Compact Florescent Light Bulb Guide

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There are zillion new CFLs around and it is so confusing. “Popular Mechanics”:http://www.popularmechanics.com/home_journal/home_improvement/4215199.html did a review of them that seems to be the only up to date one. Going to Loews was so confusing. They cost between $1-$12 each and the lifetimes, colors and so forth seem so different. Here’s a quick summary:

* CFLs use 70% less electricity than traditional incandescents. That is a huge savings not to mention important for the environment. They also last much longer so its a pure win from a consumer point of view. No reason not to switch now.
* Color. The old florescents were very blue and ugly. These have fixed so that soft white is 2700K and daylight is 3400K so it much more like a good color and not the high temperature, deep blues of old florescents. So most folks will like the soft white which is very red.
* Disposal. You do have to dispose of these properly since they have mercury. You can take them to Ikea at no charge to recycle. This shouldn’t be too often as these things last 8-12,000 hours or 3x longer than conventional bulbs
* LEDs. The long term future are LEDs, but these are expensive at $75 each, but they are even smaller and more power efficient.
* “Cold Cathode”:http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/cold-cathode-fluorescent-bulbs-live-long-prosper-stay-cool-236360.php is the latest technology. Cold cathode are easy to dim and they are much long life, but the main issue is that that they are not too bright. A 5 watt produceds only about 25 watts. So a CCFL products 40 lumens per watt, ordinary CFL produce 80 lumens per watt, halogen are at 20 lumens per watt. As a rough aside, an ordinary incandescent products about 11 lumens per watt. So an 8 watt CCFL products about 300 lumens which is in turn like a 30 watt traditional bulb. Use them when you don’t need lots of power but want something dimmable and they last up to 18000 hours (that is about 18 years, most lighting guys assume you use 1000 hours per year or about 3 hours a day).

There are a blizzard of different bulbs and sizes. The main thing is to get something that is small.

“Energystar”:http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls has a whole guide to CFLs that helps you through the unusual shapes and sizes. They have an “Excel spreadsheet”:http://www.energystar.gov/ia/products/prod_lists/fixtures_prod_list.xls of every CFL that are approved.

“1000Bulbs”:http://1000bulbs.com seems to be the only place I can find with the huge selection that a modern house needs including:

!http://www.1000bulbs.com/PAR30-Dimmable-Reflectors/ these are so common in kitchens these days. You have a dimmer and then a can up there the main issues are that if you turn it off in less than five minutes, you really reduce the life of the bulb. You need to leave it on for a while. So this is great for kitchens. Neptun makes a bulb 93019-ADIM that seems perfect It is 19 watts, 8000 hours, 2850K warm white, equivalent of 60 watts and comes in cases of 12. They are $13 each compared with $3 or for incandescent. No reviews on the Neptun. The main issue is that the Neptun is quite a bit longer at 5.125″ vs. the standard PAR-30 which is 3.5″. So, this really works as a replacement for the PAR-30 long neck and not regular cans.

http://www.1000bulbs.com/3-Way-CFL/ There are so many lights that are three-way and you need one that is small enough to fit the harp around the light. From Bartell Drug’s I got a $5 Sylvania, while 1000 Bulbs ahs for $12 a 50/100/150 watt equivalent with 10,000 hours and it is small 5.375inx 2.75in diameter.

http://www.1000bulbs.com/Small-Dimmable-Fluorescents/ these are like regular incandescents but are dimmable. Good for the older cans that take regular incandescents. There are two kinds, one have a sleeve over it to make it look nicer and other which is a raw bulb. The Neptun 61916-ADIM is a good example, 16 watts (70 watt equivalent), 2750K warm white, 8000 hours. Main issue is that at startup you have to burn in for an hour before dimming.

“Cold Cathode”:http://www.1000bulbs.com/Litetronics-Microbrite/ Kind of amazing. These are the narrow base decoratives that are everywhere. Expensive, but they will last 25000 hours if they are so called cold cathode. The main drawback is that they aren’t bright, but that doesn’t matter for decorative. These come in narrow base and run at 30 watt equivalents.

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