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View Full Version : Longevity of CFL bulbs.... surprising.



J Tiers
05-15-2017, 11:51 PM
Yeah, CFLs are obsolete, but I have a few still in place.

Mostly, I have had them fail faster than they were supposed to, typically in one to three years. The ones made for "Feit Electric", and sold as "Commercial Electric" brand at Home Despot I found to be the worst, often failing early with much spitting of burning particles out of the plastic enclosure.

But, I just had one of the last holdouts fail. According to the date written on it, it was installed in Sept 2006, and it was in a lamp that gets used quite regularly, pretty much every day for some hours. Plus, it was a Home Despot "Commercial Electric" brand, made by/for Feit Electric, that didn't spit out anything when it failed. Go figure.

The 11 year life span is certainly nothing to complain about. Wish they all had done that. I guess it falls under the "even a blind pig may find a truffle" category.

Robin R
05-16-2017, 12:24 AM
We still have several CFL bulbs, probably at least five years old. Recently had the first LED bulb fail after three years, and that was a Philips. My guess is that most of both types are made in China, so quality control issues may be responsible for many failures. Unreasonable claims for longevity probably raise expectations enough to cause disappointment.

Ironwoodsmith
05-16-2017, 12:51 AM
Another example of how science is going to save us. But somebody must have forgotten that mercury is toxic. How did those bulbs ever make it to market?

If I sound bitter it is because I lit the whole friggin' place with them. I must have a couple hundred in place, no exaggeration.

I can't really complain, they are probably lasting about 6 or 7 years. But it is the disposal that is ludicrous.

754
05-16-2017, 01:37 AM
I bet someone lobbied for them..at o e time, sounded like incandescent were being phased out.

pinstripe
05-16-2017, 05:31 AM
For those who miss the incandescent bulb.




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO5lGpFGcJY

MattiJ
05-16-2017, 06:08 AM
Probably my first Osram CFL bulb that I bought for my student dormitory lasted over 4 house moves and 12 years until I got bored of the slow turn-on and let it retire :D

CFL's were very much still alive in Thailand just 2 weeks ago, imma guessing that its decent choice for year-round high temperatures where led's became unhappy pretty fast. (and Thailand has domestic CFL production...)

Seastar
05-16-2017, 07:54 AM
I have one in an automatic dock light that burns all night long and is going on its 7th year.
Salt, heat, humidity-- I must be lucky. It came from HD. Don't know the brand.
Bill

Michael Edwards
05-16-2017, 08:44 AM
We have a couple of CFL lights at work to illuminate the parking lot. The photo eyes have long since gave up the ghost, so they run 24/7. We get about a year out of a set of bulbs.

vpt
05-16-2017, 09:06 AM
My whole house is CFL yet as well as my work lights in the shop. LED are to expensive yet.

Abner
05-16-2017, 09:08 AM
Inside my house.
incandescent lights generate heat and so does my electric baseboards.
In winter when my lights are on a long time it is also cold.
In summer when the days are long it is bright enough long enough the lights get used less.
All the good old days.
Today I have saved so much electricity using efficient lighting that I can now get my monies worth out of my baseboard heaters.
Not so sure I have saved any money but hey I'm more efficient.

A.K. Boomer
05-16-2017, 10:07 AM
I converted totally to GE Led's awhile back ---- my local wally world was having a close-out on them because they were not selling due to being too expensive, so they priced them dirt cheap to get rid of them and make room for a lesser brand, it was one of those lucky deals because at something like 60 cents a bulb they were not going to hang around long

so I got 40w and 60w equivalent in everything, about 30 bulbs

I thought id see my electric bill a little lower, ehh - maybe a little I guess but nothing real substantial although Im a light miser anyways

Was told on here long ago that CF's kinda "trick" the electric meters in the way they consume power so their actual watt ratings don't get registered the same, dunno but if so that could be the reason

6PTsocket
05-16-2017, 10:32 AM
Another example of how science is going to save us. But somebody must have forgotten that mercury is toxic. How did those bulbs ever make it to market?

If I sound bitter it is because I lit the whole friggin' place with them. I must have a couple hundred in place, no exaggeration.

