Price of Light Bulbs

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I highly recommend CFLs for many reasons -- long life, cool operation and significant energy savings -- but I'll be the first to admit the quality of light, albeit good, just isn't the same. In terms of colour rendering and overall appearance, it's pretty hard to beat halogen.
I think my primary problem with CFLs is that the light is, by nature, very diffuse, similar to that of a "soft white" incandescent and I prefer the "pop" and "sparkle" of a clear (as opposed to frosted or coated) incandescent. But as in most things in life, there are trade-offs and this is no different. And, as a rule, we humans are pretty adaptable, so while our initial reaction may not be totally positive, after a few days any shortcomings are largely forgotten.
So my advice would be to stick with a good name brand and pay close attention to the product label. I find a 3,000K colour temperature works best for me (2,700K is a little "too warm" for my liking and anything above 3,500K is simply "too cold"). Look for a high CRI rating (colour rendering index). Most CFLs fall in the range of 82, but some of the cheaper, off-brands come in much lower (they use older, less expensive "halo" phosphors); avoid them altogether. A few have CRIs of 84, 85 or 86, and I'll gladly pay extra for these products because I consider it worthwhile.
Cheers, Paul
wrote:

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in part:

I would beware that CRI claimed slightly higher than 82 I would consider likely to be dependent on "same active ingredients" as T8 fluorescent lamps that have achieved same color rendering index. The difference - the narrower tubing enhances the mechanisms that produce the spiky mercury spectrum and to a slight extent supresses the phosphor output due to supressing the shortwave UV wavelengths of mercury best-favored by tubing 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter.
Bottom line - if claimed color rendering index of a compact fluorescent exceeds 82 but does not exceed 86, I would discount to 82 until I see a spectrum giving evidence otherwise.
If claimed color rendering index is so high as to be more like 90-plus, then I give some chance of truth - especially if the lumens are on the low side - that allows "broad spectrum" to compute, although my experience is that this is usually not the story, not even in a majority of cases when "full spectrum" is claimed of compact fluorescents. But I surely like most fluorescent lighting with color rendering index of 82, since the color distortions of triphosphor fluorescent with CRI in the low-mid 80's tend to be mostly in the direction of "colors more vivid". CRI of 90-plus I have found to have mostly color distortions in the opposite direction (duller especially with reds, pinks, oranges and greens) even though milder than with old-tech fluorescents distorting in that bad direction and worse with CRI often 62 or 53!
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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Hi Don,
You are one of the most knowledgeable people I know in the area of lighting and I've probably gained more useful information from reading your posts than any other source (and from those of Victor too). However, you did say one thing that puzzles me.... if I understood this correctly, in one of the messages related to this thread, you said there are no Energy Star rated CFLs with a 3,500K or higher colour temperature.
I bought twelve 3,500K 23 watt PAR38 CFLs for my kitchen and although I have long since disposed of the packaging, I was certain they were, in fact, Energy Star certified. I just checked the manufacturer's web site (Standard Pro) and I do see the Energy Star logo is clearly printed on the product literature and on the picture of the lamp carton.
See: http://www.standardpro.com/Sheets/PDF/185_58_476_STD_CFL_PAR38_Jan_31_06_e.pdf
This logo is also shown on their 4,100K and 5,000K variants (I believe all are rebranded MaxLite products).
BTW, I selected this product because the stated CRI is 85 and because they have a flat, hard glass lense identical to that of a standard halogen PAR (as opposed to the soft glass or plastic construction of most CFL floods). I'm very pleased with this product, although I swear the colour temperature is higher ... 4,100K, if not more.
During the heating season, I use 100 watt halogen HIR PAR38s, but during the off-months (April through September), I switch over to these CFLs and save a total of 924 watts.
Cheers, Paul
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wrote:

This is by the manufacturer, and since I see the "Energy Star" logo on that page my asumption is that some of their products meet the "Energy Star standard" and they want you to think that all do.

Looks like I might need to get corrected here - I checked this out and got:
http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/product_specs/program_reqs/ progreqsmanufcfl.pdf
(split into two lines)
If the color temperature (more correctly "correlated color temperature") is outside the range of 2700-3000, then the product/packaging must make a statement of color temperature and of color and intended use, and I see spirit even if not letter in that rule that such statements need to make it clear that the color is "not a usual CFL color" (my words) and should make clear what the color is as best understandable by consumers.
It appears to me that acceptable is "4100K Cool White" or "5000K Cool Daylight Color" or "5000K pure white cool color" or "6500K Cool Daylight Color" or "3500K warm white but more white" and the like.

I suspect the color of the bare bulb in free air at 25 degrees C without the PAR around it may be closer to 3500, and in a hotter environment there is more mercury vapor in the tubing and you get a color shift. I wonder if the manufacturer's marketing department is even aware of this color shift.

- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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Hi Don,
OK, glad to hear that is, in fact, the case. I just examined one of the bulbs and can confirm the Energy Star logo is printed on the base and I'm almost certain it is also printed on the outer packaging.
When the bulbs are first turned on, the colour is a warm pinkish tone, but within a minute or so, it is considerably cooler; to my eyes, it appears to be 4,100 K.
I bought nine more of their 3,000 K CFLs for other parts of my home (office, upper hallway and master bedroom). Compared to the 4 ft. GE SPX30 tubes that are next to these lamps, I would say the colour is in the range of 3,500 K.
I'm guessing there might have been a mix-up in the packaging but, as you say, it could also be related to the operating temperature.
It's interesting to compare these CFLs to the Philips MasterColour self-ballasted ceramic metal halide PAR38 lamp. The Philips lamp has a colour temperature of 3,000 K and a CRI of 87. Side-by-side, you can clearly see it is much richer in the reds and purples. I ***really*** like this lamp a lot, but I'm afraid the price is out of my league (this one was kindly "loaned" to me last summer by a local supplier who has always taken very good care of me).
Cheers, Paul
On Tue, 11 Apr 2006 06:19:35 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@manx.misty.com (Don Klipstein) wrote:

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Gammon wrote in part:

Heat output is only reduced by a factor of 4 and that I find to be a bit on the optimistic side - not a factor of 10! Oh yes, the light produced in a home mostly does become heat in the home! Figure mostly 97 to 99.99 percent of electrical energy going into a lightbulb becoming heat materializing in the home! Compact fluorescents are only 20 to optimistically 25% efficient at producing light, although with a spectrum favorable to human photopic vision and can be 4 times more efficacious that way than incandescents (5-7% efficient and with a somewhat less luminously-efficacious spectrum) - but that means 75-80% efficient as heaters in addition to the light that does not make it out the windows!
I surely see the good points of compact fluorescents, but I also see a lot of resistance to them with a significant portion of that resistance due to failure to meet some exaggerated claims! I surely see that the truth and nothing more optimistic than the truth is good enough to sell compact fluorescents! Customers that are not disappointed will be repeat customers and pass on good word of mouth!
I surely think that sales of 23 watt compact fluorescents will increase if they are advertised as meeting/exceeding 75 watt incandescent and 100 watt extended-life incandescent as opposed to being often found half a step short of the 1710-or-so lumens of a "usual" 100 watt incandescent!
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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Don Klipstein wrote:

the nominal 1710 of 100W incandescent and their 25W Mini CF is rated for 1800 initial lumens.
I am picking the 15W for SIZE. i have fixtures that I want to put a brighter lamp into, but lamp length cannot exceed 5 inches.
But even in incandescents, there is lots of variance in light output between brands, and models of the same manufacturer. Buyer beware, read the labels CAREFULLY!! Most of us only pay attention to the wattage rating when we need to be looking at Light Output!!!
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The "A19" bulbs - the "usual size" 25, 40, 60, 75 and 100 watt ones - are made in much higher volume on full-time dedicated highly automated high volume production lines. Did you ever notice that these sizes not only cost less than higher wattage bulbs of that basic shape, but also cost less than 15 watt ones of that basic shape and 7.5 watt ones of the same base size? Or that 4-foot fluorescents (32 watt T8 as well as 34 and 40 watt T12) cost less than ones of any other size?
And, 25-100 watt ones sell from shelf space that has a higher turnover - lower cost related to square footage of space to be displayed on - not even counting that 150 watt ones not only sell more slowly at any price, but also take up more display space. But I don't think this is as big a reason as that they don't get made by a highly automated high volume production line that works full time and makes a truckload of packaged lightbulbs with man-hours perhaps few enough to count on one hand!
If you want an idea as to how automated the manufacturing and packaging is: Look at the packages for countries of manufacture! 25-100 watt A10 lightbulbs of "Big 3" brands as well as supermarket store brands of same hour life expectancy and same lumen light output are made in the USA and Canada! 4-foot fluorescents are made in USA, Canada and Europe! 7.5 watt G10 lightbulbs and 7 and 4 watt C7 nightlight bulbs are made in China, but Sylvania 100 watt lightbulbs selling at Lowes for 50 or 95 cents per 4-pack are made in USA!
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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Ok, I am backing away somewhat
Most 6400Ks have been dropped to 5000K for my CFL order tomorrow or Wednesday
Linear is 4100 as that is the highest offered
CFLs 4100K or 5000K depending on model
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Robert Gammon wrote:

Bought an el cheapo LoA 64K at walmart today just to try it out for a couple of days before making my decision.
Initial reaction is favorable.
While in this relatively new Walmart today, noticed they are using 5K T8 4 foot lamps over the open refrigerated foods area, and the high lamps appeared to be the same. Difficult to get close enough to the lamps to read the label accurately, but I can almost swear that I could see 5000K. It was a GE lamp.
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wrote:

I carry cheap fold-up binoculars in my car. Mostly for reading signs that I can't read otherwise, and seeing other things without getting out of the car. Just a thought.
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