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CFL brightness and longevity claims

 
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I thought many of the comments were thoughtful. They pointed out that cfls have some pros and some cons. And so do incandescants, and so do LED's.

And several of them acknowledged that if you turn the lights off more consistently, everybody wins.

Sure, there were a few dopes.

Finest regards,

troy
 
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paul wheaton wrote:
My brand new video that spends a fair bit of time on CFL brightness comparison
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gjvOOlHmsU



How about putting the video on bottom (or top) of http://www.richsoil.com/CFL-fluorescent-light-bulbs.jsp ?
Would also be interesting to see your take on the replacement LEDs being pushed more and more
 
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One thing your video seem to be ignoring is CRI or Color Rendering Index. CRI ranges from 0 to 100 and tells you how closely the light output matches sunlight in frequency spread. I discovered that replacing bulbs with a CRI of 72 with bulbs with a CRI of 82 was enough to reduce the amount of lumens needed by about half because the eye was able to use the light energy more efficiently. It also brought color out better.

On the subject of longevity, quality of manufacturing matters a lot. It the parking lot we had some old made in USA metal halide bulbs that would last 6 years, but then we also had the same bulbs made in Asia that lasted only two years. This will effect any light style you choose.

What will also affect your bulb longevity is how hard you are pushing your element. If you drop the voltage to you incandescent bulb to 90% of it's rated voltage, you will get a redder light and probably double it's life span. Same with LED lights. If the LED's are being run up near the maximum amp rating, they will burn out fairly quickly. If you run the LED's at about in the middle of their functional amperage range, then they absolutely could last 20 years.
 
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Great video Paul! Can't wait for the final results.

In some of the comments have read (here and elsewhere), I notice how people say their cfl's last for years, while yours only lasted for 15 days. I can understand their reasoning for this based on the following math:
Each cycle of the light bulb is 2.5 minutes (2 minutes 30 seconds), with two minutes being on and thirty seconds being off. In a 15 day period, there is 21,600 minutes (60 * 24 * 15).
When calculating the number of on/off cycles in 15 days (per your test), get the following: 21,600 / 2.5 = 8.640.
Assuming, in the case of a closet, an on/off cycle of once per day, the CFL bulb "should" last ~23.6 years (21,600 / 365.25 (days including leap year) = 23.6550308 ), based on your 15 day lifespan.
Likewise, if turn the bulb on/off about 5 times per day it would still last ~4.73 years (21,600 / (365.25*5) = 4.73100616), based on the 15 days
The total time on for the light (assuming it made it to 15 days, is 288 hours (15 * 24 * 0.8 (80%) = 288 ). The 80% is based on the 2.5 minute cycle, and 80% (two minutes) of that time the light was on. This is less than 3% of the rated lifespan.

Now, don't know about you, but if I got 3% of use out of a product, I wouldn't buy it again....

I was a good fan of CFL's, but since first stumbling on your article last year have pulled away from them being "good". They are ok if need to leave them on for a long time, but not mind blowing like everyone wants us to believe.

 
gardener
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I'm also thinking that the planned obsolescence is actually kicked into full steam. Back in the day when we bought the big, inconvenient florescent bulbs for out lamps, they would last a looooooong time. They were still a toxic nightmare, but we didn't think about it. Actually, I had a floor lamp that blew out incandescent bulbs once a month and this old, huge florescent bulb could take it.

So, they want you to pay big money (through subsidies) for a product that they are intentionally making die as soon as possible, despite the packaging claims and forcing you to buy them through governmental manipulation.

Yep, that's America...
 
peter dublin
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Just published, a comprehensive university study from Virginia, supporting Paul's overall stance:
Consumers are not "Irrational", and Switchover Environmental Benefits (also of other Products) are "Negligible"
http://freedomlightbulb.org/2012/08/energy-efficiency-regulations-lambasted.html
 
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so on the topic of cfl's. yes they are a scam. the light is 13 watts but that nice thick round base is a transformer just like a larger tube style fixture. Acording to my amp meter a 13 watt cfl draws 47 watts.

i have moved to using xmas lights. on sale the day after xmas about 7 bucks for a strand of fifty. they use 2.3 watts. you can get creative with wire and make fixtures however you like. for 2 bucks buy the screw in adapter for the fixture socket to become a plug. a conventional 50 led bulb is 47 bucks. almost a buck a bulb.

the other route is they make these nifty 9 led usb lamps. there about 15 bucks. then a 120v to usb converter. walla

also, cfl's are designed to stay on. those of use that are dedicated to conserving power are good at turn unnessesary lights off. sometimes certain lights in my house are only on for a moment. you will not get the 5 years advertised life from a cfl unless you leave it on. plus the mercury. proper disposal here at the recycling center is 50 cents a bulb.

i'll stick with the xmas led's.

peace gordo
 
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@Paul - what were your final results from your light test? The video mentioned you'd be presenting updated findings as the bulbs eventually wore out.
 
master steward
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It has now been 385 days. More than a year! Total on time of 1848 hours.

