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Wal-Mart Is Pushing Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the bright-idea dept.

Power 923

While we all know from reading the internets that Wal-Mart is irredeemably evil, the world's largest retailer has committed to get compact fluorescent lightbulbs into 100 million homes this year. CFLs are found in only 6% of households today. These energy-saving bulbs use 75% less electricity than incandescents and produce far less greenhouse gas to manufacture and use. Wal-Mart seems determined to use its marketing prowess to do what hasn't successfully been done in the CFL's 25-year history: to convince consumers to pay more upfront for large savings over the product's lifetime.

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Plop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439676)

Good move by Wallmart.

Re:Plop (4, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439792)

It's a great move by WalMart. This gets them great press with people calling them "not evil" on Slashdot and everything, and it cost them practically NOTHING.

Re:Plop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439996)

Oh they are still evil. You realize this is their plan to control the US, right? Once every American household uses these lights Walmart will make its demands for $1 million. If those demands are not met then they will detonate the light bulbs releasing the deadly mercury enclosed killing millions.

Brilliant! (2, Insightful)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439678)

I'll assume the extra cost vs regular bulbs is just a happy side effect? That said, I buy 'em because they last longer.

Re:Brilliant! (5, Interesting)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439714)

I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that the reason I don't use them has nothing to do with their cost. I had one once, and the delay between the time that I switched on the light and the time the light actually turned on really annoyed me. I know it's stupid, but that's why I haven't bought any more. That, and it didn't really last all that much longer than other regular bulbs that I have. It didn't ever burn out, but it started flickering to the point that it would give just about anybody a headache.

Personally, I'm hoping LED-based lightbulbs become more common in the near future...

Re:Brilliant! (5, Informative)

exploder (196936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439748)

The delay is pretty much a thing of the past. The ones in my house turn on instantaneously, as far as I can detect. If they are very, very cold (way colder than you'd ever let it get inside your house), it can take maybe half a second.

Re:Brilliant! (5, Informative)

Mad Quacker (3327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439878)

The delay is pretty much a thing of the past. The ones in my house turn on instantaneously, as far as I can detect.
I just bought 2 packs from (speak of the devil) Walmart last week.

Guess what? There is a delay.. maybe a second or so - and then on top of that it takes them about a minute to get up to full brightness. So the 100W equivalent CFL's I have put out (guesstimate) 20W of incandescent equivalent light. I keep my house at 70F. When the bulbs have been operating and are up to about (guesstimate) 100F, they turn on with about a 1/4 second delay. Who keeps their house at 100F?

This makes them inappropriate for stairwells, bathrooms, and any place with automatic light sensors.

Re:Brilliant! (3, Interesting)

exploder (196936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439928)

I just bought 2 packs from (speak of the devil) Walmart last week.
Guess what? There is a delay.. maybe a second or so - and then on top of that it takes them about a minute to get up to full brightness. So the 100W equivalent CFL's I have put out (guesstimate) 20W of incandescent equivalent light. I keep my house at 70F. When the bulbs have been operating and are up to about (guesstimate) 100F, they turn on with about a 1/4 second delay. Who keeps their house at 100F?
Sounds like I have significantly better bulbs than you do. I don't remember when/where I bought them, but they say "Commercial Electric" on them...who the hell are they? I guess they can make a good bulb, whoever they are...

Re:Brilliant! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440022)

"This makes them inappropriate for stairwells, bathrooms, and any place with automatic light sensors."

Indeed. However the power savings you get from those applications is negligible. (unless you tend to leave the lights on in the stairwells and bathrooms)

Compact fluorescents are great at reducing per-lumen light cost, and last almost indefinitely (but a finite number of starts...), but the best way to save energy is to not have the light on in the first place.

The intermittent usage of those mentioned applications makes them unsuitable to CF, but that very intermittent usage means they aren't on all that much to begin with.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

antibryce (124264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439932)

i just tried switching and the delay is definitely still there. It became so annoying I replaced all but one (and that one will probably be replaced soon.)

Re:Brilliant! (5, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439802)

Zero delay on modern bulbs. My only current complaint is that they don't play nice with dimmers. I use them everywhere else.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

Nanoda (591299) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439912)

Yeah... my Globe brand bulbs have a 1/2 to 1 second delay before lighting first thing in the morning, and all my flood or spotlight style CFLs (spiral inside, with a glass casing) warm up slowly over about 20 seconds, regardless of brand.

If you're looking for instant-on light, try Luminus brand spiral bulbs (The local CostCo carries them here in Edmonton). My parents had those everywhere, and I didn't even notice until I started trying to push them to buy CFLs and was surprised to find they already had a whole bunch of them.

Re:Brilliant! (5, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439760)

Regular bulbs are cheaper to produce - namely because they don't need a ballast (what is hidden in the base in CFLs) like all fluorescents do. Price a replacement ballast at homedepot for a digital (T32?) fluorescent - it costs between $16-25 for four tubes, sometimes more. So I'm surprised they CFLs got so cheap.

BTW, 60 watt equivalent CFLs cost roughly $1.50 a piece (8 pack) at Costco. Much cheaper than Walmart. Nice, bright, instant on.

(A while back, in my dad's new garage, within 3 weeks - 6 of his fluorescent tube fixtures broke. It was a batch of bad ballasts in them. It would have been a bitch replacing just the ballasts - lots of cutting wires, tying the new one together, tearing the fixture apart and putting it back together again - in other words a PITA. We decided to go with regular bulb fixtures with CFLs because we would get the fluorescent cost benefits but the screw in bulb convenience.)

