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Why Paul Wheaton is Wrong About CFLs

                                        


Joined: Dec 29, 2010
Posts: 3
Paul's a great guy, but his article, CFL Fluorescent light bulbs: More Hype Than Value is just totally off base.

I tried to give it a fair shake, though it was hard to imagine how the Department of Energy, the EPA, and every frugal/green blog I'd ever read were so wrong. Well, the facts presented just didn't check out. What follows is a point-by-point rebuttal of Paul's article.

Full disclosure: I make no money off CFLs, other than saving energy.


Longevity

The first point is that CFLs longevity claims are exaggerated. He starts off comparing an 8,000 hour CFL with Fiet's 25,000 hour, 100 watt incandescent. He doesn't mention that those long-life bulbs have even worse efficiency than regular incandescents. A typical 100 watt bulb puts out around 1750 lumens. That long-life bulb? A mere 900 lumens.

However, the point stands that CFL lifespan is shortened by every power cycle, more-so even than incandescent lamps. Just how big is this drawback? If Paul's numbers are correct, then each flip of the switch robs you of a whopping 0.02¢. Not $0.02, but 0.02¢. So if you sat there for 5 minutes, switching on and off every second, you would waste six whole pennies.

You might think that rated lifespans are for continuous operation, but this is not the case. They're turned on and off at 30-minute intervals. Paul thinks this is unrealistically long, believing 2-5 minutes is more accurate. We don't actually have data on this (please someone prove me wrong), but we can work out the break-even point, e.g. the shortest cycle time for which the a CFL costs less.

The answer works out to 3m 15s.[1] This is an average, so leaving the light on for a half-hour makes up for 11 one-minute jots.

Side-note: the article mentions marine incandescents with replaceable filaments (which turned out to be carbon arc lamps), without realizing that compact fluorescents with replaceable tubes have existed for years. They cost more due to economies of scale, but they don't present the huge technical challenges that replaceable filaments do.


Brightness Exaggeration

Paul cites independent testing by The Telegraph, and says that CFLs are 35% dimmer than the manufacturers claim them to be. This is total bunk.

What the article actually says is that some 11 watt CFLs are labeled as "60 watt equivalent". What he fails to point out is that the words "60 watt equivalent" isn't the brightness. Brightness is measured in lumens, not watts. People have gotten sloppy, equating brightness (lumens) with energy consumption (watts). It's as if everyone stopped using miles to mark distance, and instead used how many gallons of gas it took to drive there. That works well enough, but only until someone makes a more efficient car! Measurement demands precision, and just as there is no 'standard car', there is no 'standard bulb' to define the 'correct' efficiency.

With no official meaning, it's unsurprising that less scrupulous vendors use optimistic numbers. Remember, manufacturers don't write Nutrition Facts labels for their health, they do so because the FTC mandates it.

Speaking of which, where's the FTC in all this? Answer: doing its job. Actual claims of brightness (e.g. "800 lumens") are tightly regulated by the FTC, and required on the package. In fact, they're making a huge step forward by creating the Lighting Facts label, analogous to the Nutrition Facts label. It puts brightness and energy information in a clear standard format, and its adoption should straighten out this common misconception.

Side-note: I don't know about you, but I've never seen 11 watt CFLs advertised as 60 watt equivalent, only 13-14 watt bulbs. I'm sure they exist, but it's hardly an industry-wide conspiracy.


The "Correction"

Paul proposes a thought experiment: Take 100 incandescent bulbs in one room, and 100 CFLs in the other. How many CFLs have to be added to produce the same brightness?

This experiment starts out badly because it assumes you didn't compare lumens at the store, but there's a deeper flaw. No-one makes lighting choices like that. The real situation involves a fixed number of sockets, and the decision is which bulbs to fill them with. People don't generally add lights, they buy brighter bulbs!

The objection is more than academic - it's cheaper to buy a bulb that's twice as bright rather than another bulb. Even if you accept Paul's brightness claims, the right comparison would pit a 60 watt incandescent against a 19 watt CFL (which is how I'll compare them).


Starting Performance

This section opens with the following statement: "First, a fluorescent light uses about 20 times more power in the first second to get started. So, for a two minute cycle, the total power consumed is 16% higher." This statement is flat wrong. According to the DoE, "the relatively higher 'inrush' current required lasts for half a cycle, or 1/120th of a second. The amount of electricity consumed to supply the inrush current is equal to a few seconds or less of normal light operation. Turning off fluorescent lights for more than 5 seconds will save more energy than will be consumed in turning them back on again."

Then there's the overly-pessimistic estimate of 30% for the initial brightness of a CFL. All I can say is, Mr. Wheaton buys crappy CFLs. I've never noticed anything approaching this. The more charitable, and indeed likely, explanation is that Paul was an early adopter who got burned by immature technology. This may also explain his bad experiences with bulb reliability.


Cold Weather Performance

No argument there! Motion and light sensors are far more effective outdoor energy-savers. LED lights will be good here, but there aren't many fixtures yet.


Toxicity

Yes, CFLs contain mercury. Paul makes recycling them seem arduous, apparently unaware that Home Depot and IKEA both accept dead CFLs, in addition to most county recycling centers.

The "stressful story" that the article links has been debunked by none other than Snopes, so I won't waste time rehashing it other than to say that there's no need for a hazmat team. Cleaning up a broken bulb exposes you to less mercury than eating a tuna fish sandwich.

Side-note: There are people who don't eat tuna because of mercury! It's a legitimate concern, even before it gets over-blown in the media. And you know what? If someone avoids CFLs because of mercury, I can respect that. They just shouldn't fool themselves that they're saving money too.


Subsidies

You might think after reading this section in Paul's paper that the federal government pours money into the laps of CFL manufacturers, and that they'd cost five times as much without them. You'd be wrong.

It's hard to know where to begin with this section actually, because there's just so little basis for it. The New York Times article mentions CFL incentives in California and Vermont (South Africa, India, and China also have programs). So unless you live in California or Vermont, or buy through your utility company, you are paying the unsubsidized price.

Objecting to tax dollars I can see, but bizarrely Paul seems to oppose utility company incentives as well, since the customers ultimately pay. However, "demand destruction" is often the cheapest way of getting "more power". I wonder if he has the same objection to building power plants?

Paul then goes off on the federal ban on low-efficiency bulbs, and I completely agree. The ban is heavy-handed and breeds resentment, not purpose. We should make utilities to clean up their messes like everyone else, and let the market discover the best path.


The Table

Just about everything about this table is wrong.


