Another reason why CFL bulbs should die a quick death

By | June 14, 2012

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.

(Photo: Wikipedia.)

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7 thoughts on “Another reason why CFL bulbs should die a quick death

  1. Pingback: A journey of searching and renewal « Something better to do

  2. Thomas E!

    Why not just use a Halogen bulb instead which is still “incandescent” by definition and will work for short use applications until you pony up and go to LEDs?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      CFLs and LEDs are three times as efficient as halogen bulbs, and they get much less hot.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    They didn’t say that you can’t use CFLs in ceiling fan fixtures, or that you can’t leave them on for less than 3 hours.

    They said that if you do these things, they won’t last the full rated period.

    Is there a government standard for what those ratings mean? Maybe the standard should be updated to account for lights that are turned on and off frequently.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      They didn’t say that you can’t use CFLs in ceiling fan fixtures, or that you can’t leave them on for less than 3 hours.

      They said that if you do these things, they won’t last the full rated period.

      That’s a very charitable interpretation of the situation.

      In fact, they less so much less than the rated period that they end up costing more per kWh than the incandescent bulbs for which we’ve been told they’re such a great replacement.

      That might be 100% fraud, but it’s pretty darn close.

      I’m just glad LEDs are cost-effective now and CFLs are going to die a well-deserved death.

      Reply
  4. Dooley

    Actually, governments are only banning common traditional bulb sizes. Ones that need to be used in specialty sizes/conditions are not being banned.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Yeah, I know that, but both bathroom and fan fixtures use “common traditional bulb sizes.”

      Reply

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