I can't really complain, they are probably lasting about 6 or 7 years. But it is the disposal that is ludicrous.
CFLs are like any other florescent and contain a very tiny little drop of mercury that is needed to get the lamp going. Your point fell on deaf ears among the not very deep thinkers that could not see beyond all the energy savings that banning incandescents would save. These people are all about grand gestures to "save the planet" and never stop to look at the concequences of their actions.
The reason CFLs were so prone to failure is that regular florescents have a separate ballast that is physically large and relatively expensive, compared to what is jammed into the base of a CFL. The ballast gets thrown out with the bulb.so it is as cheap as they can make it and with ridiculous size limitations. A curious hole in the law is they banned 100 watt bulbs and worked their way down. I can still buy 150 and 200 watt incandescents in my local supermarket.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

hoof
05-16-2017, 10:34 AM
I've either had them Last for quite a while, or some let out the magic smoke while I was screwing them in. Not much in between. Mine were however the Equate brand from Wal Mart.

754
05-16-2017, 10:45 AM
I thought they told us that they would last like 20 years.. And make our crops better, and make your auto get better mileage..and your wife look like she was 22 again..
I would feel like I was violating something, sticking a pigtailed shaped light object into the bulb holder on a vintage gas pump... 25 watts are getting hard to find., but usually there seems to be a lot of incandescents, even in a grocery store.

J Tiers
05-16-2017, 11:50 AM
I have never had any other CFL give this sort of longevity. ALL the others failed much sooner, between one and three years, typically. And, whatever the theoretical life is, most all seem to have failed when the circuit components failed, not necessarily the tube. It's the effect of making the cheapest possible circuit, using the cheapest components, and designing right to the edge as far as component ratings.

Mercury? There is far less in a CFL than in a regular tube of similar light output. Mercury costs money, they don't put in too much, you can be sure of that. The makers pinch the hundredths of a penny on price.


We still have several CFL bulbs, probably at least five years old. Recently had the first LED bulb fail after three years, and that was a Philips. My guess is that most of both types are made in China, so quality control issues may be responsible for many failures. Unreasonable claims for longevity probably raise expectations enough to cause disappointment.

As far as I know, every stinking one of them is made in china or a surrogate asian country. Probably the prototypes were made elsewhere. And the ones I have seen pretty much appear to be made using the "application note circuits" without much added research or design work. Possibly that is why they fail, the app note circuits are generally not optimized, they are "demonstration" circuits shown as "proof of concept", not usually extensively tested and proven.


.....
I thought id see my electric bill a little lower, ehh - maybe a little I guess but nothing real substantial although Im a light miser anyways

Was told on here long ago that CF's kinda "trick" the electric meters in the way they consume power so their actual watt ratings don't get registered the same, dunno but if so that could be the reason

Our bill is a LOT lower, but we've been using CFLs for perhaps 25 years, since the odd old ones that only were made as big bulky things with a fat base, and reduced size ballasts inside. Fluorescent lights have always been more efficient than incandescent, as well as being capable of better light quality.

We consistently show up with under half the electric usage of similar houses. Not all that is CFLs or LEDs, but it helps. We also do not have central A/C, and only use one window unit occasionally, and that is a big factor, but our usage also tracks in winter when A/C is not an issue except for a few with heat pumps.

As for tricking the meter, that's an urban legend. What they have (shared by many fluorescent lights, for different reasons) is a bad power factor. Most have a bad lagging PF due to the ballast. CFLs may be more capacitive (leading) due to the input capacitor after the rectifier. The meter is adjusted (for residential) to register actual watts, so the power factor is not an issue. Watts are converted into light (and heat), and it is certain that less power goes in for equivalent light output.

bborr01
05-16-2017, 12:05 PM
I bought some led bulbs that said 60 watt equivalent. Used a light meter on my smartphone to compare it with a 100 watt eq. cfl bulb. The led put out more light in spite of it using only 9 watts compared to 27 for the cfl. This was when we were off grid this winter. Well worth paying a little more for the led's.

Brian

jhe.1973
05-16-2017, 12:34 PM
....................... These people are all about grand gestures to "save the planet" and never stop to look at the concequences of their actions..................


AKA known as bureaucrats and your statement is eloquently said, IMHO. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=1151&d=1492446677

Paul Alciatore
05-16-2017, 12:50 PM
This is just another case of the government or the governments coming to our rescue when we really did not need any rescuing. Incandescent bulbs "waste energy" so something MUST be done to save us from ourselves. "Wait, I know; we (the government) will dictate a replacement" because we (the government) knows what is best for you while YOU do not.

