Skip to comments.Green Follies Escalate in the Face of Failure (CFLs are a dud in the real world)
Posted on 01/20/2011 6:53:34 AM PST by SeekAndFind
California's utilities are spending $548 million over seven years to subsidize consumer purchases of compact fluorescent lamps. But the benefits are turning out to be less than expected.
No state has done more to promote compact fluorescent lamps than California. On Jan. 1, the state began phasing out sales of incandescent bulbs, one year ahead of the rest of the nation. A federal law that takes effect in January 2012 requires a 28% improvement in lighting efficiency for conventional bulbs in standard wattages. Compact fluorescent lamps are the logical substitute for traditional incandescent light bulbs, which won't be available in stores after 2014.
California utilities have used ratepayer funds to subsidize sales of more than 100 million of the bulbs since 2006. Most of them are made in China. It is part of a comprehensive state effort to use energy-efficiency techniques as a substitute for power production. Subsidized bulbs cost an average of $1.30 in California versus $4 for bulbs not carrying utility subsidies.
Anxious to see what ratepayers got for their money, state utility regulators have devoted millions of dollars in the past three years for evaluation reports and field studies. What California has learned, in a nutshell, is that it is hard to accurately predict and tricky to measure energy savings. It is also difficult to design incentive plans that reward-but don't overly reward-utilities for their promotional efforts.There are additional problems since it seems the state may have over-rewarded utilities with taxpayer money to promote a program that has failed to live up to the green dreams of its proponents.
Despite governments' effort to market them, CFLs are not necessarily better. Tests conducted by the London Telegraph found that using a single lamp to illuminate a room, an 11-watt CFL produced only 58% of the illumination of an equivalent 60-watt incandescent -- even after a 10-minute warm-up that consumers have found necessary for CFLs to reach their full brightness.
Lack of light isn't the only drawback. CFLs apparently are so dangerous, the European Commission has to warn consumers of the environmental hazards they pose. If one breaks, consumers are advised to air out rooms and avoid using vacuum cleaners to prevent exposure to the mercury in the bulbs.
The government, not even his Zero-ness, can create a market where one doesn’t naturally exist.
Who ever said a 11-watt CFL is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent is a liar. They are usually advertised at a 4-to-1 exchange, but from what I've seen a 3-to-1 is more accurate. Thus a 20-watt CFL would replace a 60-watt incandescent, but 11 watts won't come close.
A friend put in a set of 5 6500 Kelvin daylight CFLs in his dining room. They are painfully bright.
Wow. What a statement but no facts. We put CFLs in recessed lighting, in the bathroom and in our ceiling fans. Worked fine, lasted long time.
The only CFLs I consider acceptable are neodymium bulbs. They produce pleasant light. I no longer use conventional yellow bulbs. They look terrible in a room!
I think John Galt was wrong. He should have said:
“When you see the lights of CALIFORNIA go out, then you will know we have won.....”
I use CFL’s where I keep lights on for an extended period of time. They work great and last a long time.
My stockpile list continues to grow as everyday items will soon be VERBOTEN in what was once America:
Gold & Silver
Cigarettes (for bartering)
Toys guns for my future Grandsons
Home lighting is a miniscule part of our power requirements ~ and in any case, EVERY SINGLE BULB has its own switch and is normally in an OFF state. Consequentially it is virtually impossible to gauge what incandescent light usage was and it's equally impossible to determine what benefit any switch to CFLs for home lighting could possibly deliver.
Having said that I cut my monthly power bill $50 by converting totally to CFLs some time back. My LCD TV whacked another $25 per month out of my bill ~ which actually surprised me!
Getting my eldest to move to his own home gave me $18 per month (from the hot water bill) and $33 per month from the reduced water usage!
Oh, happy day!
“an 11-watt CFL produced only 58% of the illumination of an equivalent 60-watt incandescent — “
Then 22-watts would give you more than the incandescent and save you over 65% in electricity!
“even after a 10-minute warm-up that consumers have found necessary for CFLs to reach their full brightness.”
Misleading. CFLs reach nominal brightness in just a few seconds.
AH ha ha! Went to Lowe’s yesterday and was going to see if they had any 100 watt bulbs. Nope! They had 95 watt bulbs! That’s 1 way around the stupid government ban! ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m hoping that the spotty reliability is due to the infancy of the product. I’ve had several of these buggers burn out in a matter of weeks. I”ve had several that take at least a minute to warm up to 80%, then slowly it gets to 100% from there.
As a counter example, I have a pole light in front of the house that has burnt through bulbs at a horrific rate. But one of these new bulbs has not lasted over two years and is going strong. That is WAY better than any other bulb I had put in there prior.
I don’t put any of these new bulbs that are less than 75 watt equiv, unless it’s in a hallway, which doesn’t need much light, IMHO.
LCDs use CCFL backlighting. Present LED TVs are still LCD but with LED backlighting and could knock another $25 off you bill.
The argument isn’t that CFLs are totally bad, it’s that GOVERNMENT should NOT be FORCING them upon us!
