Curly Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Bulb with Plastic Shield

Compact Fluorescent Bulb with Plastic Shield

Original Image

Some time back there was a discussion of “Compact Fluorescent Bulbs” on WUWT. This posting is to document the reasons I like “regular bulbs” for a lot of uses.

Keep in mind that I do use a lot of CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs. I’d guess about 3/4+ of my fixture have them. Where they are appropriate. The “issue” is with a Government Mandated “one size fits all” ban on regular bulbs (when ‘one size fits all’ never does…)

To that end, the “problems” with curly bulbs and why some of us like our fries bulbs straight up and old fashioned.

BTW, it looks like there is a minor movement developing as a bit of a backlash against the Curly Bulb Nazis:

From (I’ve added bold to some points):

Consumer groups call for end to EU light bulb ban

Consumer protection organisations have demanded a suspension of the EU ban on incandescent light bulbs, citing official tests that showed the new compact fluorescent lamps to be dangerous if broken.

The energy saving bulbs show mercury levels 20 times higher than regulations allow in the air surrounding them for up to five hours after they are broken, according to tests released Thursday by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

“If the industry can’t manage to offer safe bulbs, then the incandescent bulbs must remain on the market until autumn of 2011,” said Gerd Billen, the leader of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZVB).

His group encouraged the federal government to push for a suspension of the ban in Brussels until there was a safe and practical alternative.

“It can’t be that the state bans a safe product and replaces it with a dangerous one,” Billen said.

In September 2009, the EU began phasing out incandescent light bulbs in a bid to save energy and protect the environment. Their replacements were meant to be the energy-saving bulbs such as compact fluorescent and LED lights. The complete phase-out of old light bulbs is to occur by 2012.

So far the UBA has tested just two types of lights.

“There was energy savings of up to 80 percent compared to incandescent bulbs, but this should come with safer products that have no avoidable health risks,” UBA President Jochen Flasbarth said, calling the mercury danger the “Achilles heel” of the energy saving bulbs.

Flasbarth recommended that consumers use energy saving bulbs with protective plastic casings in areas such as children’s rooms to avoid the danger in the short term.

My Comments

I was an early adopter of small fluorescents (even before compact, back when they were a 6 or 9 inch ring with a ballast in the middle… still have two of THEM in use…)

They have “issues”. Lots of issues.

First and foremost is mercury. Can’t use them in the fridge (also VERY slow to light due to cold) unless you don’t mind mercury in the food when someone whack it with a spoon diving for the leftover mashed potatoes. Really ought not be used anywhere food is prepared or consumed, IMHO. Yes, folks will eventually break one somewhere. Then exactly HOW LONG is that area mercury contaminated? An area near my dining table is in such a state…

And, as we saw in this posting, mercury is a pretty bad character and can even make birds “Go Gay”:

Second is lifetime. I’ve had several (often though not exclusively Sylvania brand) that had very high “infant mortality”. Some DOA, some Dead In A Week. But also several that have lasted years. The lifetime is often NOT nearly as long as advertized. Lifetimes have shortened as the prices have dropped from the old $12 bulbs down to the discount made in China subsidized $1 bulbs. This puts more mercury where it does not belong.

Many don’t fit in many fixtures / lamps. I’ve spent untold hours searching for a bulb that would “work”. Things are a little better now, but not better enough.

Bulb gripping lamp shades don’t ‘fit’. I’ve got two lamps with the bulb gripping wire loops sort of perched on top of the bulb. These are rarely used lamps and a cheap Edison bulb would be just fine for them. But no, they have to look goony as the shade tilts instead… No, I’ll not toss them out and buy new. They have emotional connections. So how do you fit a spherical grabber onto this:

Curly Bulb.  At least it's not cylindrical and too tall like the one up top...

Curly Bulb. At least it's not cylindrical and too tall like the one up top...

Original Image

And exactly how good an idea is it to have a mechanical and structural function being performed by that delicate curly glass tube? How much mercury from those being bumped, twisted, or just folks trying to install them?

Hummmmmmmm….. Many CFL bulbs have an audible hum. There are a lot of times and places you don’t want that. Say, for example, a recording studio or in a sound lab. Even when listening to a fine $5000 audio file stereo setup.