When that happened a decade or two ago, LED bulbs were far too expensive to even consider. So, we got CFLs cramed down our throats. Just like so many other things like dictated gasoline mileage, low volume toilets, health care, etc., etc., etc.

I am not trying to be political here. I am not talking about the government of any one country or any particular political party of any country. The fact is, I have very little faith in government "fixes" of any kind in any country and coming from any political party or philosophy. I just think that the free market with knowledge of the facts involved being available is far, FAR more capable of coming to a good outcome than any government dictate. Yes, people will mostly decide things by their financial cost. But financial cost IS a measure of the resources being used so it is not just good financial sense, but it is also GOOD environmental sense. In fact, it is probably the very best environmental sense that is possible. But, of course, the crusaders will never accept that: it takes away their power.

As far as long vs. short life on those CFLs, all electronic and electric items will exhibit a well known failure rate curve. It starts out with a relatively high rate of initial failures that quickly settles down to a fairly low rate over the normal lifetime of the device (usually years). Then at some point the failures start to increase as some failure mechanism takes effect. This rate will increase until the number of remaining devices becomes so small as to bring it down. Some, few, devices will last for two, three, five times the average life span and a very few will last for a really long time. There's that Edison bulb that is still burning in a NY firehouse; at least it was the last time I heard. Anyway, one CFL that has an exceptional long life is no surprise.

As for the mercury, this is not the first use of mercury and it certainly will not be the last. You are in no danger unless you break open thousands of those bulbs and keep your house sealed up against any fresh air. Disposal? You can check with your local sanitation department, but I suspect they will just tell you to throw them in the regular trash. That mercury will be only a trace element in the land fill and it will be buried in the ground where it will cause little harm. It is only when these "harmful" substances are concentrated in unusual amounts that they become dangerous. Your local authorities should be on top of this.




Another example of how science is going to save us. But somebody must have forgotten that mercury is toxic. How did those bulbs ever make it to market?

If I sound bitter it is because I lit the whole friggin' place with them. I must have a couple hundred in place, no exaggeration.

I can't really complain, they are probably lasting about 6 or 7 years. But it is the disposal that is ludicrous.

J Tiers
05-16-2017, 12:51 PM
I bought some led bulbs that said 60 watt equivalent. Used a light meter on my smartphone to compare it with a 100 watt eq. cfl bulb. The led put out more light in spite of it using only 9 watts compared to 27 for the cfl. This was when we were off grid this winter. Well worth paying a little more for the led's.

Brian

The LED bulbs tend to have a built-in "cheat", since they tend to be more directional. Not all of them, but many. Naturally, the light that is NOT sent in a different direction will show up and make the LED LOOK as if it gives more light, even though it may actually give less light per watt input.

One could argue that it is "useful illumination" that counts, but in many cases what is wanted is "general illumination", and not what might better be called "task lighting", i.e. light exactly on what you are doing, without lighting anything else. In that case, directional LED lights are not what is best.

Not all LED lights are directional, IMO the CREE lights seem to be non-directional, as well as the best designed, and giving the most satisfactory light. They are also quite efficient.

jhe.1973
05-16-2017, 12:59 PM
......................................

I am not trying to be political here. I am not talking about the government of any one country or any particular political party of any country. The fact is, I have very little faith in government "fixes" of any kind in any country and coming from any political party or philosophy. I just think that the free market with knowledge of the facts involved being available is far, FAR more capable of coming to a good outcome than any government dictate. Yes, people will mostly decide things by their financial cost. But financial cost IS a measure of the resources being used so it is not just good financial sense, but it is also GOOD environmental sense. In fact, it is probably the very best environmental sense that is possible. But, of course, the crusaders will never accept that: it takes away their power................................



I always felt we were on the same wave length Paul, but this clinches it. What gets me is that there is not ONE example in all of recorded history of any bureaucracy that has brought any lasting peace. And yet we continue to set them up and allow them to GROW!

