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CFL brightness and longevity claims

Lolly Knowles


Joined: Aug 22, 2011
Posts: 159
I remember buying my first CFL bulbs. I paid $7 each and hurried home to put them to use. I blew two of them immediately, grumbled a lot and put them in the trash. My non-eco minded friends teased me about not using the bulbs, forcing me to do some reading to justify my refusal. It seemed that the bulbs don't work with varying electrical fields.

Well, nearly every lamp in my home has a three way switch. All ceiling lights have dimmer switches. The kitchen light is even tied to a motion sensor!

I do have CFL's used in outdoor lighting that is on all the time. I recently put a clamp lamp on the headboard for reading in bed and it has a CFL. But I am not a fan. Last week I bought another 18 incandescent bulbs and tucked them away for future usage.
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1282
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
Sunnyslopes McCoy wrote:Has anyone tried using incandescent lights in series? That should increase the turn-on time of the bulb and extend it's life. Or use a dimmer switch. I like the ceiling fan controller because they are more rugged and should last a long time. I have some ceramic fixtures that can be wired in series for experiments.


2 100watt bulbs in series runs the bulbs at 25watts each (this is not completely accurate as the filament resistance changes with temperature. so they might be running at a little more than 25watts each). I am not sure that total light output is as much as one 50watt bulb even.... maybe not even a 25 watt bulb. The light would be very yellow... maybe more orange. Try it and see... put a 40watt bulb in parallel to compare.

An easier way to run the bulb on a lower power is to put a diode in series for half power. If using more than one, each should have the diode face the opposite to even out the power draw both negative going and positive going part of the wave form.... then again, lighting is a small percentage of total power so it may not matter that much.
                            


Joined: Jun 10, 2011
Posts: 55
If you were really worried about the turn-on of light bulbs being the issue you could use soft starts hahaha....

I like the idea of incandescents that last forever, or that you can repair.

An interesting note about only selling CFL's now is that track lights don't work with them for long at all because the proximity of the bulb is too close. For some reason CFL's don't last more than like a month or two when they are in too tight of spaces. FreeCycles has went through SO MANY of them until they figured this out.

Fred Walter


Joined: May 31, 2011
Posts: 43
Location: Near Beaver Valley, Ontario, Canada
Fat Charlie wrote:I've thrown out more CFLs because of my 2 year old son than because of natural causes. There's one lamp that he just loves to knock over


CFLs contain mercury.

The fact that you are putting CFLs where your kid is repeatedly breaking them astounds me. I hope none of the CFLs that he has killed have physically broken and exposed your kid to the mercury that is inside them.

I've removed all CFLs that my kids could possibly access to ensure that they aren't exposed to mercury if one breaks.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15091
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
A second CFL died today.

Two CFLs are still going. Both incandescents and the LED are still going.

sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Norm Nelson


Joined: Dec 18, 2011
Posts: 7
Hi Paul,

I've been watching this thread with curiosity, because it's also been my experience that CFL's don't last anywhere near their "rated" lifespan.

I know a guy that is the "energy efficiency guy" at our local PUD (our power company)... you know, the guy that is tasked with switching everyone over to CFL's (amongst other projects)... and so when you posted the post about the one CFL lasting only 72 hours, I sent him a link to your post. His reply was that the way they rate CFL's (and maybe all screw-in, Edison base lightbulbs?) is with a 2 hours on, 15 minutes off (minimum) cycle... (eye opener right there). He also mentioned that the "12,000 hour" claim rating does not mean every bulb - or even 90% of the bulbs will last that long, it means that 50%(!) of the bulbs tested with the 2 hours on / 15 minutes off cycle will last that long. So some bulbs in a batch will last much shorter, some will last longer, but 12,000 hours is the average (or is it the mean? I don't know...)

The poster above that mentioned that CFL's shouldn't be used in enclosed fixtures is right on the money. In my experience, heat kills CFL's as quick or quicker than short cycling, and I've recently noticed that some CFL's say right on the package "not for use in enclosed fixtures" (I bet that failed Sylvania does). Of course others, like the "Eco Green" ones I saw at Home Depot recently show pictures of enclosed fixtures right on the package, encouraging people to use them there... and these are Energy Star bulbs. My friend at the PUD says that recessed ceiling fixtures (can fixtures) can be just as bad, the bulbs get very hot in there. Very hot CFL's mean the capacitors in the ballasts dry out, and then the bulb fails. I've even had a few CFL's give up some magic smoke when they flickered and died... kinda scary.