Anyway, the upfront cost is not worth complaining over - with regular use you got your money back within 3-5 months.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439940)

The number after the T is the tube diameter in 8ths of an inch. So a (most common) T8 tube is a 1 inch tube. T32 would be massive.

Magnetic ballast for older tubes are cheap ... the electronic ballast for high output T5 on the other hand is pricey.

CF bulbs are cheap because it's simple to make an electronic ballast that's only going to be used with a known tube, most seperate ballast units can be used with a fairly wide array of tubes.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439982)

We've replaced most of the main lights with CFLs in our house. I agree with your estimates that it takes only a few months to recoup the up-front expenses of the CFLs over incandescents. I will save a minimum of $30 in electricity costs this year just by replacing 8 regular light bulbs (that's also only running them an average of about 4 hours a day - if you have lights on more, you save more, obviously). The bulbs only cost something like $8 for 6 at Lowe's, which is a savings of about $20 versus traditional bulbs just on electricity after factoring in the higher up-front cost.

Just don't put the bulbs in tight enclosed spaces, they burn out more quickly; however, the technology of these bulbs is constantly improving. You can also get ones now that are "vanity" shaped to fit in those weird fixtures you may have.

Fortunately / but on the other hand (0, Redundant)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439810)

I get mine through second hand retailers such as Building 19. or through special discount programs.

Sadly, I find that they do not always last as long as the warranty says, and returning a discounted broken bulb is not worth the price.

Re:Brilliant! (2, Insightful)

Holmwood (899130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439842)

The bulbs last massively longer and do use a lot less energy. As long as people are happy with the 'colder' light they produce, it really is a good deal for consumers. There's far less landfill space consumed (1 compact fluorescent vs 5-10 incandescents), a lot less CO2 and other pollutants due to lower energy use. (Downside: the CF's do contain small quantities of mercury).

It is a relatively benign move by Walmart. One presumes they're doing this for PR reasons, but that doesn't make it evil.

That said, in typical slashdot fashion, I'll point out a technologically superior solution: LED lights.

You can use a 100W incandescent that lasts (say) 1000 hours; ($1)
a 23W CFL (compact fluorescent) bulb that lasts (say) 10,000 hours; ($10)
a 5-9W LED that lasts 130,000 hours. ($40+)

Thanks to Walmart (and others), the CFL's probably make the most economic sense. From an environmental standpoint, the LED bulbs are probably best, though the cost is up-front cost is prohibitively high.

Colder vs. Warmer lights (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440038)

My Girlfriend is what I might consider a bit of a hippy.
Her brother is definitely what I would consider a hippy.

They (of course) introduced me to these lights a while back. My girl has them all over her condo, and I found out from her (and from seeing them in action) that there are different color lights available. She has the typical white light in her closets, but there are some more yellow bulbs out there too that give more natural light.

I have them all over my condo. Bathroom, living room, dining room, and basement. I keep my house a bit cooler, and there is about a 1/2 delay between switch and turn on. Also, there is about 15 seconds of 'warm up' time where the lights get brighter. I may have older gen bulbs, but I have yet to have an issue with them, and I can tell you that they've just about paid for themselves already (I've had them since summer). I love these things.

And parent is right since the LED would instantly put off customers that are thinking 'cheap light.' It's quite typical... And I'd know, I was like that. I could easily see CFLs being a gateway light though. If the CFL works as advertised, and the end customers are happy, or even *really happy,* 5-6 years down the road they might be keen on switching to an LED, even if it's $40. I'd rather see the price on something like that come down a bit further. That might happen too, especially if the manufacturers can find enough demand from the flashlight industry to start really producing them.

They don't actually last longer (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439980)

I've bought dozens of CFLs over 12 years (hoping they'll improve). The *bulbs* last a long time. Unfortunately, the electronic adapters that screw into a standard light socket last about 6 months before dying. I now have a shelf full of perfectly good bulbs from dead CFL sockets. Of *course*, no one sells just the bare adapters so that I can use the bulbs.

A much better use of my money has been to buy *real* flourescent ballast and good old fashioned flourescent tubes. The oldest ballast came with the house and is 30 years old. The oldest ballast I've installed is 12 years and counting. The tube bulbs last nearly 10 years. The CFL stuff, on the other hand, is junk.

The CFL products need to cost *more* and put more quality into the mini electronic ballast so that it lasts as long as the bulb. Or maybe this isn't really possible, and the only reliable way to do flourescent is with magnetic ballast. I've noticed a similar problem with LCD panels. I have an LCD monitor sitting behind my desk with perfectly good a LCD and perfectly good flourescent backlights - but the electronic ballast (high voltage supply) is shot (died the day after 1 year warranty expired). I've replaced the ballast, and the monitor runs another 6 months before the high voltage dies again. After a while, you can't even buy replacement ballast for the LCD because they use some funky custom job for every model. What a waste. I can't bring myself yet to throw out a perfectly good LCD monitor for lack of a decent ballast. I'm sitting at a CRT because it has kept working for 7 years.

How many soulless corporate juggernauts... (3, Funny)

exploder (196936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439682)

...does it take to change your light bulbs?

Mod parent up! (1)

Galahad2 (517736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439894)

I laughed out loud. Nice job.

Thank you Wal-Mart (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439684)

They're doing this for the environment. Not because it's a profitable business to sell billions of fluorescent light bulbs.

