CFL questions

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Hi Lee,

It depends on the bulb. Many CFL's won't last long if mounted upside down or in an enclosed fixture. I installed some in our enclosed ceiling lights and they only lasted about a month before burning out.
However, in recent years, I have been buying inexpensive "N:Vision" CFL bulbs at Home Depot (made in China of course) that work fine in our enclosed fixtures. I also use them upside down in our outdoor porch lights with no problems.
Also, you may want to look into LED lights for your recessed ceiling lights.

I don't know about X-10, but my CFL's work fine with our "Insteon" relay switches (just on/off, no dimming). The Insteon switches recognize X-10 codes, but have been a lot more reliable for us.

We don't have lights in our ceiling fan, so can't help with that one. I think the vibration would be a bigger problem than anything. As for the brighter bulb, I routinely install "75 watt equivalent" CFL bulbs in fixtures rated for 60 watts. They draw far less energy than the original 60 watts, and don't produce anywhere near the heat of a 60 watt bulb.

We don't have any touch lamps, but I would assume you would need CFL's designed for dimming.
Like you, I have replaced most bulbs in our house with CFL's. The exceptions are fixtures with exposed bulbs (dining and kitchen pendant lights), or rooms we rarely turn lights on (hallway, laundry, etc.). I would really like to install CFL's or LED's in our living room, but they are all wall sconces with exposed bulbs on a remote controlled dimmer. So far I haven't found an "attractive" CFL that supports electronic dimmers.
Anthony
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wrote:

I once used some Sylvania CFLs in an enclosed fixture. The package said (yes, I read it before using!) not to use the bulb in an "enclosed recessed fixture", which I took to mean both recessed (and therefore insulated) and enclosed.
After a few months, the base melted down. I contacted Sylvania, talked with someone who requested that I mail in the bulb for evaluation (but not feedback), and I did. Later I corresponded by email with someone else who said I should not use the bulb in an enclosed fixture. I asked several times about the conflict between that advice and the package instructions, and never got an answer.
I quit using Sylvania CFLs.
Like another poster, I've found the HD n-vision (I think they changed the name recently) to be reliable.

The rating is to protect the fixture from overheating AND the fixture's wiring from overload. Thus you use the actual power (watts), not the light output (lumens or incandescent W equivalent) to judge whether you can use the bulb.
However, related to the question about recessed fixtures, note that CFLs are more sensitive to heat than incandescents, so if the fixture is enclosed, it's possible for the CFL to overheat where an incandescent would be OK (albeit at a higher temperature), although the fixture itself would be OK.
Philosophically, this is similar to the fact that your circuit breakers are there to protect the wiring, not to protect you from electrical shock. The fixture rating protects the fixture and wiring, not the bulb.
Edward
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<I snip to here>

That's not perfectly true.
CFLs are more efficient at producing non-radiant heat than incandescents are. Incandescents produce a lot of infrared, most of which escapes the fixture.
In one experiment I tried, a 42 warr CFL heated a fixture to a slightly higher temperature than a 60 watt incandescent did. So, CFLs of more than 23 watts may overheat a fixture rated for maximum 40 watt incandescent.
Meanwhile, CFLs over 18 watts can overheat themselves in ceiling fan fixtures unless they are rated for such fixtures, small enclosed fixtures or recessed ceiling fixtures. I have seen this happen. Personally, I do not like putting CFLs over 13 watts in ceiling fan fixtures unless they are rated for such fixtures or recessed ceiling fixtures or smal enclosed fixtures.

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On Tue, 28 Sep 2010 23:47:44 +0000, Don Klipstein wrote:

Hey there, guess you didn't read my post about the 4 100 watt equivalent CFls two of which hang upside down completely enclosed outdoors that run from dusk to dawn year-round. The other two are outdoors in a motion fixture and hang at a 45 degree upside down. One of the enclosed failed after 2 years. I opened it up and replaced the main filter cap and two series filament caps and it was repaired. Problem with heating the base to 60c when upside down is cheap capacitors rated at 60c or under. More expensive CFLs or those rated to operate upside down would have components rated at or over 80c. At least that's how I see it in other electronics subject to high power heat dissipation.
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On 9/29/2010 8:36 AM, A. Baum wrote:

Is this a specification I'd find on the packaging? I've been trying to read packages, but don't remember seeing that mentioned. Actually I also couldn't find any instructions re base up/down on the packages, although I'll admit that the bifocals don't quite cut some of that small print!
And bottom line - are we talking about the bulb just failing from the heat or is it actually dangerous to have them upside down, as in fire?
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On 10/1/2010 5:21 PM, Lee B wrote:

they work fine in any position. Just put 'em in and forget it.
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
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On Fri, 01 Oct 2010 17:31:00 -0500, Steve Barker

That may be true for some. I bought five CFL bulbs, 49 cents each for a test run.
Two in the garage door opener, horizontal / plenty of vibration, etc., and they still work fine.
One I put in the garage ceiling ceramic socket, upside down and it failed in a few months. By fail I mean it was only half as bright. I've not yet tried that bulb again in a table lamp. It may work again, but upside down it had problems illuminating brightly after awhile.
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On 9/26/2010 9:45 AM, Lee B wrote:

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who responded... I knew I was asking on the right group! (And I'm replying to myself because I didn't know which of the helpful and informative replies to tack this onto without slighting anyone).
Two clarifications: the ceiling fan lights - what makes them tricky is that they have a funky sized base, somewhere between candelabra and "normal" sized. I actually did see them CFL-icized online, but since I can still buy the incandescent ones locally I'll stick with that for now. On the enclosed light, it's one of those 1950's types of hallway ceiling lights, with the tacky little metal grill covering it. I'm guessing it's metal inside although I haven't looked, but that's what they were in my old house. (You can tell I don't use it too often since I haven't yet been motivated to drag out the ladder).
I am bummed about the touch lamps, since I have several of them. In fact I was considering buying another pair recently. Home Depot has a well mounted one that sounded handy. Glad I thought to ask about that! Maybe I'll become one of those people who hoards bulbs, LOL.
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wrote:

I bought some candelabra base ones at Home Depot. They seem to be working fine.
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