  • [li]The "unsubsidized price" is bogus.[/li]

    [li]The "correction" is bogus.[/li]

    [li]The price of electricity is too low. Paul may be blessed to live in a state with cheap electricity, but not all of us are so fortunate. The average price of electricity is about 12¢/kWh (as of December, 2010). This is what I used, and I encourage you to run the numbers with your own price.[/li]

    [li]Paul again conflates "watts" with "lumens". The 40 watt bulb puts out 505 lumens. I couldn't find that exact long-life bulb, but this comparable one puts out only 220 lumens. Apples and oranges.[/li]

    [li]We arbitrarily switch to 500 lumen bulbs. I'll stick with 850 lumens ("60 watt"), which actually helps the incandescent bulb. I used 13 watt CFLs, and for those who accept Paul's pessimistic numbers I've included 23 watt CFLs as well.[/li]


  • Stripping out the incorrect speculation and inaccurate "correction" yields a reality-based table:
    [center]
    Cost over 20,000 hours

    [table]
    [tr]
    [td]Bulb Type[/td] [td]light output[/td] [td]$/Bulb (#)[/td] [td]Electricity[/td] [td]Total[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]60 watt Incandescent[/td] [td]890 lumens[/td] [td]$12 (20)[/td] [td]$144[/td] [td]$156[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]100 watt Incandescent
    Long-life[/td] [td]900 lumens[/td] [td]$1.43 (0.8)[/td] [td]$240[/td] [td]$241.43[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]43 watt EcoVantage[/td] [td]750 lumens[/td] [td]$54.40 (16)[/td] [td]$103.20[/td] [td]$157.60[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]No "correction"[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]13 watt CFL
    30m cycles, 8000 hr[/td] [td]825 lumens[/td] [td]$3.37 (2.5)[/td] [td]$31.20[/td] [td]$34.57[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]13 watt CFL
    5m cycles, 1000 hr[/td] [td]825 lumens[/td] [td]$26.93 (20)[/td] [td]$31.20[/td] [td]$58.23[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]Accepting the "correction"[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]23 watt CFL
    30m cycles, 8000 hr[/td] [td]1600 lumens[/td] [td]$8.66 (2.5)[/td] [td]$55.20[/td] [td]$63.86[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]23 watt CFL
    5m cycles, 1000 hr[/td] [td]1600 lumens[/td] [td]$69.30 (20)[/td] [td]$55.20[/td] [td]$124.50[/td]
    [/tr]
    [/table]
    [/center]

    With the 23 watt bulb we can intuitively see the earlier break-even result - the incandescent light doesn't cost less until you get to about 3 minutes of "on" time.

    We can now rewrite the original article's comically unequivocal conclusion: If you don't pay half the national average for electricity, realize there's no subsidy, have ever eaten a tuna sub, and use your lights for more than three minutes at a time, then CFLs are cheaper.


    Lighting Habits

    Paul goes on to detail his lighting needs. And you know what? He's right that CFLs wouldn't save him much money. However, this is only because his habits make him an outlier: a single 500 lumen bulb for about 4 hours/day. It's obvious that by using less, there is less potential savings. With no lights, there would be no potential savings!

    Switching to Paul's lighting habits would save more electricity than switching bulbs, but the majority of the population isn't going to make that change. That's a much bigger commitment than grabbing a different bulb at the supermarket. Maybe Paul has that kind of persuasiveness, but I know I don't!


    Other Stuff

    Dryers, heaters, fridges, and electronics use lots of electricity. So what? It's not an either/or decision.

    Some may argue that CFLs are a distraction. However, there's always been low-hanging fruit you can make that argument about. Catalytic converters, recycling, and efficient windows were last year's distractions, but they've become this year's status quo. Some might call that "progress".

    Side-note: Paul's estimated savings from filling the fridge with bottles is way off. Assuming one prevents all the air from falling out (say 10 cu ft of 40 °F air replaced with 70 °F air), at 6 openings/day you save 0.3 kWh of heat per month, or about half that much electricity. So that $4 of savings is more like 0.8¢. The point is, air is incredibly thin, and we're incredibly bad at guesstimating energy savings. The only way to know is to run the numbers.


    "Free" Heat

    Of course the heat isn't free.


  • [li]If you have anything cheaper per unit heat than electric (read: everything else), the argument falls apart. Air-conditioners invert the argument, for those that have them.[/li]

    [li]You don't always want heat where you want light. Of course Paul understands this concept: contrast his brilliant "lizard lamp" hand-warmers with the upward-facing 500 lumen bulb. Now imagine reversing them![/li]



  • The Videos

    The first video proves that at least one CFL flickers. No-one denies that. The CFL shown must use a magnetic ballast operating at 60 Hz. Decent modern bulbs use electronic ballasts operating at 10,000 to 20,000 Hz. This may annoy a housefly, but it's far above the range humans can perceive.

    The problem with the second video is more subtle. The real question is not the time until "full brightness", but the time until "enough brightness". That's what's so dramatic, and so wrong, about this video.

    Cameras are very different from our eyes -- it's why most photographers sport light meters. The big difference is in dynamic range. Our eyes have 90 dB of dynamic range, or a billion times difference in brightness. Cameras aren't so lucky. Photographers adjust F-stops and apertures to do what the eye does automatically. Digital cameras have about 25 dB of dynamic range, and film about twice that.

    What does this mean in practice? Imagine we set up a camera so the sensitivity is in the middle of human vision. When the camera displays pure black, your eyes could still see things 1000 times dimmer!

    Given these differences, I strongly suspect this video is fibbing with photography. A compelling video would have a light meter in the shot, too.


    Conclusion

    I would oppose compact fluorescent lights too if I thought they were highly toxic, half as bright as advertised, and had a shorter life than incandescents. But I know better, and so should you. It disheartens me to see "CFLs = Bad" taken as gospel in the Permies.com community, apparently without challenge or discussion. It's time we set the record straight.

    Will people continue to cite the CFL article despite its flaws? Of course they will. Hopefully they'll seek out opposing views, and maybe find this article as well.

    I know I won't change everyone's mind (least of all Paul's), but I hope we'll have a lively discussion in any event. Please no personal attacks, but responses are of course appreciated.

    Thanks for reading. Now go forth and save!



    [1] assumptions are: 60 W incandescent vs. 23 W CFL, .025¢/switch loss, 12¢/kWh electricity price, unswitched bulb cost is 60¢/1000 hour incandescent and $3.47/8000 hour CFL.
                          


