Swirly bulbs!

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Swirly bulbs!

Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:11 pm

I keep reading the hype about compact fluorescent bulbs, and I can't bring myself to leave 'em alone. I keep thinking they'll get to the point where I'm ready to make the switch. I'm at that point once again where I want to try them out. But every other time I've tried 'em, I've been disappointed by the quality of the light they give off.

I bought some today thinking I'd put them in the garage or storage room, where the quality of the light isn't a big deal, but they still don't come up to full brightness until they've warmed up for 3-5 minutes (at least), and that's not how we tend to use the lights in those rooms--usually it's quick in, quick out, done. I've also read that CFs don't handle temps below 20F well, and that makes our garage iffy at this time of the year.

But perhaps they're good enough to try out in the house. Seems to me, though, like the brands vary quite a bit in quality. Have you guys found any swirly bulbs that you really like? Any particular brand/type recommendations? Anything that has made a convert out of somebody really picky about light quality?
Last edited by Damage on Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:16 pm

I can't point you to any particular brands, but I can tell you that the savings you figure in with the lower power consumption and longer life, they're much better than incandescents.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:21 pm

soccergenius wrote:I can't point you to any particular brands, but I can tell you that the savings you figure in with the lower power consumption and longer life, they're much better than incandescents.


Yeah, the economics of it are well established by now. However, compact fluorescents have long given off lower quality light than incandescents. They seem to be getting better on that front, which is why I'm asking about them.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:24 pm

Not only the quality of the light varies, one of the CFLs at home gives off some hissing sound (singing inductors?).

And I've also found the equivalency rating a bit over generous (as in anything that involves numbers, like GHz and PSU wattage). They said 13W = 60W in regular bulbs, but I think the quality of the light makes a lot of them look dimmer. I need to get some 15W models and see if they are better.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:25 pm

We use them in our garage, and they do take an annoying 2-3 seconds to turn on, and they never seem bright enough.

The upside is we don't need to change them as often.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:32 pm

I have 'em all over the house. I'd say 15W is a minimum. A 25W one is in the garage. They do tend to take their time warming up.

An upside with the 11W ones is that I don't really care if one gets left on all night or all day for some odd reason.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:35 pm

Do they buzz/hum like regular fluorescent tubs?
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:39 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:Do they buzz/hum like regular fluorescent tubs?
I have about half a dozen bulbs in use, only 1 of them seems to exhibit that problem. For others I either cannot hear them because they are in places with a bit more ambient noise or they really don't give off the hum/buzz.

I'm basically replacing them as the current regular bulbs break down. I do need to keep some stock of regular ones for the bathroom and outside though.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:41 pm

I have them in almost every room of the house. The only room I find them really annoying in is the bathroom. They arent bright enough and they have kind of an off color. I have tried a few different brands and now all I use is the ones that sams club carries. I cant remember exactly what the brand name is though.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:42 pm

Hance wrote:I have them in almost every room of the house. The only room I find them really annoying in is the bathroom. They arent bright enough and they have kind of an off color. I have tried a few different brands and now all I use is the ones that sams club carries. I cant remember exactly what the brand name is though.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:43 pm

There's actually a lot of variation in quality in CFLs.

The better (and of course more expensive) ones warm up almost instantly, and are available in various color temperatures from cold/blue through neutral/white to warm/yellow. If you're used to the look of incandescent lighting, you'll want the warm: the other colors look harsh/ugly (I haven't found any use for the blue, but the white is useful when you're looking at colors other than skin tones).

CFLs aren't well-suited for situations where they are switched on and off a lot. In addition to the warm up time (which, again, isn't much for the better bulbs) it significantly shortens their life. I believe the quoted life expectancies assume just one or two on-off cycles a day. In settings where they're turned on and off a lot more than that, they can last just a few months.

Also remember that CFLs contain mercury, and are therefore banned from residential garbage in many places.

There was a thread over at ARS with some useful information on this including suggestions of the better brands (though it was inspired by proposed legislation in California so you'll have to wade through a various political arguments).
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:58 pm

UberGerbil wrote:There's actually a lot of variation in quality in CFLs.

The better (and of course more expensive) ones warm up almost instantly, and are available in various color temperatures (typically cold [blue], neutral [white], and warm [yellow]). If you're used to the look of incandescent lighting, you'll want the warm: the other colors look harsh/ugly (I haven't found any use for the blue, but the white is useful when you're looking at colors other than skin tones).


The ones I got today (at Home Depot) were offered in three colors. I picked the "soft white" version since I was looking to replace incandescents, but they're almost too yellow-green. Kind of odd. I briefly considered the blue since I really like GE Reveal incandescents, but I was skeptical I'd get the right light out of a CFL--fluorescents tend to seem too blue already.

These bulbs do NOT flicker when first switched on and do seem to warm up pretty well in 90-120 seconds.

