Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?
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CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

How are the new compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs working out for you? There are dozens of different types to choose from at local retailers, but do those funky spirals have any shortcomings when it comes using them at home? The editors at This Old House want to know if you've had any problems, and how you've overcome them. Tell us where you use CFLs and what brands you like, or don't like, and why. Your CFL bulb tips—and trials—could be featured in the September issue of the magazine.

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Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

The buzzing and whirring can be a pain. And, I hate that they don't fit into some of my lamps and sconces.

My lampshade is at a forever tilt because there's no round bulb for it to grip onto. How can I fix that?

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

I recently purchased and installed a new ceiling fan from Lowes, I think the brand was Hampton Bay. I found that it came with a new CFL and that the light socket is only rated for 13 watts! This was pretty upsetting because now I have to buy the more expensive bulbs. I probably would have returned the ceiling fan if I hadn't already installed it.

So far it doesn't seem too annoying, but I can't get used to the delay when I flip the switch. I just hope that these new bulbs last as long as they say they do.

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

I've had a number of the CFL's not last nearly as long as advertised.
The color they put out is sometimes harsh or unpleasant, although I've found some that aren't bad. Many now give the color temp so it's a little easier to figure out once you know what the degrees K means in relation to color.

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

I don't like the delay they have coming to full light. Our ceiling light / fan fixtures all have two light sockets so I put a regular bulb in one and a CFL in the other. That way I get a good bit of light immediately and still have some savings by using the CFL.

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

Excellent thread to start!!!!

I have replaced many of our bulbs with CFL bulbs, even some spot/flood bulbs inside and out. They aren't all created equally as some last a long time, others flicker and don't last long. I don't ever remember which bulb was which when replacing them, as I usually buy whatever is least expensive in a multiple package.

The spot/flood bulbs take even longer to "light" than the other bulbs, but seem to work OK. They seem to last longer in those ceiling fixtures with the closed in globe around the light. I believe it is because they burn cooler. That's a real plus in hallways for us.:)

The downside to these bulbs is they can't be used with a dimmer, and more importantly, they pollute horribly (some, not sure if it's all) with mercury in them that will be going to our landfills. This is not stated when their power saving attributes are touted in press.:(

I wonder how far behind LED for the home is?

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

Biggest problem is how to dispose of these hazardous waste items, especially when you drop and it shatters into thousands of pieces. Which HAZMAT unit do you call????? I know, I know, people have been tossing the 40 watters into regular trash for decades, but we ought not do that going forward.

Another problem is the warm up time - usually 2-5 minutes of dim light, which, in a basement is not great. This leads me to just leave it on for hours at a time if I am going to be in and out of the area often. Is this really energy efficient?

Finally, there were studies done 30-40 years ago on the 4 ft tubes which showed that leaving the lamps on for the whole (10 hour) work day was actually more energy efficient than turning them off whenever you left the room. As I remember, it had to do with inrush current to the ballast/transformer each time the lamp was switched on.

Efficiency is where you find it!

One advantage is that the lamp housing stays a lot cooler.

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

They are a little slow to come up to full brightness, but that's not a problem. The real problem is the way most people will dispose of them. Most contain products that could be harmful to the environment (mercury and such). The public must be made aware of how to properly recycle/discard these energy efficient items.

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

I have converted almost my entire house to these bulbs and love them. From the curly ones in my lamps to the recessed spot lights in my kitchen, The ceiling fan lights in the bedrooms and all the bathroom and even my crawl space. The lights are dull when first turned on but brighten up pretty quick. I have had no problems with buzzing noises. :)

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

I replaced all my bulbs with spiral CFL's only to find that my house looked like a drunk lady had decorated it, since all the lamp shades were at a slant. I tried rigging the shade clamps but to no avail. I had to go out and buy the covered A line shaped CFL's for anything with a lamp shade. Previous to CFL's I had bought the natural-light light bulbs since we live in the Northeast and need all the sunshine real or created we can get. I must say I preferred the light of the natural-light light bulbs over the harsher light that comes off the CFL's. They make me feel like a bug on a microscope plate.

Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?

I have replaced any bulbs I can with CF's. Over time, I've gotten used to the warm up time and buzzing. I have only two beefs at this point:

Using them in the laundry room causes me to miss stains that show up in natural and incandescent light. I have to carry an item to the window or to an incandescent that hasn't burned out yet...

The outdoor floods don't last more than a few days in my light sensor socket adaptor. I've had to go back to incandescent for those fixtures.

The only other problem is fit - sometimes they don't fit in an overhead fixture.

My solid waste agency is good about disposal options - the only pain is having to collect them separately from other trash.


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