    Joined: Dec 26, 2010
    Posts: 9
    Thanks for writing this up. Quite convincing, and I look forward to Paul's response. No matter who ends up 'winning', I'm indebted to both of you for investing the time to research & explain this topic.
    tel jetson
    steward

    Joined: May 17, 2007
    Posts: 3112
    Location: woodland, washington
        
      58
    cryptorchidism wrote:
    Paul's a great guy...


    you're way off base from the get-go, buddy.  but I kid.  I kid.

    without taking the time to examine your maths (because that would be boring), it looks like you've got a pretty solid case.

    I'm definitely in the "avoiding mercury" camp because I'm clumsy.  and I prefer to use whale oil for my lighting (also delicious on strawberries).  out of curiosity, does anyone know how much of the mercury is reclaimed in the recycling process?  in the life-cycle analyses I've seen, recycling the mercury isn't taken into account.  seems like that would make a substantial difference in the mercury-in-fluorescents to mercury-from-power-plants comparison.

    by the way, who is citing Paul's article?

    and I looked at the price of the EcoVantage lights linked in the article: spensive.

    anyhow, I don't have a dog in this race, but I'll be interested to see how it shakes out.


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    Al Loria


    Joined: Apr 21, 2010
    Posts: 395
    Location: New York
    Compelling and seemingly well documented arguments, especially when taken point by point.  Still, there is plenty of reason for and against either form of lighting.  Apples and oranges when it comes to personal issues of safety, comfort, economics, etc.  Plus, how much science can be related to personal habits that each of us want to break down our lives into intervals to decide which lighting choice makes more sense?  Not me.

    CFLs are great for nightlights, some work spaces, and we have seen fluorescent lighting used in many kitchens.  I personally hate reading by fluorescent light, don't like them in our stairway fixture that is switched on for the five seconds it takes to walk up/down the stairs (too lazy to change it,) and the fact that we had one catch fire in a table lamp once (never had that with an incandescent bulb) and the overall higher initial cost.

    Each form of lighting can serve one or more purposes, and to have certain forms legislated into mandatory use is the biggest gripe to me.
    paul wheaton
    steward

    Joined: Apr 01, 2005
    Posts: 15607
    Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
        ∞
    I want to say "what an excellent response!" - but I have to give it a six out of ten.

    First, cryptorchidism, I have a really thick skin, so I don't mind a few jabs, BUT!  I am trying to keep a precedent established on these forums that nobody is to suggest that anybody on permies is less than perfect.  I would like to ask you to make some edits to your post to reflect that.

    For the last four days I have sacrificed a lot of stuff because I felt I was far too behind in getting videos out.  And I'm still in that mode, so I will have to postpone a more complete response to later.

    22) Lumens is, indeed, the most important way to measure this stuff.  But I do not trust the labels on the box. 

    23)  the stuff about the long life bulbs having that much less light is both fascinating and new to me.  I would very much like see that light measured independently.

    24)  "Paul thinks that rated lifespans are for continuous operation" - I think I am much better at qualifying my statements than that.  Please direct me to where I said this.  Bulb longevity is something I am trying to get a better grip on.  I would like to get a device that will turn on an off every two minutes.  Or every 30 seconds.  And then I would hook up a dozen different light bulbs and make a movie out of it.  To get something more definitive in this space.  The key is that people are replacing lights that are on for less than 30 seconds per use.  They are throwing away perfectly good incandescent lights with the idea that they are going to experinece big savings.  But they aren't.  In fact, for places where lights are on less than 30 seconds, the bulb not only costs more, but the amount of dollars per lumens is worse.

    25)  brightness exaggeration as "total bunk":  and yet you then go on to say things that support my position.

    26) 100 bulbs - attempting to make a point where the math could get confusing.

    27)  I don't trust snopes

    2 subsidies - if you have some strong numbers, that would be great.

    29) "bogus" stuff has been qualified - the article is very clear that these values are my own guesses.  So the article is clear that the numbers are bogus. 

    30) You have a new chart of your own design.  The mission is to point out a fixed amount of light and how much it costs to get that light.  But your chart doesn't do that.  Therefore, your chart cannot be compared to mine.

    31) lighting habits:  which is the overall point of the article.  I started off by trying to tell seven somebodies in seven different conversations that I prefer incandescent and switching to fluorescent would save me a couple of dollars per year, if it saved me anything.  The response was that I was full of shit.  So the article is my feeble attempt to make this point.  Turning lights off saves gobs more than switching to fluorescent. 

    Lots more that I disagree with.  And there are some good points too!  Maybe in a week or so I will have more time for a more thorough response.






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


    Joined: Oct 23, 2011
    Posts: 0
    I don't want to spend too much time in this conversation, but i have to agree with Paul's point on toxicity

    I have had the conversation with many of my friends (even some that are not my friends), All that I've talked to have used CFLs, No one I have talked to (besides my wife) has disposed of them properly.
    Al Loria


    Joined: Apr 21, 2010
    Posts: 395
    Location: New York
    Scott, you make a good point. Toxicity is a big issue, and standard fluorescent long bulbs have been disposed of for years in ordinary trash.  You were expected to break them first as the toxic gases could get concentrated if a large number is thrown away and they break in the garbage truck.

    I don't know if this is still true, but they had to have fans on the roof of trucks delivering fluorescent bulbs, so if they broke the driver would not get a damaging lungful of the gas when opening the rear door.

    All of this may be hearsay, but this is what I was once told by a truck driver.

    I did not even know that Home Depot took spent CFLs before reading this thread.
    Len Ovens
    pollinator

    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 1315
    Location: Vancouver Island
        
      18
    so it may be better to leave an old bulb in place rather than update. When replacing, what to do? CFLs cost more... and don't really seem to last as long as advertised. I have a number of them and I have had as many failures as I would expect of incandescent bulbs. I'm not impressed. I have had more CFLs not work right out of the box (same for LEDs BTW). Incandescent bulbs can last as long or longer than CFLs. I think workmanship/materials is the thing. In all there is no way that I can see of knowing how good a light is. Price doesn't seem to work.... Outdoor CFLs aren't. The whole thing seems to this frustrated user to be a gimmick. I have tried some LED lights... I think they have a way to go yet. I think the old screw socket and lights built around it is what needs to change. CFLs are really something temporary... if the old light bulb is outlawed, then why use its form factor? It is this form factor that IMO causes most early CFL failure... too much stuff stuck too close together with no cooling. A new standard needs to show up before we make too many under cooled LED lights. The problem with both CFLs and LEDs is that there is another package of electronics making heat and that heat is not where the lap was designed to deal with it (2 to 3 inches out in space) but right at the socket which has a big insulated surround... which keeps the electronics hot. Hot electronics fail. CFLs that light up fast seem to run hotter/fail faster than the older cooler running ones that seem to take 5 minutes to give useful light... but are still around because of their design.

