GE Failure To Perform

GE CFL Bulb that died in 2 months

GE CFL Bulb that died in 2 months

This is the “dead bulb” back in its original packaging that I’d not yet managed to throw out… planning to take some notes from it for a 5 year longevity / plant growth test.

About 3 or 4 months ago I was deep into “bulb research”. ( Or, more accurately, “bulb focus“… as it’s just what I do… focus then worry something to the limit…) so I’m not sure if it was about January, when I posted this:

or when I was writing this:

Where, BTW, one of the bulbs on a dimmer has already failed, so that halogen “good bulb” that claims to be dimmable may have some durability issues… so I’m running another one and we’ll see… it may be that it doesn’t handle dimming as well as they advertize…

But in any case, along the way, I bought a “Daylight Compact Fluorescent” from GE. Why? well….

That “Aspe Thing”… you need “completion” and you need “to just KNOW”… and the wrapper said “6500K” as the color temperature and I just couldn’t believe it. Most “Daylight” bulbs are about 5000 K if you are lucky. This one claimed a real daylight color temperature of about what it really is (on a cloudy northern day, not in the tropics…) So I bought it.

I had NO need for it. No real use. Just “need to complete”… Tried it. Yes, as advertized, a very “blue” light.

Now what to do with it….

So I put it over a ‘sprouting tray’ that sits by my desk. During warm times, it sits outdoors. Now, things being colder and me wanting faster results, I’ve got it indoors. I start seeds in “potting soil” in the 6-pack things from the nursery or in the 1-pint pots some other things come in from the nursery. Yes, I reuse them… “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”… besides, I’m a cheap SOB and I’ve always reused things… They sit in the bottom of a ‘cat litter tray’ that is being ‘reused’ as a water catcher… about 1 meter from the light.

So I put this bulb in, it being closer to “daylight” ought to be a feature and all, and turn it on. It runs about 12 hours a day (max about 16) every day. Once on, once off, per day.

Well, here it is, all of at most 2 months later, and the bulb did the old “ON fine… wait a bit… OFF… 1/2 hour later ON… then off… 2 hours later ON… then off… and stay off for 2 days…” all the time with the power left turned on.

So, a few days later, I’m declaring this a ‘dead puppy’. Another Fine GE Product that Fails To Perform. Like their Windmills and, presently, their nuclear reactors in Japan (though in fairness, they only failed AFTER an out of spec event that was about 8 x spec… so kudos for that…) and of course, failures like MSNBC and that whole Leno / Conan fiasco.

But hey, grease the right parts of The Obama Machine and they can rake in some more Socialist Subsidy / Mandate cash, so what’s the problem?…

Some Detail

The bulb claims an 8000 hour life. Well, the competition is up at about 12,000 hours, so I was already expecting a bit less “bang for the bucks”. This is a “made in China” bulb too, and from what I’ve experienced, you get about a 1 in 5 “infant mortality rate” with them anyway. Why should GE be any different. It’s not like they have a reputation to care about or anything. They are just another Chinese Curly Bulb remarketer hawking product.

This bulb is the “100 W” replacement model FLE26HT2/6H/D that takes 26 Watts (a bit high compared to the competition) and puts out 1600 lumens (a bit low compared to some). But it’s a “daylight” type, so I ‘cut it some slack’. It only cost me something like 7 x the price of the PG&E (my local electricity company) Subsidy bulbs… I bought a batch of “Lights of America” at Walmart for 97 CENTS each on subsidy. They are also 1600 lumens, but only 23 Watts and with a 10,000 hour life. Oddly, I’ve not had an infant mortality problem with them. Then again, I’ve not used that many. Put in a couple and not needed to replace them yet… A Philips real 100 W incandescent says “1650 lumens” so they are not THAT far off…

At any rate, the bulb is a horrid color for indoors use (though the “Walking Cane Kale” seemed to like it ;-) and failed way too early, while costing too much.

