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The Light Bulb That Can Change the World

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the little-lightbulb-that-could dept.


An anonymous reader writes to tell us FastCompany is reporting on the latest and greatest version of the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). While CFLs of the past may have been efficient, they certainly were not effective. However, according to the article, CFLs have come as far as cell phones have since the mid 80s while still maintaining that high efficiency. From the article: "if every one of 110 million American households bought just one [CFL], took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads."

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How many... (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 8 years ago | (#16002359)

How many light bulbs does it take to change the world? No wait, that's not right...

Correction (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002370)

one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads
I think you mean *110 million bulbs* are equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.

Re:Correction (0, Troll)

Yutznut (153494) | about 8 years ago | (#16002459)

he said what he meant, but that simply can't be factual. that means the 50+ light bulbs in my hohuse alone are the equivalent of over 65 million vehicles. Wow! can you imagine how many vehicles a hospital would be responsible for?!

classic case of garbage in = garbage out.

Re:Correction (2, Informative)

nanio (937692) | about 8 years ago | (#16002520)

In context, looks like he meant 1 bulb (per household), not 1 buld (amongst all you bastards). Poor writing, but not absurdism.

Re:Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002494)

I think he meant, one light bulb in each house, using the same comparison he had used previously.

Re:Correction (1, Insightful)

russ1337 (938915) | about 8 years ago | (#16002541)

the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people
one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads
Once the oil companies get a 'whiff' of these savings... somebody is going to disappear, a company will be purchased, allowing the technology to be discovered 'again' in another 25 years...

Too much work (4, Funny)

prockcore (543967) | about 8 years ago | (#16002373)

"Nah, that's just too much work, let's just start daylight saving time earlier!"

(Lives in AZ, uses CFLs everywhere)

So... (1)

distilledprodigy (946341) | about 8 years ago | (#16002380)

They save energy, last longer, and lower your electic bill... Why not?

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

bloggins02 (468782) | about 8 years ago | (#16002445)

Why not?

Because they:

- are 3x-10x the cost of an ordinary light bulb
- are a bit dimmer than their stated wattage equivalent standard bulbs
- take a bit of time to warm up
- don't have quite the same color temperature as standard bulbs
- sometimes don't fit under (e.g.) ceiling fan light domes, especially the 100W equivalent models

Now don't get me wrong, I love CFLs and have replaced every single bulb in my house with one, but I can imagine quite a few people resisting the idea based on the list above.

That said, they are rapidly getting better (and cheaper!).

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

dlcarrol (712729) | about 8 years ago | (#16002453)

Higher capital investiture up front.

While most Americans have more disposable wealth than the greater part of humanity's history, it is still not insignificant to look at spending $5-$15 on a light. Yes, with sufficient planning you could likely phase that in pretty easily over time and save in the long run, but we're asking that of people who live check-to-check for cigarettes, new cars, and cable TV.

In short, "more expensive" now is even more expensive than "more expensive" later so it will be put off by all but the most thorough and forward-looking planners.

Re:So... (1)

SaDan (81097) | about 8 years ago | (#16002525)

Well, I'm not exactly rich, and I managed to replace all of the lights in my house with CFLs. I even have one by my front door (14W) that has been on for over three years (except for power outages).

Yeah, they cost more up front, but I've only had to replace two bulbs (out of about 20) in over three and a half years.

I use them outdoors, indoors, you name it. I recently bought two of the yellow tinted bulbs that don't attract bugs for my back yard, and they work great.

The smaller wattage CFLs work GREAT with a standard UPS when the power goes out. Lots of light for a long time.

Re:So... (1)

KenAndCorey (581410) | about 8 years ago | (#16002454)

  1. I don't find the light as nice.
  2. There is a short delay between hitting the switch and the light turning on. It takes a while to get used to.
  3. They don't work with a dimmer switches.

On the good side (if you like your house cool), those lights won't heat up your bathroom or kitchen like regular lights do.

Re:So... (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | about 8 years ago | (#16002461)

Why not?

They cost 10 times as much as an incandescent bulb.

They don't work in cold locations.

They don't work in enclosed fixtures.

They don't last as long as advertised. I've been running 4 of them for a year, with one failure so far. That's about what I'd have expected from a set of incandescents.

They don't work with dimmers.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002544)

"They don't work in cold locations."

I'm surprised to hear this since I have three outside my house in a Chicago suburb that haven't been changed in a couple of years.

Re:So... (1)

daknapp (156051) | about 8 years ago | (#16002539)

They save energy, last longer, and lower your electic bill... Why not?

