Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why Did My Compact Flourescent Bulb Burn Out So Fast?

Compact fluorescent light bulbImage via WikipediaOK. I try to be a "green" guy as much as possible.  When I heard about compact fluorescent bulbs, I ponied up the extra money to buy them in hopes the extended life and the energy savings would pay back and help save the planet.   Then, I heard the things have mercury in them and horror stories about people hiring people in HazMat suits to clean up a kids bedroom after breaking a bulb (turn out that's not necessary.  But, the procedures to clean up a broken CFL do not exactly inspire confidence that these things are good for the planet). 

After  a few years of using compact fluorescent bulbs, I am done with these things.  I don't care how much energy they save.  I literally have a box full of them to take over to Home Depot to be recycled.  We have a high ceiling in our front foyer so, thinking I was being clever, when I replaced the chandelier I put in CFLs hoping I wouldn't have to touch them for about 10 years.  Less than two years later, two of the five bulbs have already burned out.  The problem with CFLs, what they don't tell you, is that they don't last anywhere near rated life if you only use them for short periods of time. Those long life ratings you hear are based on the bulbs being left on for extended periods of time. If you use the light the way we use most of the lights in our home, on when we enter a room and off when we leave, they last way, way, way less than their rated life.  I've had good old regular light bulbs last several times more than CFLs.  For a while I thought maybe I was buying cheap CFLs.  But, after having bought several brands and doing research on the internet, I am confident my experience is not unique.

I don't get all the hype about CFLs.  They are a hazard when it comes to disposal. Sure they save on energy.  But, at the rate they're burning out in my house, we're going to have several times more many of them to dispose of.  My electric company just offered me fifteen bulbs for free, which I accepted.  But, they'll be the last CFLs in my house.

LED bulbs are suppose to be a promising replacement for incandescent bulbs.  We'll see how those pan out.  From what I've seen so far, they aren't ready for prime time either as the light they put out just isnt' that great.  So, for as long as I can get them or until something truly better comes along, I'm back to to good old fashioned incandescent bulbs.
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