Compact Fluorescents: I was wondering about that


And here I thought it was just me. Apparently not.

It sounds like such a simple thing to do: buy some new light bulbs, screw them in, save the planet.

But a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don’ts ….

…. One of the 16 Feit Electric bulbs the Zuerchers bought at Costco did not work at all, they said, and three others died within hours. The bulbs were supposed to burn for 10,000 hours, meaning they should have lasted for years in normal use. “It’s irritating,” Ms. Zuercher said.

Irritation seems to be rising as more consumers try compact fluorescent bulbs, which now occupy 11 percent of the nation’s eligible sockets, with 330 million bulbs sold every year. Consumers are posting vociferous complaints on the Internet after trying the bulbs and finding them lacking.

I have this one light, in my laundry room, that is a combination flood light and fan. I don’t know who thought anyone needed a flood light over my washing machine; maybe this particular fixture was cheaper, or something.

But I can’t have the fan on without the light; that’s what bothers me. The fan is vital, though. I have a cat that is obliged at present to live indoors. That fan helps cycle the most part of her unpleasant odors out of the place. Unfortunately, if I want the fan on, the light is on, too.

Unless it’s burned out.

But it’s the only light in the laundry room.

Damn it.

I figured to compromise, you know? I need to be able to see; I need that fan on; a compact fluorescent isn’t what I would consider a painful measure. And, hey, the thing is supposed to last ten thousand hours, right? I don’t mind the increased cost when I’m going to get better lifespan out of the product. At least, not the difference between this and an incandescent bulb.

Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be. The shortest-lived light bulb in the house is a compact fluorescent screwed into the socket in my laundry room. It’s not even close. Maybe a thousand hours? Nope. Maybe five hundred.

Maybe five hundred.

I get the idea of CFLs, but we need them to work. That’s all. I’m not going on a crusade here, especially since I’m betting it’s something about the wiring in my building and the particular fixture I’m trying to put these lights into. Still, though, it presents challenges to reducing one of my largest home energy demands, and that’s unfortunate.

To be fair, the CFL in an old floor lamp in my bedroom works just fine.

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2 thoughts on “Compact Fluorescents: I was wondering about that

  1. I’ll bet that floodlight is recessed into the ceiling, right? Which means that the heat from your CFL bulb is getting trapped in the recessed fixture.
    Worse yet, the heat-sensitive electronics in the base of that CFL are at the top, where it is hottest.
    And THAT is the dirty not-so-secret that CFL manufacturers aren’t making crystal clear to consumers. If you want to put a CFL bulb in there, be prepared to pay more for a higher-quality bulb from a Brand Name manufacturer of light bulbs, and be aware that in fixtures where the base is up and the heat is trapped inside, you will get a shorter lifetime from the bulb than you’ll get from an table lamp.
    It’s kind of ridiculous, really, since a very large percentage of fixtures where people want to replace their bulbs with more efficient CFL bulbs either trap the heat or put the base up.

  2. Well hey … that explains a bit. Doesn’t mean I foresee a solution for either my situation or the general issue, but I would probably be cynical about any general solution to the problem. To the other, I’ll check on the brand they’re actually selling at the store where I get CFLs, compare that to the relevant information for consumers, and figure out what to do next.

    The idea of heat being the problem is, I confess, a complete surprise. I’m accustomed to the idea that fluorescent lights are that much cooler to begin with, so no, it never would have occurred to me.

    Thank you kindly, sir.

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