To my mind, the biggest problem is that, like all fluorescent lights, they switch on and off at 60 Hz (or whatever the line frequency is).

I don't think so (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002382)

"In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads"

I'll take two.

What about the energy to produce the CFLs? (1, Insightful)

dudeman2 (88399) | about 8 years ago | (#16002388)

Does the above estimate of energy savings take into consideration the energy and raw materials required to produce 110 million CFL bulbs?

Re:What about the energy to produce the CFLs? (1)

FinalCut (555823) | about 8 years ago | (#16002406)

good question - but perhaps the energy is basically the same as required to create normal light bulbs?

Re:What about the energy to produce the CFLs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002449)

Does the above estimate of energy savings take into consideration the energy and raw materials required to produce 110 million CFL bulbs?

No, but it also doesn't take into account the energy and raw materials which would have been needed to make all of the regular bulbs which will not be needed because CFLs last much longer. I learned that by reading the article, BTW.

Re:What about the energy to produce the CFLs? (2, Interesting)

Max_Abernethy (750192) | about 8 years ago | (#16002456)

FTA a $3 swirl pays for itself in lower electric bills in about five months well, they don't sell the things at a loss, and the bulbs last up to ten years, so I guess that amount of energy is negligible.

No, and I'll bet they don't include the heat. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 8 years ago | (#16002562)

A Watt is a Watt, whether it comes from a lightbulb or an electric heater. Having said that I've gone 100% fluorescent and my bills have dropped significantly, not hugely but a sigificant amount, enough to pay for the bulbs and then some.


I've converted (4, Insightful)

neonprimetime (528653) | about 8 years ago | (#16002393)

Earlier last year, I started buying those Wal-Mart swirl bulbs and haven't looked back. I have replaced nearly every old light bulb with one of the swirls in my house now. It's an awesome idea, and I wish I could convince others to do the same. The savings on your energy bill is nice too! I have since given away to relatives my extra pre-purchased packs of old light bulbs, and I will never buy one of those oldies again. Swirl bulbs it is!

Re:I've converted (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002442)

I have since given away to relatives my extra pre-purchased packs of old light bulbs, and I will never buy one of those oldies again.

What did your relatives do to you?

Re:I've converted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002487)

Our family switched almost all of our bulbs over to these things, and with all the other things we've done (cleaned AC compressors and blowers, fixed windows, ditched ancient appliances, planted shade, etc) we've almost halved our monthly electricity usage this summer compared to last summer.

The fun part? Our electricity company complained this year that they weren't selling enough electricity to remain as profitable as they used to be, so they had to raise their rates to make up for the difference, so we're still paying about 80% of what we did last year. Yay deregulation?

Re:I've converted (1)

im_mac (927998) | about 8 years ago | (#16002519)

I bought a 4 pack at Home Depot last Spring. At the time, a single bulb was $4 while a four-pack was $8, go figure. They have done wonders at lowering my electric bill, especially since I replaced several 300W halogen lamps. However, these bulbs only work well if they last. Two of the four have burnt out already. Replacements are suppose to have been shipped but haven't been received yet.

I'm not quite a convert, perhaps I will be if no others burn out prematurely.

If this is true... (4, Insightful)

thatguywhoiam (524290) | about 8 years ago | (#16002395)

In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.

Setting aside the debate over that statement - if it is even remotely true, then these bulbs are not just simply a 'good idea'.
They are a moral imperative.

Remember where those $100 bills that Hezbollah is handing out come from. Hint: they do not originate in Iran.

Re:If this is true... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002464)

> Remember where those $100 bills that Hezbollah is handing out come from. Hint: they do not originate in Iran.

No, but a good chunk of them originate in North Korea. The DPRK runs a very big counterfeiting operation.

I'd rather Hezbollah was volleying cash instead of rockets, but yeah, Iran buys those with our money.

Re:If this is true... (3, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | about 8 years ago | (#16002471)

Only that statement is not true at all. Electricity is not oil. You can't really store electricity, it is either generated and used right away or it is just not used and the extra production is wasted. You can easily use more electricity when there is enough capacity generated and not worry that you are using more energy to produce that same electricity, if you don't use it, it'll just be wasted.

However I do believe that oil powerplants should be all changed to nuclear and hydro where possible.

Re:If this is true... (2, Insightful)

AnyoneEB (574727) | about 8 years ago | (#16002552)

If the demand is less, then the production will be less. Of course, switching to more efficient lightbulbs will probably not actually decrease demand, but it would at least make it increase slower.

Re:If this is true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002554)

Nope, not from Iran, Hezbollah is one of the largest counterfeiters of US currency according to the Secret Service.

