases to amaze me.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mindless1 on 1/31/2011 2:16:39 AM , Rating: 2
No, it is unrealistic to think LED lights will be less subject to power spike damage. The power spike fries the switching transsistors, a not so different topology than that used in decent LED lighting drivers (albeit that in CCFL it is a voltage boost circuit while in LED a buck circuit but nevertheless you still have transistors subject to excessive voltage from the spike).


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Proxes on 1/25/2011 5:00:14 PM , Rating: 2
I bought two for stand up lamps where the CFL will point striaght up and be open to the air. One lasted just over a year and a half before it died, so I just replaced both with normal lighting.

I only turned these lights on/off once or twice a day, and they normally stayed on for 6 hours+ at a time.

Didn't notice any power savings and the amount of frustration they caused with taking pictures in my living room just isn't worth it.

No amount of white/grey boards to set custom white balance helps the horrible quality of light that comes from them.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Parhel on 1/25/2011 5:05:38 PM , Rating: 2
But, CFL bulbs have gotten so cheap lately it almost doesn't matter. I bought a bunch of 60W equivalents at Menards a few months ago at 3 for $1.00. That's cheaper than incandescents.

FWIW, I've put in probably 50 to 60 over the last five years, replacing all the bulbs in my old home and then recently in my new home. We've only had three of them die. One of those died just a few hours after I installed it. The the other two died after maybe three years of use. Not perfect, but not too shabby.

I'm not sure how much money I've saved, if any, but I really like not having to replace bulbs as often. Something about the wiring in my old house, I guess, but I was replacing light bulbs constantly until I switched to CFL bulbs.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By omnicronx on 1/25/2011 5:40:52 PM , Rating: 1
It certainly does matter.. Do you have any idea how much lead is contained within CFLs?

The only reason nobody ever made a fuss is because they were suppose to last so much longer than incandescent light-bulbs. The result being the higher lead content was diminished by the fact you are losing far fewer bulbs.

It also takes in the area of 400-600% more energy to create a CFL in the first place.

Not that this is anything new.. All of this was outlined long before we started the shift to CFL's...


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Parhel on 1/25/2011 7:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
Whatever amount of energy it takes to make one, I'm sure it's factored into the cost, like anything else in this world. If the TCO for a CFL bulb is lower than an incandescent, then it makes sense, and I'm in. Otherwise, I'm not.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Dr of crap on 1/26/2011 8:48:01 AM , Rating: 2
If you shop Menards, why are you paying more than 3 for a $1 for incandescents?

I get a box of 4 for $1 at Menards all the time!

It's time I stock up for 2014, and wait out the price drop of LED's!


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Nutzo on 1/26/2011 4:28:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But, CFL bulbs have gotten so cheap lately it almost doesn't matter. I bought a bunch of 60W equivalents at Menards a few months ago at 3 for $1.00. That's cheaper than incandescents.


If I had to pay $4 a bulb, I doubt I would have replaced most my lights. instead I've paid as little as 4/$1 for CFL's (thanks to PG&E). Brands do make difference. Most my Lights of America ones died in less than a year, so it's the only brand I avoid.

Replacing most my lights with CFL's did lower the amount of electicity I use, but since they raised the rates, my cost actually went up.

LED light are a good solution if the prices will come down. I've switch the kids night light to LED. Much better at <.5 watts instead of the 3 watt bulb.

Had LED christmas lights the last few years an hardly noticed the increase in electricity for December. Plus they don't break like the mini (glass) light do when dropped.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By omnicronx on 1/25/2011 5:30:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing the 7 years is under ideal conditions ;)

Something gives me a feeling these CFL bulbs are not as tolerant to power spikes as the older incondescent bulbs.

I had many blow out in my old apartment until I moved, since I have yet to replace any of my CFL bulbs over the past year.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Lerianis on 1/25/2011 5:51:41 PM , Rating: 2
Funny.... when we moved into our new house, my parents and I replaced all the regular incandescents with CFL's... that was almost 9 years ago now, and they are all still going strong!

There is something that you have to take into account: do you have a whole home power spike arrest? Our house came with one, and it's paid off handsomely, because our power for the last 4 years has been going out or going higher than it should at least once a week, more often once a day.

It's only been in the past 3 months that the power to our home has been 'reliable'.

