Skip to comments.CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) eyed for fire danger
Posted on 12/28/2011 7:37:38 PM PST by matt04
Compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, have been counted on to light the way to a more energy-efficient future.
Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, which will gradually be phased out starting in January, CFLs use about a fifth the power and have a life six to 10 times as great.
However, since the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission launched its online safety complaints database in March, there have been 34 reports made by people about CFLs that emitted smoke or a burning odor and four reports of the devices catching fire.
As perspective, though, 272 million CFLs were sold in 2009 in the United States.
Nevertheless, the complaints are a cause for concern, according to Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fire Services.
In 2008, the state fire marshals office office first alerted the fire chiefs that CFLs could smoke at the end of their life, she said.
Im not aware of any fires that fire departments in the state have responded to that were started by CFLs, but, as a consumer, its a good idea to be vigilant, she said.
An incandescent bulb typically ends its life when the wire filament, which glows to produce light when electricity passes through it, burns out and breaks. Fires from this are almost nonexistent.
A CFL uses electricity to heat an element in the lamps base that excites the mercury vapor gas in the coils so that they emit light. When a CFL can no longer produce light, the electronics in its base will still try to function, sometimes leading to overheating, smoke and fire.
(Excerpt) Read more at masslive.com ...
When I still used CFL’s I had one in a lamp. All of sudden I head a pop, the light went out and a horrible smell filled the room. The glass had broken off the base and the base was in the process of melting into a pile of sludge.
I bagged up the lamp and shade and disposed of it, along with every other CFL I had at the time.
Now in economic arson sizes.
To each their own. Devil take the leftists.
I like the CFLs for some things too. They are a fine “Choice” for those who want them.
I’ll say one thing for the CFLs, they are an outstanding way to introduce more mercury into the landfills. A big thank you shout out to the dumbass environazis!
And whether, such a government, so constituted, should remain in power. Or whether it's legitimacy is long gone.
"--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
We get a do over if we don't like it.
Personally, I have no use for a Federal government outside of protecting the borders. States do well at laws.
But the whole meddle in our business thing?
Out. Right out.
This lone “data point” has had multiple personal experiences with fried/scorched CFLs that fail scarily. No fires, but they wouldn’t surprise me a bit. Fluorescents’ actual failure rate (among dozens in my home) is extraordinarily high compared to the promised lamp life.
They really stink.
Fred Upton is the next district over from mine but I can’t decide whether to lay siege to his district or Ann Arbor on the other side.
So in the entire 10 years that you’ve had CFL’s, you’ve never had to change a single one? Because that’s what the pro-CFL crowd claims. I write this in the dark because my CFL’s tend to burn out every 2-3 weeks.
Not true for us. Personally, we replace our CFLs because of failure at a rate about the same as we did when they were real bulbs.
I've stockpiled incandescents. Putting a CFL, that takes a minute or two to fire up, in places like closets or bathrooms is silly. And, putting them in places where a bulb can can get broken is nuts.
I saw two cases at home depot last week.
But it should never come to blows. One of our founding documents says that we have a right to modify our government.
Or remove it completely.
Of course, the people in charge of the current government get pissy about it.
But I'm for non-violent change. It's a shame Geo. Wash. had to get scrappy about it to get left alone.
At least half of the twisty bulbs I’ve used, get a toasty brown base when they die, and many smoke or fill the area with a burnt odor.
I wonder if a dirty little secret is that they are not rated past 120 volts. When it’s common today to get household voltages up to 130 in newer neighborhoods where the power distribution has been upgraded for all the McMansions that were expected.
Whoa, nelly... I never said that.
I've had a few burn out. Less, actually, than tubes in my Drake receiver.
And if you buy crappy chineese stuff, expect to change the bulbs a lot.
Cheap is expensive. Pry open that wallet and look for quality instead of best price.
When are the rules for disposing of used up CFL’s going to be coming out?
I expect a fee for their disposal because of the toxic mercury they hold.
Also——Who here on FR wants to use such a bulb OVER their cooking areas????
Spoken like a man that tried the early stuff back around 1998, and made up his mind. And that's it.
Yea had that one explode on me. Thankfully, it only broke the plastic, not the glass part with mercury. Otherwise, I would have had a Hazmat situation on my hands. Later “analysis” of the thing showed that the most likely culprit of the boom was electrolytic capacitor in the base,which actually exploded.
I’ve had three of these things burst into flames in my house. Two went out before flames could spread. One was scorching the ceiling before I beat the flames out. We had to leave the house because the fumes were searing to our lungs and eyes.
They don’t last any longer than incandescent bulbs, either.
“Specialty” bulbs ought to be around a while yet. It’s probably unwise to use a twisty bulb in an over-the-stove hood, just because they won’t fit where a normal bulb would. A bulb-break accident would mean pitching all uncovered food whether it was twisty or normal bulb.
Why don't you debate whether we need a federal government or not. Because I don't think we do, outside of protecting the borders.
Nope... you are fixated. Made up your mind.
You’d think that even the liberal likes of Consumers Union would be going ape over the twisty bulbs that catch fire. Liberals birthed this baby, why can’t they at least rate the best ones?
I'm good with those. But trebuchets are cool. And later, you can load up the weight so the arm is horizontal and hang politicians off of it.
Or remove it completely.
Which is why the people who say the southern states had no right to secede are absolutely wrong. The South found the feds position untenable and decided to exercise their rights under the constitution to change their government. We still have that right today and if things get much worse some states should start implementing that right.
“Spoken like a man that tried the early stuff back around 1998, and made up his mind. And that’s it.”
Wrong. Tried the first ones in about 2007. The small floods I put in about 3 years ago in a home office take about 3 minutes to get bright enough to read by.
The safest thing is to mail them to the EPA or to Congress. They're the experts.