Re:If this is true... (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 years ago | (#16002566)

In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.

Setting aside the debate over that statement - if it is even remotely true, then these bulbs are not just simply a 'good idea'. They are a moral imperative.
Remember where those $100 bills that Hezbollah is handing out come from. Hint: they do not originate in Iran.

They are a moral imperative only if you are deluded enough to believe that reducing electrical consumption means significantly fewer dollars flowing to the Middle East from the US. Hint: Imported oil makes up a vanishingly small percentage of the already tiny percentage of electricity that comes from oil. Don't be misled by the analogy you quote.

White light? (4, Insightful)

rackhamh (217889) | about 8 years ago | (#16002396)

From TFA: "The bulbs come on quickly; their light is bright, white, steady, and silent."

In my experience, the problem with non-traditional lightbulbs isn't that they're weak -- it's that they cast a harsh light. Many people I know would refuse to place even the most efficient light bulb in their living room if they didn't find the light warm and pleasing. When TFA says the light is "white," this makes me think that there is at least one problem remaining to be solved -- though perhaps it would be as simple as using lightly tinted glass for the bulb.

Re:White light? (5, Interesting)

fruity_pebbles (568822) | about 8 years ago | (#16002463)

The ones I've been buying recently have been marked "soft white". They're not the same as an incandescent bulb, but they're close enough that my wife doesn't complain about them (like she did with older CFLs).

Quite pleasing to my eyes (2, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | about 8 years ago | (#16002501)

I have CFLs in my bathroom, bedrooms, hallway, washroom and garage. The only reason they aren't in the other rooms is because of light fixture limitations or the existing bulbs haven't burnt out yet. I have two different styles. One is the exposed spiral style, and those ones are warm and bright. All of those ones I have are either in can lights, or behind some type of glass. I had another few that had a spherical bulb over the CFL, those were a bit more warm (just a touch of yellow). The bulb made them a bit large for some fixtures though, so they are now lighting my garage.


Re:White light? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002518)

Did you try one of those? I've got plenty of them, also in the living room. I don't see any significant difference; no harsh light like those neon lamps...

Re:White light? (5, Informative)

tgd (2822) | about 8 years ago | (#16002534)

Look on the package for the color temperature of the bulb. You want 2700 degree ones (which match incandescent bulbs so closely, if you didn't know it was CFL you wouldn't guess it).

Up until recently (ie, the last six months or so) most of the bulbs you'd find in the typical discount stores were 4000-5000 degree.

LED's !! (1, Redundant)

yakumo.unr (833476) | about 8 years ago | (#16002398)

erm, forget CFL's... more and more types of bulb can be replaced with longer lasting, and I think more efficient, LED replacement's these days.

I am no expert on the matter by far, but I do believe the newest white LED bulb replacements, are more efficient, longer lasting, don't have a long warmup time like CFL's and also are brighter overall.

Re:LED's !! (4, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | about 8 years ago | (#16002443)

I wish you were right, but LED's are still far less efficient and much mor expensive than flourescents.

Re:LED's !! (1)

truthsearch (249536) | about 8 years ago | (#16002460)

Maybe true, but for whatever reason I can't find LED bulb replacements in my local convenience store. Florescents are in the stores now and people are getting comfortable with them. Maybe the LEDs cost more to produce?

Re:LED's !! (2, Informative)

ack154 (591432) | about 8 years ago | (#16002465)

But they're more expensive. Not that it's a perfect example, but just look at ThinkGeek [] ... the cheapest LED bulb they have is $22 ... and that's on clearance!

Re:LED's !! (1)

joey_knisch (804995) | about 8 years ago | (#16002496)

LED's are:
    3x more efficient
    last 3x longer
    and cost 10x more

Saving the world one light at a time (3, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#16002399)

People don't see the benefits that these bulbs bring, the biggest thing people can commonly do to help the environment is to simply turn off unused lights and devices.
We are all guilty of leaving extra lights on and not shutting off the pc or tv, think of how much energy we can save if we switched off the internet just for a couple of hours (and I mean all of it, not just your terminal!)

Re:Saving the world one light at a time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002457)

It's not a truck. You can't just pull it over!

Oil != electricity (5, Interesting)

flanksteak (69032) | about 8 years ago | (#16002401)

In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.
While I'm glad to see that WalMart is making an effort to promote energy efficiency, everyone in the article kept tying more efficient light bulbs to our dependence on foreign oil. The last time I checked, the US generates very little electricity from oil. It's coal and nuclear these days. Can't we get people to try more compact cars to go with their compact bulbs, or at least straighten out the details on our energy generation story?