Personally, when I see CFL's going out LONG before their time period in friend's homes, one of three things is true:

1. Bad power spike that fried the CFL.
2. The CFL pushes against the housing in the light fixture, and the heat kills the bulb.
3. The chip has burned out in the CFL (this is the least common scenario, only 1 out of 10 I'd say).


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By jabber on 1/26/2011 8:34:18 AM , Rating: 2
Same here. I put all CFLs in when I moved into my apartment 16 years ago.

None of them failed. I replaced two of them due to wanting a bit more light in the room and thats it.

I would say poor electrical wiring etc. is to blame than the bulbs themselves.

Give them good steady power and they run forever but I reckon some folks homes arent that clean electrically.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 1/26/2011 10:42:23 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
There is something that you have to take into account: do you have a whole home power spike arrest? Our house came with one, and it's paid off handsomely, because our power for the last 4 years has been going out or going higher than it should at least once a week, more often once a day.

one caveat, whole house surge protectors only protect from outside-the-house surges. if you have a malfunctioning motor on a fridge, vac cleaner, air compressor, etc you can still spikes in parts of the house.

Anyway, my experience with cfl's is the last marginally longer than incandescents. But they have some advantages, like being able to put a 100w equivalent bulb in a lamp that lists a max wattage of 40 or 60 watts.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Nutzo on 1/26/2011 4:34:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But they have some advantages, like being able to put a 100w equivalent bulb in a lamp that lists a max wattage of 40 or 60 watts.


Kind of defeats the purpose of using CFL's :)

I do the same. I have a heavly used kitchen light that takes 4 bulbs up to 60 watts. The 40 watts bulbs where not bright enough, but 60 watts bulbs got too hot and burned out to quickly. Switch to 18 watt CFL's instead. They give plenty off light, and last several years at less than 1/2 the power.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By walk2k on 1/25/2011 5:53:49 PM , Rating: 2
I never thought they would last 7 years, more like 5.

I have tons of these all over my house. I replaced all but the bathroom vanity lights (one of my bathrooms already has a traditional flourescent) over 4 years ago and the only one that went bad was a 3-way type. It stopped working on the "low" setting and when I went to "tap" it "lightly" I broke it.. So actually even that one didn't burn out totally.

In the bathrooms or other rooms where I turn them on and off frequently and only use them for a few minutes a day, I kept the incandecent, though when those burn out I'll probably replace the whole lighting unit (they have 4-6 60w bulbs, yikes that's more than all the light bulbs in the rest of the house!)

I have 2 outside and 2 in my garage even and they have taken the weather just fine.

I think this is blown out of proportion... I do have a box full of CFLs that I bought really cheap (like $1) that I haven't even installed yet... I think a lot of people bought these under the subsidized program but just have waited until the regular bulbs burn out to replace them..


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By eddieroolz on 1/26/2011 2:17:41 AM , Rating: 2
Interestingly my family's experience has been quite good so far with these bulbs. We've only had to replace the occasional blown out bulbs here and there. The one in my room has lasted 5 years so far, and I swapped it with a new one only because it has gotten darker. I then threw the old one to external lighting outside the house.

So it sucks to hear about you guys having a bad experience with these bulbs. Maybe just a bad draw.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By safcman84 on 1/26/2011 9:55:13 AM , Rating: 2
I have replaced all my lights in my kitchen replaced by LED based lighting.

2 watts per LED light, 9 lights = 18 watts consumption.
One LED is equivalent of 20watts "normal" bulb so I have 180w of lighting in my kitchen.

LED lights last for ages, and you can multicolour ones!!


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By mindless1 on 1/31/2011 2:23:29 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately this is probably not true. 3 of your 2W lights will be very unlikely to produce as much light as a 60W incan bulb.

I am sure the manufacturer or seller claims it does, they often lie about such things like comparing against the most inefficient incan bulb they can find instead of modern ones, rounding down wattage numbers on the LED bulbs, citing peak LED efficiency at a lower operating temperature, and that even before there is a diffuser or lens on the LEDs.

Regardless you do still save a lot of power which is good, if that is the goal.


RE: Bathroom, Recessed lighting
By Spivonious on 1/26/2011 4:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
I've had the same CFLs in my living room lamps for over 7 years.

I just live by the simple rule that if the light is on for more than 5-10 minute at a time, it gets a CFL. If not, it gets an incandescent.


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