The standard incandescent has died. The long life incandescent (rated for 5000 hours) is still going. The LED light is still going. The last CFL is still going.



 
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And now, more test to show that CFLs are BAD for us...


...
The German scientists involved caution to keep these light bulbs "as far away as possible from the human environment." If used, they advise that you use the bulbs sparingly, in areas with good ventilation, and "definitely not in the proximity of the head," as the bulbs generate electrical smog, impacting human health.

See the original article here.
 
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R Hasting wrote:And now, more test to show that CFLs are BAD for us...

See the original article here.



Dig down, and that's an old article, referencing another article that uses such scientific language as "eco-Nazi." Not exactly what I'd call neutral journalism. Searches online for "CFL" + "cancer" all go back to the same alleged test in Germany, without secondary support nor any idea of who did the testing and why.

I'd go to more credible sources of data, which, by the way, acknowledge the risk of mercury contamination from breakage (Pubmed docs: Pubmed - mercury) LED/CFL toxic metals;

A search of medscape, interestingly, shows no documents containing the words "compact fluorescent" and "cancer."

That should tell you that no peer-reviewed (ie: scientifically valid) studies have been done on this.

EDIT: I should note there are articles out there looking at CFLs in terms of potentially causing skin cancer under extreme exposure circumstances - but that's not the same deal as we're discussing here, so I discounted them.
 
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Just watching the CFL video again... a few points come to mind.

1) Cheap ones seem to be more likely to fail (not tested, just a feeling I have. I have some more pricey daylight-colour ones, and they haven't failed as yet, but some of the cheap "give-away" type ones have)

2) The original ones, back in about 1986 or something, were rubbish. Very slow to light and took about 10 minutes to get bright. Recent, decent-quality ones are much better, more or less instant start and much faster warm-up.

3) in many applications, the lower light initially is not a big issue - there aren't many applications where you need full brightness instantly.

4) some of the research cited about effects of CFLs seems to me a bit early, certainly, they weren't on sale in the UK at that time, I recall getting one of the first Philips ones that were on sale, and I think that was 1986.

5) (this is a niche-issue) daylight colour CFLs are much more efficient than daylight-colour incandescent, which have a blue envelope and you need more power to get the same light level. I have a 30W daylight one which I use for model-making, and it is much brighter than a 100W incandescent daylight which it replaced - that gave about as much light as a regular 60w, due to the blue envelope.

Looking at the way things are going, LEDs are the light of the future, around 10:1 power vs light compared with incandescent (e.g. a 3W LED is about equivalent to 30W halogen mini-spot bulb, I have one such above the cooker) although again, cheap ones are prone to fail prematurely due to poor manufacture. I reckon in 20 years or less we won't see CFLs, just LEDs.
 
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I just watched this CFL Video.

What were the final results of the longevity test? It's been long enough now that I would think that all of the bulbs should have died.
 
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When you consider LEDs please assume dc power.
The thought of generating DC and converting it to AC only to have the bulb convert it back to DC and heat up at the same time is too much for me to handle.
Kill your inverter and go back to good old cheap and safe DC and then LEDs start to make sense. And yes get the warm white until they figure out how to filter out the blue spectrum.

On the bad side. I did see a report of the blue spectrum putting off too much radiation. I am trying to find that study now.
Perhaps we should go back to beeswax candles?

... here is a different study.
http://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/components/led-lighting/ensuring-safety-in-led-lighting-2012-11/

I don't use CFLs btw...
 
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Someone posted a question on sustainability.stackexchange.com on this topic. My answer was downvoted by the CFL fans.
 
pollinator
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I've been involved in about 20 demolitions, renovations and building moves since starting to watch this issue. So far, I haven't seen one CFL disposed of properly by anyone other than myself. I have seen dosens of broken ones and have salvaged about 100 that still worked. I expect this to become a fiasco smaller in scale than asbestos but greater than urea formaldahyde insulation. Time will tell.
 
pollinator
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Dale Hodgins : Almost all CFLs contain little Electronic Toroids, most of which could be used to make joule thief's. So the question is do you know any Hackers, who
might gladly take the CFLs off of your hands ? Big AL
 
steward
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For those wondering, here is what a Joule thief is (I had to google it).
 
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Is this test still ongoing? I'm wanting to know what will be the longest running light I figure it will be the LED.
 
