Oops. This was never about COMPACT fluorescents, just about
fluorescents. They mentioned traditional and non-traditional, and I
was thinking about this year. When I saw the date, 1994, I didn't make
full use of that info!
Neither company had any idea what was causing the problem, although
each assured me it couldn't possibly be their units. Three cable boxes
and two remotes later the problem still persisted. In a typical
incident, the cable box, apparently unhappy with the movie we were
watching, started jumping randomly from channel to channel; the remote
control had no affect on it at all.
It can't be all three boxes, I mused. Something must be interfering
with the remote's signal to the box. Or maybe it's the signal from the
cable. Everything seemed to work fine during the day, but not in the
morning or evening. What was different? Feeling a bit foolish I turned
off all the lights. To my delight, the remote worked again. Turning
the lights on one at a time narrowed the problem down to the new
energy saving fluorescent lights we had installed several months back,
in midsummer, when we weren't watching much TV.
Apparently, the new fluorescents produced a broader spectrum of light
than the standard incandescent bulbs they replaced. They seemed to be
producing an infrared signal that blinded our cable box and
occasionally mimicked the remote control's signals.
Energy efficient fluorescent lights are manufactured by many
companies. I contacted several of the leading manufacturers and all
acknowledged the problem. Though it is widespread, fluorescent light
interference with remotes is so intermittent and unpredictable that
nobody I spoke with could indicate how many homes might be affected.
"Yes, we have had some complaints," Scott Mack, a spokesman for
Philips Lighting told me. Don Lowry, Director of Engineering for
Matsushita Electronics (parent of Panasonic, Quasar, Technics) also
acknowledged that, "We have had some problems." However, Lowry added
that Matsushita feels "we have the problem well in hand in our product
line," and is working to help define standards for the industry.
Compared with the energy savings fluorescent lights can yield, remote
control interference "is a minor inconvenience,"**
Mack asserted. His
best advice was to move the lamp to a different electrical circuit
and make sure it was at least ten feet away from any equipment. When I
pointed out the impracticality of his solution, he assured me the
problem is being worked on, and Philips hoped to have a solution soon.
Unlike most webpages, this one actually has evidence of the date,
1994. !!! I don't even remember there being CF?s back then. In fact
I don't remember the whole year. So maybe this isn't a problem
anymore. Does anyone know?
It's a darn good thing he gave a date, or I'd be thinking it was in
the last year or two, the only time I've pondered cf?s.
**==> I'm as cheap as anyone, but paying extra for electricity is only
money, it's no inconcvenience. But having the station change when
someone is in the middle of an imprtant sentence can be an enormous
inconvience. I've been watching tv through a different VCR lately,
using the tuner, and it turns off after an hour for no apparent
reason. It gives about 15 seconds warning, and I'm usually in another