I haven't dissected an LED bulb (and at $25 each I probably won't very soon), but my gut feeling is that they must have capacitors in their power supplies, so they are probably subject to the similar heat problems that CFL's have in enclosed fixtures, etc.

I for one support NO subsidies, energy or otherwise... I wish we had a level playing field for all energy costs, so that the nukes, coal, solar, wind, etc. cost the consumer exactly what they truly cost... and the same with the bulbs... then let the economy of the situation figure it out. Some people will conserve, others will burn $100 bills, that's how people are. I for one use a variety of bulbs... as I type this I'm bathed in the warm glow of halogen light... which just means my electric space heater will run less today...

-Norm.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15091
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
the way they rate CFL's (and maybe all screw-in, Edison base lightbulbs?) is with a 2 hours on, 15 minutes off (minimum) cycle... (eye opener right there).


Kinda curious to who "they" are.

I propose that if you are talking about lights in your living room, that's not a bad test. But if you are talking about lights in the hallway, that is a really stupid test. I expect to get stupid results from a stupid test.

I do not dispute that the CFLs will last a long time if you leave them on a long time. But I don't endorse that they do that either. The problem I have is that my power company says I should replace ALL lights in my house with CFLs for the sake of saving energy. And I think that is a really bad idea. And the box doesn't say on it "you probably should not use a CFL anywhere that the light is left on for short times".



Norm Nelson


Joined: Dec 18, 2011
Posts: 7
Hi Paul,

Well, you got me curious about the "they", so I Googled a bit... came across a couple of interesting things...

Firstly, it appears that "they", as usual, is the Feds... the Energy Star rating, and the bulbs are test by a "third party", according to the Energy Star web page here:
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_crit_cfls

Notice under "Lifetime", they mention that "typical use" is three hours a day...
"Lifetime — To qualify for ENERGY STAR, CFLs must have a rated lifetime of 6,000 hours or greater. The current average rated lifetime for ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs is 10,000 hours. With typical use of 3 hours per day, that’s an average lifetime of 9 years."


If you click on "rated lifetime" it brings you to this glossary:
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls_glossary#rated_life

"A light bulb’s estimated lifetime measured in hours. For all light bulbs, lifetime is determined by operating a sample of bulbs according to industry test standards. The time that half of the test sample fails is considered rated life. By definition, some lamps will fail before their rated life and some will operate beyond their rated life. The ENERGY STAR CFL criteria require additional testing to show that the sample can withstand a number of short start cycles and monitors early failures throughout testing."


A little further probing, and I found a reference to the longevity testing standard here (third line up from the bottom of page 2):
http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/product_specs/program_reqs/cfls_prog_req.pdf

So the US Energy Star standard is defined by a test called:
"IESNA LM-65-01– 2001 Approved Method for Life Testing of Single-ended Compact Fluorescent Lamps"

I found another reference to it here:
http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/876213-x3kPHq/876213.pdf

Which shows that it's also called the "ANSI C78.5-1997" standard...

BUT... in my brief search, I can't find what the actual test procedure is, without having to pay for it... they want $15 to look at the document!... and I've run out of time for today to poke around on the internet...

Oh yeah, earlier I found this tidbit on Popular Mechanics here:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/will-led-light-bulbs-best-cfls-and-incandescents

"Studies from the Program for the Evaluation and Analysis of Residential Lighting (PEARL) show that compact fluorescent bulbs often don't live up to manufacturer's claims. Glenn Reed of Energy Futures Group in Burlington, Vt., and his colleague Chris Granda at Grasteu Associates recently analyzed five years' worth of PEARL testing data on 1500 Energy Star–qualified CFLs. They found that some CFLs began to lose brightness quickly. For example, almost half of reflector CFLs—the kind used in recessed lighting—were more than a quarter dimmer before they had reached half of their rated lifetime. Although CFLs typically perform worse in recessed lighting, Reed found that these CFLs weren't even living up to their Energy Star ratings. One possible explanation is that the recessed cans that house reflectors trap heat that wears out the bulb.

The PEARL studies also revealed that the average lifespan of CFLs often fell short, echoing a common complaint among CFL users. Among eight frequently tested brands, including Philips Lighting and General Electric, early failure rates ranged from 2 to 13 percent. The National Lighting Product Information Program has found similar differences in quality among Energy Star–labeled brands. Reed notes that PEARL only tested 10 bulbs per brand and that the same brand wasn't necessarily tested all five years. These data limitations make it difficult to rank best and worst brands, but, says Reed, "it's definitely a yellow flag."


