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Your experiences with CFLs and other efficient light bulbs:

 1 Linhasxoc, Mon, 23rd May '11 9:53:26 AM from Floating Island Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
Considering that "classic" incandescent light bulbs will soon be phased out in the United States in favor of more energy efficient bulbs (such as halogen incandescents, LED bulbs, and the (in?)famous Compact Fluorescent Bulbs). Unsurprisingly, some groups have made a lot of noise about this. Some of the complaints are, to put it bluntly, bogus or at the very least not well-researched (e.g. many claims about the mercury in CFLs), but at least one point that does seem to have some validity is the issue of the quality of light.

Basically, people claim that CFLs stink at being light bulbs. The complaints vary somewhat, but among those I've heard:
  • "Cold, " bluish, unnatural-looking light.
  • Flickering, headache-inducing bulbs.
  • Slow startups.
  • Less light than advertised.

Now, the first one sounds like something someone who hasn't actually used a florescent bulb in years would say, since there are now plenty of "warm" bulbs that give off incandescent-like light, and I've never personally experienced the second one.

On the other hand, I've had a bit of trouble with the last two. The weird thing is this: my family has replaced somewhere around 1/3 of the bulbs in our house with CFLs. In almost every case, the CFL has worked great, with no obvious difference between it and the old incandescent bulb. On the other hand, there are two lights that seem to have slow startup and low-light problems: the outdoor front-door and back-door lights. It's very weird.

If anyone else wants to share their experiences (good and bad) with CFLs, or other efficient bulbs like the LED and halogen bulbs I mentioned above, this is the place to do it. This is not the "complain about/defend the Department of Energy's new light bulb rules" thread, despite my mention about it earlier; this is only about sharing your experiences with efficient bulbs.

 2 Kino, Mon, 23rd May '11 9:54:32 AM from NC/NYC Relationship Status: 700 wives and 300 concubines
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I'm not sure if the ones I have right now are CFL's, but I haven't changed them in 3 years.
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 3 Madrugada, Mon, 23rd May '11 10:02:46 AM Relationship Status: In season
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I have CFL's in most of my light fixtures, in an older house. I have definitely noticed that they do not come up to full brightness immediately. I have also noticed a disconcerting glow remaining after I've turned them off.

And while the low-wattage CF Ls are available in some colors other than the cold blue, higher wattage ones aren't. In fact it's difficult to find any CFL higher than 60-watt-equivalent around here. My living room is 13x20 feet and the primary light comes from one four-bulb ceiling fixture in the center of the room. Using 4 60-watt-equivalent bulbs is simply not enough light.
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Most of the lightbulbs in my house are CF Ls, and while they take a few minutes to get to full brightness, they burn far brighter than the incandescent ones. Besides, I don't see what the big deal is with the startup time; it's not like, when you turn the light on, you need the bright light right that instant to scare away demons or serial killers under your bed.

 5 carbon-mantis, Mon, 23rd May '11 10:12:57 AM from the woods Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
Why hello there!
I like CFL bulbs, but I wish manufacturers would put their average PAR and Kelvin spectrum ratings on every package.
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I haven't had a significant issue with any CFL's. The only one in my house that gives problems is the one under a set of stairs, that is upside down, and never used. But even it comes up to full brightness after a bit, the few times I've turned it on. I do have some regular tube fluorescents that give me some issues, but I don't know their age, or the condition of the fixtures, so I haven't bothered with them. They will come on just fine with some prodding, so it's not been a major issue. One day I'll have to see about changing them out, they're a bit mismatched in colors, so it is slightly annoying.

I haven't tried any LED bulbs yet* , I want to get some to replace the dead flood lights on the corner of my house, as they are a good 30 feet up, so I want to avoid changing them as much as possible. But I don't have a ladder to reach them, so why purchase the bulbs? Not like I don't have plenty of other lights, including a huge sodium light in the backyard. I have no idea how efficient it is, or how much wattage it uses, but it puts out a lot of light when it's on.

In regards your outdoor lights, it might be a problem with temperature and moisture, there are some CFL's designed to stand that better than others. Mine don't have an issue, but I couldn't tell you if they're special or not, they came with the house. And the GE CFL's I have are much more on the Yellow end than other bulbs, so I can recommend them for those who prefer that color. Haven't tried the new CFL Reveals though. I did like the incandescent ones, but I haven't had to change enough of my bulbs to warrant buying that many new lights.

Also, don't complain about having a single four post fixture, I have a room that size with NO overhead lighting at all. All it has it a post-lamp on the stairs. I'm not entirely surprised considering the age of the house, but when I factor in all the other renovations, I'm baffled.

edited 23rd May '11 11:00:52 AM by blueharp

 
Moar and Moar and Moar
No problems here. They last longer, I don't find any difference in the light (or to be more precise, I don't find the change any more jarring than different normal bulbs, you get used to it however), there is a slight delay but it's a fraction of a second. Not really an issue.
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 8 Fighteer, Mon, 23rd May '11 11:16:43 AM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I have noticed the delay on some, but not all of my CFL bulbs, so I suspect differences in manufacturing or design between them. I have had a few "burn out", however, due to mishandling. For example, one got partially immersed in water from a ceiling leak and failed. Another was plugged into a fixture with a faulty switch that tended to short and flicker a lot (it has since been replaced).

Another issue is that "small" CFL bulbs were at one point fairly rare, so I had trouble finding ones that would fit into some table lamps. Lastly, CFLs that work properly in dimmer-switch fixtures are painfully expensive so I continue to use incandescents there.