Re:Thank you Wal-Mart (0, Troll)

Teresita (982888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439726)

"They're doing this for the environment."

See if you say that after all those Wal-Mart-shopping peckerwoods start using their burnt-out fluorescent bulbs for shootin' practice and that mercury starts piling up in Booger Creek.

Re:Thank you Wal-Mart (3, Interesting)

Jeff1946 (944062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439768)

Don't forget the major source of mercury pollution in the US in coal burning power plants. Perhaps the energy saved with CFLs would mean less mercury in the environment even if they are improperly disposed of.

Re:Thank you Wal-Mart (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439848)

the Hg in fluorescent bulbs, especially little CF bulbs isn't a large amount, just a bit of vapor. i wouldn't want to inhale a freshly smashed pallet of them, but the contamination issue is pretty much nonexistent, and is far offset by reductions in fossil fuel burning for electricity to power CF compared to incandescent lights

Re:Thank you Wal-Mart (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439986)

Maybe you aren't aware of this, but the word "peckerwood" is extremely offensive. And not just offensive to uptight people who deserve to be offended, but offensive to everyone who objects to bald racism . . . just like the "n"-word.


Re:Thank you Wal-Mart (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439974)

They're doing this for the environment.

Technically ... that's called a "side effect".

No, they're doing it to make money, gobs and gobs of it.

highly poisonous (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440012)

These bulbs contain mercury.

Pure metalic mercury isn't all that bad. We don't absorb it all that well. Romans used to drink it as a supposed cure for baldness.

Out in the environment though, there are bacteria that process mercury. The mercury ends up in a super-toxic form called dimethyl-mercury. This washes out into the ocean. Critters get mercury into them. Their bodies concentrate it. As critters eat other critters, the mercury gets way more concentrated. We happen to think the larger critters, such as tuna and swordfish, are quite yummy.

Mercury does nasty things to your mind and to your immune system, among others.

Walmart ruins most meat by injecting 5% to 15% of some weird "broth" to cheat on the weight. I guess they couldn't ruin the fish that way, but now they've managed to ruin the fish too! Damn them to Hell. Fish used to be good to eat.

Wait..... (-1, Troll)

HomerJ (11142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439688)

A company who's whole business is selling cheaply made goods, that require faster replacement is going to try and sell people something that's better quality but more expensive up front?

What's next? An article where Apple sells a $200 computer in partnership with Blue Hippo?

They're still evil... (0, Troll)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439696)

So they make lots of money up front on light bulbs—money they can invest and earn returns on—instead of a little money all along. Plus, if Wal-Mart uses their buying power to get these light bulbs for pennies on the dollar and make more money off of them at the cash register, plus get to use "We're environmentally friendly!" in their ads, they stand to greatly profit from this move.

I'm not seeing how this makes them any less evil. If they sell the bulbs for less profit, then I'd say maybe a little less evil. (Which I assume they're not, correct me if I'm wrong. TFA is a registration site.)

It seems to me that the only people who are less evil are the people spending a lot of money up front to buy the bulbs, not the store that's selling them. And even then, since the bulbs are cheaper to use in the long run, even that's debatable. I switched to these bulbs throughout my house years ago, and I've never had to replace one, and my power bill went down pretty dramatically.

Re:They're still evil... (5, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439772)

I'm not seeing how this makes them any less evil. If they sell the bulbs for less profit, then I'd say maybe a little less evil.

Selling things for a profit isn't evil.

If you want to complain about Walmart, complain about their shitty service, or how their employees are morons, or the over all low quality of the products they sell, or how they treat their employees like dirt. There's no shortage of reasons why Walmart could be considered "evil", but selling things for a profit isn't one of them.

Everytime you get a paycheck that isn't negative, you've sold your labor for a profit. Get over it.

Re:They're still evil... (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439890)

We should all also remember that freedom of association and assembly are specifically protected rights. People like to cherry pick the rights they champion but how would you make "evil corporations" illegal without removing the right for individuals to peacably assemble?

Re:They're still evil... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440016)

how would you make "evil corporations" illegal without removing the right for individuals to peacably assemble?.

Because corporations aren't people except via the thinnest legal pretense, that dates back to a decision made in the last century by a single judge. The Constitution doesn't know much about corporations, evil or otherwise, and I doubt a "right of corporate entities to peaceably assemble" would be of much consequence to said organizations even if they had such a thing.

Indeed (2, Insightful)

woolio (927141) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440020)

Selling things for a profit isn't evil.


However, I think many people would be upset at a company that pays its employees as if the company never made a profit when it in fact does fairly well...

In Texas, there is a store named "H.E.B" , (Howard Butt). Its prices are similar to walmart, but slightly higher... But the culture inside the store is entirely different. The store is actually clean, the employees not worn out, and the whole thing is a privately owned company!