FWIW, the “fixture” is a very shallow reflector aluminum ‘clip on’ lamp that has 4 holes up near the base to let hot air convect out. Each looks to me like about 1.5 cm diameter (womans little finger?) so heat build up ought not to ‘cook the lamp’. I’ve also run other lamps in it for long periods without issue… I can hold the aluminum without discomfort (though touching the ballast of the replacement bulb is a bit too hot for comfort..) IMHO, the “problem” is likely that the GE electronic ballast is too sensitive to heat build up and even minor ‘low ventilation’ rates make it die. Other folks, with more sturdy electronics in the base, do better; and these bulbs in open fixtures like table lamps will likely do better too. A decent silicon semiconductor ought to be fine at even 200 C, and these are way below that, so I’d suspect the “cheap bits” were in the capacitors… but who knows… “It’s Dead Jim”…

Kind of makes that “5 years life” and “$59 Energy Savings” ring a bit hollow too …

So I learned what I wanted from it. Didn’t really like the color temp at all, and mostly just wanted to “Use it up” and move on. So now it’s time to ‘move on’…

But I’d not bother buying GE CFL bulbs if you can get other folks stuff. It’s all cheap Made In China anyway, so don’t bother to “pay up for the name” as the “Name” is not buying you anything in my experience. At least with GE.

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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...
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21 Responses to GE Failure To Perform

  1. H.R. says:

    “”Attention Shoppers

    Stockup time for incandescents has never been better. Wally-World is clearing shelf space for curlies. They had 4-packs of extended-life 40-60-75 & 100 watt bulbs for $0.84. I filled a cart.

    I was at another store and those pricey “Reveal” bulbs were bing dumped for the same reason. They had 3-ways for $1.48.

    when the chage comes, the prices will go through the roof, if you can find incandescents.

    @E.M. So the blog is now competing with Consumer Reports? :o) (Better make that a double winky.)

  2. xyzlatin says:

    Welcome to our Australian world where all the incandescents are now gone and we are buying these expensive non performers. The strength of the light dims within a few months, but the body lingers on. It doesn’t matter which brand.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, if it were not for my having already stocked up for about the rest of my lifetime, I’d rush right over and buy some more!

    Then again, my “Wally World” grocery run is “soon” and having some “trade goods” never hurt and inflation is going to spike “way high” and…. ;-)

    BTW, when a product craps in my coffee, yes, I’m going to go way more than “Consumers Reports on it’s Ass”…

    Similarly, things that are good goods, well, of course I tell my friends…

    But none of this Consumers Reports 1/2 Assed
    “it’s best buy but kind of crappy” stuff. You get:

    1) Works and Way Cool too.
    2) Works, good.
    3) Piece of Shit I’d not wish on my ex-wife.
    4) Great Gift Idea… especially for the Ex….
    5) No Way I’d even give this to an enemy.
    6) Here, my leige, I bring you tribute from Gaul…
    7) No, not even for him. It’s crap. Don’t even give it to an enemy of the state or that Evil Bastard who married the Ex.

    (For those unsure: I’ve been married exactly once. I will only be married exactly once. I have no ex. It’s a rhetorical device.)

  4. Ric Werme says:

    Two months! I’m impressed! I recently suffered the loss of a CFL that was only three months in service, but used less than yours. From a recent comment at

    I was making a salad last night and one of many CFL bulbs in the ceiling cans went out. It’s the first time I’ve seen one go out on me, but it will join many failed brethren in the evil mercury box at the dump.

    There are something like 17 lamp fixtures on three switches in the kitchen and dining area, and I took to writing the month and year whenever I installed a new bulb. Eventually I started replacing incandescents with CFLs, and when some of the CFLs started to bake their circuit boards I started labeling them too.

    Yesterday’s failure had “Dec 2010” written on it. It was a “warranty” replacement for another one that lasted a month or two longer. The manufacturer didn’t list a warranty, but did have an 800 number, and they sent me the now defunct replacement.

