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LJWorld.com weblogs Common cents

CFL bulbs not what they are touted to be?

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Compact fluorescent light bulbs have been touted as more energy efficient than the standard incandescent bulbs most people use. But CFLs are not suitable for many common uses, according to a recent report by the National Center for Policy Analysis. The NCPA has decided CFLs are more trouble than they are worth.The report found that many CFLs don’t come close to lasting the 10,000 hours they are supposed to last. The other problem is breakage. CFLs contain a small amount of toxic mercury, which can cause problems when a bulb breaks. Because of the mercury the bulbs also can cause environmental damage once tossed into a landfill.New government efficiency standards will require manufacturers by 2012 to produce bulbs that use less energy per unit of light, which is a requirement that can only be fulfilled by CFLs. NCPA opposes banning incandescent bulbs.On its Web site, NCPA.org, NCPA describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a goal of solving problems by developing and promoting innovative, market-driven solutions as alternatives to government regulation and control.Last October I wrote a story for the Journal-World about interviews I did with Lawrence people who lived through the Great Depression. They are in their 80s and 90s now, but their memories of those dark, troubled economic times were still very strong. Since the story appeared I’ve had calls from others who have similar memories.If you want to learn more about the depression era, there is plenty of information on the Internet, and one Web site that is drawing a lot of attention right now was set up by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.The site has a video collection of people talking about their family experiences during the Depression. According to a news release, the site was set up in 2007 but more tools and resources will be added to it in the coming months.

Comments

Phillbert 5 years, 7 months ago

This "non-profit, non-partisan organization" is a conservative foundation that's partially funded by ExxonMobil and doesn't believe global warming is real.http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=55http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/national-center-policy-analysis

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LogicMan 5 years, 7 months ago

"contain a small amount of toxic mercury"As compared to ... safe mercury?All the fluorescent lights you've been using for the last 40 years contain mercury. As does coal that's being burned to power lights, etc. Reducing electricity use, and recycling fluorescent lights properly (CFLs at Home Depot for free), reduces the amount of mercury in our environment.

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Chris Ogle 5 years, 7 months ago

CFLs may not last 10,000 hours, but they sure beat the competition. I am sold on them.

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stuckinthemiddle 5 years, 7 months ago

we switched all our bulbs (about 40 in all) to CFL bulbs about 2 years ago and in that time we've only had 1 single bulb burn outbefore switching I estimate that we had to replace nearly every bulb on average, 3 times a yearat least for us they have lasted far better than the old bulbsI like em...

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

Mail all your burned out toxic bulbs to Al Gore.

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rcr 5 years, 7 months ago

Mercury Risk in CFLs: The FactsJuly 31, 2007 | By John Balbus, M.D., is Chief Health Officer at Environmental Defense.What if you drop a CFL and it breaks? How much trouble are you in?Despite some alarming news reports, you don't have much to worry about. If a CFL breaks, some of the mercury that's contained in the bulb will evaporate into the air. How much? It's hard to be certain, but one study [PDF] looking at long tubular fluorescent bulbs found that over a two week period, only 17 to 40 percent of the mercury in the bulb evaporated. The rest remained stuck in the bulb. Roughly one-third of the mercury that evaporated did so in the first eight hours after the breakage; the rest seeped out slowly over the remainder of the study period.The amount of mercury in a CFL is very small, only 4-5 milligrams. This is almost one thousand times less than what was in mercury thermometers! So, let's assume that what happens with CFLs is comparable to what happens with tubular fluorescents. If a bulb breaks, only 0.67 milligrams of mercury (one-third of 40 percent of 5 milligrams) might become airborne in the room during the first eight hours, and only a fraction of that would be breathed in. In short, the exposure from breaking a compact fluorescent bulb is in about the same range as the exposure from eating a can or two of tuna fish. (See our list of "Best and Worst Seafood Choices" for more on mercury in fish.)Remove children and pets from the room, and then clean up the broken bulb as quickly as possible. First, increase the ventilation in the room where the bulb broke by opening windows and doors. Then use index cards or other stiff paper to pick up the broken pieces of glass and any visible mercury. Don't use your bare hands, and don't use a vacuum cleaner because this can disperse the mercury more widely. Once you've gotten up the big pieces, use something sticky like duct tape to get up smaller pieces and dust. To be extra safe, stay out of the area for a few hours to let any remaining mercury disperse.So what does mercury poisoning do to you, anyway? The symptoms are primarily neurological. A low level exposure (like if you broke a dozen CFLs in your house every day for a couple of weeks) would cause insidious symptoms - fatigue, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and perhaps some mild clumsiness. Higher exposures could give tremors, and mood or emotional disturbances. But this is never going to happen from dropping one CFL!And if despite your best efforts the bulbs end up breaking in a landfill, using CFLs should still cause a net decrease in mercury in the environment. Why? Because they so dramatically reduce energy use, and coal-generated electricity releases much more mercury than a CFL ever could.Read the full article at http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2007/07/31/cfl_mercury-2gclid=CKCYyvrBjpgCFSIgDQod4FEzDA

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Chris Ogle 5 years, 7 months ago

Hey snappy, will Al come and get em. I can't afford the postage, and I heard he has a spare plane.