Profit+Greed = Evil

Re:They're still evil... (1)

MrWGW (964175) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439806)

On what basis do you claim that Wal-Mart is evil to begin with? They donate massive amounts to charity, have been working on being more environmentally friendly since the early 1990s (when they first built a prototype eco-friendly store with skylights and electric car charging facilities), and from an ethical standpoint they seem to at least have parity with the rest of the Fortune 500. Yes, they have crushed a lot of competitors in retail, but that's because for a long time they had a substantially better business model than anyone else. Wal-Mart's victory was an honest one, and (regardless of whether you're pro or anti-Microsoft) you can't even draw a parallel between Wal-Mart's victory and the dominance of the Windows platform (nor, for that matter, does Wal-Mart enjoy market share or margins anywhere near those of Microsoft). Retail is a brutally competitive, extremely low margin business with massive overcapacity, and unlike with technology products, there is seldom anything (other than geography) that forces you to shop exclusively at one store. My only gripe about Wal-Mart is their generally dour merchandising and overall brand experience compared to Target. Wal-Mart's dominance in retail will soon likely fade anyway, as consumers embrace specialized big box retailers like Best Buy and resurgent midmarket department stores like Kohl's.

Re:They're still evil... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439814)

I'm not seeing how this makes them any less evil. If they sell the bulbs for less profit, then I'd say maybe a little less evil.
Profit and Good are not mutually exclusive

Re:They're still evil... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439892)

You're an idiot.

Regardless of Wal-Mart making money now or later, the benefit is that the bulbs in thousands and thousands of homes result in less energy being used. That's good for everybody.

Now go back to your commie meeting.

you've got this all wrong (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440048)

It's not that Walmart is suddenly "good" for selling compact fluorescent bulbs.

It's that compact fluorescent bulbs are now irredeemably evil.

Oh come on... (5, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439700)

"While we all know from reading the internets that Wal-Mart is irredeemably evil"

What is that? Sure, the majority of people don't like Wal-Mart, but why do you feel the need to mention it in an article where Wal-Mart is doing something good?

As for the article it's mostly a "duh" thing. It's main points seem to be that Wal-Mart's trying to sell a lot of these bulbs, the people who make money off of incandescents don't like it, and then it goes into the history of the light bulb.

I'm glad Wal-Mart's doing this, too many people refuse to buy them, if Wal-Mart does what they always do (cheap) then their plan should work and power consumption should drop.

((Why do I see myself losing Karma here...?))

Re:Oh come on... (4, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439786)

Sure, the majority of people don't like Wal-Mart...
No, the majority of slashdotters don't like Wal-Mart. The majority of people, in general, either like it or don't have any feelings for it one way or another. Same with Microsoft, SCO, and the RIAA.

Re:Oh come on... (1)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439832)

why do you feel the need to mention it in an article where Wal-Mart is doing something good?


Seriously, check your Sarcasmabatron, it may be malfunctioning. Or upgrade to the Sarcasmabatron 9000 model--it's much more reliable.

Re:Oh come on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17440000)

Part of the Wal-Mart issue *is* that they use their power to control things a retail outlet should never be able to control, and this is just another example. Remember Rubbermaid? Remember when Computer Games came in bigger boxes?

If Wal-Mart was doing this out of the goodness of their heart, they'd start shipping by train.

Profit Margins on Regular vs Compact Fluoro Bulbs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439702)

Is this a big surprise? CFL bulbs may cost more up front but they are still only a few dollars each. (Cheap.) Notice that WalMart didn't have any special emphasis on these bulbs before they were proven on the market and being made by many companies. If WalMart is pushing them now (aside from the PR benefits) it is probably because they will make more money selling them than regular bulbs.

i'm no fan of wal-mart (2, Insightful)

kennedy (18142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439706)

and i do hate to admit it - but with their buying power this really could actually help drop the cost of these sorts of lights for everyone.

in any case, good for wal-mart. this, along with that $4 RX deal they've started (in some areas? dunno if it's company-wide yet), and we've got a few small steps in the right direction. now if only wal-mart would use it's buying power to get a good deal on gas...

Re:i'm no fan of wal-mart (1)

pcsmith811 (886216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439830)

In Western Washington you can regularly buy these CFL's for ~ $.35 The power companies out here offer $2 off coupons which you can re-use over and over. I literally have cases of these in my garage. Anyway, this is good for Walmart and the environment. Maybe Walmart is figuring if people save money on electric bills they will have more money to buy their wares.

Brighter CFLs would attract more buyers (4, Insightful)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439710)

I've found that replacing my 100watt bulbs with the equivalent in CFLs was ok, but light coming from them somehow seemed dimmer due to it being a colder temperature light. What I would like to see is really bright CFLs, like 150W equivalent, which would use about 30W. I think this would encourage people to buy them more because as well as only using 30% of the electricity they also get bulbs that produce 50% more light, not to mention the immediate wow factor of having brighter bulbs. Unfortunately things seem to be going the other way, as at my local store I can now only buy 18W CFLs.

Re:Brighter CFLs would attract more buyers (1)

sirket (60694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439796)

You need to get warmer CFL's then. The manufacturer makes a big differnece in the quality of the light and some manufacturers make warm bulbs. All of my bulbs are warm light CFL's and they rock. I've seen CFL's that still sort of flicker when first turned on and others that have terrible color light. Mine are warm and come on instantly with no flicker at all. The only funny thing is that the bulbs get brighter after they've been on for a few seconds- but only if it is cold in the room (obviously).

Re:Brighter CFLs would attract more buyers (2, Informative)

Nanoda (591299) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439844)

Make sure you're buying 'soft white' bulbs, not 'cool white' or 'daylight'. The former have a colour temperature of 2700 - 3000K, the latter are more like 4200K. I find my Globe and Luminus brand bulbs match incandescents quite well; Sylvania and perhaps IKEA seem a bit cooler. Globe also make a 150W equivalent bulb that you could try (though it's quite large and wouldn't fit in many enclosed fixtures).