    I’ve gotten warranty replacements for several other bulbs. I figure it’s worth calling for them to let the manufacturer/distributor spend some money supporting an ill designed and poorly performing device.

    “Bright Effects” LBP18R402/27 – leave the store without it!

    I also have a few early CFLs, not too bright and heavy. They keep working, but I keep them far away from the stove – their spectrum has spikes that make egg yolks look sickly pale. The newer CFLs are a bit better, but I keep a nice, toasty, halogen incandescent over the stove just so my eggs look like eggs.

  5. pascvaks says:

    You mean the US Government (via Government Electric)is buying sleezy Chinese light bulbs to sell to the American people? Now that ain’t right! I’ll bet it won’t be long before Government Motors is doing the same thing. Well, when you think hard about it, all we really need really is good old American paper and ink to print more money right? What? We import that too? What do we make in this country? Nothing!?!

    Shhhhhh… don’t tell the Chinese;-)

    PS: Does anyone else get the feeling that the Boomer Generation really lived up to its name? It’s all over now but the surrender. See you at Peking Courthouse, VA., July 4th, 2011. Think they’ll let us keep our horses?

  6. Jeff Alberts says:

    I haven’t yet had a CFL fail, in 9 years at this house, and 10 in my previous house (only have one or two in the previous one). What the heck are you guys doing to these things??

  7. pyromancer76 says:

    Well, Obama wished he were “President” of China. guess he is doing the next best thing, assisting in making the U.S. a satellite of China. I don’t feel like being dictated to on the bulbs I MUST buy. Let the market plus consumer education — price, efficiency, adaptability, safety, etc. — make those decisions. I hope (expect to work for) an end to these totalitarian decisions in the next election. It won’t be easy and will involve truing the vote — voter ID cards — and citizen-observers at the polls and watching over voter registration. I would like an American administration and corporation making a profit in the free (as free as possible) market. Goodbye Obama and goodbye GE.

  8. R. de Haan says:

    So this is how GE contributes to the upcoming dark age.
    I am thrilled.

  9. Matthias Bode says:

    Dear Mr. Smith:

    Did you measure whether the 26 W bulb really consumes 26 W?
    Given the U.S. voltage of 110 V the bulb should draw ~ 0.24 Amps. (110/26).

    Touching the lamp and the ballast and feeling their temperature it seems to be more than just 26 W.

    In BOLIVIA we are still allowed to use the bulbs we deem fit for the purpose.

    Muchos saludos,

    M. B.

  10. H.R says:

    Add to the list:

    8) And the Chinese won’t even use CFLs; export only ;o)

    (OK. I made that up. But I can ask my Chinese daughter-in-law if it’s true.)

  11. A C Osborn says:

    I am currently getting 2 to 3 months out of Incandescent Bulbs from various suppliers as well.
    It would appear that bulb quality has really gone down hill in the last year or so.

  12. Level_Head says:

    The difficulty here is primarily the “picking winners” effect. With the government taking one whole class of product out of the marketplace, consumers cannot drive improvements between classes by voting with their wallets.

    Your experience is not uncommon — and as you’ve pointed out previously, there are problems with color and brightness with many of these even when they are working well.

    Let consumers make these choices! But your reporting here is very helpful, as we pick and choose among the bits that government intervention has left to us. Thank you.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jeff Alberts:

    It’s strongly brand dependent, in my experience. I’ve got some Philips made in Holland that I bought back… well… back when I had kids in kindergarten I think it was… I’m TRYING to “use it up” and it just won’t die…. I’ve also got a very old GE “Circlelamp” with magnetic balast that won’t die either. The plastic is starting to oxidize. Maybe 20 years old?