They're also pretty bright. But they're 14W CFLs rated as "60W equivalent," and given what I'm seeing out of them, I'd be tempted to try using the 75W or 100W equivalent to replace a 60W incandescent in order to get the right results.
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:59 pm

I've got 'em all over the basement (including my office). They do seem to vary quite a bit in quality. Have some from Home Depot (Commercial Electric brand) which are mediocre; they seem to fail at a higher rate than they should. At least they were pretty cheap. The ones in my office right now are some other brand I've never heard of, Feit Electric. They're yellower (closer to incandescent color) than the other ones, and so far they seem to be reliable (none of them have burned out).

Regarding the mercury content... I was just reading the other day that if you live somewhere where an appreciable fraction of your electricity is generated using coal, there's still a net reduction in mercury added to the environment (versus using an incandescent bulb), even if you just chuck the compact flourescent in the trash when it dies. (Coal contains mercury, which is released into the atmosphere when it is burned.)
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:06 pm

Damage wrote:
UberGerbil wrote:There's actually a lot of variation in quality in CFLs.

The better (and of course more expensive) ones warm up almost instantly, and are available in various color temperatures (typically cold [blue], neutral [white], and warm [yellow]). If you're used to the look of incandescent lighting, you'll want the warm: the other colors look harsh/ugly (I haven't found any use for the blue, but the white is useful when you're looking at colors other than skin tones).


The ones I got today (at Home Depot) were offered in three colors. I picked the "soft white" version since I was looking to replace incandescents, but they're almost too yellow-green. Kind of odd. I briefly considered the blue since I really like GE Reveal incandescents, but I was skeptical I'd get the right light out of a CFL--fluorescents tend to seem too blue already.

These bulbs do NOT flicker when first switched on and do seem to warm up pretty well in 90-120 seconds.

They're also pretty bright. But they're 14W CFLs rated as "60W equivalent," and given what I'm seeing out of them, I'd be tempted to try using the 75W or 100W equivalent to replace a 60W incandescent in order to get the right results.


When you do that, don't look directly at the bulb, especially if it's 125 replacement :) (yes I know, probably one of the dumber things I have done)
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Postposted on Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:33 pm

All but 1 of my lights are CFL (1 flouro in the bathroom above the mirror).

Have a look around for Full Spectrum CFL's (you can also get ones that work with dimmers if thats your thing), they give off better light (less blue) for most people. I personally prefer a bluer spectrum (hell my sunglasses have lenses that add it), but alot of people grew up with less natural lighting, lack of sky lights, etc around the house and got used to the orange colour that the old bulbs give.

The cheap CFL's that the power company gives out take 2-3 minutes to warm up. The long life CFLs that I buy take about 30 seconds to get to full brightness.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:44 am

Just keep in mind that flourescent lamps blink 2000 times per second, and while it may not be noticable to the human eye, it can cause headaches. It is a good idea to have at least one incandescent lamp in the room if you spend more than two hours there. You'll thank me later.

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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:08 am

Damage wrote:The ones I got today (at Home Depot) were offered in three colors. I picked the "soft white" version since I was looking to replace incandescents, but they're almost too yellow-green. Kind of odd. I briefly considered the blue since I really like GE Reveal incandescents, but I was skeptical I'd get the right light out of a CFL--fluorescents tend to seem too blue already.
No, I have the Reveal ones in my bathroom and the blue CFL bulbs have a very different spectrum -- and not in a good way. You might prefer the neutral white ones; I don't think Home Depot sells the full-spectrum ones but they'd be the closest to the Reveal bulbs. I find I prefer the yellow ones because I often have the lights on during the day this time of year (you know it's winter in Seattle when you have to turn on the lights at noon to read something) and the natural sunlight -- what little gets through the overcast -- is pretty blue/gray already. I find amber light (including amber lenses in sunglasses) improves my mood.
These bulbs do NOT flicker when first switched on and do seem to warm up pretty well in 90-120 seconds.

They're also pretty bright. But they're 14W CFLs rated as "60W equivalent," and given what I'm seeing out of them, I'd be tempted to try using the 75W or 100W equivalent to replace a 60W incandescent in order to get the right results.
Yeah, the "equivalence" numbers are a bit of an exaggeration (just like the MTBF numbers if you're turning them on and off a lot). The whole "flicker at startup" that we associate with fluorescent bulbs has pretty much been done away with by electronic ballasts. You still see it with the old tube lights but the new ones don't do it, and I haven't seen any CFLs that do.
just brew it! wrote:Regarding the mercury content... I was just reading the other day that if you live somewhere where an appreciable fraction of your electricity is generated using coal, there's still a net reduction in mercury added to the environment (versus using an incandescent bulb), even if you just chuck the compact flourescent in the trash when it dies. (Coal contains mercury, which is released into the atmosphere when it is burned.)
Yeah, and coal is slightly radioactive too (Carbon isotopes as well as contaminants). But almost all of my power is hydro (and the rest is gas), so I can't chuck the bulbs and feel good about it. I'm kind of hoping the big retailers like Home Depot and Walmart will start taking them back (voluntarily, or through regulation).
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:39 am

We don't have a single incandescent light in the house. Or even outside, for that matter.

