Jun 8, 2008

Compact Fluorescent lightbulbs: not all they're claimed to be

The flyer for last Saturday's Clean & Green event advertised compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) recycling, so I duly turned up with half a dozen of them to recycle. Why did I have so many?

The City's been promoting them both as energy saving and long-lasting, but I'd noted that the first few I got seemed to last much less than the 7 years (10,000 or 12,000 hours) that the manufacturers claim. So I've taken to dating them on installation and retirement, and hereby report to you that they've only lasted a year or two ( 7/7/06 - 8/23/07, 2/24/06 - 3/21/08, 11/12/06 - 2/16/08 ). We put them where they probably stayed on ~ 4 hours a day, so they're lasting 1,500 to 3,000 hours, not the 10,000 claimed.

I saw a recent Consumer Reports article noting short lives with some of the bulbs they were testing (the bad ones were Feit brand, as were many of mine). The other brands/models seem to be lasting better (tests are ongoing) so maybe they aren't so bad after all.
However, note that while old-fashioned lightbulbs only turn 10% of the energy into light, you get the rest as heat which (let's be honest here) we can use for quite a bit of the year round here! Want to get them to reduce carbon emissions? 90% of Seattle's electricity comes from hydroelectric dams, so that's barely an issue.


Michael said...

I've started moving beyond compact fluorescent to LED and can really recommend this solution. One product in particular is from Permlight which can be used to retrofit existing can lights. They're not cheap but they should last 30-50,000 hours each, are dimmable, and provide a nice warm light. I installed eight of them last year and they have been flawless. Also, no mercury to be concerned about when the light finally does die.

Ross said...

Funny you posted on this, I just now had a Feit brand CFL die on me after about 1.5 years of service. It was in the bathroom and probably getting used under an hour a day. My Maxlite brand bulbs are all still going strong. I was initially attracted to that brand because they have great ballasts and become light almost instantly after you turn them on.