Friday, June 1, 2007

Compact Fluorescent Bukbs - Advice

Recently I have switched many bulbs to compact fluorescent (CFL) in my house. Some advice from experience:

  • Always by just one of a bulb type to test it. There is a huge variance in color, turn-on time, and such. Try the new bulb and then if you like it, get more.
  • WalMart is convenient and has good color CFLs. is even cheaper but you have to order big batches of lights. I got a bit burned because I ordered lots of lights, and a bunch were poor color. So I'm not sure just which is a better way to go. WalMart is better instant gratification. Home Depot has very good prices and a very wide selection. I have not bought from them yet, but they appear to be the good kind of bulbs. WalMart now has a box of 12 for about $19.
  • Dimmable CFL's are awful. When you dim a light you want a warm romantic glow. Dimmable CFLs dim to a cold moonlight silver glow. Uuuuuuuugly.
  • In bathroom lighting over sinks, use a mix of CFLs and the old Incandescent. This keeps the color balance correct for applying makeup.
  • Replace the high use lights first. Or lights that the kids tend to leave on allot. We have a basement closet where the little kids like to make tents out of blankets in, and the light sometimes gets left on for days.
  • Replace outdoor lights. In very cold winter weather they take a few minutes to get fully lit, but are a huge energy user.
  • Color temperature is very important. A normal light bulb is 2800 K degrees. That is a nice warm light. Try to get CFLs in the 2700K range. They are called Warm White or Soft White. The Cool White CFLs are harsher and more blue-white. There supposed to be better for reading, but I don't buy them.
  • Today I bought a round vanity CFL at WalMart. It is a good color and I mix it with old incandescent. Sure is easier on the eyes than those clear glass with filament kinds that are so annoying. Unfortunately if the whole vanity light bar was the round CFLs the color would not be acceptable.
  • Ignore the crap about Mercury in the bulbs. One CFL is equal to about 100 cans of Tuna for Mercury content. Besides, coal has Mercury in it and the lower energy use easily makes for less Mercury in the environment. And you can recycle the Mercury in 10 years. If you break a bulb, just sweep it up and open a window to let any residual mercury vapor out.
Another thing I though of. The CFLs I have installed will never get replaced with more CFLs. They will get replaced with LED lights that are even more efficient, and will have perfect color, and dim correctly. They may also end up being slightly less expensive.


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