Have we tested the actual current draw of CFLs and computed the ACTUAL power they use? Or have we bought the envirocabal’s crock about efficiency just like some have bought the AGW crock? I won’t USE CFLs, and have stocked up on real light bulbs, but on several occasions have noticed how HOT a CFL is when I happen to get near one. IT TAKES POWER to create that much HEAT..........which makes me question just how much less power the CFLs might ACTUALLY use. When LED bulbs get down to a sensible price I’ll use THEM, but no CFLs.
At least the CFLs have really helped the economy in China.
I have had some toasty brown bases too. Couldn't really put a percentage on it. Haven't had any break.
Cheap is expensive.
Incandescent bulbs Can and do start fires as well. Many barns have burned down from fires started by bare 100 watt incandescent bulbs.
Also, “explosion proof” enclosures for incandescent bulbs are required in certain industrial locations.
Some of the problems come from the bulbs getting damaged, then failing and starting fires, but not all.
The ballast in standard fluorescent fixtures can cause fires as well.
The biggest fire danger with the CF bulbs are installing them in dimmer equipped circuits, this greatly increases the danger of fire unless special “dimmer compatable” CFLs are used.
I agree they are a fine "choice" for some of us. But shouldn't our only choice along with LED.
I use mixture of bulbs around my house. Got 100W in the garage and garage door. Use 60W in closets and bathrooms. Use CFL's in like 3 rooms. The rest is old bulbs or small fan bulbs. The CFL's are dimmer. So I have do use some 100w equivalent ones. They do now make some that go on faster. The cool benefit from those is they are smaller. So the 100w equivalent is like a 60w equivalent in size.
folks you want safe fluorescent lighting that works in all temps? Go get the good old reliable transformer type ballast fixtures. The heat gets displaced. CFL's and even some newer tube fluorescent are using electronic starters. They are junk. They also fail in temps below about 30 or so.
Now for the million dollar question needing answering. Who made the fortune off of them and got this insane law against incandescents passed to start with?
Yes, actually, this cook has, including the power factor on start-up. You do know the P=I* V * cos(q) rule... right?
In the summer it's MUCH cheaper. In the winter, it's a wash. Edison bulbs do put out some serious heat.
I also look forward to properly diffused LEDs. But they ain't there yet.
Really? Just bought a box at Walmart for my 3-way lamp in my office
I’ve had a couple burn a hole clear through the base.
A barn fire is far more likely to be spontaneous combustion OR caused by the wiring going too the 100 watt bulb. Barns are not known for safe wiring practices. Put the bulb up where it can't be hit and it's safe. BTW I just placed a thermometer on the 100 watt bulb in my hall. It reached about 195 degrees surface temp. A 60 watt bulb I can unscrew one hot with my bare hands.
The ballast in standard fluorescent fixtures can cause fires as well.
Generally they make smoke & thats it. We even used them onboard ship. A ballast in that case is a simple step up transformer. The difference is it has a lot more room too displace heat. Such a ballast usually gives you ample warning it is going bad also.
Proud to live in a CFL free home. Always.
I don’t give a rip how long they last.
I don’t like the type of light they put out.
They are ugly.
They are a pain in the but to clean up when you break them.
I have over 1,000 of the 100watt bulbs and I am getting more tomorrow.
Got hundreds of the 75, 3 way, 150 watt each.
I will never run out of them.
CFL lamps are not the devil. I love using them in my bathroom.. Light comes on right away, but not full bright for a couple seconds so my eyes can adjust.
Everywhere else I use LED lamps though. There is zero reason outside of obstinance not to use the best technology avaiable.
I do not know your particular situation, however, using CFL lamps in an enclosed environment will sometimes cause catastrophic failure.
Also if they are used in the base up position CFL lamps can over-heat if they do not have enough ventilation. This is caused from the electronics necessary to maintain the fluorescent arc located in the base.
Not a bad technology just does not have the right information surrounding it to make sure that there are no issues.
I have over 220 CFL’s in my home... Essentially all in recessed “can light” fixtures. In about 5 years I’ve replaced about 10% to 15% of them. None smoked or otherwise catastrophically failed.
Many of those 200 CFL’s have a lot of hours on them.
And “10 years” is not what is actually claimed. It is based on an “average” use of x number of hours per day. A good incandescent bulb is good for about 2000 hours. A good CFL is good for about 6,000+ hours.
I don’t buy the cheapest CFL’s I can find. I buy ones that work well with a good color temperature and are usable as soon as you turn them on (cold). The added cost, about $8 a bulb, is well worth it. They pay for themselves many times over in saved electricity costs over the life of the bulb.
You are right about sub par wiring in barns. Oily rags, are yet another source of fire in outbuildings (used to be worse when boiled linseed oil was a commonly used farm chemical).
But bare inc. bulbs have been known to break and drop superheated tungsten. This will ignite flamable debris should it come in contact.
The point is NO light source is 100% safe, close but not 100%. Just look what the Mine Safety folks require for light sources in explosive environments, same requirement when I was using lights inside fuel tanks during repair operations.
This hysteria about CFLs is just that, hysteria. When you but billions of electric devices into service, some will catch fire, but the rate will be so low as to be insignificant.
I use more than 220 TCP 1R4014IB CFL’s in my home. They are enclosed in a normal R40 flood light glass envelope so you can’t easily see the curly light inside. In addition they are in recessed “can light” fixtures so you don’t see much of the bulb to begin with. These bulbs are not “ugly” and have a good color temperature. TCP calls them “Instabright” and have about 80% of their brightness when turned on cold making them great for hallways and bathrooms.
I also have florescent tube lights, incandescent lights and LED lights in various places...
Which is cool in some situations, not so cool for reading, fornicating, etc...
Diffusion will be the key to winning.