I have CFLs in some spots and regular bulbs in others, depending upon the need. I don’t mind the CFLs in my kitchen ceiling fixture, and I have CFLs under the cabinets.
But - My upstairs hallway is very dark, so that NEEDS a nice, bright regular bulb in it; takes too long for the CFL to come up to brightness before I’m at the top of the stairway.
My reading lamp by the bed and by the couch are regular bulbs. I can’t read well by CFL light. But, if others can, more power to ‘em.
The CHOICE should be up to ME! What next? Deciding which CAR I can and cannot drive?
Oh, wait...they’re already working on that one, the b@stards! :)
There’s a use for CFL’s, for sure. Especially in my (formerly gas-lit) lamp in the front of my house. They run cooler, so they work better in a room that is smaller and the heat is an issue in the summer. There is no filament, so it works well in areas with vibration. That said, I always prefer having a CHOICE!!! Let the marketplace decide.
CFLs have lasted much longer in our ceiling fan lights than incandescent lights have. The vibration from the fans always killed the filaments early.
Yes. The ones over my basement stairs/back door entrance are on just about continuously in the winter and a lot of the time during the summer. It helps that I just need it for seeing where I'm going instead of reading or checking the color of anything, so the main complaints about them don't apply.
Ug. Florescent lights good; compact florescent lights bad.
Works great for computer screens and TVs although newer LED units are great, particularly with zoned backlighting instead of edge lit.
Choice is good; informed choice is better. :)
One burned out in the bathroom. Typically, no big deal.
I took it out and went to replace it when I noticed that the base was all scorched. The bulb had obviously been overheating.
I said "uh-oh, maybe we've got a problem with the fixture". Sure enough, all of the bulbs in the fixture had that same scorching on them.
Being an engineer, and an inquistive type, I checked all of the bulbs in ALL of our bathrooms. Different rates of usage, different circuits, different moisture levels, different types of bulbs, etc. ALL of them had that same scorching on them. And, I can see why, in messing around some, they run really really hot.
We're now on incandescents. No problems at all, and I've been keeping a very close eye on them.
I don't know the manufacturer - there were a few with a visible stamp, but it was unreadable, due to the scorch marks. Maybe they were cheap bulbs, I dunno. But I'm not taking another chance. Period.
I’m glad you are a believer in these lights. More power to ya.
I certainly am not a fan. My experiences are more in line with the article’s author. I have replced these cfl’s more often that I ever have had to do with incandescent. In simple setting like overhead bedroom lights. I suspect they cannot do the on and off too well.
I certainly cannot see anything approaching “savings” off my power bill and I am old enough to simply bristle at mandates by a bunch of people who are usually amd mostly profoundly WRONG, ie government bureaucrats.
I will definitely be laying in a bigger stock of various incandescents. Given their longer lives, I shouldn’t need much to last the rest of my life.
While I agree that the Kennedys should probably be in a low dungeon, somewhere, I think the word the author is looking for here is "dudgeon".
Freudian slip, perhaps?
It’s that upfront extra $500 for the LEDs ~ that’s the part that has to come down.
There are promises of a reliable LED for fans but you have this problem with current stability near a fan motor.
95 watt light bulbs!
They are doing this in Russia too - their 100W ban went into effect this month——HA
I put one in my shower, I purposely bought a GE bulb that comes on as fast as an incandescent and doesn’t have much variance between when you turn it on and a few minutes later.
These things do have a useful niche to fill, I put one in my workout room where I didn’t want any heat coming from my light, it works fine.
Their niche is providing light with no heat and potentially saving a few bucks from less electricity usage, they can last longer than incandescents, but it’s a random crap shoot on how long they last, depending on the circuitry underneath.
Selling them as a “green” technology is misleading though. They’re different, but not green.
The CFLs are fine if your never turn them off. I’ve had a couple of always on bulbs in my basement for about 10 years. The same bulbs in normal usage (ON/OFF several times a day) only last 6 or 8 months.
The new bulbs don’t work very well outside in the cold. They also don’t last long, and the produce low light levels. Ain’t progress wonderful?
Not sure where you are from; I am from the north east. My CFL’s take way more than just a few seconds to warm up; hence, I do not use them in low traveled area’s of the house.
The ones in my garage have been there a long time, I think I have replaced one. Don’t think you should be forced to buy them. But nothing wrong with them, leave it up to the consumer.
Depending on Solar is going to be interesting when a large volcano goes off like Krakatoa did & blots out the sun for about 2 years.......
Indeed. Show me where in the Constitution the FedGov has this authority.
"My reading lamp by the bed and by the couch are regular bulbs. I cant read well by CFL light. But, if others can, more power to em."
Try some with a different color spectrum. I've got CFL's in my reading lamp, and they work just fine. Look for those that most closely duplicate the spectrum of an incandescent. You can find both bulbs and info online. The "standard" CFL has a bluish tint, which "is" difficult to read by, but (I think the term is) "warm white" is much better.