I specifically have some 'cool white' bulbs in my reading lamp and the bathroom, where I prefer a whiter light.

Re:Brighter CFLs would attract more buyers (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439858)

but light coming from them somehow seemed dimmer due to it being a colder temperature light.

That's extremely doubtful, given that that colour-temperature of CFLs is inherently much higher than incandescents, and one of the big challenges has been to convert it down to something more in tune with people's expectations.

An ex-g/f used to complain that CFLs produced light that was too "cold" (by which she meant "blue") and was astonished when I told her that the room we were in was lit by (modern) CFLs. They really are very nearly indistinguishable from ugly old incandescents, and if every one used them there would a power plant or two that would never need to be built.

Re:Brighter CFLs would attract more buyers (5, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439910)

I don't think it is the color of the light that makes them seem dimmer. I think it is just a case of over exaggerating the benefits. When they say the bulb is equivalent to a 100 watt bulb, you can expect to actually get the equivalent of an 80 watt bulb. This wouldn't be so bad if they, as you said, sold 150W equivalent bulbs.

There are two issues I have with CFLs though.

1) I have had problems with them interfering with IR remotes. The first time it happened to me, I thought I was mistaken about the TVs channel changing on it's own, as I wasn't really paying attention. The second time it happened, I freaked me out, because my wife was out of town, and the idea of my lights changing the channel never occured to me. I had to do a complete check of the house with a golf club to make sure there wasn't someone in the house. When the house checked out empty, I started looking for other possibilities. Over the next few weeks, I figured it out. Having the remotes stop working when the lights were on was the final determination. This may be better know, but it has kept me from using CFLs at all in any room that needs the use of an IR remote.

2) The county dumps in my area have declared the CFLs to be toxic waste. This makes it illegal to throw them in the garbage when they do die. The stores that sell the bulbs are not collecting them, so the only legal way to get rid of them is by driving them to the dump.

I don't know the actual toxicity of the CFLs, but I have to wonder what the actual environmental impact is when you account for the bulbs being toxic, and the extra trips to the dump to dispose of dead bulbs. Anyone with real data on this care to chime in?

Re:Brighter CFLs would attract more buyers (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440014)

We've got three CFLs in the kitchen light fixture, and they put out a decent amount of light. Unfortunately, a single one in the light fixture I have in my study puts out eighty watts worth of luminosity. It's not a matter of colour, they're simply dimmer-- they actually print the comparative power consumption and light output values on the packaging for the ones we've got in the cupboard.

I'd love to use fluorescents, but unfortunately I get serious eyestrain in light that low, and have neither the electrical outlets or the space for another fixture in here, so a hundred watt incandescent it is.

Did this a year ago.. (1)

Derwood5555 (828126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439712)

Haven't had to change a bulb all year long.
I even changed the bulbs outside around my house, and installed some solar powered LED lighting.

I hear that there are LED based light bulbs coming that use even less power and last longer than CFL. Maybe I'll switch to those in a year or two.

Re:Did this a year ago.. (1)

iabervon (1971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439838)

We had an LED-based light bulb for a while. After only a few years, somebody broke off half of the bulb. Of course, it kept working until we replaced the fixture with a porch.

External Ambience lighting (4, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439958)

I find that with my solar powered walkway lights, CF porchlights and the 1KW sodium (security) lamp over the driveway, I can afford to completely prevent my neighbors' kid from using the telescope he got for Christmas.

When will they be dimmable?? (4, Interesting)

amigabill (146897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439720)

When will these things become dimmable? Or get good LED "bulbs" dimmable? I've got dimmer switches in 4 rooms of my house which means I'm not able to use these things there. I do have a few elsewhere in the house, and I'd love to use them exclusively, but they don't freakin' work in some things. If they don't freakin work, I don't freakin use them there...

Re:When will they be dimmable?? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439870)

probably never, the only way to do it would be to use N loops and have the circuitry inside switch off some loops of tubing as the power drops, so it wouldn't be smooth dimming, but 2, 3, 4 or maybe 5 steps, the last one being off when there is no longer enough electricity flowing to run a single loop of tubing

Re:When will they be dimmable?? (2, Informative)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439898)

*cough*Google*cough* []

Re:When will they be dimmable?? (3, Insightful)

Nanoda (591299) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440024)

I've never used them myself, but my local hardware store has had Globe brand dimmable CFLs for almost a year now. They are about twice as expensive, but given that they use 1/4 the power and last 10 times as long as incandescents, it's probably still worth getting a few.

Indoor Bud (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439730)

CFLs are great for indoor cannabis, especially sativas.

Is price really the decision point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439736)

I'm more than happy to pay more for something I like. If a fluorescent bulb works the best and costs more than I'm more than happy to buy it. If an incandescent works the best then I'll buy that even if it costs more. Isn't that why people usually pay more if they have a choice? It's because they prefer something. Right now I prefer incandescents because they have a better white spectrum and they don't require warm-up time. The fluorescents have a dull spectrum and require warm-up time. Cost is the last decision point.

Now don't be silly, if the incandescent cost $1,000,000 and the fluorescent was $12 then obviously cost would be a primary decision point - duh!

My two cents, or maybe I should say my two watts (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439742)

It all depends on what the bulbs sell for, and whether they will fit in every place that a normal bulb goes. Yes, that's correct, sometimes they don't fit.