The PEARL program here:
http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/pearl/index.asp

I also didn't know that Mythbusters had done a test similar to yours... (last paragraph)
http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2006/12/episode_69_22000_foot_fall_lig.html

-Norm.
Ian Erickson


Joined: Dec 11, 2011
Posts: 11
I should have posted this here:

Hi Paul,

Really, really important stuff here! Comments on your CFL cartoon.

I watched your CFL video today ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ta2ozf_uJJ8 ). In your animation video you have the characters Mr. Stinkypants and Mr. Halitosis. Basically, the story goes that these two characters are shysters creating marketing spin surrounding CFLs for their profit. Now, the names Mr. Stinkypants and Mr. Halitosis are not actual names or alias names to protect the innocent. In true scripting genus you use the literary technique of 'charatonyms' - names that represent the characters that have them (think Marry Poppins, Scrooge, Artful Dodger, all of the seven dwarf and Snow White etc.). The two characters are shysters (German for 'one who defecates') so they get 'stinky' names. All good stuff. You highlight in a creative way the shyster-minds behind the marketing of product product.

However, I believe you have fallen in to the evil marketing shysters hands by promoting another company's marketing spin while attacking the CFLs marketing spin. Oh the horror - and irony.

By using stinky characters with stinky names, you perpetuate the 'stench' surrounding both the characters and the names (conditions) themselves. The condition of halitosis was little known until Listerine marketed its product to cure the condition in the 1920's. Bad breath was not such a bad thing until Listerine started ad campaigns depicting young women asking themselves if they can get over their lovers bad breath (Levitt and Dubner). Levitt and Dubner (p.87) in Freakonimics quote advertising scholar James B. Twitchell as writing "Listerine did not make mouthwash as much as it made halitosis". While attempting to thwart one industry's marketing campaign, you have perpetuated another. Those evil, crafty marketers! As far as I know you are safe with Mr. Stinkypants. I think having stinkypants was long a faux pas before ads for adult diapers, fabric air fresheners or laundry detergent.

The only way I can see you fixing your Youtube karma is to do another animation about Listerine or a video about how having Halitosis is cool. As far as fixing you current video, you might think of other stinky names. This might be more difficult than you think. 'Mr. Body Odor' for example, is not an adequate replacement because body odor is another faux pas created by marketing spin. See they are an evil and industrious bunch!

Ian
Norm Nelson


Joined: Dec 18, 2011
Posts: 7
Another similar test, with longer cycles:
http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/resources/pdf/19-2000.pdf

I still can't find the IESNA test standard for free...

-Norm.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15091
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Norm!

Good sleuthing!

I suspect there are a few things going on.

1) some CFLs choose to not seek energy star stuff.

2) perhaps the energy star stuff has been underfunded (or corrupted), so people are using "energy star" even though they don't qualify.

3) sometimes the fine is worth it.

I thought it was funny to read how the light is okay if it is 80% as bright when the light is 40% of the way through its lifespan.

//////////////////////////

Over the last 24 hours I have had a lot of wacky feedback that I feel the need to address here:

this CFL stuff is beneath you - you have far more important things to be working on


True. And false.

The problem I see is that the big supporters of CFLs are "environmentalists". And i think, waitaminute - I thought I was an environmentalist. In fact, I kinda thought I was one of the leaders. It seems clear to me that the CFL anti-environment. It is loaded with environmental poison and greenwashing. Another problem is that a lot of these "environmentalists" are at eco level 1. Only they think that by buying a CFL they are at level 9: they did their part for the environment and they are done. Their desire to do something noble is good, but I think they are actually going in the wrong direction. So I want these people to get unstuck from the notion that they have made their environmental contribution and are now done. I want to make it clear to them: the only thing that separates you from level zero is the idea that you want to make things better. But so far, you haven't done anything. And finally, I really want to see environmentalists (and "environmentalists") stop supporting the CFL. Then, when all of those people get dislodged from the CFL maybe they will turn to something a bit more productive, like hugelkultur or cast iron.

Everybody already knows that CFLs don't do well when used for a short period of time.

And I get an equal number of people insisting that "everybody knows" that CFLs are awesome no matter how you use them.

The bottom line of all the bottom lines with CFLs is: these are nearly always more expensive than incandescent, and they are ALWAYS more toxic.

I really don't want to be in the "stop being bad" camp, but the regular "stop being bad" people appear to be playing for the wrong team. And that is causing a lot of problems.





paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15091
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Ian,

If that's the worst complaint I get about that video (and so far, no, it isn't), then I think I'm doing really good.