First and foremost, I want to have lifestyle choices and not dictates from the government. Having said that, my experiences with CFLs seem to be better than what some are reporting here. I have been using CFLs thoughout the house for two years now without the loss of a single bulb. I mostly use the 23 watt bulbs to match in brightness the 100 watt incandescents they replaced. The “warm” color bulbs have the highest Lumen efficiency. Since the CFLs run cooler, I may save more from reduced A/C use than directly from the bulbs themselves. I have only two complaints: 1) the warm up time, and 2) the ghastly colors when I take digital photos inside my house without a flash.
I have places in my home where CFL’s work just fine and other places where I’d rather not have them. Typically basement, garage, places that tend to be cool where the long CFL warmup time is a problem. Should be my choice and not Washington’s.
I think before long improving LED technology may make the CFL’s obsolete anyhow.
The local KMart has had 8-pks of 100W bulbs on sale recently.
Typically, I don't use 100W bulbs. I still bought a couple of packs to put aside.....you never know, I MIGHT want some, later. They won't go bad.
I've not seen the 95W bulbs yet. I've seen 34W (replace 40s) and 52W (replace 60s), though. Where there's a will, there's a way.
When I bought this house, I opted to put in ceiling fans & not install the A/C.
I have 6 fans, each with 3 bulbs. In the summer, 4 of these fans runs 24/7. In 6 years, I don’t think I have replaced more than 6 bulbs total- & 1/2 of those in my office. I have Hunter fans I bought at Lowe’s for about $70 each & have never noticed any problems with vibration. The biggest electric bill I have had in 6 years was one month in a hot summer when I was filling horse water tanks almost every day. That bill was $125. In the winter, the bill runs about $90.
LEDs would not have any current problems. They have internal voltage regulators.
In seriousness, A CFL for 3 or 4 bucks represents a significant investment....if you don't have 3 or 4 bucks. Especially if you need to replace several of them.
A foolish expenditure, when you can buy incandescents four-for-a-buck at the dollar store.
And I am anal about balancing the fans using the sticky tape backed lead weight kits.
The back EMF damages them. Again, I’ve got several fans I’m worried about and they all have lights. We are using beefed up bulbs in all of them at the moment, but there are “promises” of LED lights that can stand up ~ but I haven’t seen any at a price I’m willing to pay.
I don't want the gummint shoving them down my throat, but I do use CFLs.
At our former house, they ran 5 to 7 years in kitchen and dining room fixtures. Regular bulbs only lasted about 3 months in those fixtures.
In our current house, every one of them I have is three years old. No failures.
To me, they only seem to take less than a minute to reach full bright. If you buy the 'warm' colored ones, people don't realize they are CFLs. I've had people tell me they don't like the light from CFLs and then are surprised when they find out that mine are CFLs.
Reminds me of the time I was eating some very tasty soup when I was in the Army. Guy told me it was mushroom. Before that I told people I didn't like mushrooms. Oops.
New EnergyStar rated light fixtures will not have screw bases making it impossible to use incandescents. For a new home to be EnergyStar rated, it will have to have those fixtures.
We have about 3 CFLs in places where we like to have a light on all the time - for example in the basement over the cat box. That's about it. Mrs NHD tried a regular CFL as a reading light but it was too dim compared to the "equivalent wattage" incandescent. She then got a daylight bulb. Talk about hideous. The thing is better at providing a headache than anything else. Bottom line, we have been stocking up on 60, 75 and 100 watt incandescents.
The round vanity lights you use around bathroom mirrors are now CFL’s in disguise. I put a set of these in my daughter’s bathroom, which made the room light up something eerie. Then she started coming down with headaches in the AM. Swapped the bulbs out, and the headaches disappeared.
Kinda wondering how long its going to take some bedwetter to pass a bill calling for a garbage inspector to make sure you aren’t tossing these things in the trash.
The ones under my house went in a matter of weeks after installing them. The one I put outside in the porch light has held up the best of all of them. I figured the quality of light doesn’t matter much out there.
The other issue I have with them is the size of the base. I can’t get them into a lot of fixtures that would have taken an Edison bulb.
Indoors, I find the 6500K lamps horrendously blue. In the dining room, they probably make the food look like unappetizing crap too.
I don’t know whether we’re just culturally accustomed to low color temperatures indoors and at night, or whether its evolution; but it has to be one of these.
Now, a high CRI (color resolution index) lamp will usually be almost 6500K. That’s fine if you’re in the business of judging color samples, or doing photography; but that’s about it.
1. A CFL has a bunch of electronic components inside it.
2. CFLs are all made in China, from Chinese components.
3. China OEMs and component makers are notorious for cheaping their products to the Nth degree. Their cheapness accounts for much of the component burnout in CFLs.
Importers have well-defined quality standards, but it's really hard to hold such distant suppliers to them. The traditional way for high-quality brands is to set up their own factories in which they can put all the stringent standards in place at the point of origin.
Maybe as Chinese industry matures, you will be able to get quality on a job-shop basis--as long as you know which shops to use.
I’ve been liking the ‘Reveal’ bulbs for reading. :)