If they sell those compact energy saving light bulbs for 99 cents, hey, I'll bulb (although not from them). If they sell if for $5+, it's not worth it, especially since you throw them away before they're dead (yes, dimming is a huge problem over the lifetime). Some stores do have sales on them, but it really matters as to what brand. Shop smart, and do the math.

Re:My two cents, or maybe I should say my two watt (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439804)

Sorry for the typo. I wish slashdot had a way to edit within the first 3 minutes if there are no other comments as of yet. "hey, I'll bulb" = "hey, I'll buy"

eh, I don't like em (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439754)

most people (me included) can hear the annoying high pitched hum of most flourescent lights plus the UV light that's excessively emitted makes people's skin look uglier. I prefer computer monitor light :) And for rooms without computers, there's just no beating LED lights. They take WAAAAAAAY less power and are just plain cooler. But I suppose Walmart isn't cool or wise enough to know that.

CFLs (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439758)

We've just gotten a couple recently to try them out.

Positives.. well everyone knows the supposed positives. The bulb near my computer is on 24-7 because someone is generally using it 24-7, so I'm waiting to see whether it lives up to the claims. (I think I assumed it would last 6 months or a year at this rate)

Negatives... the thought of having mercury gas a few feet bothers me. Why, after figuring out just how bad mercury is, are we putting the stuff in more products that can expose people and especially children to it?

When I actually do turn it off and several hours turn it back on, it seems to be much dimmer at first. It definitely seems less bright than a normal 60-watt (which is what this one is rated to replace) It's adequate for my computer area.

There are 3 other bulbs in my house currently. Two in the kitchen which lights it well enough. One in the living room but it's less than satisfactory as well. Perhaps simply because we need more lights in there.

If any of them are still working by next december (or well if they even last 6 months) we will probably replace the majority of bulbs (except some which are on dimmers) with them.

One of these days I'd like to try the LED bulbs though.

Some months now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439766)

Wal-Mart started this at least as early as last summer. The main reason I'm using these light bulbs is because last summer I came across a promotional display in their store. They were offering these bulbs at great prices, an offer I couldn't refuse. I'm slowly converting all my bulbs. When one of the old style bulbs burns out, I replace it with a compact flourescent.

Re:Some months now (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439862)

Bah, I didn't wait. I bought more flourescents than I needed, so I went down the line until I had all the old bulbs in my house that were eligable replaced. I'm cheap. I've been buying these for about four years now, every time I move (more often than I like) I start the cycle over.

Of course it's for money (2, Informative)

hellfire (86129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439774)

This is just smart. Car companies do it too. They sell to people who want fuel economy. If a car company could make a powerful safe car that ran for 500 miles on 1 gallon of gas, they'd do it.

Walmart has no vested interest selling electricity or energy. Since CFLs are more expensive up front, they get a greater slice of profits. The more expensive the item, the larger profit margin. Warmart is still a company that's only interested in profits, and I'm not ready to slap the saintly tag on them, but this is purely capitalism at it's best. The invisible hand will see where the profits are and follow the money, and when it comes to light, the money is in saving energy.

Contains mercury (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439780)

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs contain mercury. Most localities are not prepared to intercept this waste, so the net result is more mercury pollution, not less. Burning coal to generate electricity disperses mercury into the air, but widespread use of compact fluorescent bulbs will not save enough electricity to offset the increased mercury pollution unless the mercury is recovered when the bulbs die.

Evil plan behind all this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439784)

I've seen the master documents behind this and Wal-Mart is planning to halt global warming only so they can sell over-priced heaters and bulky knit turtle necks designed by Al Gore and made by sweatshop labor. And make the cheap laborers sweat even more with the heaters and turtle necks even though it remains quite cool outside.

I have five incandecents left in my home. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439798)

Three in a fixture on a dimmer, the ones that I never use, can't use those in a dimmer, plus two in the bathroom. Turning the ones in the bathroom on heats up the mirror just above the dew point making it easier to shave without leaving towl streaks. All the rest are compact florecents.

Good Start (1)

VGfort (963346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439808)

Nice to see at least some effort for energy efficiency, even if its Wal-Mart. I've been using CFC bulbs like this for 2yrs now and they are great. I'm guessing it will probably be about 20yrs before LED bulbs become cheap enough and powerful enough to replace 100w bulbs in our homes.

I'd like to see the US Govt support the 1 Watt-Standby Power Initiative, the way Europe is now doing so.

I'd also like to see any new houses/buildings required to use solar power cells or solar furnaces. Especially if you are in the Sun Belt. I know they aren't "clean" to create but we have to start somewhere, the technology is here, we can't wait for it to be perfect.

While I'm at it, why don't we require any city with a population over 500,000 to have a mandatory recycling program.

One thing that has also never made sense to me is why so many houses in the Western US don't have basements. Its hotter in the SouthWest than anywhere else in the Nation.

Any government official can feel free to steal these ideas, I can't do anything with them, I have no power (pun not intended :p ).

Those are outlawed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439882)

I've been using CFC bulbs like this for 2yrs now and they are great.

Are you trying to single-handedly be responsible for global warming?

Re:Good Start (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439920)

LED will likely never be a major light source. LED is good in portable low power uses like flashlights because incandescent bulbs at that scale suck.

in order to survive vibration and shocks a typical flashlight element is much thicker for its' length than a home bulb, because of this it heats up less and dissipates heat faster for any given amount of power, thus being much dimmer. LED lights at home fixture power levels fall between CF and incandescent bulbs in terms of efficiency and far above either in cost. the only use i could see for LED lamps would be for hostile environments due to LED being more resiliant than any glass based technology

Re:Good Start (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439938)

I'd also like to see any new houses/buildings required to use solar power cells or solar furnaces. Especially if you are in the Sun Belt. I know they aren't "clean" to create but we have to start somewhere, the technology is here, we can't wait for it to be perfect. photovoltaics are not clean to make, solar water heating for hot water and home heating doesn't really need anything nasty to make.