On / Off Cycles: You get 10,000 IF you are lucky. Take a 10 x a day light like the kitchen or bath, you get 2 years plus a bit IF lucky. Some bulbs are more sensitive to this than others. I’ve had some go in a single year. More mercury to the landfill. Also, at start up, the older magnetic ballast bulbs have an incandescent warming element in them to vaporize the mercury. THAT is not nearly as efficient a mode as when warmed up and running… and it happens every time you turn the light on/off/on…

So, about those flashing signs… be they road signs, advertizing signs, warning signs, or just “art” where you want the lights to change frequently… Yeah, that’s gonna be a problem…

Warm up time: Fast Light needs, like motion sensing security lights? Nope. Fridge? Even if not a mercury problem, it won’t light up enough before you want the door closed. Closet? Hope you can wait a while for that towel. During the ‘warm up’ you are running a little incandescent heater in the bottom of the magnetic ballast type, so your energy efficiency is nowhere near advertized… In some places this is a feature. Bedrooms, for instance. Makes that “first morning light” or “midnight run” more tolerable as it does a gentile ‘warm and brighten’ over about 10 minutes. Great if you have 10 minutes to wait to find that shoe under the bed…

Flicker: While much better with the 20 kHz electronic ballast (it was horrid with the 60 Hz magnetic ballast and I can’t imagine what it was like on Euro-50 Hz…) it can still be an issue for some bulbs and for some folks. The good news is that more bulbs are electronic ballast these days. The bad news is that they tend to blow out quicker and they add toxic waste to the waste stream as the electronic parts in them are more toxic than iron and copper in the magnetic ballasts. The magnetic ballast tends to be in the fixture or in a reusable adapter. The electronic tends to be built into the part you throw away…

Headaches: Some folks get headaches from the flicker. I know of 2 personally. Is it really appropriate for The Government to by force of law mandate that some of the population are just going to be screwed? Really?

Color Rendering Index: On the bulb will be a CRI number if you are lucky. Over 85 gives OK color ‘trueness’, under that are the sickly green and strange yellow ones. Most cheap bulbs have a lousy CRI but you can pay $10 / bulb or more and get decent. Incandescent has a 100 CRI (though a low, so redder, color temperature). This makes photos taken under CFL crappy compared to other lights. So a photographer is not allowed to buy a cheap $1/2 Edison bulb for his photo room? I can only hope there is an exemption for photographic color temperature specified bulbs. I have two nice light stands that need them.

Color Temperature: 5000 K bulbs are available. Good for security lighting that is on all night as it has a very blue cast that’s offensive to criminals. 2700 K is the common orange / yellow icky bulbs. 4200 K or so are the “ok” ones, but with a lousy CRI they can still look sort of greenish or pinkish.. This makes it hard to get the ‘color balance’ right for photos and can give lousy photos. What to do, what to do….

This shows up in particular in Bathrooms and Kitchens. In the bathroom, women putting on makeup do NOT want to be balancing their “look” for greenish tinted lights. In the kitchen, I spent months finding a CFL that had a good enough CRI so that I could make sure yellow dishes looked right. I found bananas were a decent test case. When they looked puke yellow / green, you knew it was a bulb that was not going to work. So when you spend $100 for a really nice dinner out, do you want that “puke green and baby shit yellow” look to your dinner? Or are you willing to pitch in an extra nickel for an incandescent bulb cost to enjoy ALL aspects of the meal?

In California we’ve had a mandated kitchen and bath fluorescent law for a while. The result? Folks have them installed to pass the inspection, then (often the realtor will provide this service) will change them out for “lights that look good”. Lots of added expense. More landfill food.

Not heat tolerant. Many fixtures (especially older ones) expect a very heat tolerant incandescent bulb. The CFL sits in the fixture building up just a little heat, but it freaks out at a much lower temperature. Sometimes they just die. Sometimes they have an overheat fuse trip (that may or may not reset on cooling). Sometimes they just cook until they reach a fiery end.