Two ways around the slow warm-up: combine activities in spaces where you need the light, and try to do them when it is light outside.

Anyway, I don't notice headaches from CCFLs (either the kind in lamps or the kind in LCDs) - 60 Hz monitors give me headaches, but not ~2000 Hz (or whatever figure they're at) CCFLs.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:22 am

The brand I use is called Longstar and I got them from 1000bulbs.com. (I have no affiliation with these people.) They come in a variety of color temperatures so you can pick what you like. Switching all my bulbs over to CF has cut my electric bill somewhere in the range of 12-15%, so it's well worth it. For Christmas this year I gave CF bulbs to people as stocking stuffers and most people seem to love them.
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Re: Swirly bulbs!

Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:29 am

Damage wrote:But perhaps they're good enough to try out in the house. Seems to me, though, like the brands vary quite a bit in quality. Have you guys found any swirly bulbs that you really like? Any particular brand/type recommendations? Anything that has made a convert out of somebody really picky about light quality?
No personal experience, but I've taken this guy's advice before an he hasn't steered me wrong.

I'm slowly going through my stock of incandescant bulbs. When they're used up, it's all CFL from there on out. So far, the outside porch lights and the garage lights are CFL, plus a couple others. Basically any light that my wife insists we leave on when we're not using it. :x
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:36 am

I've used CFLs for years now, and one thing that keeps annoying the hell out of me is their power/light comparisons, for example saying 18W CFL = 100W. That's B-U-L-L. Always go one or two steps above.

Most "warm" CFLs also tend to be a lot "more yellow" than the normal incandescent, further aggravating the previous problem.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:49 am

I use GE 25w bulbs, they have a warm-up of under 3 seconds.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:56 am

Me too. Have around 4-5 in the house
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:58 am

I have been actively replacing my house's dying incandescent bulbs with CFLs and I am pretty pleased with the result. The best thing in my opinion, is that I get a LOT more light out of a single socket. My house is old, so cutting down on current draw is almost a bigger issue than the electric bill savings. I have become very fond of the higher-wattage units (the ones labeled "150 watt replacement" or better), as my personal preference to room lighting is to have a lower wattage incandescent bulb (two-step halogen lamps work well too) for "cozy" lighting, and normal room lights as bright as possible for when I'm working or cleaning or something that actually requires reasonable sight.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:01 am

I've been trying to get my friend to buy my bulbs. the ones I'm using are just a bit bright for me. I've always liked low-lit rooms. my eyes hate bright lights.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:40 am

The new brands warm up almost instantly. I like the phillps 'daylight' bulbs myself. Yes the equivalancy ratings are a bit overoptimistic. I hear they have dimmable flourescents now too.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:44 am

Any new ones that can handle outdoors and heavy moisture like in the bathroom?
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 12:17 pm

I assume you've already been here.

CFLs should only be used for lights that are going to be left on for a significant length of time. You should not use CFLs for fixtures which are only used for a few minutes at a time (i.e. bathrooms, garages, closets, etc.) because the bulb life will be significantly shortened, and you will almost never let it warm up enough to achieve its full brightness.

In my experience, fluorescents work best when used as an indirect light source, such as where it is reflected off a ceiling or a wall. I have a 72 watt (max) 3-way torchiere style fluorescent in my living room and it works great. This style seems to be hard to find though... maybe because people don't buy them because they mistake them for halogen torchieres. I also use a CFL in my computer room, I point it at the wall for reflective light.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:05 pm

Flying Fox wrote:Any new ones that can handle outdoors and heavy moisture like in the bathroom?


I have some in both my bathrooms & outside. Neither are special as far as being made for moisture or temperature extremes, but they work fine. Oddly, the ones in my bathrooms have had a longer life (been using them for about 8 years now) than the ones in regular rooms. The one outside has been going for 4 years. Of course, it's not receiving any direct moisture (it's in a lamp enclosure). It also takes much longer to brighten up than the inside ones when cold. However, they are now releasing many "outdoor" versions too as well as some for the candle like bulbs (been waiting for them for a few years now). Now, I leave my outside lights on all night & don't feel like I'm wasting money.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:25 pm

I got a couple that I use in the main living area at home. I notice that they are a bit dimmer than they should be when first turned on, but after a while you don't notice it (guess its warm up) They are quite good. I will gradually replace others as they fail.
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