Re:Good Start (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439988)

In California, we don't have basements because the builders would make less money if they put them in. People will try to tell you that we can't have basements because of water tables and earthquakes, but I do work for a steel mill that has something like 15 acres of basements, and if you go to San Francisco, every one of those high rises has multi-level basements. Clearly, basements here are a matter of profit, not ability.

CFLs... I just don't get it. (1)

Vultan (468899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439820)

So after reading a lot of the content on Slashdot and elsewhere recently about the wonderful efficiency of CFLs, my wife and I thought we'd try them. We were really disappointed.
  • they still have that deathly white sterilizing glow that traditional fluorescent lights do
  • they take 60 seconds to achieve maximum brightness, which means that by the time you've found your clothes in the closet, the lights are finally bright
  • on the flip side, you can't use them with a dimmer switch, so if you want to achieve mood lighting, you can't
We're going to relegate these bulbs to the garage and stick with incandescents: we'd rather pay the electric bills for lighting we enjoy. Is is just us? Do most people just not notice the difference in lighting, or are they willing to put up with it for the cost savings? (Yes, we bought two different brands: GE and HomeBest. Similar.)

Re:CFLs... I just don't get it. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439918)

* Make sure you're buying 'soft white' bulbs, not 'cool white' or 'daylight'. I can't tell the difference between

* The CFLs I use achieve maximum brightness in about 1 second. I used to have some that took 60 seconds.. but that was 5 years ago. Maybe you just tried a bad (cheap?) brand of CFL? Feit Electric [] takes 1 seconds to reach maximum brightness. I'm sure other do brands too .

* Yeah they don't work with dimmers. I don't have any dimmers.

I think you should give CFLs another chance. The money I save on the electric bill is worth it.

Unintentionally hilarious comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439828)

From TFA:

Andy Ruben, Wal-Mart's vice president for strategy and sustainability:

"We start with the premise, that customers make good choices."

It has slightly disrupted me (1)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439840)

I was already used to buying CF bulbs at Wal-Mart. But now they've switched their entire product line. I went to buy one of their new bulbs, but ended up with a stark cool-white that contrasts with all of the warm white CF bulbs in my house. I ended up trashing them.

I'm going to have to take a closer look when I go back to Wal-Mart, but I hope that they put some effort into marking which ones are:

1] Instant On
2] Cool White vs Warm White

How about Energy Saving LED Bulbs? (1)

quadra23 (786171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439850)

These energy-saving bulbs use 75% less electricity than incandescents and produce far less greenhouse gas to manufacture and use

Don't let the marketing fool you, I don't see any comparison with LED bulbs. This is probably because they know there is none.

The retailer is determined to push energy-saving light bulbs with the help of some unlikely partners.

Even when you factor in that LED lights cost a little more to buy, don't you actually save more money on your power bill and have longer lasting bulbs if you use LED lights? LED bulbs such as the ones shown here [] claim to be able to use the same light socket. In addition to the useful facts listed on the page here's another tidbit directly from the page:

National Energy Savings:

If every U.S. household replaced just one standard 60 watt bulb with a CC Vivid LED bulb, we could save 24,184,400,000 watts or 24,184.4 mega (million) watts per day.

National savings information based on 103,000,000 households with an average use of 4 hrs per day per house. Based on gross watts.

Re:How about Energy Saving LED Bulbs? (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439946)

They're not going to sell them for one reason:
LED's are built to last forever.

This is not a substainable buisness model. The Edison light company went broke for this reason, some of their original bulbs still work today.

Women do not like them (3, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439854)

Go ask - women do not like the light they throw off.

Re:Women do not like them (3, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440036)

Seriously, where are we supposed to find these "women"? Are they over on Usenet? Fark? Digg? Homestarrunner? Where?

Dimmable or 3-way bulbs? (1)

muridae (966931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439856)

My entire apartment, save the kitchen and bathroom, uses dimmer switches. Most of my lamps use 3-way bulbs, which with incandescents made it easy to use one lamp to either read by or light an entire room. Has anyone seen CF bulbs that can do either of those useful functions?

Re:Dimmable or 3-way bulbs? (1)

doroshjt (1044472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440010)

Yup, found this with a thing called google, 3 way and dimmable bulbs available []

Because I Got Screwed, That's Why (1)

Local Loop (55555) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439874)

to convince consumers to pay more upfront for large savings over the product's lifetime.

Why is this seemingly logical proposition such a hard sell? Because we are so used to being scammed!

Pay more now, save in the long run! What happens in general across all types of products is that I pay more now, then it breaks, the company goes out of business, tastes change, it is found to be harmful, etc.

Not to spread FUD, but I bought a bunch of CFLs a few years ago, and found that:

  • They weren't near as bright as advertised (100 watt equivalent... not even close).
  • Were oddly colored.
  • Turned an odd variety of colors as they aged, no two the same!
  • Ran hotter than I was comfortable with.
  • The plastic cases cracked and turned brown from the heat they generated after a few months
  • Could only be used in bare sockets, since the manufacturers warn against putting them in an enclosed fixture.
  • Were painful to look at in bare sockets, because their limited brightness is concentrated in a smaller area.