This was just one of those things where I had so many people telling me "the truth" which included me being a liar, that I felt the best thing to do was to share some small tidbits of information. And then one day the idea of this little scripted ditty popped into my head. The next thing I knew, the rest of my life was on hold while I was writing it down and drawing pictures of light bulbs ....

I admit that I struggled with the names a bit. I needed names that would not be confused with any other names.

Ian Erickson


Joined: Dec 11, 2011
Posts: 11
Hi Paul,

The comment was all in humor.

It does show how ubiquitous the effects of marketing spin are.

Well done on getting the message out.

Ian
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15091
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
A third CFL died today. The two incandescents are both still running. And the LED is still running.
Rich Pasto


Joined: Dec 13, 2011
Posts: 97
just fired up my stringer of CFLs in my 10 degree garage this morning. Like ive done most winter mornings for 4 years now with the same bulbs. we use CFLs in most fixtures. They last longer than our incandescents. When they're cold, they take a while to warm up. Big deal. I cant believe that having to wait a few minutes for something is denigrated in these forums. People here are saying that they fail early sometimes. Show me a bulb that doesnt.

For the average american they are a energy saver. For most people reading permies, I suspect that they may or may not be. They are targeted at the people who do not try and conserve energy, but need a one shot, quick fix. They do their job.


Trond Hogstadt


Joined: Nov 15, 2011
Posts: 16
I have used CFL's since the early 90's in many locations in and out of the house and have had generally good luck with them. The newer ones have a more pleasing color temperature than the first ones. I did try some dimmable types a few years back and was unhappy with them. They were an off brand, perhaps that was the problem. Or it might have been because they were among the first dimmable CFL and they were not perfected. One thing I do like about CFL's very much is the greatly reduced heat output. I live in a desert that most of the year has little or no need for heating. Incandescent light bulbs add to the cooling load for much of the year. CFL's not only cost less to operate they reduce the air conditioning load. I'd use LED lamps if they were less expensive to buy. They also are not as well suited to general illumination in my opinion. That will likely improve over time. The new incandescents are better than the old but still produce too much heat for my likes. I do use a few incandescent light bulbs in low use areas like a closet. I also find LED night lights to be just the thing for those middle of the night trips to the loo.
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1282
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
Rich Pasto wrote:just fired up my stringer of CFLs in my 10 degree garage this morning. Like ive done most winter mornings for 4 years now with the same bulbs.


Yup, they work great outside in the cold. The ones I have in my shop have not been replaced. The lamp next to the doors are fine too... even freezing. Generally they are on for long periods.


we use CFLs in most fixtures. They last longer than our incandescents. When they're cold, they take a while to warm up. Big deal. I cant believe that having to wait a few minutes for something is denigrated in these forums. People here are saying that they fail early sometimes. Show me a bulb that doesnt.


Inside is a different matter... it is easier to count the ones that haven't failed. At the least I have replaced one in every room at least once (in the bathroom they have all been replaced some more than once). Some of the lower watt CFLs have lasted longer... but not always. I seem to go through them about as fast as incandescent bulbs... at a real price (no subsidy) of over $10 each, I'm not happy with them. I am slowly moving to LEDs as they get cheaper. Some of the LEDs have really nice colour and are easier on the eyes than any of the CFLs. I have had one LED bad out of the package (cheap walmart special It has a bad connection inside... works when I hold it right) but none fail. Even the one my son dropped hard enough to break the surrounding bulb on still worked and in fact has found a place of use in a fake fireplace display (where CFLs fail faster than incandescents) and has lasted over a year anyway.

We do not spend our days turning lights on and off, more likely for me to come home and find lights left on from when the rest of the family left in the morning. CFLs don't take heat very well. Even in an application where most of the CFL is in open air, but the base is surrounded and somewhat insulated, they fail early. In an enclosed fixture they fail earlier. How many totally open fixtures does the average house have? I think I've got 4 that fit "proper CFL use" (ugly open socket) and maybe four more that are outside (improper use according to the package) and so are doing fine. They do darken quickly with age.