Reminds me of the quote attributed to Einstein, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

754
05-16-2017, 01:08 PM
Sometimes an incand producingheat is a good feature. I left one on all day in the bathroom of a cold shop, keeps it a tad warmer and lets the towel dry. Used one in a remote pumproom, buily a tent around the pump, used a bulb to keep the output pipe from freezing.
Somewhere there is a kid with a vintage Easy Bake Oven with CFL installed, waiting a looooooooonnnnnnggg day to get her cake baked

A.K. Boomer
05-16-2017, 01:23 PM
Our bill is a LOT lower, but we've been using CFLs for perhaps 25 years, since the odd old ones that only were made as big bulky things with a fat base, and reduced size ballasts inside. Fluorescent lights have always been more efficient than incandescent, as well as being capable of better light quality.

We consistently show up with under half the electric usage of similar houses. Not all that is CFLs or LEDs, but it helps. We also do not have central A/C, and only use one window unit occasionally, and that is a big factor, but our usage also tracks in winter when A/C is not an issue except for a few with heat pumps.

As for tricking the meter, that's an urban legend. What they have (shared by many fluorescent lights, for different reasons) is a bad power factor. Most have a bad lagging PF due to the ballast. CFLs may be more capacitive (leading) due to the input capacitor after the rectifier. The meter is adjusted (for residential) to register actual watts, so the power factor is not an issue. Watts are converted into light (and heat), and it is certain that less power goes in for equivalent light output.

Yeah but my comment was from going from CFL's to LED's

I did see a marked reduction when going from incan. to CFL's,,, and thought cutting the usage in half again would make a diff. but now that I think about it - replacing a 60 w incan. with a 15 w CFL is a use reduction, replacing that 15w CFL with a 9w LED not so much so...

but - the longevity - the "instant on" - the reduced fire risk, all bennies well worth it if you get a decent price on the LED's

I have a box of CFL's maybe I will just drop them off at the good will or something?

RichR
05-16-2017, 01:34 PM
Disposal? You can check with your local sanitation department, but I suspect they will just tell you to throw them in the regular trash.

Around here Lowes and Home Depot have recycling bins at the entrance for CFLs.

bborr01
05-16-2017, 02:03 PM
The LED bulbs tend to have a built-in "cheat", since they tend to be more directional. Not all of them, but many. Naturally, the light that is NOT sent in a different direction will show up and make the LED LOOK as if it gives more light, even though it may actually give less light per watt input.

One could argue that it is "useful illumination" that counts, but in many cases what is wanted is "general illumination", and not what might better be called "task lighting", i.e. light exactly on what you are doing, without lighting anything else. In that case, directional LED lights are not what is best.

Not all LED lights are directional, IMO the CREE lights seem to be non-directional, as well as the best designed, and giving the most satisfactory light. They are also quite efficient.

I had the bulbs in a shipping container. You could see the difference in intensity. The led's were probably more directional but I didn't need the light going upward so they worked better for me. Also I could have put three of them in place of the cfl and used the same power. So much for the directional thing.

Brian

J Tiers
05-16-2017, 03:36 PM
The difference from CFL to LED is not much in terms of power used, so for that switch, no I;d not expect to see much change. Obviously changing from a 100W bulb to a similar light poutput that draws only 30W, is a pretty large percentage change in power. Then changing from that 30W to a unit that draws 24W is considerably less dramatic. (Numbers pulled out of the air, but probably close)

bborrr01:

If you controlled for the directionality by including the back-scattered light, that's fine, it takes care of the issue. Then the directionality would not have an effect.

Newer LEDS are generally more efficient, so it's entirely possible. And newer LEDs are less directional than older ones, probably because being more efficient they do not have to be directional to put the light on the desired area.

A.K. Boomer
05-16-2017, 03:47 PM
another bennie of the LED's ---- they make incredible "rough service" bulbs for your trouble light and add and extra margin of safety when working around fuel...

garyhlucas
05-16-2017, 08:54 PM
Actually I think Cree makes one of the better LEDs. If I recall correctly the engineer behind Cree originally worked for Nichia a japanese LED company. As the genius behind their all products he was paid a tiny salary. Some American venture capital guys offered to start up a new company with him as chief engineer, a huge salary and equity in the company. So Cree had one of the brightest minds in LED technology. You'll notice that the color of their LEDs is very good, and they are mostly about 10% more efficient than their competitors. 10% is huge, but tiny when you consider it amounts to only about 1 watt per lamp.