Exciting End Of Life: I’ve had several of these things reach End Of Life in ways that were, er, “Not Good”. VERY hot fixtures (as the incandescent glow bits were trying constantly to light the light – typically only in magnetic ballasted lights). I have a porch fixture with burn / scorch marks up the side from this. I notice it trying ‘to light’ for about an hour one evening (it’s on a light sensor, built in and designed for it so IF I were on vacation it would not have been caught for what, two weeks?) and yanked the bulb before anything burned up. Electronics frying with interesting displays of arcing and who knows what chemicals in the gases emitted when plastics and electronic bits bit the dust. Even a bulb fracture or two. Do not put in fixtures which can’t take a small fire without burning the house down. Do NOT use in rooms with oxygen in use (IMHO).

Lousy cold weather performance: At some low temperature, they simply will not start. This does vary by bulb and type, with the electronic ballast usually doing better. Barn in Iowa in January? “Good luck with that”. Minnesota on the back porch in February? You must be joking… We won’t even talk about Alaska… Early on I had some that would not ‘start’ below freezing. Yes, in California I could not get them to start in an exterior fixture. I’ve now got cold rated exterior fixtures (high pressure sodium). Sure, if you look long enough you can find a cold rated bulb. So what’s your labor worth for that shed light used once in a month?

Disposable Circumstances: I once had a rental property where the back yard security light was ripped off about once a week. Putting in cheap discount 25 cent bulbs didn’t bother me. Putting in $5 curly bulbs? And if they got in the habit of breaking them instead of stealing them? How much mercury becomes a toxic waste site? How many kids get to play on that porch not knowing that 3 years ago a dozen bulbs of mercury got deposited there?

Cant’ throw them away: I’ve got a nice collection of about a dozen dead bulbs. Can’t put them in the trash due to the Garbage Police. Not allowed in the recycle. I’ve heard rumors that you can turn them in as “Toxic Waste” at special disposal sites, but I’ve not found one of those yet. I may spend a few hours driving around and looking for one some day… (Wonder if anyone has figured in the cost of 2 gallons of gas driving each dead bulb across town to the “approved” disposal site?…)

Don’t “dim” worth a damn. I’ve got dimmers in the bath and bedrooms for that “easy wake up” effect. CFLs, even the “dimmable” ones, don’t dim worth a damn. It’s more like a buzzy step function to 1/4 or 1/2 bright (often with flicker) then a ‘range’, then another step to full bright. And of 3 dimmable bulbs I’ve bought, 2 died in short order and the other one is in the spare bulbs box as it’s crap in the dimmer circuit. The “3 way” bulb I bought was better, at “only” $15 it managed to last a whole year before it died. Hope you don’t like 3 way lamps.

Don’t know what they will do about the “appliance lamps” as a CFL is not ‘heat rated’ for use in an oven.

Rarely used places just don’t need them. I’ve got a lamp in my attic. Gets used about once every 3 years for about 10 minutes. So I need (even if subsidized, the RESOURCES and LABOR to make it were still used…) a $10 cost to manufacture bulb up there because?… And that closet with the heater in it that gets opened about once every 2 nd year for 5 minutes of heater maintenance? And that “emergency drop cord lamp” that lives in my tool box and got used last 5 or 6 years ago? The list goes on…

Useless for heat: There are large number of combined heat and light uses that are, well, useless with CFLs. Lizard lamps. Chicken hatcheries. Toy stove / ovens. (And you can’t put a CFL in a real oven either as they are not temperature rated for 300 F…) So all those “heat from a light” appliances are now garbage OR need to buy a dedicated nichrome heater, unless they need BOTH heat and light like chick warmers… then you have to re-engineer it… Combined heat and light is more common than you might think. I’ve made a home brew yogurt maker by putting an Edison Bulb in a cardboard box with the milk pot.

In many places (like Alaska all the time or Great Britain for 1/2 the year or more) the “waste heat” is a feature as it warms the room. You can put in a “more efficient bulb” and move the energy usage all the way from your lighting bill to your heating bill. As I type, I’ve got a CFL going in the lamp next to me and 1 kW electric heater going on the other side of me. This makes sense how?

Even in California for 1/2 the year the “waste” heat is not wasted. The ‘energy savings’ are inflated by a minimum of 50%.