Re:Oil != electricity (1)

Rakishi (759894) | about 8 years ago | (#16002507)

Yup but don't forget natural gas (~50% coal, ~20% nuclear, ~16% natural gas, ~8% hydro, ~1-2% oil).

Re:Oil != electricity (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002510)

Natural Gas == electricity. Since deregulation of the power industry, power plant builders are looking for quick ROI, and a coal plant that takes 5 years to come online has a dismally slow ROI compared to a NG plant that can be built in 9 months. Never mind the fact that the NG plant is far weaker, thus requiring many more of them, and that NG power is quite a bit more expensive than coal power. Quite a bit of this nation's power comes from gas, which is often a direct tie-in with oil production.

Re:Oil != electricity (1)

flanksteak (69032) | about 8 years ago | (#16002560)

True, I forgot about gas. For the time being, our imports of natural gas are fairly low. mainly because of the issues involved in shipping and transfer.

Re:Oil != electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002542)

Last I checked, processing coal releases pollutants into the atmosphere.

What is really needed... (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | about 8 years ago | (#16002402)

Is for the big box stores to start carrying the dimmable CFL bulbs.

My house is almost entirely on dimmers. Its a ten year old rennovation of a 70 year old house. Modern McMansions are almost entirely on dimmers as well.

With all these dimmers out there, you'd think you'd be able to get dimmable CFL bulbs places other than the very occasional lighting shop or online.

I've switched essentially everything else in my house over at this point, except for the ones on dimmers.

Re:What is really needed... (1)

isnoop (239143) | about 8 years ago | (#16002536)

I concur. GE [] says that their "GE Longlife Plus Soft White Energy Saving" bulb is in fact compatible with dimmers, but the packaging I have found for this product is silent on the dimmer feature.

I'd rather not spend $5 per bulb on lights that may well be useless to me since every light in my home, except three in the bathroom, is on a dimmer.

link slashdotted but.. (4, Insightful)

rayde (738949) | about 8 years ago | (#16002404)

i think this is great, the only issue is that people go to the store when a bulb is dead, see a pack of 2 for under a dollar at walmart, and will buy that. sure, those fancy flouresent bulbs are there, but they cost $6 or more a piece... and the average person is probably just going to grab the cheap one.

flourescent light bulbs are an investment. and for normal people, light bulbs are not exactly the type of thing you think of investing in.

Re:link slashdotted but.. (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | about 8 years ago | (#16002492)

I can highly recommend for compact flourescent bulbs [] .

They are cheap in price but high in quality. I initially ordered a dozen and haven't had a single problem with a single bulb. I prefer the full spectrum CF bulbs.

They have them for less than $2. It doesn't make financial sense to use anything else.

Re:link slashdotted but.. (0)

cliffski (65094) | about 8 years ago | (#16002497)

I don't understand why governments don't just ban the sale of old fashioned incandescent style bulbs, or at the very least whack a huge 1000% tax on the damn things. Does anyone know why they won't do this? I bet a few lightbulb companies are worried about declining sales when people realise the efficient ones last way longer.
Unless your worried about electricity company shares or work in an ancandescent bulb factory, its insane not to want the old style bulbs phased out immediately.
Why isnt this done?

How is this new information? (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | about 8 years ago | (#16002405)

I've been using these "next gen" CFLs for going on 4 years now. They're a lot more expensive than an incandescent bulb, but they last a lot longer.

Re:How is this new information? (1)

skrolle2 (844387) | about 8 years ago | (#16002499)

I've been using them for more than ten years here. I have a dim memory of them being kinda slow to turn on when they first came, but for the past five years the ones I've been using have turned on almost-instantly, and produced light that is identical to ordinary lightbulbs.

So what happened in the US to make them fail so miserably at their introduction? The only bad press we've gotten over here is that they're a bit trickier to dispose of since they (used to?) contain a small amount of quicksilver.

Re:How is this new information? (1)

lhbtubajon (469284) | about 8 years ago | (#16002512)

Except that, in my experience, they don't. The $15 pack of CFL bulbs I bought quit working within a couple of weeks. After that, you'll have trouble convincing me to buy them when the $0.99 bulbs are right next to them, and they work. And if they fail, so what? It was only a buck.

Again, I love the idea of CFLs, but I haven't been impressed with the execution.

How many /.ers does it take to change a light bulb (5, Funny)

Nos. (179609) | about 8 years ago | (#16002407)

  • You don't change it, you replace it. The bulb itself stays the same
  • lightbulb is one word
  • no it isn't
  • in Soviet Russia, light bulb changes you
  • all your light R belong to us!
  • 1
  • I'd like to see Natalie Portman change it while I'm eating hot grits
  • Dupe!