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The CREE LEDs we just purchased for our projects recessed cans are rated at 50,000 hours. Considering that CREE advertises values less than what's commonly measured for CRI and Lumens per watt, they will hopefully last longer than that.
 
Brian Knight
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Unbelievable. 1 hour ago, an incandescent bulb that lights my basement stairwell burned out. I dug through my closet and found an incandescent bulb left over from my days working with a production builder (was constantly replacing bulbs in spec and model homes). This location is the perfect place for this old, wasteful bulb as it was free, rarely used, and the location benefits from instant on. Sweet I thought, its rated at 5000 hours (60w Westinghouse Commercial Service). I doubted it would be so durable but still shouldnt have to change it out ever again, which is good because its an awkward and dangerous replacement task.

It burned out in less than 30 seconds! Iam adding a CREE LED A19 to my shopping list. I couldnt make this stuff up if I tried..
 
Sean Henry
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I have been switching over to the CREE LEDs also I only have 3 right now but I use them in places that the light will be left on for longer periods of time.

I got a laser IR thermometer and noticed that one of the CFLs (mock incandescent) has a temp of 201F at the bulb and 154F and the base. An open style CFL had temps of 170F at the bulb and again 154F at the base. Then the CREE 40w the bulb as at 83F (surrounding housing was 74F) and the base ring was 147F. I did not get to check an incandescent bulb since the one I had access to was a 4" bulb that was reading only 120F. So it seems like the max temp of all lights are about the same but the area that it gives it off from just changes.

I found that surprising I would have figured that the led would have had a lower max temp. (The led was in a housing about 4x larger than the light and the CFLs are open air.) I will have to do more testing in a controlled setting to see if I get the same results.
 
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I have had it with CFL`s , even the expensive ones don't last as long as the manufacturers claim they do.
a year and a half ago i bought 6 new GE 13Watt CFL bulbs (package claimed 5 year life span) to put in my living space when i added new fixtures , in the last week 5 of the 6 have failed ( 2 at the same time, While i was watching them ).
If i didn't believe in planned obsolescence i would be a believer now LOL. these like all the lights in my place run on a whole house UPS so i know a power surge didn't ruin them. they are all on the same switch so all of them had exactly the same number of hours on them and the other 4 lights that were on that same switch were the cheap Chinese 3 Watt Led lights and they are still going strong, all run 4-6 hours every day.
switched the CFL`s to 9 Watt LED today , we will see how long they last under the same usage.

 
Randy Voss
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I almost forgot , something i noticed when i took the picture of the bulb.
AmpsXvolts=Watts (at least that was the way i had learned it ) the side of the bulb clearly states 120V 200Ma which is 24 Watts not 13 Watts , what kinda math are they using i wonder??
 
Sean Henry
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I believe (did not research since I'm trying to leave work) that the 200ma is the max draw(warm up time) so at max power it is 24w then when it has settled it should be closer to 13w or about 100ma.

I found this but did not get to read pase the first post http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?362134-Wattage-Rating-Confusion
 
Randy Voss
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AHH , that makes sense. i remember that my high pressure sodium lights say 2.5A on start up and 1.2A running, that would also mean that the more a CFL is switched on and off the more power it will use if it is turned on and off a lot (like a busy bathroom) verses just leaving it on all the time (in theory)
 
Dale Hodgins
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I was at Home Depot today. The LEDs were given front center display space and there were 50 different choices. I think the market is sorting this mess out. I talked to a salesman and was careful to not reveal my position. He steered me toward LED and had nothing good to say about CFLs.

I like Randy's signature in the post above this one. --- I Visited Permies.Com Today and learned something New
 
Randy Voss
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Thanks Dale, the Led Technology is moving forwards quickly and the costs are rapidly coming down the 7 watt leds that i got from eBay are what i had hoped for, 7 watt LED Link.
I am going to get some of the 9 watt to try out as well, the 7 watt were brighter than i thought they would be and cost 4.50 ea when i ordered 3 at a time (drops to 3.39 if 5 are ordered) and they were shipped from the US. , i had mine in 3 days from California .



Hope that helps anyone who is looking for a cheaper led solution. don't get the cool white bulbs, they still have too much blue tint to them to be good in living areas .
 
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Saw the video on Mythbusters and the Video on Longevity (from 2011), and was wondering about the LED light bulb and the Timer setup.

Do you have the Hours > Longevity completed in a table yet, or is the LED still blink(ing) strong after 2+ years.

The reason I ask, is I posed the same questions to Philips ConsumerService, GE Consumer Service, and to Feit.

Here in Canada, they have implemented the "Energy Efficiency regulations" , since 2006, and the former incandescent Standard bulb of 100, 60, and 75 are no longer imported. The domestic factories that used to exist for manufacturing are converted to container warehouses, where the imported stuff gets stored until demand warrants purchase of new lamps.