All those decorator fixtures… There are a variety of fixtures that take special decorator bulbs. Some shaped to look like flames, some with other special shapes. Do we just add them to the land fill too? Or are esthetics slave to the God Of Green?

There’s more, and as I remember them I’ll add them (or you can add your own ‘issue’ in comments below) but I think you get the point. Consumer choice is good. Government mandate is bad.

No, I’m not a hard core anti-Green (though they have slowly been driving me away…). I’ve got CFLs and efficient lighting of other sorts in about 80% of my fixtures. I love the IDEA of the technology. It’s the reality of it that sucks.

BTW, IFF the “ban” does happen, I’ll just find other ways to get a usable incandescent for those areas that need one. It’s not that hard to use 12 VDC fixtures and car lamps, for example. I also expect a thriving business to develop in “light bulb smuggling” so I’ll check with the local Mafioso / Mexican Drug Lords and see if they have a new line of business… Just what our society needs…

“Pssst… Hey! Buddy! Wanna buy a light bulb? 100 Watts!”

I’ve got about a 5 year “supply” in storage now. I’m hoping to make it about 10 before the “Ban” hits. So it won’t really impact me much (nor will it do any good). But if any of those issue above are ones that you care about, might want to put a few boxes of bulbs in the garage…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Curly Bulbs

  1. xyzlatin says:

    In Queensland Australia the old type are now no longer on sale so we are stuck with these monstrosities. Firstly, they definitely do not last longer on average than the old type. Secondly, they dim. Lots. And quickly. Thirdly, they break with little force. Fourth they cost heaps. Fifth we just throw them in the bin with the other garbage because there is nowhere else. This is the second greatest scam after the AGW one.

  2. BlueIce2HotSea says:

    Here is my issue with the one size fits all mandate. In northern latitude cold states, these bulbs can actually increase my CO2 output.

    Firstly, they are not used much during the short in the summer because the sun is up early and goes down late.

    But mainly, the bulbs are primarily a heat source and as such the most often used rooms are warmer as a result, meaning that the thermostat for the whole house is turned down – otherwise those often used rooms will be warmer than necessary.

    Also it is common to use natural gas for heating and not all homes have high efficiency furnaces. Regardless, all emit CO2. However since part of my electricity comes from nuclear, light bulb heat means less CO2 emissions in that respect also.

  3. H.R. says:

    Merry Christmas, E.M. Don’t forget to turn on the 100,000-bulb Christmas light display ;o)

    I use a mix of curlies and incandescent. Surprisingly, I like my outdoor curlies a lot. They flank the porch and garage. It can get below zero (F) hereabouts in the winter, but since I turn them on and leave them on, I don’t give a rat’s patootie if they take 15 minutes to fire up. I put them in a couple of years ago and haven’t had to change them. YAAAAY!!!!

    I like incandescents for reading. I tried using the curlies in a reading lamp just once. I didn’t notice a flicker from curlies but I don’t like them. Must be the color, then. That bulb was outta the lamp in about three days.

    I’m waiting to take the plunge into LEDs. Cost, yes, but I also haven’t figured the right spot where I’d like to try them out.

  4. BlueIce2HotSea says:

    I meant to have written “the thermostat for the whole house is turned down in the winter“. Sorry for the lack of intelligibility – I am supposed to be in the car right now. Bye.

  5. Larry Geiger says:

    That’s a really good idea. Light bulbs probably don’t have a problem with shelf life when they are completely unused! On my way to Home Depot tomorrow to get some. Thanks.

  6. Doyle says:

    Home Depot claims to do CFL recycling. You can just drop them off. I don’t know what your fuel costs are for that, but it’s an option

  7. Jeff Alberts says:

    My experience is that they last MUCH longer than incandescent. My front porch light has been going more than 7 years. My office lights more than 4 years. No humm than I can hear. No problems in cold except for a little more dimness, but they’re at full brightness within a minute or so. And no I don’t go looking for cold-rated bulbs. Just a normal one off the shelf, stuck it in, it worked. Even worked fine in the recent 15f temps we had in November.