In short, I got totally bamboozled on the deal, thoroughly pissed off, and there's no way I'm going to trust Walmart that things are better now. Nope. I'm going to pay 30 cents a bulb for cheap chinese bulbs that incidentally last longer than the expensive name brands at the grocery store.

P.S. They were from a reputable manufacturer, cost a lot of money and I didn't abuse them in any way.

Re:Because I Got Screwed, That's Why (1)

victim (30647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440042)

I can second most of this. I've been using compact fluorescent bulbs for years and this is mostly true. The good news is that it is getting better.
  • You can now get them in spectrums close enough to incandescent that my wife doesn't notice. (She hated the early ones.) The down side of that is that it takes more energy for the same perceived brightness, but that is just your lying eyes.
  • The imaginary incandescent equivalent wattage is closer to true. I always upsize one, e.g. replace a 60w incandescent with a 75w cf, but the 60s are now too bright to use where I had 40s.
  • They are still hideously made. 2 of the last 20 I bought are nearly unusable because of the whining noise they make. That doesn't say good things about build quality.
  • The plastic is still marginal. Most of my bulbs hang inverted and the plastic is deteriorating quickly.
  • I got my last batch at Home Depot, but they were no doubt made in the Chinese People's Lightbulb Factory #24 or somesuch. They claim to have a multiyear warranty, with an asterisk that says it is based on projected use of several hours a day. I have no idea how they would apply that rule without an hour meter, but the warranty never says what it covers or to whom you might apply for reimbursement. Maybe they just thought the word looked pretty on the backage.
  • Do remember to save the dead ones for hazardous waste pickup day. But if you don't... the amount of mercury in the bulb is less than the mercury you didn't emit by burning coal to power an equivalent incandescent.

About longer lasting incandescents... Lightbulb design isn't rocket science (which explains why they rarely achieve orbit), the big design tradeoff is life vs. efficiency. For my incandescents I use 130v bulbs on my 120v house, they last 17k hours or so but are marginally less efficient.

Full range lights (1)

zoftie (195518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439904)

I became hooked on incandescent ones. They make home, very inviting and livable in. Very comfortable. Yellowish glow of fluorescents just doesn't cut it. I'd wait until full range ones are sold. They are hard to find, and most full range ones, are just extra white. I guess it'll be alright for shed and outside lights.

Australia must be too. (1)

dohzer (867770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439908)

Most of the supermarkets I've waked into recently (in Australia) don't have any of the "normal bulbs". I've been gradually working them in to my house, but it's very strange when one bulb comes on instantly, and the other takes half a second to light up.

Cost & Profit (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439922)

Finally a win/win for the company, consumer and environment, unlike the usual win/screw you situation. Of course this is profitable for them, plus free publicity to boot. It is also profitable to everyone who buys them, they cost a little more at the counter but save a significant amount of your power bill and last longer. Everybody wins, yet Wal-Mart is evil for this? A strange world we live in.

Not about cost (1)

TFoo (678732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439950)

People don't buy CFL's because they:

1) Don't look as good. Even the "warm" CFLs aren't nearly as comfortable to look at as an incandescent bulb.

2) Are generally incompatible with dimmers (there are some dimmer-capable CFLs, but they're few and far between)

3) Are ugly as sin in any fixture where the bulb is visible.

mercury (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17439960)

cfl contain mercury. household hazard as well as a junkyard pollutant.

Internets? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17439962)

Could people please just get this silly dumbed down internets word out of their tubes?

Fan of CFLs, But... (1)

spotter (5662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440008)

I'm a big fan of CFLs, but they don't seem to produce as good a light as regular incandescent bulbs. I have a teeny tiny living room in my apartment (split in half to make a 3rd bedroom) and 1 60W incandescent bulb lights it up nicely. However, the 13W CFL I replaced it with doesn't light it up as well, and it produces what I can only refer to as a more "yellowish" light than the incandescent does. that could be in regards to the type of bulb I picked up, but it was the only type of bulb home depot seemed to sell (in multiple different size packs).

Look around, you can get them VERY cheap (1)

donkor (1046212) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440032)

Narragansett Electric (part of National Grid) has been offering these through retail chains in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for a VERY low price, anywhere from $0.50 to $0.99 a bulb depending on the retailer. It may still seem expensive when you can buy a 4pack of regular light bulbs for $0.99, but when you consider they lost 4-5 times longer (8000-10000 hours vs 2000 hours) and use a quarter of the electricity, it really adds up. There are CFLs that are dimmable and 3way also that use less electricity, but they generally cost a lot more ($5.99 is the price I've been seeing) so I don't know if it's worth it at that price.

Simple Economics Alright (5, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440034)

If it succeeds in selling 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs a year by 2008

They will also have converted about 28% (nearly a third) of their yearly lightbulb sales to somthing that is 8 times as expensive.
Given that profit margins normally work on percentages, that should roughly octuple 28% of their profit margin on lightbulbs.
They should be making 2.96 times as much selling light bulbs, of course they want to push this.

Well, crap. (1)

EinZweiDrei (955497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17440050)

The world has been dying for this sort of energy-reduction initiative, and when it comes along, it's from Wal-Mart... This reminds me of when PETA wanted everyone to go out and buy a BK Veggie sandwich. Just a whole big ethical mess.
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