    The newer stuff is just a lot cheaper with crappier parts. So don’t be surprised if, 9 years after you bought your good ones, you find the newer ones “with issues”…

    Biggest “killer” seems to be heat on the electronics, but I’ve had some (Sylvania “dimmable” and “3-way”) that were DOA or shortly after turn on in a well ventilated table lamp.

    @Matthias Bodie:

    No, didn’t measure. I’m trusting the UL Cert to have it right. Temperature is a poor measure of heat ( Gee, where have I heard THAT before? ;-) and even a low heat lamp can go to high temperatures if the surface radiates poorly and is not very conductive. Like, oh, I don’t know, maybe that white plastic they universally use…. I’d make it black if it were up to me… maybe even with a metal band around it made of aluminum…

    So, soon to be a market for Vacation and Bulbs in Bolivia!

    I Like It!

    @Level Head:

    Just figure if we all pitch in our experiences we can all save some money…

    Oddly, I’ve got some old “Lights of America” CFL “adapters” from about 16 years ago that are still working fine. You plug in a PL type bulb and they are designed for repeated bulbs / ballast. About 8,000 – 10,000 hrs per bulb and 50,000 hours / ballast IIRC. They have many ventilation slots in them… Can’t get them any more as the subsidy to unitized Chinese curly bulbs drove them out of the market. Folks not willing to pay the extra $5 or whatever it was above the subsidy product.

    Maybe I’ll make a photo essay of the various Bulbs Of History I’ve still got in use…

    @A.C. Osborn:

    Get dimmers. You can get anywhere from double to 10 x the bulb life. If you go ‘up wattage’ then dim them, they last a very long time. I get a few years out of some locations. Even the high use areas like the bath go a couple of years. Also, nice and dim at 2 am but Full Bright for that splinter extraction at mid day…

    I’m presenty running a 150 W “Utility lamp” in a socket that was a 100 W (that I can’t buy any more…) and the dimmer makes it just fine. It also ought to last a very long time…

  14. Jerry says:


    On topic? Hmmm, not exactly, but starting plants was mentioned, so I will throw in a short comment :). I bought one of these last year and really like it – so ‘just telling my friends’.

    It can be found cheaper with a little searching but I like Lehman – good customer service for one thing. Great way to use up junk mail and yesterdays newspaper.

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, the “topic” is more or less “this didn’t work and stuff that did”… and besides, plants are always a welcome diversion ;-)

    Watch out for some of the “Glossy” papers. They may still be using heavy metal inks in some places. At least in California, our newspapers are soy based ink.

    I’d likely stick with the newspaper stock stuff and just toss the glossys in the recycle….

    Typically I find myself oversupplied with plastic pots anyway. Spring comes and I find I’ve not started much… and it’s a warm day… and I visit the Nursery… Suddenly I’ve got another dozen plastic pots… each of which lasts a few years of reuse…

    But if I ever run out I’ll get one of those. Nice maple, too ;-)

  16. dearieme says:

    We’ve been stocking up and two supermarket brands of incandescent bulbs have proved really short-lived. On the other hand, we have a “low energy” bulb above the front door to our house. It runs from dusk until midnight and has been doing so for more than 15 years. Since it was a free gift from the government, or the local electricity company, or the town council, or someone, that’s pretty good value. And the quality of its light is so nasty that it’s kept the burglars away.

  17. John F. Hultquist says:

    I’ve tried the pig-tails in the hay barn where the lights have a metal shield over a plastic container. In the winter I just did not turn them off as they don’t respond well to the ON switch at 20 degrees F. That’s + 20. We did not get real cold this winter so I don’t know what they do at, say -15 or colder. I also have some in the kitchen in a series of overhead lights. Those also are mostly enclosed and the light is direct somewhat like coming out of a tube. I haven’t kept track but my feeling is they do not last any longer than a standard 60 watt bulb. It may be the heat.

    A second thing: John Dvorak visited Fry’s – the technology retailer

    and his take-away-line is about the same as yours, namely

    “. . . most equipment of this sort is made at the same two or three places in China with the exact same components . . .”

