I recently sent a complaint to a compact fluorescent light bulb manufacturer about a bulb that was rated for 12,000 hours but lasted less than three years. Their response included this:
“…remember that there are situations that can shorten the life of a CFL, such as using the bulb in a receptacle that is turned on and off frequently (such as bathrooms), or a fixture that moves and vibrates (such as a ceiling fan). Each time a CFL is turned on, it is meant to be left burning for over 3 hrs to maximize rated life. Flipping the light switch on and off is detrimental to rated life.”
As it happens, this bulb was being used in an exhaust fan fixture in a bathroom, so apparently its premature failure was only to be expected. But let’s dig down a bit here.
All over the world, governments are banning incandescent bulbs (IBs) to save energy, based on the premise that IBs are obsolete. When that movement started, the only affordable alternative to IBs was CFLs. Apparently, CFLs can’t be used in many household fixtures. So what did the U.S. Congress and all the other legislative bodies around the world expect people to screw into their bathroom and fan fixtures?
Did I forget to mention that many (most?) CFLs claim to be inappropriate for enclosed fixtures?
And then there’s the claim that CFLs are intended to be left burning for over 3 hours each time they are turned on. Leaving a light on for three hours that I only needed for a few minutes saves electricity how, exactly?
And let’s not forget that CFLs contain mercury, which means that they create a health hazard when they break and require special disposal even when they don’t.
Just about the only positive thing I can say about the phony CFL bill of goods we consumers were sold is that the bulb efficiency legislation enacted by various governments spurred investment in the development of LED lighting technology, which as far as I can tell has none of the drawbacks of CFLs (it has its own set of drawbacks, but that’s a different story).
Here’s to hoping the LEDs quickly gain dominant market share and CFLs disappear into the annals of history.