I grew up in the electrical business. My home has switches everywhere, and was totally flouresent 35 years ago. Slowly we moved to LEDS and that is all we have now. After Hurricane Sandy we got through 8 days without utility power using a 2000 watt peak inverter generator, and other than cycling the refrigerator and freezer hardly missed the utility power at all. The generator ran from 6 am to 11 pm refueled at about 2 PM and burned 2 gallons per day.

Garak
05-17-2017, 05:26 AM
CFL and LED have one thing in common that is also a common problem. The attached electronics. I have often seen the LED power supply or the CFL ballast fail long before they should.

At work we have over 200 par 30 LED which replaced conventional PAR 30 bulbs. With that many bulbs running all day we were on average replacing 5 a week with conventional(the labour cost was nearly enough to pay for LED). After about a year the LED's power supplies started failing. We were finding about one a week that was in strobing state. The manufacture replaced the first lot of around 50 and then only did something like 1/3 of the second 50 we sent them because there was only 1/3 of the warranty left. With the hour rating on these bulbs they should of lasted 10 years, we got less than 5 years out of most of them. The replacements were a newer model and I've yet to see one of them fail.

These were expensive commercial grade LED bulbs. But all it takes is a capacitor or other component that doesn't live up to spec to doom the lot.

With CFL you generally get what you pay for. With the dirt cheap no name bulbs, you are lucky to get a year out of them. Some of the more expensive brand name bulbs will last 5 years or more.

Moisture is a big CFL killer. They just don't last at all in bathrooms, outdoors or in damp basements.

I don't think CFL or LED are inherently bad. They both have there applications and there are good and bad versions of each.

CFL are better where you need soft light. LED is better where you want hard light. Soft LED are not as inherently efficient as you loose light with the diffuser.

Color varies greatly with LED. Good LED(expensive) have much better color than CLF. But most of the cheap LED on the market are just terrible. You can't go by brand name alone. I've got some just terrible CREE bulbs at work.

I purchased ~4 of each type of PAR30 or 38 LED bulb from home depot last year for a short term exhibit at work. None of them matched even though they were all 3000K with 85+ CRI on the box. They all had too much green or blue compared to the commerical grade bulbs we have through out the building.

I've also lucked in with a few cheap LED here and there that look just great. It seems it is a spin of the wheel every time I buy.

J Tiers
05-17-2017, 09:25 AM
CFL and LED have one thing in common that is also a common problem. The attached electronics. I have often seen the LED power supply or the CFL ballast fail long before they should.

...

Moisture is a big CFL killer. They just don't last at all in bathrooms, outdoors or in damp basements.

I don't think CFL or LED are inherently bad. They both have there applications and there are good and bad versions of each.

CFL are better where you need soft light. LED is better where you want hard light. Soft LED are not as inherently efficient as you loose light with the diffuser.

Color varies greatly with LED. Good LED(expensive) have much better color than CLF. But most of the cheap LED on the market are just terrible. You can't go by brand name alone. I've got some just terrible CREE bulbs at work.

....

In my experience, the electronics ALWAYS fail before the light output drops significantly with CFL. The actual bulb would last far longer. Electronics are easy to cheap out with, and it seems to be universally done.

The longest life CFL up to this last one have been in the various bathrooms here, the front hall, or in the basement. But the killer probably is not humidity at all, it is more likely the number of on-off cycles. Each one stresses the electronics. Bathrooms are usually subject to a lot of cycles, not so many here as there is more than one. Front hall and basement (where shop is) are on longer without shutoff.

I find the CREE 2700K bulbs give a soft light, very much like incandescent, and are plenty efficient. But I hate the CREE 4300K (going by memory for the numbers) just on account of the light type, which is very hard and sun-like. Don't want that indoors.

RichR
05-17-2017, 10:47 AM
I've had good luck with the Bright Effects brand carried by Lowes. For general lighting in my detached unheated garage I have 19 of the 60 watt
equivalent CFLs which I installed around 2008. I've replaced maybe 8 bulbs. The lathe and the mill each have 3 switched 100 watt equivalent
CFLs. Those seem to have a much higher failure rate as I've replaced 6 of those bulbs in the same time period even though they get far less
use. I noticed the same pattern at my moms house. Her basement is lit mostly with 60 watt CFLs with 100 watt CFLs by the washer, dryer, and
freezer. When she has a bulb out it's usually one of the 100 watt CFLs.