  18. Jeff Alberts says:


    I don’t really pick specific brands. I just grab what’s on the shelf.

    The one in my main office lamp, not even sure of the brand, says “n:vision” on the ceramic base (bought it some time in 2006, I think), as does the one in my hobby lamp, which is used rarely. The main lamp is almost always on, has been on constantly for at least 2 years.

    Got one in the front porch, don’t know the brand. Probably installed 7 years ago. Two in the garage door opener, been there almost 9 years. Several (12-14) throughout the house, ranging from about 9 years to 6 months. Almost all of them bought from Home Depot or Ace Hardware in town. I know some of the more recent ones are Philips, but those are the only ones I’m sure of.

    I don’t think I have any incandescents left at all.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F. Hultquist:

    Most stuff of all kinds will be made by:

    Foxconn International Holdings Ltd (TWSE: 2317, SEHK: 2038) (traditional Chinese: 富士康科技集團; simplified Chinese: 富士康科技集团; pinyin: Fùshìkāng Kējì Jítuán) is a multinational subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (LSE: HHPD) (traditional Chinese: 鴻海精密工業股份有限公司; simplified Chinese: 鸿海精密工业股份有限公司; pinyin: Hónghǎi Jīngmì Gōngyè Gǔfèn Yǒuxiàngōngsī), a Taiwanese company that is the world’s largest maker of electronic components including printed circuit boards.

    A large, secretive contract manufacturer, some of the most renowned products Foxconn makes include the iPod, iPad, and the iPhone.
    Hon Hai’s first manufacturing plant in the People’s Republic of China opened in Shenzhen in 1988. Now the company’s largest operation, 300,000 to 450,000 workers are employed at the Longhua Science & Technology Park, a cramped, walled campus sometimes referred to as “Foxconn City” or “iPod City”. Covering about 1.16 square miles (3 square km), it includes 15 factories, worker dormitories, a fire brigade, as well as a downtown complete with a grocery store, bank, restaurants, bookstore and hospital. While some workers live in surrounding towns and villages, others live and work inside the complex, which broadcasts its own television network, Foxconn TV.

    So, pushing 1/3 to 1/2 MILLION workers at last count in one location…

    Foxconn makes consumer electronics for a number of famous-name companies. The following is an incomplete list.

    Apple Inc. (United States)
    Acer (Taiwan) (United States)
    Asus (Taiwan)
    Intel (United States)
    Cisco (United States)
    Hewlett-Packard (United States)
    Dell (United States)
    Nintendo (Japan)
    Nokia (Finland)
    Microsoft (United States)
    Sony (Japan)
    Sony Ericsson (Japan/Sweden)
    Samsung (Korea)
    Vizio (United States)

    Yeah… same place, same parts, same workers, same…

    But the design and marketing are different…

  20. Sera says:

    I am still grabbing incandescents (Reveal) at WW because they are still cheap and I have installed dimmers (thanks to E.M.).

    Gaul needs to send more tribute, along with Iraq, Afganistan, Saudi Arabia and more.

    I tried the CZ 75 yesterday and now I am in big trouble. It is very nice and comfy. I really don’t need another gun, but have you seen the Czechmate?

  21. E.M.Smith says:


    Oh man! Now I am screwed…

    I’ve already got too many… (Aspes tend to ‘collect’ things in sets…) and there is no way I can justfiy that At ALL…

    but a compensator and scope, factory. Oh God…

    I guess the kids could stand to lose a few pounds, and “beans and rice” are supposed to be healthy for you… Beside, the roof only leaks in the garage and summer IS coming; and I’m sure the wife wouldn’t mind riding a bike to work to save on gas… Lets see… about 6 months? ;-)

    That is just Sooo nice…

    But I notice that you liked the Cz-75… Didnt’ I tell ‘ya!?

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