Bad light (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 8 years ago | (#16002413)

I hate those light bulbs, they give out visible light in narrow spectrum and it is very unpleasant to look at them or to read at their light. I guess they are ok for the halls. I say don't try to push us back into the previous century. Build more nuclear powerplants and start thinking about thermonuclear. By the way, how much energy will be wasted changing all the working lightbulbs with these contruptions? Oh, and they are not that cheap either.

Re:Bad light (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 8 years ago | (#16002489)

That's a horrible idea, nuclear energy isn't the answer either. Eventually we're going to run out of the fuel for these and then we'll be in trouble.

Re:Bad light (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 8 years ago | (#16002529)

Nuclear is the answer in the short run (a few hundred years) and in the long run the answer is in thermonuclear. If you don't know what it is, please educate yourself first, then reply. Thank you.

Re:Bad light (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 8 years ago | (#16002548)

Don't worry, fusion is just ten years away ;-)

Good old /. (1)

Cybert4 (994278) | about 8 years ago | (#16002491)

Always have some hypertechie/transhumanist piping up how we just need antimatter!!! Well, I'm a solid transhumanist and I think it's not necessary to replace. In twenty years, everything changes. Whatever environmental changes humans make up until then is nothing compared to previous mass extinctions. And after that point--we can't even see past that point.

Re:Bad light (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002527)

Agreed. Other than power usage, CFL's lights suck. I bought a six pack of them about a year ago but I've since given them away because of the horrible light. Even my five year-old son complained about them. Two of the guys I gave them to offered them back. Since they were the full spectrum CFL's they were $22 each. That was a waste of $132!

Re:Bad light (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 years ago | (#16002561)

1) Change the loghts as they go out.
2) They are only more expensice on purchase. The use about 1/5th the power and last much longer.
3) You can get many different light 'colors' white, soft white, full spectrum, etc . . .

Phantom loads are just as bad, or worse. (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about 8 years ago | (#16002415)

If we all put our televisions and everything else that uses a remote control on power bars (and then remembered to turn them off occasionally) we'd save even more.

Why aren't they cheaper? (4, Insightful)

pickyouupatnine (901260) | about 8 years ago | (#16002422)

Honestly - since these bulbs are so efficient, shouldn't there be a government sponsorship / subsidization to make them as widely available (read: cheap) as regular bulbs? One would hope that it was be a no-brainer to include this in the energy plan - especially if we're funding experimental stuff like hydrogen powered fuelcells.

PG&E in California (3, Interesting)

bi_boy (630968) | about 8 years ago | (#16002423)

PG&E in California is currently running a program where they take the bill for rebates on CFL bulbs so they can be had for under a dollar easily from Wal-Mart. Stock up and switch all your homes lighting over if you have not done so already.

Change the world, only if you like flicker (1)

OYAHHH (322809) | about 8 years ago | (#16002424)

Everytime I try to use a CFL I find that it starts to flicker after about four or five weeks. I cannot stand that so I give up on them. Great idea, poor implementation....

Re:Change the world, only if you like flicker (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002550)

I've found that the flicker is often caused by poor electrical connection at the socket and is not itself a reflection on the CFL

Color Problems (1)

drrck (959788) | about 8 years ago | (#16002426)

I think one thing holding back CFL's is that fluorescent lights have traditionally had a somewhat severe blue cast, which most people do not prefer in their households.

I'm surprised.... (1)

ezratrumpet (937206) | about 8 years ago | (#16002431)

....that legislation isn't pending to ban all other kinds of light bulbs.
"This light bulb is what's best for all of us!"
Such laws would be a strange irony.

But what about RFI? (4, Informative)

dwm (151474) | about 8 years ago | (#16002433)

One of the big problems with fluorescent lights is that they produce a lot more radio frequency interference (RFI) than incandescents. While they are more efficient energy-wise, the RFI issue is a show-stopper for anyone sensitive to such things (radio amateurs and other odd folk).

Has any progress been made in reducing fluorescent light RFI -- or is even feasable/possible?