    I don’t see a problem really. I’ve broken ONE in all the years I’ve used them, probably close to 15 years.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jeff Alberts:

    The “won’t start when ‘below’ problem” has gotten somewhat better with the current crop of electronic ballast bulbs. As has the hum. But not for all bulbs, even now.

    I’ve got some bulbs that are a decade old, and some that die the first day. Mostly “cheap subsidized Chinese” for the fail in a week jobs and mostly “Expensive old GE” for the ones that never die…

    The fact that you “don’t see a problem” is fine with me. That’s what a free market is all about. That everyone who DOES have a problem has to just “eat shit and die”… that’s the problem…

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  10. Ruhroh says:

    I had one of those curly bulbs burn a hole through the glass tube; no breakage needed to release the mercury.
    I’ll try to take a pix and post it somehow.

  11. Verity Jones says:

    Pierre Gosselin also has a post related to this at the moment. He has links to a German documentary on breakages and release of mercury during recycling.

  12. co2fan says:

    Happy Holidays, E.M.

    Since Andrew at WUWT is taking a holiday break and is asking for guest posts, I think this post would be great.
    Why don’t you offer it.


  13. E.M.Smith says:


    I suppose I could. But I’ve given Anthony “carte blanche” to use anything here he likes.

    Oddly, both Anthony and I are “great fans” of energy efficiency. I was a very very early adopter of CFL ( I have some very old and very odd “adapters” in the garage ;-)

    So I’m not sure a “here’s why energy effiicient lighting sucks” posting would be viewed favorably…. then again…

    It’s very hard to get the “Hardcore Greens” to understand that you can be a very hard core efficiency advocate but also recognize that “one size fits all doesn’t”. They put me in the Radical Right box (where I don’t belong). Heck, I got “Real Goods Catalog” back before it was ‘trendy’ when it was just a local store and one of my favorite books is / was the Whole Earth book on renewable energy sources. I was doing CFLs back when they were mail order special purchase only… and at outragious prices…


    They “have issues”. So you must know what those issues are to use them correctly and be happy.


    In many cases, the best answer is an incandescent bulb.

    It just is.

    To take that choice away by Government Mandate is just wrong and evil.

    Next thing you know, they will be telling you not to smoke, eat fatty foods, or drink soda pop…. Oh, Wait, they are…

  14. P.G. Sharrow says:

    My best solution for the short life of curly bulbs is to leave them on in areas that can use night light. They last very long in that use and electric cost is less then replacement costs.

    The enviroment hazard caused by compacts will, in time, be considered worse then the MTB mandates of the 1990s. pg

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    I’ve got a 7 W entry hallway light. Very nice for lighting the entry and just enough night light for the kitchen and nearby hallway to the bath. Takes the ‘shadow’ out of the space during the day too.

    Thanks to all the PC indoctrination in public school and elsewhere, I fight a constant battle with my family to JUST LEAVE THE DAMN THING ON.

    It’s off again now…

    Somehow the notion that 7 W is effectively ZERO and the time, money, labor, etc. to find another “just so” special “flame shaped” CFL bulb of near no power consumption after they kill the damn thing with cycling just goes THUNK out the other ear and onto the floor.

    It’s harder than THAT (“just leave it alone”) to get across the idea of “one or two times a day is OK, so leave it off at bed time, but on all evening when anyone is awake” for the kitchen lights…. a 13 or 21 W bulb IIRC.

    My “vampire current” to the various electronics plugged in are more than the entire lighting usage in the house. But lord help me if I’ve killed power to the entertainment stack and they can’t find the “clicker” that re-powers it.

    So they leave about 300 W of vampire current running all the time, but regularly extinguish the 7 to 13 W of CFLs.

    So yes, you are absolutely right. And it doesn’t matter…

    I can’t wait for my first LED bulb when they are busy saving 1/10 Watt by turning it off all the time ;-)

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    If you can take a digital pix, just email it to me or put it on a sharing site and I’ll add it to the gallery above.


    Thanks to your suggestion on Home Depot, I was going through my “bag of dead bulbs” test to make sure things were areally dead (and adding 2 more from where I’d stashed them on a dead bulb part of the shelf) and was reminded:

    1) Sometimes they don’t STAY dead. I’ve got 3 “dead bulbs” that lit up. So you sometimes have this odd ‘near death experience’ where sometimes they work, sometimes not.