Interesting thing. LEDs now cost less than twice what a CFL should cost with no subsidy. The last LEDs I got for the bathroom were $13 a pop. The ones I got for the reading lamps where colour matters most and CFLs are most irritating, were $30 each, but I got another this past month to replace a CFL in the dining room for $18. Prices are going down. I think LEDs will take over as people become dissatisfied with CFLs... on the other hand, bad experiences with CFLs may make people afraid to try something else new.
peter dublin


Joined: Feb 22, 2011
Posts: 38

RE LIFESPANS

also in view of the Stinkypants cartoon, and Norm Nelsons comments, as per above

GE, Philips, Osram etc manufacturers already cooperated for several decades to keep
lifespans down - the Phoebus Cartel = http://ceolas.net/#phoebuspol
That is why even today the standard incandescent lifespan is 1000 hrs
Recent German research shows a 1000 hr lifespan committee punished
those who manufactured any longer lasting bulb.
Communist long lasting bulbs were blocked for Western markets.


Manufacturers did indeed seek and welcome the ban on incandescents
http://ceolas.net/#li12ax referenced

"This is not a ban" is the repeated political cry,
- but it is a ban on all known general service incandescents, including touted halogens, on the 45 lumen per W end regulation standard in enacted 2007 EISA phase 2 specifications
http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.com/2011/07/yes-it-is-ban.html

No. the politicians don't tell you that (and halogens cost much more, for marginal savings)

CFLs and LEDs not last as long as specified for many reasons - incl profits!

RE Both Brightness and Lifespans of CFLs
http://ceolas.net/#li15rbx onwards, referenced
Why lab conditions often not same as real use
eg brightness/lifespan affected by heat, cold,
decreasing brightness effectively limit lifespan, etc

also RE Norm Nelson comments
note
-- how 3 hour continuously on cycle in standard test exactly corresponds to "3 hour daily usage" in Energy Star specs
-- how manufacturers do not warranty the claimed lifespans (on CFLs or LEDs)


Adrian Andronache


Joined: Jan 05, 2012
Posts: 1
Hello, friends,

I made this account specially to reply to this thread
I'm from Romania, but i have lot of experience with CFL-s. I work as electrician for a france-nigerian joint venture.

Yes, they are not as good as the claims are.
But still are some brands who make good quality - not perfect, because these CFL-s are simply too new to be perfect.
It was already shown up in this thread that the lifespan is decreased by the number of switching's.
The lifespan for an Osram reached 20000 switching's for a 24W model 3U, warm white, and have a life expectancy of 10000 hours; They are really try to do these things better. On the other way, Philips were dissapointing me - the last batches of CFL's didn't last more than 2 years in places where the time per day was approx 4 hours and 4 switching operations per day

The light is 4 times more than incandescent for the first half life of the product, and than decrease to three times, slowly till the end of life.
As it was specified in a post previously, the life span declared is an average half-life, like that what is used for measuring the decay of radioactive isothopes. That is, if you have 100 bulbs or CFL-s rated for 5000 hours, after 5000 hours will be 50 bulbs alive; and should be 25 after 10000 hours - but here this ratio is really not so applicable....

The switching process remove material from the cathodes - this will short the life span. Osram simply put more matherial on their cathodes, this made bulbs to have a life longer.
The heat destroy the electrolytic capacitors inside the bulb. As an average capacitor is rated to survive 2000 hours at 105 degree celsius, if is good quality - or 85 degree for other cheaper family of capacitors. But also heat will reduce the lifespan of semiconductors, by electromigration and difussion of connection materials inside the lattice of semiconductor.
Osram made a good product.

Well, now about new tendencies.

Cree, a big LED manufacturer, have worked on the LED issues, and after a few years of improvement and finally just arrived with something good and cheap as dirt (for me, really that's cheap - and i'm not a rich man):
Check these on google: CXA-2011 and XM-L family - if you want to build LED lamps, try these, but choose the warm white - for me, cold is simply too actinic and nasty.

I've tried one CXA-2011 on a processor heatsink, it's very easy to mount; supplied by a special current supply - not VOLTAGE supply; a current supply will simply deliver a constant current regardless of voltage absorbed by the load
well, it was a 40....50V at fix 1 Ampere power supply; the light amount is simply amazing, is approaching that of a 300 W HALOGEN LINEAR BULB. it was not exactly that amount, but close; i can approximate it as a 200W equivalent halogen. I know the eye is logarithmic, i worked years as photographer when i was young.

