Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
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Brookworld
Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

I just moved into a 1965 house with BX wiring and a renovated main Panel in No. VA (you know, CIA, Pentagon, etc.). It's my first house that didn't have Romex cable.
I put in ALL new CFL's with 3500k and 4100k temperatures because I hate soft white.
In 2 months, 8 CFL's (new out of the box) have failed. They were 3 different manuf labels - Home Depot house brand, FEIT and a 3rd brand named Maxim. The Maxims are PAR40 CFL cost $9 each so this is getting expensive. I had used PAR40's with a dimable switch (but went to non-dimable after 4 failed in 3 weeks. I always kept the power at max but then got the conventional switches.
The fact that that CFL's from 3 manuf are failing is very odd.

My experience with CFL's is 2-3 years life (never the 8 years 10,000 hours promised), but I'm talking service hours in the several hundreds here.

Does anyone have ideas on what's going on.

Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

I've had terrible luck with dimmable CFL's and if the standard CFL's are run on a dimmer they won't last very long either, even if run at max. Probably because they're designed for a perfect sine wave not a Triac output from a dimmer.

I've had pretty good luck with Home Depot standard CFL's but have seen pictures of other imported CFL's that arched through the side and caught fire. Not exactly green..more like soot.

I save my receipts and return them all the time. I too am curious what others have seen.

Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

dj1
Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

It seems like the experiments to save money on energy and become energy efficient "green" is full of failures (and tons of money into manufacturers' pockets).

Your best solution is to make HD stand by their refund policy.

:)

A. Spruce
Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

I too think that CFL's are a load of garbage. They're full of mercury, which is as harmful to the environment as all the nuclear and coal powered electrical plants. Let's face it, not everyone returns a dead CFL to the store for recycling, most go to the trash or get broke over some moron's head in a backyard WWE brawl. On top of that, they're extremely expensive, so any energy "savings" is completely offset by the initial cost that isn't likely to be recouped over the life of the bulb.

It's like paying $35K for a hybrid car that gets fewer mpg than a standard gas powered vehicle of the same size that you can get for around $20 - $25K. That 10 -15 thousand dollar expense will by you a whole lot of gasoline for a vehicle that is easier and cheaper to maintain. You can look at it as buy the cheaper car and get free gas for the life of it with the cost savings.

In an attempt to be helpful, let me offer this:

If the light fixtures are cheap or dirty with bugs and cobwebs (common to exterior fixtures ), this can cause undue resistance within the fixture and cause bulbs to burn out more rapidly. Another thing to check is the wire connections of the fixture to the electrical system of the house. Again, it's common for these to become loose or fouled from a poor installation.

I have taken fixtures down, cleaned the wiring connections the fixtures themselves, and reinstalled with twisted wire connections at all points, and have cured excessive bulb burnout. This may or may not help in your instance, there's only one way to find out.

Fencepost
Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Here's a rather long article about CFLs and LED replacements for incandescent lamps. It's written by an Australian who really wants to like CFLs, but admits that there are lot of problems with them.

A couple of probable causes for your problems: CFLs will have dramatically shorter life if used in enclosed fixtures. They like to be kept cool. If you have dirty power, that will lso shorten the life of CFLs.

Years ago I worked on a farm. The shop and the house were on the same transformer. Between the 5HP air compressor and the welder in the shop which caused lights to flicker, incandescent and regular fluorescent lamps in both the house and the shop exhibited a short service life. This was before CFLs became popular, but I'm sure that they would suffer as well.

motoguy128
Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

IF a CFL is used on average 4 hours a day, it will save almost $8/year. So yes, they can pay for themselves. I've only had problems with premature failure when they were in freqeunt on/off locations where they are not advantageous anyway. You want them in places there the light stays on for hours and hours at a time.

The other savings in is less heat generated. Every Watt a light bulb generates in the summer, you have to spend approx 1/3 that much energy in you A/C use to remove it. In the winter it's less of an issue, but if you have gas heat, electric resistance is less efficient.

I'm guessing with the OP there are issues with voltage droops or something similar.

Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Fencepost thanks for that really great link to the Australian guy. I learned a lot from it and confirmed many of my suspicions.

He confirmed that CFL's generate a lot of heat and if confined in a tight fixture will destroy themselves very quickly. The other is that they won't start in cold weather, and don't do well in high humidity, which I've also seen.

However, in a -40 degree freezer application I've seen savy electricians carry Home Depot CFL's under their jackets and install them in vapor tite fixtures where they stay lighted 24/7, for years. This has saved this company thousands of dollars in labor alone.

Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
motoguy128 wrote:

electric resistance is less efficient.

:eek:

You meant to say electric resistance heaters are the most efficient right?

Mastercarpentry
Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

All I can add is that the cheap CFL's don't last. The higher price of the good ones are worth it as they last multiple times longer than their higher percentage cost. As LED technology catches up and becomes cheaper CFL's will become a thing of the past- and I say good riddance to them!

Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Mastercarpentry wrote:

All I can add is that the cheap CFL's don't last. The higher price of the good ones are worth it as they last multiple times longer than their higher percentage cost. As LED technology catches up and becomes cheaper CFL's will become a thing of the past- and I say good riddance to them!

Good riddance indeed. In the mean time Phillips Halogena bulbs are a good alternative. There energy saving, dimmable, long lasting and, affordable.

Brookworld
Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Lloyd wrote:

Good riddance indeed. In the mean time Phillips Halogena bulbs are a good alternative. There energy saving, dimmable, long lasting and, affordable.

Well, appeciate everyone's comments, but in the meantime, 2 more of my PAR40 CFL's went out -- $19 down the ceramic drain -- now 13 CFL's from 2 brands have gone dead in 3 months since I've move in the house. I still don't know why.

In the meantime, there seems to be anti-CFL sentiment out there. I went to CFL's many years ago because lower power was less stress on my homes that had old wiring; then changing less often was an advantage although they too would succumb to electronics burnout from heat, and finally, they didn't heated up my home in the summer.

The new CFL's have a lot of color tempertaure choices and allowed me to dump that horrible soft white (it was yellow) color. Halogen, like Phillips Halogena and GE full spectrum, are only about 200 whiter (2900K instead of 2700K). I love the 4100-500K ones althought the 3500K are OK.

Today, LED's are not only very expensive, but also bulb-for-bulb, have less lumens than its equivalent. For example, if you're replacing a 60w (800-850 lumens) incandescdent or CFL (13w) with a LED, you're probably getting only 450 lumens and I think many LED manufacturers are using a loophole to not even publish lumens and just say "replaces 60w bulb".

CFL's are more expensive and I wouldn't want to drop one to avoid mercury contamination (remember mercury temperature guages we had 20 years ago ?). However, CFL's are the best choice right now.

In the meantime, I'm burning through a lot CFL's in a 1965 house which has never happened to me like this since I've been using circlelines and CFL's for 30 years.

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