    If you have mission critical needs (or even just safety important needs like walkway lights) you get to either play “lighting roulette” or toss a bulb well before it’s lifetime is really “over”.

    2) Most all of them say something like “Not for WET locations” or “Not for weather exposed locations” so all those pool lights and yard lights are gonna be a bit of an issue… and “mud rooms” and …

    2) Sometimes they can flicker dramatically at start up when “near death”. I’ve got one that lit right up. Then started that dramatic “blink / flicker” they sometimes do. Now it’s more or less stablized, but has a sporadic “flick” from time to time.

    Very annoying (espeically in the start up flashy flashy stage with the fast flicker just after) and potentially harmful to anyone with epiliepsy (a 3 cps flicker can trigger a seisure). So we’re mandating that epileptics have to increase their risk of potentially catastrophic seisure rather than have a small increase in lighting cost. Oh Well, whats a trip to the hospital when compared a dollar of power anyway?

    At any rate, I’ve got the bag mostly sorted into “It’s Dead Jim” and “Night of the Living Dead” bulbs for a run to the nearest Home Depot.

    I’m going to play with the zombies a bit and see if I can identify anything interesting about them…

    FWIW, the “youngest dead” were the Sylvania 3 way bulbs CF28EL 3500K color temp made in Taiwan. One DOA was returned for a replacement that died the next week. Another died about a month later…

    The oldest and lasted the longest is a VERY old Philips SLS 15 made in Holland.

    The most numerous dead were the Surya SUF-20 or SUO-20 (both marks on the same bulb) made in China (that seemed to die in about a year, maybe less) and sold cheep in the local grocery stores on subsidy ($1 and $1/2 IIRC).

    One is a FEIT BPESL13T that had a VERY long life. Nice and small and goes in the very flat 1950 style pull down dinner table light over the dining table where it gets nice and hot, but puts up with it AND gets used a lot. It’s mates are still running and it’s been a year or two since I touched it… maybe three…

    At any rate, time for that Home Depot run…

  17. George says:

    “My experience is that they last MUCH longer than incandescent. ”

    Get “rough service” incandescent bulbs like those used by contractors/mechanics. They will last a long time in normal use.

    There is also another approach:

    They make these little wafers that go into a light socket that are actually a diode and sold a “energy savers” (that I can’t find a link to right now). It basically half-wave rectifies the AC power going to the bulb. Now you put a 150 watt bulb in the socket and get the light of a 75 watt bulb but since the filament runs cooler, it lasts longer. Combine that with a “rough service” 150 watt bulb and it should last a very long time.

  18. Lynn says:

    A few years ago I replaced the front- and back-porch light switches with self-contained, programmable, electronic timer switches. I also started using the smallest wattage incandescent bulbs that I could find, which was 25 watts. You don’t need a lot of light for security purposes at night. The biggest problem was how often the bulbs needed to be replaced. So, a few years ago when I spotted some new “40W equivalent” LED bulbs with a claimed life in the neighborhood of 10,000+ hours, I thought, “Eureka! Here’s what I’ve been looking for!”. IIRC, it was about $20 for a three-pack. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that they don’t draw enough current to make the electronic switches know there’s a bulb installed. They wouldn’t even turn on. So, back to 25W incandescents. I did find a use for one of the LED bulbs. The light fixture at the front of my garage has a day-night sensor which turns it on when it gets dark enough. It has had the LED bulb for the past few years. Yes, it works, but it doesn’t put out anywhere near 40W of light, and never has. More like about 2-5 candlepower, if I were to guess.

    And don’t even get me started on the 2.5 gpm maximum flow rate from all kitchen/bath faucets mandated around 1992 or so…

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    Oh, yes! I’ve got a couple of those wafers somewhere (from an experiment a decade ago…).

    Don’t know where to get “rough service” bulbs, but havn’t looked…. good idea though. (But for 3/4 of my incandescents they are already on a dimmer so the wafer is a no-go in them; the rest though…)


    Back from Home Depot.

    about a 10 mile round trip, so $1.50 worth of gasoline. Not too bad, I guess. For disposing of a dozen. One at a time would be “an issue”, so I guess you need to allow a “Toxic Waste Storage Area” in the home….

