Flourescent bulbs at low temperatures?

There's a light on the the landing outside my back door (second floor of a three-flat) which is useful for lighting the steps when I come home in the dark. Since I must turn the light on before I leave so that it will be on when I return, I would like to save electricity by replacing the incandescent bulb with a screw-in fluorescent tube. I wonder whether those tubes are safe and effective to use at very low temperatures. I live in Chicago, where the annual low temperature is typically -15 to -20 Fahrenheit.
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On Thu, 13 Jul 2006 16:04:54 GMT, Jonathan Sachs

They are usually not a good choice in cold weather. You can start with the CFL for now and swap it out when it gets too cold to light.
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On Thu, 13 Jul 2006 12:43:50 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

That's what I do in my garage. I use the garage much more in warm weather anyhow.
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########@aol.com wrote:

Most of the CFs I see available today are rated for cold weather. Look on the packing and some will indicate either a general note that they will work in cold conditions or will list a minimum temperature.
--
Joseph Meehan

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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

In addition to what the other poster said, I would recommend looking into one of those screw-in light sensing sockets. That way it won't burn all day, only when it gets dark out.
-Nathan
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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

Found this: "Temperature Effects on Performance The ambient temperature around a CF lamp can have a significant effect on light output and lamp efficacy. The temperature of the coldest spot on the surface of the lamp is where mercury vapour will condense to liquid form, and this temperature (the "minimum lamp wall temperature") controls the vapour pressure inside the lamp. The optimum lamp wall temperature for CF lamps is generally l00F (38C). At temperatures below the optimum, mercury vapour will condense at the cold spot, reducing the number of mercury atoms available to emit UV radiation: light output drops. At temperatures above the optimum, an excess of mercury vapour is present, absorbing the UV radiation before it can reach the phosphors: light output also drops.
Low temperatures pose the greatest problems for CF lamps. Not all compact fluorescent systems are equally susceptible to low-temperature problems, but in general, as temperature drops, so does light output and efficacy. At very low temperatures (below 32F or 0C), lamp output can decline to one-third the rated value or less. It is important to note that some CF lamps will have to warm up a while before producing sufficient light under cold conditions, some may take several minutes to ignite, and some won't start at all.
For cold applications (either indoors or out), choose CF lamps and ballasts designed specifically for low-temperature operation. These lamps are usually equipped with electronic ballasts and can be enclosed in globes or recesses to prevent wind chill of the lamp. Even with these precautions, it should not be assumed that the lamp will operate at the same efficiency and produce the same amount of light as it would under more hospitable weather conditions."
at this website: http://irc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/pubs/cp/lig3_e.html
sounds like incandescent might be a better choice, though if you're worried about electricity consumption, you could look into retrofitting a motion sensor so it only turns on when you come home and walk within the sensing range (leave it switched so you can turn it off while home and avoid it going on and off all night from cats or dogs or whatever setting it off). I believe there even exist motion sensor adapters that just screw into the socket and the bulb would then screw into the adapter. No wiring, no other changes - just make sure it's rated for outdoor use.
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louie wrote:

I have done this for years, in new england,and they work, dimmer when cold, really dim at startup. Probably shorter life, although I had a flood type cf that is still alive after 5 or 6 years of use. just replaced my current porch light after IIRC 3 years, but it might be unrelated. Some of my 12-14 year old cfs are still alive
I any mildly enclosed fixture they will make enough heat to function. Out in the breeze you might want to use one of the ones with a little globe over it
hey a 60 watt light bulb on 9 extra hours every work day[60*9*250] is 135 kW of electricity a year,or 108 more than a 12 w cf, so it would seem to payoff, at my business rate, 19 bucks a year.....
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I use CF bulbs on my light fixtures outdoors. I live in SE MI. On really cold days, sometimes it takes a few seconds for the lamps to ignite and I have noticed that the light output is somewhat less. As they warm up, the light increases. My light fixtures are open at the bottom so at least some of the heat created by the bulb stays by it to help with the temperatures.
The low power consumption and long life more than compensate for any reduction in performance, IMHO.
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snipped-for-privacy@blah.com wrote:

I'll third that. I got tired of frequently noticing that one of more of the three "flame shaped" candelabra based bulbs in our pair of front door glass sided "lantern" fixtures was burned out. We're in Red Sox country BTW. The bulbs were a PIA to change, I had to sttand on a short stepladder to be able to reach down into the fixtures and do that.
I decided, "To hell with appearances.", pulled the fixtures down, removed the candelabra sockets and put one standard base socket and a CF bulb in each.
That was about seven years ago and I haven't had to change a bulb since.
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
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Go Sox
The bulbs were a PIA to change, I had to sttand on a short

they have candlabra base cfs now, bought a couple to see if I can change the damn halogens in the bathroom fixture
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Thanks for some very interesting data re: CFL bulbs.
Very infomative.
--
Jim McLaughlin

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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

That's cold, but things might not be as bad as the low temperature indicates. If you can provide a small, nearly air-tight enclosure for the bulb in cold weather, its own heat production may provide it better operating conditions than if it were exposed.
During the day, the enclosure will also provide a greenhouse effect to keep things a little warmer.
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Hi Jonathan,
The Philips Marathon line of CFLs is rated for temperatures as low as -10F (-20C). Philips offers a version that is enclosed in a clear plastic cover called, appropriately, "Outdoor"; presumably this variant would be a good choice if the bulb is used in an "open" style fixture and thus directly exposed to high winds and extremely cold temperatures. It comes in either 15 or 18 watts (roughly equivalent to 60-watt and 75-watt incandescent, respectively).
I would definitely recommend you give it a shot. If it fails to start reliably in extremely cold weather you still have two options -- one is to temporarily replace it with a standard incandescent bulb until temperatures return above -10F or, alternatively, let it run 24 hours a day (once started and sufficiently warmed, it should continue to operate without any difficulty).
Although this second option sounds wasteful, it is still likely to be the better choice if you are away eight or more hours a day. A 15-watt CFL will use 0.36 kWh over a twenty-four hour period; that's the same amount of energy consumed by a 60-watt incandescent bulb over six hour period, or a 40-watt bulb over nine hours. With a rated life of 10,000 hours (versus 1,000 hours for a regular incandescent) there's also less likelihood that bulb will be burned out when you get home. ;)
One other possibility is to replace your existing fixture with one equipped with a motion detector but the economics of doing that would be questionable. Assuming this 15-watt CFL operates an average of 10 hours each day, at $0.10/kWh, your annual operating cost is just $5.48.
Cheers, Paul
On Thu, 13 Jul 2006 16:04:54 GMT, Jonathan Sachs

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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

In spite of what several nay-sayers have posted, several companies sell CFLs that are rated to -20C or even -29C. They work just fine in winter conditions; I've used them for years. Phillips, IIRC, has them rated to -20C. I don't remember where I got the -29C lamp (well, Home Depot probably, but I don't remember the maker).
A timer switch suitable for CFLs is a good idea to minimize the amount of time the light is on. Alternatively, a light operated switch that will work with CFLs.
Mike
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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

My personal experience is that they will work, sort of. I have lights in my garage. There are two pair. I have one tungsten light and one CF in each one. That way in the winter I get light as soon as I turn on the switch and better light a short time later. When it is really cold out and about 0 F inside the garage, it takes a few minutes for the Cf's to come up to close to normal levels. Note some older ones I had and tried did not function well at all, but the new ones seen to do well in the cold.
--
Joseph Meehan

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You won't have any problem with the cold. But, you can also replace the wall switch with a timer.
S

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