Overpromising lifespan (1)

rufusdufus (450462) | about 8 years ago | (#16002436)

From TFA: Compact fluorescents, even in heavy use, last 5, 7, 10 years. Years.
This is hype. I was tired of replacing so many bulbs in my house, so I replaced them with flourescents that guaranteed a 5 year lifespan. They lasted 6 months. I tried another brand, got the same performance. They did last longer than old style bulbs, but not enough to matter; I'm not sure if the power savings covered the added bulb cost or not. A wash at best.

damn right (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | about 8 years ago | (#16002514)

I've had much the same experience. They don't seem to last noticeably longer than incandescent bulbs. Maybe the problem is that those quoted lifespans are "in captivity," where the bulb is just kept quietly shining, maybe turned (gently) on and off. In the wild, so to speak, it could be that other things are more important in determining bulb lifespan, e.g. how many dings the lamp gets if it sits on your desk.

Re:Overpromising lifespan (1)

conteXXt (249905) | about 8 years ago | (#16002538)

Not to point out the obvious here but:

If your lightbulbs are not lasting 6 months, there is something other than the bulbs wrong.

Perhaps your wiring is not de-energizing the bulb's base (neutral switched instead of main?)

You may want to have that looked at.

I just replaced my very first CF this week. Was in my bathroom for 4 years+

May be worth checking out.

Re:Overpromising lifespan (1)

HairyCanary (688865) | about 8 years ago | (#16002547)

I have experienced that as well. In my experience, earlier CFL's lastest a fair lenght of time. Lately, however, with the push to bring the price down, the longevity has been sacrificed. I typically get 6 months to a year from a CFL, about the same as I get from the incandescents I buy. And there are some things for which CFL is not appropriate yet. The 60w floodlights in my kitchen, for example, cannot be replaced with CFL's. That's not to say you cannot get CFL replacements for the floods, just that they do not work -- for whatever reason, that style of bulb still has the hideous warm up issues. Turn them on, get about 25% of full output for the first 1-2 minutes before they get up to temp. Tried it, gave up, bought regular halogen bulbs a few months back and I'm much happier.

Hmmm (1)

Jon Luckey (7563) | about 8 years ago | (#16002439)

Population of U.S (according to google) 295,734,134

Divide by 1,500,000 ...

So if 110 million of us replace 197 bulbs each, we'd all have FREE ENERGY! Whoot!

How many lights use standard 60-watt bulbs anyway? (1)

cdipierr (4045) | about 8 years ago | (#16002440)

I ask this in all seriousness. In my house, the lights that are on the most are 150-watt clear torch lamps. There are no CF equivilents to that. The lights that are on second longest are outdoor floodlights, which again aren't suitable for CF.

The only "standard" 60-watt white bulbs I use are in my kitchen fixtures and are turned on maybe an hour a day at most.

Do other people have that many lamps that use standard 60-watt bulbs that can therefore be replaced?

Re:How many lights use standard 60-watt bulbs anyw (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 8 years ago | (#16002515)

The smaller sized bulbs are availible (they usually use around 5W) and what's more, you can put those in an adapter for your areas that need a low light but have the normal socket

Re:How many lights use standard 60-watt bulbs anyw (1)

jonesy16 (595988) | about 8 years ago | (#16002546)

CFL's come in man wattages and in many colors. You shouldn't have a problem finding a 150 watt equivalent CFL unless it is the size/shape of the bulb that is preventing replacement. Some people have also been complaining about color but at my local Menards/Lowes/Home Depot they have several different bulbs ranging from red/blue/yellow to soft white to bright white. Near as I can tell, there aren't too many bulbs that can't be replaced, save for halogen and some of the odd candle shaped bulbs maybe.

Re:How many lights use standard 60-watt bulbs anyw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002565)

My house has no 150 watt lighbulbs, I consider 60 watt bulbs the 'bright' kind. Didn't start out that way. When I bought my house it came with all 100 watt lightbulbs which I took no notice of. After a couple very high power bills, we decided there must be a power leak. So we turned everything off in the house except the kitchen light so we could read the meter. The thing was spinning like a top, 2500 watts. At first we thought it must be a leak, since that one light switch in the kitchen couldnt take that much power..or could it? I hadn't ever counted before, but my kitchen had 25 light bulbs in 5 fixtures, all at 100 watts. Wow that was nuts. The bathrooms also had 10 bulbs. So we took out every other bulb and swithed to 60 watts or less everyplace in the house. Didn't make a huge difference in the quality of lightning, but it did on the speed of the power meter and the power bill.

I just did this in my entire house. (4, Informative)

OS24Ever (245667) | about 8 years ago | (#16002446)

I'd been kicking around the 'replace lights when they burn out with CF lights' idea, and then I sat down and did the math and figured that within a year they would pay for themselves in energy savings. I did a write up [] about it on my boring ass personal blog just to document when I did it so that I could come back and see what power savings I saw.