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nobody1793 5 years, 7 months ago

Doesn't Home Depot collect old cfl bulbs?

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Left_handed 5 years, 7 months ago

Philbert,If someone doesn't believe in global warming it means that they can think for themselves instead of following the environmentalist movement wackos like a lemming. What's so bad about that?

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gccs14r 5 years, 7 months ago

CFLs have a slow rise time, so if you need instant full light, such as for a motion-sensitive outdoor security light, you'll have to stick with incandescent. Otherwise, just know that the light will reach full brightness in a few minutes. In one four-bulb fixture (160W total), I left one incandescent in place and put in three CFLs. That left me with an instant 40W of light, and full brightness after a couple of minutes, with a total draw of only 49W. I have tiny electric bills now.

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tir 5 years, 7 months ago

I've replaced almost all of my regular bulbs with CFLs. Two have died so far--neither was "broken" and they hadn't been subjected to abuse--they just quit working. I had thought these things were supposed to last longer than regular bulbs, but in fact these two blew out faster. They were among the first ones I bought, and were bigger in size than the others. I got them at Home Depot. Unfortunately I did not save the packaging, so I don't know if I could have gotten a refund. Live and learn, I guess.

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Phillbert 5 years, 7 months ago

Left_handed,I absolutely think you should think for yourself. For example, just like with global warming, virtually all of the world's scientists say anti-freeze is poisonous. But that doesn't mean you can't "think for yourself" and drink it.

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Ronda Miller 5 years, 7 months ago

I have to agree with tir...I have tried them on several occasions over the years and have purchased them at different locations as well as used them in different areas. I have had horrible luck with them. They burn out much faster than regular bulbs I have used and cost way more. What's up with that?

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Paul Decelles 5 years, 7 months ago

I use CFL's in my house and they work great. But many will not last 10,000 hours. I suspect this figure is meant to be an average. The relevant question for the consumer is not how long the average bulb will last, but rather what is the chance the bulb will burn out in say within a year. I do the same thing that gccs14r does in terms of mixing bulbs in my bathroom vanity light. Also some people complain about the quality of the light CFL's produce but you can a variety of warm and cool colored CFL's and I mix those together to get the quality of light I want.

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jayhawks71 5 years, 7 months ago

"As compared to … safe mercury?"Well there are different types of mercury used, and the body rids itself of them at different rates. So, perhaps there is no "safe mercury" but there are differences in ethyl mercury and methyl mercury, with ethyl being the "safer" of the two.

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chzypoof1 5 years, 7 months ago

Philbert - You are absolutely right, we CAN still think for ourselves. We also can go look at objective scientific data that shows that the earth is cooling not warming. Scientists are just as guilty as anyone else as being sheep and following what someone else said 15 years ago.Our country is what it is because of sheeple like you perpetuating the status quo.oh yeah, and CFL's last longer, but COULD cause problems with lots of mercury down the line....poof

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Phillbert 5 years, 7 months ago

Keep on drinking that Prestone!

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chzypoof1 5 years, 7 months ago

Very intelligent response. Go back to watching American Idol......suits you better....poof

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myvotecounts 5 years, 7 months ago

I switched to CFL bulbs over a year ago. The only place they didn't perform well was with a light sensing on-off switch. That one CFL bulb burned out very quickly--just like the package said it would. But I had to find out for myself. Other than that, I quickly got used to the momentary delay when they turn on, and the slightly different color of light they emit. I'll stick with 'em.

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RedwoodCoast 5 years, 7 months ago

CFL bulbs: New-fangled granola-sierra club lefty hocus pocus. (read: something new and I don't want to change!! Waaaa!!)And if your CFL bulbs are not outlasting incandescents, then I might suggest that there is some sort of electrical problem. I think this is just another case of people resisting new technology in favor of what they're used to, regardless of whether or not it is more efficient. I have moved several times in the past three years, and each time, I've taken my CFL's with me. They're still going strong. My electric bill is cheaper with them, too. Seriously, you can either buy a box of 60W incandescents or a box of CFL's. Usually, you can add the wattage of all the CFL's you're buying in that package and the sum will usually be less than ONE of those incandescents. My parents have some in their house that have been going for 5+ years now. But I guess it is up to you if you don't want to use them. For me, they have more than paid for themselves by now.

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RedwoodCoast 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure why people are not noticing decreases in their electrical bills, unless they are leaving their lights on all the time, or as in your case XD40, you cannot use CFL's in all of your fixtures. Really, though, the facts are quite simple. For example, I have a 13 Watt CFL bulb in my bathroom. Above the sink is one of those lighting strips like one might find in a dressing room at a theater. Each one of the incandescent bulbs already in that strip are rated at 40 Watts. Essentially, I could run three of these 13 Watt CFL's all day and it still won't equal the energy used if I had just one of those 40 Watt bulbs running all day. I, for one, still maintain that I saw about a $10 decrease in my electrical bills when I switched to CFL's. It's like getting rid of your 15 mpg gas-guzzler in favor of a 28 mpg car; you quite simply will not be paying as much for fuel, assuming you still drive as much as you did before.