    After a 5 minute chat with “information desk” they sent me to “returns” where I chatted some more. They then discovered an orange kiosk / trash bin near a door where I could encase my bulbs in a plastic bag and place them inside. Total time was about 1/2 hour for the trip and disposal. Call it $5 to $50 of labor cost for most folks in this vally.

    All up, between 50 Cents / bulb at the low end by the dozen and $50 / bulb one by one for folks who make a lot of money.

    I still think “disposal” is an issue…

    But, the good news: They had Philips “soft white” incandescents in a 16 pack for $3 which is about 19 CENTS each. So I bought 2 packs. I’ll get another two after Christmas… and maybe another two…. The bad news is they were “made in China” so the 1000 hour life is more of a suggestion than a promise ;-)

    They also had smaller volume packs for much more money. Up to $4.50 / 4 for some made in the USA.

    At WalMart, they did not have any as cheap. I got some “GE “Soft White” made in the USA for #1.24 / 4 (they had “made in China at $1.09 / 4 but Home Depot beat that by a mile in the bulk pack).

    I also got a half dozen “PG&E Subsidized” CFL bulbs made by FEIT for 97 Cents each. Figure once the “mandate” is in place, the “subsidy” will evaporate, so may as well stock up a decade or so of them on the cheap too. It will only take about $10 more and that will be a ‘done deal’.

    I also picked up some “3 Way” 2 packs at $2.24 each and 4 Appliance 60 w small form factor bulbs for $3.82.

    Probalably close to a 7 year inventory at this pont. I think next “run” will likely give me a decade worth. After that It’s someone else’s problem. (I expect LEDs will start to be cheap enough to be worth buying by then.)

    Why do this?

    Because I don’t want mercury in the fridge, and I’ve got the bedrooms set up with a dimmer switch main light and a floor or wall lamp. The stand alone lamp is CFL and is turned on for “long durations”. The switch is used for “gentle” start and end of lighting events. That nice slow wake up, the gentle back light while getting ready for bed. The “don’t wake the spouse but just enough light to not trip” coming to bed late. I’ve no desire to re-wire the house and change all the switches to get a worse expericne as a result. Easier to put $40 of bulbs in the garage.

    And I’ve TRIED the “dimmable” CFLs and they are still just crap. Not enough light to use at the low setting, then way too much, then a slow brightening so you get to stand their playing with the dimmer trying to keep it “just enough to see & not enough to wake sleeping spouse”, or just way too bright. And half the time with either hum or flicker that’s “not good” when going for the peace and quiet effect.

    I figure in a decade either the dimmers will have died, or there will be workable dimmable CFLs or I’ll just put in a staged LED set with 1-10 individual LEDs…. Or maybe I’ll have reached “End Of Life” before I run out of bulbs…. At any rate, it seemed like a resonable inventory level to aim for.

    FWIW incandescents in the dimmers last a LONG time. Probably because a lot of their lifetime is spent at lower than full power production and partly as they get shut off once the CFL is fired up and we’re “committed” to light for several hours. The dimmer also stops the “cold inrush current” from frying them with switch surge.

    Oh, and I also got a “6 pack” of FEIT 65 W “Track and Recessed” flood lights for $6 at WalMart. They have a 2000 hour rating and will fit in some of my fixtures. Don’t really NEED them (as I’ve got the CFL equivalent in them now) but if I decide somewhere needs a better CRI or if I want to put them in a photo light stand or… well, I’ll have them. And at $1 /each it’s pretty darned cheap.

    Ah, the joys of living in Czarist USSA where Commisar decide what light I want and I decide how much work to get what like I like ;-)

  20. George says:

    Arizona Tools has some rough service bulbs on sale:

    120 bulbs for $70

    I found some Litetronics 20,000 hour rough service bulbs, too, in both frosted and clear here (on the second page for the higher wattage):

    I would imagine that with one of those wafers in the socket, you could get a decade of life out of it in a normal application.

  21. George says:

    Note that if you want to get to the second page, use the link at the top of the page, not the bottom, the bottom link to the additional items doesn’t seem to work.