    The newer CFLs seem to last about 1.5 years on average. To me that is a fail for CFLs... I think it means that there are a lot of bad CFLs out there. I am trying out an LED "bulb" to replace a CFL that lasted less than a year... still longer than the CFL it replaced. The colour is nice and it comes on quick which helps as the other CFLs in the same fixture take longer than I often use the light.

    Night lights with LEDs in them that turn off when it's light out probably use more energy for the same light than one that is just on all the time as the power supply for the light detector takes as much(or more) power than the LED being lit... another peeve of mine.

    Just my thoughts and experiences. As I off grid myself, I will probably end up with more low voltage LED stuff... probably mounted in less orthodox ways. These should last longer as there is less need for the heat produced by a power supply to power a low voltage device from a high voltage.
                                            


    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 3
    As I said, I can respect avoiding CFLs due to mercury. Permies isn't really the tuna-eating crowd after all. All I ask is that we be honest that we're doing it to avoid mercury, not to save money.

    Thanks for getting back to me, Paul. I've tried to remain polite, and direct my words at the article, and not yourself. Please PM me letting me know where I could do better. For what it's worth, this was cut from my original (long) introduction:

    Right off the bat, let me say that I have big respect for Paul. He's living life according to his values (which I mostly share), inspiring others to the same, and of course building a great community at Permies.com. Thanks Paul!


    So thanks, Paul. Late still better than never?

    Well you gave some points so I thought I'd respond to them.

    22) You don't trust the labels, but I see no evidence that they're flat-out lying (you know, about the one with the lumens. The one that counts). The dimming over time is the closest I've seen to that, and even so CFLs are still more economical.

    23) You and me both. Does the DoE publish LM-79 results?

    24) I have removed that claim as it was inaccurate. Thanks for clearing that up.

    To test cycle light bulbs you might pick up a lamp timer. The smallest I've seen had 15 minute granularity, and each interval was individually switched. You might also open it up and boost the speed. Maybe couple that with time-lapse photography?

    Yes, people shouldn't replace lights that are *always* on for less than 30 seconds. The caveat is that if you leave the light on longer, even very infrequently, it tips rapidly the other way.

    25) You're right that it's not "total bunk". There is a grain of truth, but the article uses that grain to justify claims it can't support. If someone didn't follow the link they'd get the impression that every CFL lies about how bright it is, because that's how the article proceeds. In truth The Telegraph found five bulbs that drew 11 watts but claimed they produced "as much as a 60 watt bulb." So here's the thing: The results weren't shockingly consistent because of a grand conspiracy. They were shockingly consistent because it's essentially the same misleading claim printed on 5 different packages -- the claim that a 60 watt bulb puts out 600 lumens.

    Search Amazon today for 60 watt equivalent CFLs and the entire results page is 13-15 watt bulbs. The Telegraph's research can't be applied to any of them. It doesn't belong in The Correction.

    26) "100 bulbs" -- I can appreciate pedagogic devices, but this one muddies instead of clarifies.

    27) "I don't trust snopes." -- Come now. I don't trust The Telegraph either. Nevertheless, I read the article and responded to the substance, not the source. Grant me the same?

    28, 29) Subsidies. You ask for numbers, but this was my objection all along. The original article, after acknowledging that we don't have the data, just goes ahead and makes some up anyway. I don't see how that's convincing in the slightest.

    As far as I can find, most Americans get $0 from Uncle Sam when they buy CFLs. Where there are exceptions I must acknowledge them, but the ones I can find are on the order of $2 down to $.50, not $20 down to $2. The prices on Amazon are the unsubsidized prices.

    30) The correction factor is trivially easy to apply, and I included a worst-case analysis to boot. I should amend the table to include it, though. Good call.

    31) If lighting habits are the overall point of the article, then I agree with it. Overillumination wastes more energy than inefficient illumination. There, I said it! It's only the other two thirds of the article that I object to.

    Your friends, obviously, are the ones who are full of shit on this one. But in your seven conversations with seven friends (who, in my imagination, are all on their way to St. Ives), why not just break out the maths?

    "I use a forty watt bulb for maybe six hours a day. At five cents per kilowatt hour..."

       40 W * 6 hr/day * 5¢/kWh = $3.60/mo

    "...I can't save more than that!"

    Q.E.D. I don't see where any of this other stuff would come into play.
                                  


    Joined: Dec 27, 2010
    Posts: 30
    Location: Many-snow-ta
    Ok, I have a question for you, Crypt...
    What brand of CFL's do you find work best..? I have a mixture of CFL and 'normal', but I do not recall the brands off hand. (How long do you usually have your lights on?)
    The mercury could play into my decision in the future, as I've shattered countless CFLs out in the barn... accidentally, of course. But I figure with all the lead paint, contamination, mold, gas leaks, etc. in houses that I grew up in, what's a little more damage?  I joke... Well, not really.

    That reminds me; several minutes after I turned on the lights in the basement once I starting smelling an odd odor; turns out the CFL bulb actually caught fire at the base where the glass meets the plastic. 


    Zone 4 in Central Many-snow-ta
                          


    Joined: Jan 01, 2011
    Posts: 5
    I have been lurking here a long time and this thread finally prompted me to join.
    Paul you run an excelent forum congratulations.
    I don't think CFL s are all that they are cracked up to be in my experience the failure rate is much higher than advertised, their output is, in light capacity to the human eye, varryed some dimm some very bright. the cycle damage must be more than advertised ,
    The EPA is full of a bunch of statistic manipulators.
    I think CFL s provide more light for your money but it is mot as nice of light and it takes the CFL s a while to reach full light output. some times they exceed the comparison output .
     
                                            


    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 3
    @Blackbird: I don't buy a particular brand, but I avoid dollar-store and grocery store CFLs. I usually buy 6/7/8 packs at Home Depot. Looking at them, most are GE or Phillips. I've had one bulb fail, one of two 23 watt CFLs in an enclosed fixture, installed by the previous owners. Most of my fixtures are open though, and I try to clean out the bugs every 6 months or so.