Ok, CFL-Era is simply come to the end - now it's the time for LED's

Greetings,
Adrian
peter dublin


Joined: Feb 22, 2011
Posts: 38

RE Adrian and LEDs

As this thread is on CFLs, won't go into it too much, but ironically LEDs have much the same issues as CFLs,
concerning light quality (whether with RGB LEDs, or the White LEDs that with phosphorescent coating mimic CFLs), toxic components, a recycling need (according to quoted California study)
Of course, they have advantages too in energy saving and (with some) adjustable spectrum for flexible light "warmth" settings and the like, or the imaginative uses of OLED sheet lighting,
but -again- it does not justify banning incandescents
(as already covered, US regulation will effectively come to ban incandescent technology for general service lamps)

The LED issues http://ceolas.net/#li15ledax and http://ceolas.net/#li20ledax
Good LEDs Magazine summaries on LED light quality issues, http://www.ledsmagazine.com/news/7/11/13
and http://www.ledsmagazine.com/features/8/11/15

Note the logic:
>> "LEDs, CFLs are great" = OK so people will buy them anyway, "price sensitivity" does not apply to other good quality products
(and tax to incandescents covering subsidy to CFL/LEDs can reduces price differences, if really needed)
>> "LEDs, CFLs are not great" = OK, hardly justifies incandescent ban either

In fact the "great savings" logic behind such bans, pre-supposes that people WOULD have bought the banned incandescents - if they could have!
peter dublin


Joined: Feb 22, 2011
Posts: 38

RE Mr Stinkypants Cartoon...

Another spoof sales campaign for CFL bulbs...
that takes some unexpected turns in its preparation !

http://sendyourlightbulbstowashington.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/and-some-humor-from-massachusetts/
.
Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
Paul and Jocelyn talk about some friends of theirs that recently had an energy audit on their house. They talk about CFL lighting, and the importance of making lifestyle changes in sustainability. podcast


www.thehappypermaculturalist.wordpress.com
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15091
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My brand new video that spends a fair bit of time on CFL brightness comparison


Mitch Blume


Joined: Mar 04, 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Deerlodge National Forest, Butte, MT
Excellent work on the video Paul!

This topic seems like a no-brainer to me but I admit we need videos like this for those that believe what TPTB tell them.
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2435
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  73
Really good video! Says it all!


Permaculture Kingston
Dan Wallace


Joined: May 27, 2010
Posts: 41
Just watched your latest video Paul and while I appreciate the discourse and effort involved, I think your bias is very strong and any of the positives of CFLs have been ignored

It's long been recognized that CFLs are NOT suited for locations where they are only on briefly. Like your video showed, their life is significantly decreased and the cost savings doesn't make sense
HOWEVER
What should be stressed is that CFLs do save power and money when used properly and installed in locations where they are on for long periods of time.

The electric rate is critical when making cost savings calculations. The rate you used in your video, 10c/kwh, is not representative of what most people pay. Most baseline rates are between 12-15 and then quickly go up from there when your household exceeds a certain amount of power. In my area, if you use 200% of your baseline, your rate goes to 29.5c!
That aside, here's a simple calculation

Here cost per kwh is 14.6c
For a simple example, lets say every day of the year a light is on for 4 hours and we will compare an 80w incandescent and a 19w CFL
365*4*(80/1000) = ~117kwh
365*4*(19/1000) = ~28kwh
The CFL will use 89kwh less and save about $13 a year.
This is of course only a simple example and only demonstrates a single light and a baseline electric rate. If the rate was 29.5c, using that one CFL would save $26.25/year


This is all of course talking strictly dollars. I concede to the fact that CFLs are complicated devices filled with toxic materials. I just wanted to clear away some of the bias and show that CFLs can have a place
Tim Crowhurst


Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 45
Location: Bedford, England: zone 8/AHS 2
    
    1
Dan Wallace wrote:The electric rate is critical when making cost savings calculations. The rate you used in your video, 10c/kwh, is not representative of what most people pay. Most baseline rates are between 12-15 and then quickly go up from there when your household exceeds a certain amount of power. In my area, if you use 200% of your baseline, your rate goes to 29.5c!
That aside, here's a simple calculation

Here cost per kwh is 14.6c
For a simple example, lets say every day of the year a light is on for 4 hours and we will compare an 80w incandescent and a 19w CFL
365*4*(80/1000) = ~117kwh
365*4*(19/1000) = ~28kwh
The CFL will use 89kwh less and save about $13 a year.
This is of course only a simple example and only demonstrates a single light and a baseline electric rate. If the rate was 29.5c, using that one CFL would save $26.25/year


This is all of course talking strictly dollars. I concede to the fact that CFLs are complicated devices filled with toxic materials. I just wanted to clear away some of the bias and show that CFLs can have a place





The rate in my area averages out at about 15p/kwh, or 23c/kwh in US$. Based on the above calculation, using CFLs where they are on for long periods saves me about £13.50 ($21) a year over incandescents.

