I've been trying to replace a lot of bulbs in my house with cfls, and
while they always boast of being longer lasting and more cost efficient,
I've noticed that they tend to blow out at a much higher rate than
incandescent. Would there be something in my wiring contributing to
that? Or have I just picked bad brands? In some sockets, I've found
that my insulation isn't great; could a cold breeze be shortening the
I like the idea of cfl but given how much more they cost and how
quickly they burn out in this house, it ends up being much more costly
to use them.
You may have a wiring/voltage problem in your house or neighborhood,
especially if the former incandescent bulbs tended to be short lived, but
it could equally be a bad batches of fluorescents - in other words, just bad
luck/selection. I've found really bright and long lifed ones at Home Depot,
the best ones as I recall were Philips, but some of the cheapest (around 2
bucks a bulb - forget the brand) have also been some of the best. Local
hardware stores sell the same bulbs for 7-8 bucks (dont get it).
They are all likely manufactured from the same few factories in China
and boxed differently. Quality control is chancy. Their longevity
has nothing to do with price or brand as posts in other newsgroups
conifrm. I prefer incandescent bulbs anyway as the flourescents have
a spectrum that makes my eyes tire easily.
Don't use flourescent bulbs outdoors or places where you are turning on
and off the light a lot. For example, I have regular incandescent
bulbs in my hallway lights and in one bedroom, and flourescent bulbs
elsewhere. I am saving up my bad compact flourescent bulbs to take
back to Home Depot to take advantage of the 7 year guarantee when I get
enough of them to fill up an entire package (save the packaging and
and I brought it back to HD. Went to manager of lighting department-he took
one right off the shelf ($7.97 price tag). I had receipt and original
package insert showing 7 year warranty info (he didn't even look at what I
had). Interesting to note that the replacement bulb was very much different
than the 4 pkg ones. It had a different base design, not typical of the
standard bulb--seems like more porcelain for heat protection.
There are some models suitable for most outdoor use, as long as you
don't use them for motion sensor lights. Example: Philips "Outdoor", 15
and 18 watts. These do well in cold, although can take a few to
sometimes several minutes to warm up from a cold start.
I mention more detail in:
I have the same problem. Its switching it on and off (as in bathrooms and
hallways) that will shorten the life - some will only last about a year.
That goes for all fluorescents not just compacts. Say if the rated burn life
for you compact is rated for 10,000 burn hours, much better then
incandescent, but in real life where you switch it on and off like in the
bathrooms burn life perhaps well be below 400 hours, much worse than
incandescent. Doesn't matter if its high quality Japanese lamps or low end
Chinese, burn life is about the same when its exposed to high switching
cycles. My casual observation, not scientific study.
Ones with filaments preheated by "program start" or similar circuitry
prior to full start are not affected as badly by lots of starts. True
instant start (cheaper electronic-ballasted models) and glow-switch-start
ones (the ones that usually blink a few times while starting) are hurt
more by lots of starts.
NOTE - true instant start can have a little "jump" in brightness about
1/4-1/3 second after starting, due to the filaments becoming hot enough
for proper operation after this slight delay. This jump in brightness is
sudden, and the brightness is steady at a slightly lower level for this
first roughly 1/4-1/3 second, there is no "fading" from one level to
another, and you get light the instant the switch is on. "Program start"
has a delay of a fraction of a second to a second before any light at all
and then suddenly full light, and a related more favorable starting method
has the light coming on a little more gradually (but within a second) than
I have found most Philips and Sylvania electronic-ballasted ones to be
among the better ones in this area.
- Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also keep in mind:
1. CFLs, especially ones that blink during starting or start truly
instantly and then make a distinct sharp minor jump in brightness 1/4-1/3
second later as if "shifting gears", do not do well when on-time per start
is short. This includes dollar store models in general and Lights of
America's older "Q-Lites" (having the harsh instant start method). This
also includes most with 2-pin bulbs in general, plus a few older heavier
weight screw-in models such as GE's older maybe obsolete FLB-15 and FLG-15
(These have "glow switch start" and usually blink during starting).
I would generally avoid these in refrigerators, closets, motion sensor
lights, and bathrooms that are mostly used for short trips. I would also
avoid ones having harsher starting method in any other situations where
average runtime per start is not at least several minutes.
2. CFLs don't take heat buildup as well as incandescents, and are less
able than incandescents to radiate away their heat as infrared.
Most screw-in CFLs of wattage more than 13, maybe 18 watts have
shortened life in recessecd ceiling fixtures, small enclosed fixtures and
small fixtures that open only downward (such as ceiling fan lights).
The Philips SLS 15 and 20 watt ones, especially the 15 watt one, are
better than most other screw-in models for taking heat in such fixtures.
Ones of wattage more than 23 watts are even more vulnerable to heat in
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
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