    @Grizz: The best way to avoid bad light quality is to compare the color temperature. If you want an incandescent feel, go with 2700 K; for more day-like light go with 3500 K. Also, you can check the Color Rendering Index (CRI) if it's on there. 0-100, higher is better.
                                    


    Joined: Dec 27, 2010
    Posts: 15
    Location: Inland North Atlantic
    Before I wised up and moved to the solitude of the East coast I used to live in the middle of a vast megalopolis. I outfitted that home with CF bulbs, replacing each and every regular bulb inside and outside the house. I paid top dollar for them but the savings were recouped in a matter of months, it was impressive. My issue with them was the rate of failure. They were guaranteed by Home Depot and the manufacturer for five years so as soon as a dozen or so would fail I'd return them and get replacements. I don't believe I had a single bulb that lasted more than six months with exception to the three bulbs that I used outside. They were still working when I sold the home, nearly five years after the original CF bulb purchase. Interesting; the manufacturer cautioned that they were to be used inside only. So, my finding was they were excellent for saving money (nearly $13.00 dollars a month averaged) but didn't last as long as they were guaranteed for unless they were out of doors. Disposal was never an issue as every one that burnt out was returned for a replacement.


    Every where you came and left you came in the name of love and left a wake of happiness and tenderness and sweet conflict - sweet conflict.

    You don't come round......whispering, everywhere, everywhere....calling, I'm calling your number, calling, calling your number, calling, calling, you're everywhere to me.
                                


    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 105
    WOW! Too much goin on here!

    1. They lie on the packages especially about life spans

    2. CFL's flicker, it is an arc traveling through the bulb, they are much better than in the past but they will always flicker

    3. CFL's use less power including inrush current.

    4. Far more are tossed into landfills than are properly recycled.

    5. LED bulbs are an emerging tech that is working well, I use several, they are indeed a bit of a pain where you want more "fill" light vs direct.

    6. The fiber optic domes are really neat use of solar light, can't wait to see the capitol cost come down on them.

    One of the things folks fail to do is look at the varied ways they rate the bulbs. Have you ever noticed that they started rating incandescent bulbs all goofy? 60W @ 135V To my knowledge no where is anyone effectively running that voltage on a grid system. Light bulbs do not perform the same as other devices, the resistance of the bulb changes according to how hot the filament gets.

    The prices quoted vary significantly for one and all. I bought 6 CFLs for 2.93 for the package, that's cheaper than 2 incandescent at wally world. In the 90's when the CFL's were kind of new, I started noticing a trend in my home, I could buy incandescent packs and the failure rate really started to skyrocket. It really annoyed me since Edison's  bulb still works and there is one in a fire house that has burned for over 100 years http://www.centennialbulb.org/ so I found it really annoying and started to track my own bulb replacements.

    I was getting on average 45 days out of a bulb and the amazing part was they would fail almost in order of replacement. This was very apparent in a 5 bulb fixture that was above the table. Without fail they would die within days of each other and I discovered the shortest were GE brand, however they were the most consistent, all of them would fail within a 7 day period.

    Despite the annoyingly short life, that is some seriously consistent manufacturing process. From a capitalistic view, you can't beat it, you know your sales rate quite predictably. Pushing your new product by decreasing the life span of your old is not beyond any company IMHO and driving it through the corrupt government in place where one buys favor vs the original design of for the people, the rest is marketing hype.

    My lighting needs are met with nearly 100% LED or CFL with only the refrigerator having incandescent as it has yet to fail, when it does an LED will be sought that fits.

    A test which turned the lights on and off every 5 minutes while as compelling as it might be, is not a good test at all. While you may not use your lights on average for longer than 5 minutes, they are typically off for much longer than that and my own usage has bulbs that are approaching 10 years in the CFL category, I just started with the LED's last year and had one DOA within 1 day out of the box, the other 5-10 in the house have 1 year with no other failures. I have never experienced any where near that with incandescent bulbs, not even on things like the back porch light with sees very little use.


    Professor of Thermal and Electrical Engineering, Welding/metallurgy: Licenses: PE license, Mechanical license Variety of other "certifications" from industry groups such as Refrigeration Service Engineers Society http://www.rses.org/, ASHRE http://www.ashrae.org/ Ect.
    Josh T-Hansen


    Joined: Jul 14, 2010
    Posts: 143
    Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
        
        1
    Thanks for some great research everyone.  I'm definitely a fan of CFL's, although I do believe the advertising is slightly misleading.  However, the fact is, CFL's make more light per watt and they do save energy.  Facts can be debated, but lets not deny them.


    relevant ->Hardy Kiwi Kickstarter l YogaToday 2 week trial l Daring Drake Farm - NY
    The farming village was above all a society of philosophers without a need for philosophy - Fukuoka
                          


    Joined: Nov 30, 2010
    Posts: 53
    i would say with anything there is ATLEAST 10%, probally 20%, BS factor in marketing thats like on anything MPG CO2 global warming what ever. i use daylight CFLs i kinda like them color wise maybe they are not as intense a light.  there is some energy savings.
    lastly the only thing that worries me is where they are made and the environmental .. they are made with a toxic chemical under  lax protection country. i cannot be convinced that there is not massive leaks of mercury into chinese ground water and air. and in maine ther IS a 1$ per bulb energy star rebate although they say its 'hidden now' use to have to fill out a little slip for a instant rebate.
                                


    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 105
    sticky_burr wrote:

    lastly the only thing that worries me is where they are made and the environmental .. they are made with a toxic chemical under  lax protection country. i cannot be convinced that there is not massive leaks of mercury into chinese ground water and air. and in maine ther IS a 1$ per bulb energy star rebate although they say its 'hidden now' use to have to fill out a little slip for a instant rebate.



    This is sort of the problem, burning coal to give the bulb electricity and it amounts to more than is inside the CFL which leaves the concern reason without merit.

    This is not unlike my concerns with the stove issue, if you only concentrate on ONE part of what is happening anything can look good.

    The freakin marketing guru's of the world have made it nearly impossible for the average citizen to make informed decisions. Incandescent contain 0% mercury, but the coal burned to power them releases more than inside a CFL and the power to burn it.
    tel jetson
    steward

    Joined: May 17, 2007
    Posts: 3112
    Location: woodland, washington
        
      58
    NedReck wrote:
    Incandescent contain 0% mercury, but the coal burned to power them releases more than inside a CFL and the power to burn it.


    so if I'm producing my own electricity (not coal), using incandescent bulbs would be better in terms of mercury?
                                


    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 105
    tel jetson wrote:
    so if I'm producing my own electricity (not coal), using incandescent bulbs would be better in terms of mercury?


    Without any doubt what so ever.

    The USA missed the boat on solar.

    In the 70's solar electric was weak and expensive, solar water heating was emerging, both had potential. Water heating was cheaper to produce and it sort of took off, but never really was adopted. Solar electric has continued to make advances despite the nay sayers and has been developed into a very real alternative. Wind still leaves a bit to be desired due to the maintenance issues and the skills required.