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    Um, the second link seems to work fine for me…

    Thanks for the links!

    Gee, 120 bulbs, 20 x normal service life… I get about 2 years a bulb as is… 40 years a bulb… I use them in 3 or 4 sockets, call it 4, so “10 years / bulb”… that’s 1200 years of supply!

    Hey, works for me! :-}

    Oh, drat, forgot the diode life extension ;-)

  23. George says:

    Heh, I meant the second page of the second link. The first page of the second link only goes to 75 watts, if you want to see larger wattages, you need to go to the second page.

    The first link is only 5,000 hour bulbs. The second link is 20,000 hour bulbs.

  24. Pingback: The Moral Liberal

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    OK, so my analysis is off by a factor of 4. Only 300 years supply… Damn, that’ll never do ;-)

  26. Francisco says:

    Great post, and lots of information.

    This is such an unnecessary measure, no wonder in angers so many people. I see it as a combination of chronic green-minded busybodiness, interest by the illumination industry, and the usual greed/stupidity of legislators.
    I am one of those persons who is affected by fluorescent lights, not so much as other people who get strong alergic reactions and headaches, but I do get increasingly irritated if forced to remain in a fluorescent lit closed space, and eventually it tires me out. I don’t know the mechanism, but it does have an effect on my nervous system. For those who don’t get this, it would be the visual equivalent of being forced to keep hearing a low level of annoying sounds, like chalk squeaks, or an irritating buzz.

    About 8 years ago I moved in an appartment in San Francisco where the landlord had installed a very bright fluorescent tube in the kitchen. I could not stay very long in that kitchen. The first thing we did after we moved in was ask him permission to replace it with lighting of our own choosing, at our own cost. Now I live in Montreal where natural light is very scant in the winter. I work at home, and I think I would go out of my mind if I had to be here all day with fluorescent lights. I hope Canadian legislators don’t succumb to this nonsense.

    Besides that, like most people, I just find fluorescent light very lacking in something, or having too much of something. All I know is that everything looks uglier in it. Can you imagine the rich folks in Pacific Heights ever using fluorescent lamps to light their living rooms? Ha. I would also like to see how many of those legislators who pass these measures actually intend to use only CFLs throughout their homes. This is so unbelievably stupid.

    I imagine the illumination industry does not find incandescent lights sufficiently profitable or something. I’ve always thought lights could be made to last a lot longer. Some people have mentioned buying a higher wattage bulb and then reducing the current with some device so it doesn’t get as hot. I suppose the purity of the inert gas used will also have a big effect. 14 years ago I bought a halogen desk lamp, which I have used a lot, and I haven’t had to change the bulb yet.

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    Thanks! Glad you liked it.

    I realized I left one off the list, though: They make radio interference. For folks who are ham operators or like to listen to shortwave radio, it’s a royal PITA to have one making HUMMMM in the wires…

    The “stuff looks strange” is usually the result of a lousy CRI. Home Depot has a display now that lets you pick a better color rendering index and color temperature bulb..

    The “irritation factor” is one I’ve had. It comes from a few different sources (some speculative).

    The HUMMMM of magnetic ballasts bothers me. Fixed with electronic ballasts. The “flicker” of magnetic ballasts is visible to some folks (it’s only an AVERAGE that doesn’t see flicker faster than 30 Hz… some of us are “special”) and even if not ‘sensible’ causes some folks upset. Again, fixed with electronic ballasts where the switching is happening at 20,000 Hz instead of 50 or 60 Hz. Phosphor persistents smooths that out to effectively zero flicker. And then there are the color temperature and color rendering index issues that can make the world look surreal and disturbing.

    The “speculative bit” is that some folks seem to be sensitive to the electromagnetic emissions from the bulb ends where the electrons crash into the metal bits. I’m one of them, but only a little bit. The “high power” 250 V industrial bulbs do it to me, but not the little curly bulbs.

    I just can’t work a whole shift in a place with the high power bulbs. I end up feeling drained and irritable.

    Per lifetime extension: See the posting I just made. I talk about how to do that with “dimmers”. Using a Halogen bulb on a dimmer would likely last even longer.

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