I would say that I replaced 18 65W bulbs in regular light fixtures, 20 65W 'globe' lights in three bathrooms, 5 chandalier 45W bulbs, four outdoor 150W Spotlights, not including about 8 - 10 bulbs already installed in the 'light burned out' category since we moved into this home in May 2003.

I'm keeping track of the power spent so far, and interested to see if there is a noticeable drop. Noticeable to me = $5 - $10 average. I'm not expecting a bill to go down by half, I do live in North Carolina and it's summer time so the AC is on full blast most of the time.

My next venture is into a PV System to offset the amount of energy I need to buy every month vs. the sun could provide. I'm still investigating that system but it appears that I could invest about $10,000 in a decent system, and get about half back in tax breaks from my state & federal government programs. If I get it in before the end of 2007.

Honestly with the Slyvania bulbs I used, I don't see a color temp difference. There is a slight delay from 'on' light output to full light output and even though they use a lot less power they are on average much bright light luminosity wise. But just in the last 5 years alone the delay you would see from light switch - light on has dropped to near instantaneous. There are several bulbs I put in 2003 that you can count out a second or so from switch on to light in the room. But these new ones come on when you turn em on.

Eh...lots of stuff can change the world... (3, Informative)

sugapablo (600023) | about 8 years ago | (#16002450)

Or at least make a big difference [] . Problem is, most people couldn't care less.

CFLs suck (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 8 years ago | (#16002455)

I've tried to use them, but, at least for the ones I've used, over time they get a "fading" effect. They start off dim and slowly get brighter. It's REALLY annoying in the places I used them. I've ended up going back to regular incandescent bulbs.

Actually, one of the reasons I switched to CFLs was more light per watt -- in some places in my house, I wanted more light, but was limited by the 60 watt fire limitation. Using bigger CFLs allowed me to get more light.

Hopefully when LEDs come of age, CFLs will be replaced.

I'm usually against this kind of stuff... (1)

SafariShane (560870) | about 8 years ago | (#16002468)

...but if this is accurate, it's time to add a serious tax to the sales of regular bulbs, and use it as a a direct pecuniary aid to encourage use of this new type of bulb. Making them cheaper than regular bulbs will force adoption.

A CFL in every Home = 1 Nuclear Power Plant (2, Interesting)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about 8 years ago | (#16002473)

Shamelessly plagarized [] but also edited for clarity:

A CFL in every Home = 1 Nuclear Power Plant

I spent a lot of my weekend doing research on energy, power generation, etc. (See my MyWeb links) I decided to run some rough numbers, and have come to the conclusion that the best use of government funds is to probably have a CFL handout/trade-in program.

There are an estimated 110M households in the US, so if you replaced one 60W incandescent with a similarly lumen-rated 13W CFL (I'd estimate a distribution cost of $100M-200M), you'd save just over $4.1B in electrical bills over the lifetime of the bulbs ($0.10/kWh over 8000 hours). At 5 hours/evening of usage (~4.4yr), we're looking at almost a billion bucks a year. That's not a bad ROI.

Another interesting figure that comes out of that is that we're talking about a significantly large amount of power saved. Over the bulb lifetime, the number comes out to over 41M MWh, or based on the 4.4y estimated lifetime, about 9.4M MWh/yr. That's more than your average 1000MW nuclear power plant will be able to generate (about 7.8M MWh at 90% efficiency), and a significantly lower cost ($2-4/MWh for handing out light bulbs versus $50-80/MWh).

So, replacing 1 incadescent light-bulb in each of the 110M households in the country would save the equivalent of one nuclear power plant (or better yet, a bunch of fossil fuel ones, which function at a much lower efficiency (around 60%) and are usually lower capacity).

It's probably fair to say that up to 4 bulbs per house could be replaced before the law of diminishing returns kicks in. So we could save the equivalent of 4 nuclear power plants or 8-10 "dirty" power plants at 1/10th the cost of operating them, plus saving all the externalities like reduced pollution too.

Is it just me, (1)

Abreu (173023) | about 8 years ago | (#16002474)

... or compact fluorescents are just not bright enough?

Nevermind what the labels say, I have found that a 15watt compact fluorescent is
  • not
equivalent to a 60watt bulb!

And if you wait a month after you first installed them, they lose 10-20% of their brightness, so you need 2-3 15watt lamps to replace a single 60watt bulb.

And I am not talking cheap chinese lamps, I am talking GE, Sylvania, etc...

