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CFL’s Suck – Roll Out The LED’s

I’ve been running a bit of an informal experiment in house lighting for the past seven or eight years.  Been using CFL’s since they first appeared in the local retail outlets.  Hate to think about how expensive they were before they became Politically Correctified.

Some of the fixtures in the hacienda have sockets for two bulbs. I’ve gradually been removing the old bulbs and replacing them(simultaneously) with a mixed pair – a regular incandescent paired with a “name brand” compact fluorescent. Just wondering if the CFL longevity claims have any merit.

The sample size is pretty small, but the CFL performance has been a lot less than the hype. I had high hopes for one of the outdoor fixtures, but the outdoors CFL crapped out before the incandescent. The CFL crapped out first in one of the indoor fixtures too.

CFL Bad: The bad points

  • Long life claims not meeting expectations
  • Seem to be “bug magnets” when used alone, much more so than incandescents.  The insects must love the color of the light, because the bulbs run a lot cooler than incandescents.  This is a big problem outdoors.  This is not as noticeable a problem when combined with an incandescent.
  • Light color distasteful to certain humans.  (can also a good point-very subjective)

CFL Good:

  • The CFL bulbs use less energy.  In hindsight, I’d like to test this claim too.
  • Price per bulb dropped to more reasonable levels, but the shorter than hyped useful bulb-life offsets this benefit.
  • Light color is improved by pairing with an incandescent of similar luminescence.  Combined, this makes for improved work area lighting.

I also had high hopes for the longevity claims – hopes were shattered by the reality.  Don’t see any improvements in either longevity or the light color with newer bulbs.  Wondering what the cause for the “early” failures might be. Is it:

  • situational, something about the location?
  • indoor vs outdoor(slightly better life indoors)?
  • voltage spikes?
  • current spikes?

Whatever the reason, the CFL’s are moving rapidly to the top of the “get rid of this crap” list.  Several reasons, besides the shorter than advertised bulb life.  Don’t much care for the light color when they are the only source.

The color can also be a  positive side to the CFL’s – if you like it.  It seems worthwhile  to combine a CFL and an incandescent for workshop lighting, the two together are good.

Conclusion: In general, for my purposes, CFL’s suck. The CFL’s absolutely suck for outdoor usages.  CFL’s really suck most in the winter outdoors.  They seem to be good for about half there rated output once temps drop into the 50’s.

Time for the LED’s from Lighting Science Group.  Getting close to pulling the trigger.

2 comments to CFL’s Suck – Roll Out The LED’s

  • Liz

    I’m having the same problem with CFL’s not meeting the expected lifetime hype. Upon a casual web search, I discovered that turning them on and off frequently dramatically shortens the life of the bulb. This was found in some published minutes of a government meeting discussing manufacturers’ warranty lengths. Guess that’s why my bathroom bulbs gave up after less than a year.

    Aside from that, I haven’t noticed my power bill decrease at all since switching bulbs, either. I think it started out as a good idea and became another consumer manipulation by marketers.

    • Yes. The LED bulbs are decent, but have a few of their own issues. So far I have good service from a few that I have in area lamps. Still too expensive. The high upfront costs take a long time to recover on the e-bill if its not something that stays on 24/7/365.

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