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flux 5 years, 7 months ago

Dont be silly, they work and they are a good idea. Just buy your lamps from a reputable manufacture. Dont buy Hy-vee brand lamps

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gccs14r 5 years, 7 months ago

My daily electricity usage was 9.5kWh/day last month. A year ago, it was 11.8. The only difference is the CFLs. BTW, look for 2700K bulbs. The light color more closely approximates incandescents. The 5500K bulbs are much bluer and are too harsh, IMO. I have the Home Depot n-vision bulbs, and am fairly happy with them so far. My one failure was that the outer covering came off of the porch light and broke on the sidewalk, but that didn't affect the operation of the light.

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5 years, 7 months ago

CFLs are just plain dangerous for many people with epilepsy and migraine disease.I am lucky in that they are not a trigger for me, but I worry for those who have to deal with it and the ever increasing prevalence of these bulbs.

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ASBESTOS 5 years, 7 months ago

For those that are going on the environmental diatribe about the "mercury" problem in Flourscent lights and "caol burning" there is a "New kid" in town and this one is a biggie. It is called "Artisian" gold mining. The links below explain this environmental catastrophe, which does threaten lots of people.This gold that is used in this type onf "mining and smelting" of gold is not new, but is accelerating in the "third world" as gold prices expand. There is a loss of land as they tear up the land and extract the gold, and there is lots of habitat damage by runoff once these areas are "denuded" to dig up the gold.Then the mercury is added to the mix and about 95% of it is expended into the environmetn, water ways, etc, buy lack of containment and burning off the mercury to reveal the gold. Senegal, Brazil, Thailand, these types of countries are going throught and we will see a whole generation poisoned by mercruy and they release into the environment 100 tons anually. This is released into waterways and drainage basins that are located and dumps into the ocean and estuaries. This is a major problem.IT takes a lot more than coal burning to get that level of release into the environment.http://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/Sector-Specific-Information/Docs/GMP%20Report%20to%20UNEP%20-Rivised%20Jan.2005.pdfhttp://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/2003-gov-sub/2003-sub1govatt2.pdfhttp://www.agls.uidaho.edu/etox/resources/case_studies/HG_AMAZ.PDFhttp://www.worstpolluted.org/projects_reports/display/56http://www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/Briefing%20Papers/endingmerc.pdfPlkastic ocean pollution, and this free for all third world gold mining/smelting method needs to be stopped, and are much more important that the fake "global warming" agenda.

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sourpuss 5 years, 7 months ago

None of my CFLs have burned out in three years. I like them and they do save me quite a bit of money. I think the incandescent bulbs should be phased out and not manufactured for household use.

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kmat 5 years, 7 months ago

Here is the truth about these lamps (correct terminology). I work in the lighting industry.CFL's will save you money. If you currently use a 60W incandescent lamp, you will use a 13W SBCFL (self ballasted compact fluorescent). You do the math.There is a difference between a cheap, value brand lamp and a name brand, little more expensive lamp. The cheap lamps have cheaper components on the pc board (the small ballast in the white base of the lamp). These components can sometimes fail more easily than a better lamp that uses better grade components.The amount of mercury in these lamps is less than in a standard 4' linear fluorescent. But, there is oftentimes lead in the solder on the pc board, which can't go in the landfill. They do need to be recycled so the harmful agents can be taken care of safely.The people complaining that they burn out to easily or aren't as bright are either buying poor quality, cheap lamps or aren't handling them correctly. Always handle these lamps by their bases. If you are using the glass part to screw them in, you can be causing damage to the lamp (can actually cause tiny cracks in the glass). Also, they are rated at 10K hours under special conditions (certain amounts of on/off cycles). And a fluorescent lamp will burn out faster the more times it is turned on and off. Overall, they will still last a very long time compared to an incandescent lamp.Also, they shouldn't be used with a dimmer unless you buy special dimmable lamps. You will start seeing more of these in the marketplace soon. And, the warm up time will be slow in cooler conditions.And ariadne said that GE's are made in China. Guess what? They all are. To my knowledge, there are no factories making SBCFL lamps in the USA. There are some German companies, but very few places in the USA sell them (special electrical lighting distributors). You would all complain about a 3 pack of German bulbs costing you $25 retail.They also commented that LED's are the future. That's correct EXCEPT - we are a long ways off from having reasonable priced LED lamps. Poor quality, Chinese made LED linear fluoresents are currently about $100 and only put out a small fraction of the light compared to a fluorescent lamp. And ones you would use to replace a standard incandcent lamp would need a heat shield so large and heavy it would probably break your fixtures. We are actively working on LED lamps, but it will be years before anything is seen in the commercial market.The 27K color temp is equivalent to a standard incandescent. The 41K (cool white) for some reason is better on the eyes. People over age 40 report getting less headaches and having better vision when reading under 41K lights.Soon you will be seeing more types (flame shaped, globes, etc...).Hope this helps to clear up a few questions about these. And I use them in all fixtures in my house and save at least $20/month compared to when they were all incandscent.

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