I do still use incandescents, but since they're now banned here I'm sparing with them because I have a limited supply. Once they're gone, there are several lamps I'll have to replace.
Alex Ojeda
volunteer

Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 290
    
  24
So, we all know that incandescent lights are intentionally made to be very inefficient (watch the movie, "The Light Bulb Conspiracy"). Does it make sense that if we could just get these manufacturers to make better incandescent light bulbs we wouldn't even need to worry about this toxic nightmare that CFLs are causing?

Also, even though LEDs are still higher in resource use and toxins than incandescents, they are repairable and actually last a loooong time regardless of how often you switch it on or off. Is it prudent to just switch to LEDs when the ban of incandenscents is enacted and the supply goes away?

Are there any other ways to light your house using permaculture as your filter for selection? Alcohol lamps don't seem possible in this day and age...

This stuff is just starting to make me feel like crawling under a flippin' rock out in Sasquatch territory!
Lori Crouch


Joined: Sep 26, 2011
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
    
    1
Wonderful information, Paul. Hopefully this will go viral on youtube. However, I have to say the best part of this video (for me) is the PROOF, yes PROOF, that it doesn't take us women 5 minutes to go to the bathroom!! Best myth buster yet!
Alex Ojeda
volunteer

Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 290
    
  24
Yes, I have to say that this is the best video yet AND THANK YOU for all of this research and your time putting this together! I just "Liked" it on YouTube. Go Go Viral!
R Hasting


Joined: May 10, 2011
Posts: 163
Location: Middle America
    
  11
Dan Wallace wrote:Just watched your latest video Paul and while I appreciate the discourse and effort involved, I think your bias is very strong and any of the positives of CFLs have been ignored

It's long been recognized that CFLs are NOT suited for locations where they are only on briefly. Like your video showed, their life is significantly decreased and the cost savings doesn't make sense
HOWEVER
What should be stressed is that CFLs do save power and money when used properly and installed in locations where they are on for long periods of time.

The electric rate is critical when making cost savings calculations. The rate you used in your video, 10c/kwh, is not representative of what most people pay. Most baseline rates are between 12-15 and then quickly go up from there when your household exceeds a certain amount of power. In my area, if you use 200% of your baseline, your rate goes to 29.5c!
That aside, here's a simple calculation

Here cost per kwh is 14.6c
For a simple example, lets say every day of the year a light is on for 4 hours and we will compare an 80w incandescent and a 19w CFL
365*4*(80/1000) = ~117kwh
365*4*(19/1000) = ~28kwh
The CFL will use 89kwh less and save about $13 a year.
This is of course only a simple example and only demonstrates a single light and a baseline electric rate. If the rate was 29.5c, using that one CFL would save $26.25/year


This is all of course talking strictly dollars. I concede to the fact that CFLs are complicated devices filled with toxic materials. I just wanted to clear away some of the bias and show that CFLs can have a place


Dan, I have an alternative idea. When you finish using the light, turn it off maybe?

I have no bulb in my house that runs for 4 hours a day, except when I forget to turn off the porch light. That happens to be a 14 watt CFL bulb for just that reason.
There are probably 4 bulbs in my house that are typically on for more than an hour at a time. Often they are on/off within a minute or so. So they will never get a 10,000 hour lifespan.
The other 20 bulbs in my house are on for an average of 30 seconds, maybe. So in your "perfect world of CFL" I might install 4 CFL bulbs. But the other 20 should all be incandescent bulbs.

I know, it is hard to believe that we drank the koolaid, Paul just must be wrong.

But honestly, as a former "Put CFLs everywhere" guy, I never had a CFL last as long as an incandescent, even when in the same fixture.
I rarely have CFLs last a year. Secondly, I have never seen on a CFL box, "Place bulb only where the light is on for a long time." In most cases, a CFL bulb is not appropriate, especially considering the $10 subsidy involved per bulb.

Oh, and I pay $.11 kwh eight months of the year. Higher in summer, where I use less lighting anyway.
Dan Wallace


Joined: May 27, 2010
Posts: 41
R Hasting wrote:
Dan, I have an alternative idea. When you finish using the light, turn it off maybe?


I go to sleep around 10:30pm. In the summer it gets dark around 7:30pm and in the winter around 5:30pm. Average of 4 hours.
Should I just sit in the dark?
R Hasting


Joined: May 10, 2011
Posts: 163
Location: Middle America
    
  11
Dan Wallace wrote:
R Hasting wrote:
Dan, I have an alternative idea. When you finish using the light, turn it off maybe?


I go to sleep around 10:30pm. In the summer it gets dark around 7:30pm and in the winter around 5:30pm. Average of 4 hours.
Should I just sit in the dark?


