Thursday, February 06, 2014

Beating the Bulb

With a participant in our midst who had actually studied the situation, our last discussion group meeting turned to pondering the relative environmental and economic benefits of various types of light bulbs.

Some favored CFLs (compact fluorescents) as an inexpensive and long-lasting change from traditional
Will it outlast me?
incandescent bulbs. CFLs are a good choice for some places in the home, such as closets, but they present disposal problems.

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) cost much more, but last far longer, and by far are the most environmentally friendly of the choices. The prices of LEDs are dropping, and the selection is expanding, so there is little doubt these will be the choice of the future.

In our home, we're in transition mode. We have invested in a few LEDs, starting with outdoor holiday lights. We have CFLs in the garage, some exterior lights, and all our closets. We continue to use up our supply of incandescent bulbs. When one size is gone we make a spot decision to go with a CFL or LED.

One participant in the discussion said it mattered little to him because he had a big supply of the old incandescent bulbs that probably would last longer than he would--he was loathe to throw them out.

Group members once worried occasionally about outliving their money in retirement. Now we face another worry--a concern that without careful planning we may not outlive our light bulbs.


Kay Dennison said...

I have trouble reading with cfls -- I buy the old kind when I find them.

And yeah I'm back: said...

I don't intend to lose sleep over light bulbs. My house is filled with LED lights. Dianne

Alan G said...

I personally have settled in quite comfortably with the CFL bulbs. First there was the ‘sticker shock’ and then of course the progressive start up of the bulb from quite dim to its final destination. But experience has revealed to me at least, that all things are equal if you just give it a minute or so.

In fact, perhaps somewhat coincidental to your post, my first CFL bulb gave up the ghost just about two weeks ago. It was a 10W (40w in the real world) that burned daily in my den from around 4:30 AM till around 9:00 PM, seven days a week and it easily lasted around four to five years so where the CFL’s are concerned… I’m all in!

And I am thoroughly convinced that when it is all said and done you actually save money with the CFL choice.

Dick Klade said...

We've been in our current home for five years now, and not one of our CFLs has burned out. That confirms your experience, Alan.

Tom Sightings said...

Like Alan, I have a problem with the progressive start up of the CFL bulbs. So we do not use them in the garage or the closets, where you turn on the light; you want the light right away; and then you turn it off. But we've found CFLs are very useful for lights that stay on for a while, such as outdoor lights or even the living room or den.

As for LEDs, we looked into them when we replaced our kitchen lights. They were ridiculously expensive, so we put in the old fluorescents which are almost as efficient at a third the price.

Dick Klade said...

Tom, you caused me to check the delay with our closet CFLs. It is less than two seconds. Doesn't seem like a bad tradeoff for the benefits, although that would depend on individual views. We also replaced all kitchen lights recently, and rejected LEDs just as you did because of price. If prices fall dramatically, it's an easy switch to make to more environmentally friendly LEDs.

PiedType said...

My experience with CFLs has been poor, for all the usual reasons. LEDs sound like they'll be a good option when they get around to making the sizes I need with the light output I need. Meantime, I've quite a stock of 100-watt incandescents for the lamps I use the most.

Alan G said...

Since your still on the topic, something else regarding the CFL and given the fact that it has apparently been declared our new standard, what the heck are we suppose to call them? Is there going to be a universal size designation?

I earlier spoke of my CFL which was a 10 watt CFL but in its prior life as an incandescent it was a 40 watt. And fortunately the packaging for the CFL bulbs currently contains a cross-reference but it is hard to believe this will forever be the case. This then does seemingly imply that I am going to have to relearn all the new wattage designations for the various bulbs and commit them to memory. Or…. are we going to designated them with the same nomenclature language that we use for motor oil? In my case, I guess I would go to the hardware store and ask for a “10w40” viscosity bulb.

Any thoughts?

Dick Klade said...

Interesting question, Alan. Never thought of it, but we surely are in for some troublesome nomenclature issues. I don't have a clue about how that may go.

Kay said...

I KNOW we will outlive our CFLs. Several of them have burned out within a year or two. It's very frustrating. We take the dead bulbs to Home Depot to collect. I wish the LEDs were cheaper. You're very lucky that yours have done much better.

Big John said...

Just don't break one !

Marc Leavitt said...

Hi Dick:

I realized about a week ago that the switch to fluorescents obsolesced one of my lamps, a very nice brass sconce with a tension fixture in the shade which fits over the incandescent bulb. Once I use up my few bulbs, I can't use the lanmp any longer. Suggestions?




Dick Klade said...

Unfortunately, Marc, if you love that lamp there probably is a LED bulb in your future. That will be pricey, but should work.

Hope said...

Big John: We did break one (or rather, our dog did when he tipped a lamp). You are correct...the cleanup is daunting.