    There MIGHT be some nasties involved in the making of the solar cell, I do not know, but once produced it is with little argument the cleanest alternative we have.
    paul wheaton
    steward

    Joined: Apr 01, 2005
    Posts: 15607
    Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
        ∞
    I know I need to take the time to respond to all the other stuff brought up, but ....  I have a headache and my brain seems to not be up to doing my other work today, so I just want to re-emphasize #31.

    My impression is that most americans will turn on 20 light bulbs in an evening (for one person), and leave them on for five or six hours.  And then call this behavior eco/green/frugal/whatever.  I think it is their right to waste this much juice.  I have no problem with them using that much juice if they are gonna pay for it.  But it bothers me if they use that much juice and then sing songs about how great solar is, or how we shouldn't be at war with the oil countries, or how the price of energy is too high, or how the new power plant sucks, or whatever. 

    When it gets dark outside and I am still awake, 98% of the time I use exactly one lightbulb.  I'll turn on a light for half a minute or so to go into the kitchen or to go into the bathroom. 

    My power company advocates that I convert all of my lights to CFLs.  They tell me that I will save huge amounts of energy by doing this.  Because of what I know about CFLs (as outlined in my article that this thread is about) there are two important points:

    1)  my overall energy savings would be less than $10 per year.

    2)  due to all of the details I point out in the article, the lights that are on for a short time would be really dim.  And for the first 30 seconds, I suspect that the energy cost per lumens might be the same as incandescent.  And I further suspect that the bulbs will burn out much faster than the incandescents, despite what the label says.

    By putting these two points together:  I will save $10 in energy per year and get about $10 less light per year.  And not only will I have shelled out about $30 to convert all of my lights over to fluorescent, but I might have to shell out more money per year to replace the more expensive bulbs that burn out faster.

    If the power company said "Hey buddy, if you have incandescent lights that you are leaving on for four or more hours at a time, then you could save money by switching to fluorescent" then that would make sense.  And it would be true. 

    When I read about people that switched to CFLs and saved $50 per month I think "the real problem is that they must have something like 20 light bulbs that they are leaving on day and night."  This person would probably save $100 per month by keeping all of their incandescent lights and turning lights off when they aren't being used.


    tel jetson
    steward

    Joined: May 17, 2007
    Posts: 3112
    Location: woodland, washington
        
      58
    so the real problem is audience.  the power companies are targeting their average electricity consumer, about whose lighting habits I'm fairly sure they have ample statistics.  they're also probably aware that their average customer is much more likely to do something to save energy if it doesn't actually involve changing their lifestyle.  taking that into account, it probably makes sense for the utilities to be pushing CFLs.

    paul's solutions and suggestions will quite obviously save a lot more money and electricity than the utilities' suggestions.  trouble is: paul's suggestions require actual changes instead of just buying a different box at the closest GigantiCorp Megamart.  it's been mentioned before that this is low-hanging fruit.  CFLs make some sense for those who are unwilling to give up their bad lighting habits.  unfortunately, that's a very large majority of the U.S. population.  those same folks aren't willing to wait a day for their laundry to dry, and they likely aren't willing to care where their shit goes so long as they don't have to handle it.  if they can buy a contraption that saves a little water or electricity or prevents some pollution or captures some nutrients, some of them will happily and sanctimoniously go for it.  but if it's in any way an inconvenience, the odds of adoption plummet.  and, paul, wouldn't you agree that most of your suggestions for saving energy do require some inconvenience?

    one problem with the incandescent ban is that it paints with too broad a brush.  for a small part of the population, CFLs won't make a significant difference in electricity consumption, and those folks shouldn't be forced to use them.  certainly not the first time that a group of people got shit on by too coarse a regulation.  but it's a numbers game, and it makes more sense from the utilities' perspective (and the legislature's) to cater to the larger group with bad habits than to the rare folks who make it their business to actually decrease consumption.

    the utilities could instead send out literature about better habits, but I just can't imagine that would make an impact just yet.  a cultural change is necessary broader than what the utilities can easily affect.  a large and savvy media campaign might have some impact, but those aren't generally cheap.

    a time may be coming when energy prices rise high enough and incomes fall low enough that such a cultural change will come about without propaganda.  then paul's ideas and others with real substance will come into their own.  until then, CFLs are a reasonable way to mildly mitigate an irresponsible culture's irresponsible energy consumption.
                                


    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 105
    paul wheaton wrote:
       

    My power company advocates that I convert all of my lights to CFLs.  They tell me that I will save huge amounts of energy by doing this.   Because of what I know about CFLs (as outlined in my article that this thread is about) there are two important points:

    1)  my overall energy savings would be less than $10 per year.

    2)  due to all of the details I point out in the article, the lights that are on for a short time would be really dim.  And for the first 30 seconds, I suspect that the energy cost per lumens might be the same as incandescent.  And I further suspect that the bulbs will burn out much faster than the incandescents, despite what the label says.



    My personal experience would dispute both of those points. I can not speak directly to the savings per month but can attest to our 4 person house having a lower monthly bill than my single person hose did when I was using incandescent bulbs.

    I can say without any doubt that CFL's have given me a VAST difference in life cycle, a not even comparable difference, we are talking months vs years of operation. This however does not go without saying that IMHO incandescent life cycles have dramatically gone DOWN over the years and while I would say in the 70 and 80's yearly might be the replacement rate by the time I made the switch it was after actually dating bulbs to monitor and seeing 90 days or less out of most incandescent bulbs. I would not be even a little surprised to find out that was by design to drive folks to CFL's from within the industry.
                          


    Joined: Nov 30, 2010
    Posts: 53
    paul wheaton wrote:

    If the power company said "Hey buddy, if you have incandescent lights that you are leaving on for four or more hours at a time, then you could save money by switching to fluorescent" then that would make sense.   And it would be true. 



    you forget most attention spans are not that long its the 15 second sound bites that sells 30 seconds are really pushing it. 35 seconds they have changed the channel
                                  


    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 34
    I have a friend is very chemically sensitive.  He can not use CFLs because apparently the plastic they use in the ballast is one that off-gases alot.  I'm sure they could make them out of a better quality plastic.

    The extra energy usage in an incandesent bulb is heat.  These little guys produce a lot of heat, which is not too big of a deal in a cold climate.  Where I am currently living most home energy use is for cooling and adding more heat into a home is creating even more energy use to cool it back down...

    Just some food for thought
    John Polk
    steward

    Joined: Feb 20, 2011
    Posts: 6675
    Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
        
    139
    Lack of manufacturing quality plays a big picture.  I used to work in a market that sold light bulbs, amongst other things.  One night a guy bought a 2-pack of incadescent bulbs.  Half an hour later, he came back and said neither of them worked.  I traded them for a new pack, but 10 minutes later he was back again with the same claim.  I brought a table lamp from the back room, and began testing ALL of the bulbs we had on the shelf.  Out of the 10 bulbs we had in stock, only 3 lit up!  Needless to say, he decided that he didn't want that brand.  It was a cheap no-name brand from China (if you hadn't guessed already).  The sad thing is that even the big name bulbs are now being made in China, and they are also getting many non-working bulbs as well.
                                