Re:Is it just me, (1)

Abreu (173023) | about 8 years ago | (#16002524)

damn! I though the <ul> tag was "underline", not "unordered list"

For those unfamiliar... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002478)

For those who, like myself, are uneducated about CFL bulbs: amp []

CFL... Old news (1, Flamebait)

BSAtHome (455370) | about 8 years ago | (#16002479)

Hey, where have you been living? These have been arround for 20 years and have become more effecient all the time. For anybody _not_ using them should be very ashamed by now for wasting energy for many years. I guess this is a US thing. (North-/west-)Europe has been aware of these energy savers and been using them for a loooong timg.

Welcome to like, 10 years ago (1)

badasscat (563442) | about 8 years ago | (#16002482)

I'm pretty sure most homeowners know about CFL's, and a lot of them probably have one or two already. (So where's that city of 1.5 million that's now being powered by all that saved electricity?) My house came with a couple that the previous owner had put in about three years ago.

The problem with these is the same as with any other flourescent light. Namely, they make ugly light and they hurt your eyes. Until that changes (read: never), don't expect people to be replacing their incandescents. It's not just a question of economics; light quality is just as much a health issue as air or water quality. Flourescents have been proven to cause a variety of sight-related issues, including eye strain and headaches.

But the good news is LED light bulbs are getting better and more common. Here's an example [] of what's available. No, I don't work for an LED manufacturer or seller, and no, I don't think LED bulbs are quite there yet. But they promise to provide a dramatic decrease in energy costs (about 1/10 the energy of even a CFL) and they can provide pure white, steady light (which CFL's, by their nature, cannot do). They are the future, and they're now starting to be carried by big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot.

CFL's have been around for a long time and their lack of success isn't because of cost or because people don't know about them. It's because people don't want them. That's a different thing. News articles can do a lot to raise awareness, but they can't do much when that awareness already exists and people have made up their minds.

Getting 100 Million people to do something... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16002483)

" if every one of 110 MILLION American households did this thing"

Well geez, the title of the article should be, "Tiny numbers of stuff, multiplied by a HUGE NUMBER, gives you..., A BIGGER NUMBER! SURPRISE!!"

Guess what, if 110 Million People ate less, THERE WOULD BE A LOT LESS FAT PEOPLE.
Guess what, if 110 Million People gave me a dollar, I'd have $110 Million !

This is a non-story. This is just basic multiplication.

Electric bill (1)

ms1234 (211056) | about 8 years ago | (#16002484)

The electric bill should also be smaller, hopefully. I've replaced all my lightbulbs with energy saving versions. Haven't really calculated how I save per year but I estimate it to be quite much.

Much better bulbs (3, Informative)

robathome (34756) | about 8 years ago | (#16002485)

I've replaced all the outside lighting and the utility lighting in the basement with CFLs. All in all, I've replaced 700W of incandescents with 137W of fluorescent. They're much brighter, faster to come to full output, and purer white than any compact fluorescent bulb from the last generation.

They're absolutely perfect for work and utility areas. For living areas and reading light, however, I still prefer tungsten bulbs.

LED Bulbs? (2, Interesting)

swngnmonk (210826) | about 8 years ago | (#16002513)

I'm curious about the future of LED light bulbs - the potential from a bulb w/ 60,000 hours of life and power consumption under a watt is very attractive. I know light dispersion is an issue (e.g. they just don't throw out enough light), but what's on the horizon?

great spin! (1, Insightful)

nasor (690345) | about 8 years ago | (#16002530)

"if every one of 110 million American households bought just one [CFL], took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. "

Yeah, I guess it sounds a lot better to put it that way than to say "A 0.5% reduction in electricity usage".

The trade off (1, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | about 8 years ago | (#16002533)

So we trade off co2 emissions for high levels of murcury being dumped in the land fills from disposal of the spent CFL bulbs?

But wait! (1)

ENOENT (25325) | about 8 years ago | (#16002557)

Fluorescents aren't nearly as energy efficient as LEDs. I'm just waiting for cheap LED light fixtures. Never need replacing, unbreakable, and no RF interference.

Newer bulbs that weren't mentioned (3, Informative)

slapyslapslap (995769) | about 8 years ago | (#16002564)

I recently picked up 4 new flourescent bulbs at Walmart that didn't look like coils. They were actually close to the shape of a normal incandescent bulb. I placed the in a bathroom that had 4 lights above a mirror (you've probably seen that kind of setup a thousand times), so naturally you don't need the kind of light you get from 4 100 watt bulbs. I'm surprised at the quality of light that I'm getting, and they don't look funny either. (they're fully exposed bulbs). They even had the "tulip" shaped bulbs that you might put in a ceiling fixture. I may replace my bulbs in my ceiling fans with them.
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