With the upcoming government ban on most common incandescent light bulbs, CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) have taken front stage as our replacement lighting. Yes, my lighting conundrum:
Today: CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights)
Journalists often ignorantly cite CFLs as the mandated replacement to incandescent lights, thus failing to mention other options such as LED lights. My father-in-law says journalists are simply being realistic in that 95% of consumers will only buy CFLs – not LEDs – because of the tremendous difference in cost.
CFLs have dropped in price from a decade ago. At least one person believes, however, that they are getting more expensive and will continue to do so:
The Chinese government has recently been restricting exports of rare earth elements, and the policy changes are affecting the global markets for everything from compact fluorescent light bulbs to iPhones.
I know that as incandescents are quickly phased out, CFL companies (as with LED manufacturers) have little incentive to lower their costs.
Not only has CFL pricing changed, but the quality of these lights have come a long way, too.
We have been buying CFLs for close to a decade.
The first ones were a tremendous disappointment. They all had an odd buzzing noise, the color was off, it took 5 or 10 minutes for them to get bright. Within several months of use, all of them had significantly diminished full brightness. A couple of them had even burned out.
Our current CFLs were bought from Costco because of their costs and the instant energy rebate I got on them. While the lights we have today are much better in quality, they are still far from perfect.
BUZZING and FLICKERING.
I see a lot of forums on lighting. CFLs always cause a ruckus from consumers who claim the buzzing (also referred to as a high-pitch squeal) causes migraines and interferes with hearing aids and those who claim CFLs have no such impact. Flickering is another common complaint.
Only the first CFLs we bought had flickering issues.
I hear it though. Not with every bulb, not on every light. The CFL in my studio, however, as well as the ones we have in our bedside lamps, make a quiet, ongoing buzzing noise. I have to admit, I am not a fan of it, but I learn to block it out. Think about the times you are in a public building with long, tubular fluorescent bulbs. They give off the exact same hum, but slightly louder.
Besides, if I am able to
tune out tolerate the superbly high-pitch shrill hum of our 1990s television set, I can certainly handle a more subtle and human-friendly pitch of the CFLs.
Another of my issues with CFLs, however, is much harder to tolerate.
Yes, the color of CFL bulbs have come a long way, too. They are much brighter and/or warmer than ever before.
I really like my lights bright. I have a hard time, however, finding a 60- or 75- watt CFL that is not in “Daylight”. By the way, “Daylight” translates into the most cold, blinding white you can envision. I mean, the color is COLD. It reminds me of something institutional.
Also, dimmers tend not to work with most CFLs. Make sure you read the packaging if you need that option.
What about our chandeliers? What about specialty lamps? CFLs can be much much harder to find for bulbs that deviate from the everyday lamp. We would really really like to change out the bulbs on our entryway chandelier though. Those twelve little bulbs create enormous heat!
Mercury. I know you have already heard all the hoopla regarding disposal of CFLs.
Heaven forbid you accidentally drop or break one in your home, but even tossing it out in the trash is bad. Once they break, that mercury seeps out somewhere and poisons something… which is liable to find its way into our soil and water.
Yay. Light bulbs that
contaminate poison the soil we eat from and play on and the water we drink from and play in.
Due to the mercury content in CFLs, as small as it may be, these bulbs must be handled carefully and taken to your local hardware store for drop off. Yes, from what I understand, places like Ace, Lowes, and Home Depot will take your old CFL bulbs to recycle or dispose of them safely, according to EPA regulation.
If you have any questions or issues with how to dispose of your CFL bulbs, please contact your local county waste authorities for proper disposal instructions.
CFLs, in my opinion, create a lot of improvement on the incandescent bulbs.
They have a LOT of room for improvement, too, though. Incandescents spoiled us as far as all different shades of glow and warmth and options. CFLs, frankly, still feel like an institutional substitute for some of these.
If you have any suggestions for particularly rad CFLs, complaints of your own, or tips and tricks, share! I dare not pretend that I am the last word on this growing technology.