Haven't tried LED bulbs or anything else super-fancy. Overall I'm quite satisfied with my CFL bulbs, though I continue to have questions about how to properly dispose of them.

edited 23rd May '11 11:38:00 AM by Fighteer

Ironically, the pursuit of the definition of happiness does not appear to be a happiness-maximizing behavior.
 9 Lady Momus, Mon, 23rd May '11 11:23:35 AM from My Own Little World
Modelland Survivor
[up] They're supposed to be recycled, although in some areas it can be difficult to find a place that will recycle them. (The closest place that I've managed to find is 2 hours from my house.)

I've noticed that the CFL bulbs I use are slightly dimmer than the bulbs they replaced. The start-up time might be related to the age of the fixtures/lamps. (I've seen a CFL bulb in an old lamp take about 5 seconds to turn on, but the ones in my room are on in less than a second.)
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 10 Blue Ninja 0, Mon, 23rd May '11 11:28:59 AM from The Middle of Nowhere Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Plotting my Escape
I have CF Ls in a couple of light fixtures. The only one that gets noticably brighter after a few minutes is the one in my bedroom closet, and before I move out I'll have to replace that with a standard incandescent, because I can't put the covering back over the light bulb. I have a CFL in a lamp in my living room; it's brighter than an incandescent, so I have one of each that I can adjust depending on how much light I want/need.
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I can take them to any number of places myself, the local recycling stations and the hardware stores. I do think more places need to adopt Curb-side recycling though.

 
 12 Drunk Girlfriend, Mon, 23rd May '11 11:52:09 AM from Castle Geekhaven
We have CFLs in most of the house, but I insist on incandescents in the craft room. If I'm concentrating on something, fluorescent has a very distinct "shimmer" that gives me a headache.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
 13 Fish 1, Mon, 23rd May '11 11:56:40 AM from Lovecraft Country
2 Fish
I'm not a fan of of CF Ls because of their unpleasant glow, and the risk they pose when they break.
Indeed.
 14 Fighteer, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:03:56 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
About the light - I haven't noticed anything terribly bad about it. They are much, much cooler than incandescents, though, and I don't have to worry about my son burning himself (badly, anyway) on them. That's a big plus.
Ironically, the pursuit of the definition of happiness does not appear to be a happiness-maximizing behavior.
 15 Drunk Girlfriend, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:23:11 PM from Castle Geekhaven
I think that some people notice the flicker more than others, because regular fluorescent light does it too.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
 16 Native Jovian, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:24:40 PM from Orlando, Florida
Io vs Jupiter
[up]It also depends on the socket in addition to the bulb. I've run into lights that flicker annoyingly even if you replace the bulb.
The socket, your wiring, even the power you receive from the grid, all can be factors.

Sometimes you can even get a strobe effect that makes power tools appear to be stopped when running, it's why shop rooms have incandescents.

 
 18 Linhasxoc, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:39:58 PM from Floating Island Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
the risk they pose when they break
Actually, as long as you clean it up properly, they don't pose that much of a risk.

 19 Drunk Girlfriend, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:42:05 PM from Castle Geekhaven
@Jovian: No, I mean that the CFL bulbs at home do it, and I get the same effect in stores that use regular fluorescents. It's just something about how they work.

If I switch the CFL to an incandescent, the problem stops.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
Yes, they flicker is due to how they work(and how the power coming to your house works). Typically, power is in the 50-60hz range, and the ballast is set to work at double the rate. Some people may be more sensitive than others though, and get headaches, even if they can't see the flicker. There are high-frequency ballasts that flicker at a much higher rate, which should not produce the same effect. You may want to try those if you get a chance.

 
 21 Fighteer, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:50:30 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
[up][up] Incandescents don't flicker, at least not when working properly. They work by heating up a metal filament which glows at a steady temperature; while it's true that AC causes them to flicker, it's imperceptible due to the time it takes the filament to heat/cool being far longer than the current cycle.

Fluorescents work by forcing a current through a gaseous medium; this causes the gas inside to fluoresce; as this reaction occurs nearly instantly, the current flicker is much more noticeable. It's an issue with all fluorescent bulbs.

edited 23rd May '11 12:50:50 PM by Fighteer

Ironically, the pursuit of the definition of happiness does not appear to be a happiness-maximizing behavior.
 22 They Call Me Tomu, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:51:50 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
CF Ls are a gift from GOD HIMSELF, and I say that as an atheist.

People just need to get with the times.

 23 Drunk Girlfriend, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:53:39 PM from Castle Geekhaven
@Blueharp: Aren't stores supposed to use the higher frequency ballasts (talking about the long skinny tubes that screw into the ballast in the flat fixtures)? If so, then it's not going to do anything. (after a day at work, my head hurts and my eyes hurt.)

@Fighteer: I know, that's why I switched to incandescent in the craft room. tongue

edited 23rd May '11 12:54:50 PM by DrunkGirlfriend

"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
 24 Fighteer, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:53:54 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I think that LED lights are likely to be more popular in the long run. They last hundreds of times longer than even CFLs, are more power-efficient, can be built to any color desired, and can be made to any size or shape desired. They're just more expensive right now.

Edit: Oh, and they don't flicker and are safe to dispose of.

edited 23rd May '11 12:57:20 PM by Fighteer

Ironically, the pursuit of the definition of happiness does not appear to be a happiness-maximizing behavior.
 25 They Call Me Tomu, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:54:40 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
Yeah, actually, LE Ds are the way of the future's future. They're just not quite there yet and too expensive still.

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