    Joined: Mar 30, 2011
    Posts: 2
    Here is my .02 about CFL.

    I've been a professional photographer since back when we used film !

    The light from a CFL sucks.  Sorry greenies but there ya go.

    Here is why.

    #1. Color temp.  The color of most CFL's is a pukey greenish cast crossing over to cyan.  Its not true daylight or better yet, a warm glow like incandescent.  Our eyes are designed to work better with the warmer colors of light.  Cones vs. Rods. 

    #2. Most CFL's put out less light than a "comparable" incandescent.  (going by the marketing on the package)  My eyes can see it even without a light meter or comparing exposures on photographs.

    #4 Cycle time.  Fluorescent lights flicker.  Yes, they cycle very fast, but your pupil is trying to react to each cycle of the light causing eye strain and fatigue.  That is why you get a headache in a much shorter period of time when reading by CFL.

    #5. Most importantly...... Where does the government get off telling me that I can't use an incandescent light bulb ?    That is a HUGE usurpation of power and trampling of our rights.    Its another example of how our government is legislating monopoly profits to their friends and business partners.  It also stifles competition and innovation.  Why should GE bother to improve their crappy made overseas CFL's ?  They have a government mandated monopoly with little or no competition which guarantees them huge profits for an inferior product.   

    IF GE want's to empty my wallet against my wishes, they could at least have the guts to mug me in the parking lot instead of having the government steal for them.
    John Polk
    steward

    Joined: Feb 20, 2011
    Posts: 6675
    Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
        
    139
    Energy companies could easily get people to conserve with a tiered price structure.

    If their kwh rate is 10¢, they should offer a structure such as:

    first 300 kw @ 8¢  (this would help poor customers who don't waste)
    next 300 kw @ 12¢  (you want to use more, you pay more)
    next 300 kw @ 15¢ (so now you are a waster, pay the price)
    anything above that @ 50¢  (OK, you've already shown that you don't give a shit)
                                


    Joined: Mar 30, 2011
    Posts: 2
    John Polk wrote:
    Energy companies could easily get people to conserve with a tiered price structure.

    If their kwh rate is 10¢, they should offer a structure such as:

    first 300 kw @ 8¢  (this would help poor customers who don't waste)
    next 300 kw @ 12¢  (you want to use more, you pay more)
    next 300 kw @ 15¢ (so now you are a waster, pay the price)
    anything above that @ 50¢  (OK, you've already shown that you don't give a shit)


    That's one way.  Of course it puts more $$$$$ in the pockets of those dirty power companies.

    OR.....  They could encourage competition and the companies would pull out all the stops to make a better more efficient product.    If your competitors are building a better product and taking away your market share, you better have R& on double shifts coming up with something even BETTER !

    Contrast that with government mandated monopoly profits on crappy CFL light bulbs AND getting hammered by the power company for extra $$$$ for your power usage.   

    Seems to me you are PREVENTING innovation to better more energy efficient products and merely lining the pockets of the politically connected.
                            


    Joined: Jul 07, 2010
    Posts: 508
    I went back to incandescent when I found that the other, cheerfully advertised as  the equivalent of 100 watt incandescent bulb,  was really too dim to do any reading by without squinting. and literally stuffing my nose into the book. I have an LED flashlight that's brighter and easier to read by. Now if the prices of LED lights would just come down...

    It wouldn't be surprising to find that  any money  people save on their hydro bill by using CFLs  will end up going to opthamologists.

    Jeff Mathias


    Joined: Feb 19, 2009
    Posts: 121
    Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
        
        1
    Pam wrote:
    It wouldn't be surprising to find that  any money  people save on their hydro bill by using CFLs  will end up going to opthamologists.


    Or worse! Around here for the last few years water agencies have been asking people to voluntarily reduce their water usage so the company doesn't have to take any additional measures. Well some of the communities did so well conserving water that the water companies are now raising their rates because they no longer make the same profit that they were before the conservation efforts went into effect.

    Jeff


    "Study books and observe nature. When the two don't agree, throw out the books" -William A Albrecht
    "You cannot reason a man out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." - Benjamin Franklin
                                    


    Joined: Jan 24, 2011
    Posts: 49
    Location: Elmira, ny
    Well, my eyesight is about 20/200 uncorrected, 20/40 corrected, with bifocals. It's always been that way, so it can't be blamed on cfls. And yet I have no problems reading with cfl bulbs. This after spending a lot of the day working on the computer. I don't find that they flicker.

    Nor are my cfl bulbs burning out quickly. I moved in here over 4 years ago and at that time changed every single bulb for a cfl. Since then I have replaced two bulbs, each of which broke when the cats knocked the lamp over. I don't know about savings on electric costs since I didn't use incandescents here. I do save a lot of electricity by turning off the printer when I am not using it and not using the dryer so much (which is gas but uses an electric arc to light the burner).

    Nor can I buy that the government is somehow impinging on my "right" to choose to waste electricity by using incandescents. I would say that the government impinges on my rights when it makes me pay taxes so we can kill some people in a place 99% of Americans could not even find on a map. So far, it is not treason to use incandescents. Nobody's phone is being tapped for using incandescent bulbs. And I go in the store and I see lots of incandescent bulbs for sale, and you don't need any special license or to sign your name in the devil's book to get them.

    Using cfls is not going to save us. But it might make people think about changing the way they do things. That's progress.
                          


    Joined: Jun 23, 2010
    Posts: 71
    John Polk wrote:
    Energy companies could easily get people to conserve with a tiered price structure.

    If their kwh rate is 10¢, they should offer a structure such as:

    first 300 kw @ 8¢  (this would help poor customers who don't waste)
    next 300 kw @ 12¢  (you want to use more, you pay more)
    next 300 kw @ 15¢ (so now you are a waster, pay the price)
    anything above that @ 50¢  (OK, you've already shown that you don't give a shit)


    John, I had this conversation with my electricity service provider. Their answer was that they price their product in 1000 Kw blocks. So in-order to maintain their pricing structure those that use less than 1000 Kw per month pay a higher rate. Well you and I know that these guys buy their electricity by the Tera-watts and don't concern themselves with 1000 Kw blocks. It's just a way to rip off folks that are trying to conserve.
                          