No Dan. You should have enough light to do whatever you like to do. But do you turn on all the lights for that four hours? Or just maybe a couple of them?
Do you go from room to room like we do in our home. Kitchen to dining back to kitchen back to dining. Living room for a while (lights off as we plug in to the tube), to the kitchen to grab a drink, back to the tube, back to the kitchen to make popcorn, back to the living room. bath room break, living room, bedroom, bathroom, bedroom, bathroom, bed room, lights out. Or, when you leave a room, do you turn off the light? So, you have, typically one room lit at a time? Unless you have one bulb follow you throughout the night, you rarely have one bulb on for more than an hour.
Or did I miss something?
Dave Bennett


Joined: Jun 25, 2011
Posts: 641
I have 2 cfl's left. When they die I will only have incandescent bulbs in my home. My biggest use of electricity in my electric fan. I cannot sleep in completely still air so it runs all night long on low speed. As for lighting though, I agree with Paul. Turn them on when you need to see and off when that light is no longer needed. I do use two solar charged battery powered LED lamps. One as a night light and one so I can see this keyboard.


"When there is no life in the soil it is just dirt."
"MagicDave"
Dan Wallace


Joined: May 27, 2010
Posts: 41
R Hasting wrote:
Dan Wallace wrote:
R Hasting wrote:
Dan, I have an alternative idea. When you finish using the light, turn it off maybe?


I go to sleep around 10:30pm. In the summer it gets dark around 7:30pm and in the winter around 5:30pm. Average of 4 hours.
Should I just sit in the dark?


No Dan. You should have enough light to do whatever you like to do. But do you turn on all the lights for that four hours? Or just maybe a couple of them?
Do you go from room to room like we do in our home. Kitchen to dining back to kitchen back to dining. Living room for a while (lights off as we plug in to the tube), to the kitchen to grab a drink, back to the tube, back to the kitchen to make popcorn, back to the living room. bath room break, living room, bedroom, bathroom, bedroom, bathroom, bed room, lights out. Or, when you leave a room, do you turn off the light? So, you have, typically one room lit at a time? Unless you have one bulb follow you throughout the night, you rarely have one bulb on for more than an hour.
Or did I miss something?

I light only where I occupy and need the light. That's 1-2 lights. Even with 1-2 lights there is still obvious savings. I live with 5 other people though and they of course need light as well
R Hasting


Joined: May 10, 2011
Posts: 163
Location: Middle America
    
  11
Dan Wallace wrote:

I go to sleep around 10:30pm. In the summer it gets dark around 7:30pm and in the winter around 5:30pm. Average of 4 hours.
Should I just sit in the dark?

I light only where I occupy and need the light. That's 1-2 lights. Even with 1-2 lights there is still obvious savings. I live with 5 other people though and they of course need light as well


Ok, so now go and redo your math with a CFl that matches your usage patterns. This is, for the most part, what Paul has done for you...

Your math is perfect, your usage assumptions need modification.

My suggestion, if your usage pattern for a particular light is "On for more than 30 minutes at a time use a CFL. Otherwise, use LED or Incandescent.
Well, actually, just skip the CFL. Use the LED on bulbs on a long time, Incandescents otherwise.
Erica Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 736
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
    
  87
that video came out nicely! Look forward to the 'final final' on the on-off lifespan experiment. Any chance you want to do the same experiment again, with a longer cycle (say, 12 hours on 12 off)? I'm curious if the CFL's EVER reach their projected lifetimes.

-Erica


Play with nature, make nifty stuff:
www.ErnieAndErica.info
R Hasting


Joined: May 10, 2011
Posts: 163
Location: Middle America
    
  11
Erica Wisner wrote:that video came out nicely! Look forward to the 'final final' on the on-off lifespan experiment. Any chance you want to do the same experiment again, with a longer cycle (say, 12 hours on 12 off)? I'm curious if the CFL's EVER reach their projected lifetimes.

-Erica


I'd love to know that too, but If they did reach their 8000-10000 hours, it would take a LONG time to run the test... about 2 years if they are on 12 hrs a day...

Only takes a year if you leave it on 24hr/day.

Robert Abbenzeller


Joined: Nov 15, 2011
Posts: 1
Great presentation Paul. Thannks for this. Who would of thought amidst all the promo hype?
Appreciate your insight and sharing.
Bob
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15091
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Look! My video made it to treehugger.com.

An excellent summary followed by nasty comments.


 
 
subject: CFL brightness and longevity claims
 
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