There are still bulbs being made in Canada though, the Factory in between Montreal and Quebec-City is making Induction Lighting tubes for Sylvania, and GE still has a factory in Oakville, Ontario.

The factory that used to make Sylvania bulbs in New York state closed, and they are now sourced from the factory in Mexico.

Has anyone had a look at the contacts or on-off switches after you have been using CFLs for a while?

From my electronics experience, ohms law tells me that the current wants to keep on flowing as the switch is opened, and as the contacts start to come apart, the 100 to 250 mA (milli-amperes) tries to continue flowing, and produces a voltage spike in the range to 1- to 10 Kilo-Volts, until the arc is extinguished with the air , and the current stops flowing.

This tends to pit the contact points, as the arc takes the metal and vapourizes a small hole where the arc is sourced from.

Has your set of relays have any Voltage suppressing Devices across the contacts (in parrallel to the contacts) to protect the relays from the voltage arcing?

Sincerely,

TerrificInTahoma
 
paul wheaton
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short, quick answer for now: the experiment is still going. The same three are still in the running.
 
steward
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Supposedly, MIT is re-working the incandescent to be more energy efficient - without the toxins associated with CFLs and LEDs and with a better light spectrum.

Here's the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12093545/Return-of-incandescent-light-bulbs-as-MIT-makes-them-more-efficient-than-LEDs.html.



(Photo from said article.)
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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And here is the news straight from MIT! http://news.mit.edu/2016/nanophotonic-incandescent-light-bulbs-0111

The technology involved has potential for many other applications besides light bulbs, Soljačić says. The same approach could “have dramatic implications” for the performance of energy-conversion schemes such as thermo-photovoltaics. In a thermo-photovoltaic device, heat from an external source (chemical, solar, etc.) makes a material glow, causing it to emit light that is converted into electricity by a photovoltaic absorber.



 
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http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2016/02/01/ge_will_phase_out_cfl_light_bulbs_in_favor_of_led.html

It’s the Beginning of the End for CFL Bulbs

In 2008, Brendan Koerner wrote on Slate, "I'm constantly being told that the simplest way to improve my green cred is to start using compact fluorescent lights." Back then it was true. CFLs were the first mainstream, energy efficient alternative to incandescent light bulbs, but they were known for giving off harsh, unattractive light.

Today CFLs have peaked and begun to decline because of competition from light-emitting diode alternatives. LED bulbs give off a warmer light, have fallen in price to rival CFLs, and are even more energy efficient. And now the decline of CFLs in the United States is receiving a full-blown nail in the coffin: On Monday, GE announced that it will cease to manufacture CFLs by the end of 2016.


yeah!!!
 
paul wheaton
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I smell a rat.

I'm not sure if it's already in this thread, but I would like to direct attention to my YouTube video about Mr stinky pants.

I suspect that CFLs without subsidies would cost the consumer about $12 per unit. And due to redundant subsidies, I think the manufacturers may have been receiving $20 to $40 per unit.

I think that the LED equivalent are arriving and their cost is something around the neighborhood of $12 per unit, but the light bulb companies have optimized their subsidy game so that they might be receiving $40 to $60 per unit.

From the same video is a reference to the Phoebus scam.

I still think that the highest quality of light will come from incandescent. And I think that wise use of incandescent will trump poor use of LED.

I can imagine an optimal combination of LED and incandescent. But for my own home I would not want to eliminate the incandescent. I think incandescent is best for reading or long term work. LED is best for looking in the closet, or lighting areas of the home that you will be in for a very short time.

And when I say incandescent I mean long life incandescent.

And, as always, this is merely a steaming heap of my opinion.
 
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I like LED lights. The white light given off by these seems to appear brighter to me than the yellow from incandescent.
I switched all the lights here to CFL many years ago. Wasn't impressed. You have to run those lights for a while before they reach their rated brightness.
The colder the air temperature, the longer that takes. In fact, I found a CFL will not turn on at all outside my back door in winter.

LED's, though, will turn on no matter what the temperature. They also show the minutest energy drain through to light switch. It shows up as a very faint glow.
 
paul wheaton
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The last cfl "died" today - day 2344.  That bulb had been on, supposedly, for 11,200 hours.  But, I gotta tell ya:  on day 31 that bulb was on it's death bed.  It is as if in the middle of the night on day 31 somebody switched the bulb.  The fact that the bulb made it this long seems like shenanigans to me.   But I am reporting it's official death - even though I am super suspicious.

The long life incandescent (rated for 5000 hours) is still going. The led light is still going.

 
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