    Joined: Jun 23, 2010
    Posts: 71
    This is my 2 cents. Remember it's worth everything you paid for it.

    First, we are being bombarded with information concerning energy consumption. We are being told we must cut down and be more respective of polluting our environment. That being said, CFL have their place as do the old fashion bulbs. LED lights as well as others also have their place. We can't always dictate a one lighting solution for all needs. I would hate to try and utilize CFL'S for street lights.

    The other concern I have is that those that dictate the need to conserve do little, if anything, to conserve on their end. How many have gone down the road and seen the street lights on in day time? How many companies have their lights on in their buildings when the employees aren't there? Lets talk about all the phantom energy users in your home. Many of our electronics consume energy even while they are off. So we may a save a few pennies by replacing that old light bulb with a new shiny CFL/LED/ETC but lose that cost savings (unintentionally) by our new big screen TV.

    So it's going to boil down to a plethora of things. We can compromise by changing out bulbs with more efficient ones at an acceptable cost or not. In the end it's going to take a lot more than CFL's to fix the mess we are in.

    Again just my 2 cents .....
    Burra Maluca
    Mother Tree

    Joined: Apr 03, 2010
    Posts: 5240
    Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
        
    208
    John Polk wrote:
    Energy companies could easily get people to conserve with a tiered price structure.

    If their kwh rate is 10¢, they should offer a structure such as:

    first 300 kw @ 8¢  (this would help poor customers who don't waste)
    next 300 kw @ 12¢  (you want to use more, you pay more)
    next 300 kw @ 15¢ (so now you are a waster, pay the price)
    anything above that @ 50¢  (OK, you've already shown that you don't give a shit)


    Portugal has a system a bit like this.  

    You pay a different amount per kw according to the maximum amount you choose to be able to use at one time.  So if, for instance, you only use electricity for lights, you would pay a very low rate, and probably wouldn't be able to run a washing machine or an electric heater.  And your bill would always be very low.

    The next rate would enable you to run either a heater or a washing machine, but not both.  And you would pay more per kw.

    The next rate would enable you to run a heater and a washing machine at the same time, and you would pay more again, for *every* kw, not just the extra.

    It seems a really strange system, but it means that for people on very low incomes (and there are old people living on around 90 euros a month) they can have electricity to run lights and an electric blanket and still have a very low bill.  If you try to live on the lowest rate, you soon learn to run around turning stuff off and really thinking before switching anything on.

    They also do a similar thing with water.  If you only use one cubic metre of water a month, you pay a very low amount for it.  If you use up to ten, you pay a whole lot more *per cubic meter*, including the first one!  And if you use over ten, you pay a heck of a lot more per cube.  It's not even 'pay more for the extra ones' - you get to pay more for the whole lot of them.  We usually use one cube a month and pay just a couple of euros, but the old man once went through about 20 cubes by leaving taps running and it cost us a hundred euros that month...  


    How permies.com works

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    Dale Hodgins
    pollinator

    Joined: Jul 28, 2011
    Posts: 4329
    Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
        
      65
        With 16 years in the demolition business I can assure you that generally people will not do the right thing with toxic substances. I am constantly approached by citizens hoping that I can find some secret way for them to cheat on the dumpage rules and any contractor who has ever rented a garbage bin knows that the minute you turn your back people will dump all manner of waste into it. Of the dozen or so other demolition people I know I am the only one so far as I'm aware who takes any steps to prevent mercury from getting dumped in with the regular garbage. My colleagues think it's laughable to waste time on this. There's nothing unique about my situation here in Victoria. Stupidity is a worldwide phenomena and there is zero chance that this will change anytime soon. In order protect us from ourselves toxic crap like this should not be manufactured. They absolutely will not be disposed of properly by the majority of consumers. 

        The only method of ensuring that this does not happen would be a deposit system which would be paid the day you buy the bulb and refunded in the same manner as returning a pop bottle. Of course industry would be against this or they would want to make it an insignificant amount of money. It needs to be one dollar per bulb!


    Dale's picks - These are some of my favorite threads. Greed - http://www.permies.com/t/10736/md/unbridled-greed-ambition-compatible-permaculture My garden - http://www.permies.com/t/27910/projects/Dale-Day-Garden ethics - http://www.permies.com/t/11534/permaculture/frustration-ethics Good wood bad wood http://www.permies.com/t/12206/hugelkultur/Hugelkultur-Good-wood-Bad-wood Alder - http://www.permies.com/t/10609/plants/Alder-nitrogen-fixation-native-tree Bees - http://www.permies.com/t/10917/bees/time-replace-European-honey-bee Pulling nails - http://www.permies.com/t/10249/natural-building/Removing-nails-recycled-wood-techniques
    Dale Hodgins
    pollinator

    Joined: Jul 28, 2011
    Posts: 4329
    Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
        
      65
         Update.  Yesterday I watched an of employee of AT – T electric in Victoria British Columbia toss four CFLs into the garbage. Two of them broke. This isn't theoretical, it's what happens every day with toxic substances all over this planet. This guy is a trained electrician so it's safe to assume that he is literate and has heard of mercury before.
    Mac Nova


    Joined: Jul 24, 2011
    Posts: 24
    Fire flies in jar.... done deal
    paul wheaton
    steward

    Joined: Apr 01, 2005
    Posts: 15607
    Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
        ∞
    I just stumbled upon this old thread.

    I am curious if there are any angles where I might still be wrong.

    Here are the two CFL videos I made, followed by one that recently came out from europe:







    Rick Larson


    Joined: Aug 04, 2012
    Posts: 210
    Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
    paul wheaton wrote:I just stumbled upon this old thread.

    I am curious if there are any angles where I might still be wrong.

    Here are the two CFL videos I made, followed by one that recently came out from europe:



    I think the message is right. I like you highlighting the taxpayer subsidy angle.

    But I also think incandescent bulbs use too much electricity because they give off more heat than light. This is also a problem.

    I outfit my entire house with LEDs a few years ago, but it cost $1000 back then. So the cost of LEDs are a problem too. But I had the money to buy a few bulbs a month and it is about using less electricity, not about saving money, for me.


    Soaking up information.
    paul wheaton
    steward

    Joined: Apr 01, 2005
    Posts: 15607
    Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
        ∞
    I spend $8 per per year on electricity for light. In 20 years that works out to $160. I don't think I'm going to see an ROI in 20 years.

    Plus, I find the light quality of the LED poor. And the LED is loaded with toxic gick.

    The heat that comes off the incandescent is a bonus in the winter. In the summer, I rarely turn on the lights due to natural sunlight.

     
     
    subject: Why Paul Wheaton is Wrong About CFLs
     
    cast iron skillet 49er

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