Friday, April 24, 2009

Compact Fluorescents

I wrote this for a CIDU thread, and thought I'd drop it here, too.

I’ve been using CFLs for 23 years, since I read about the Philips “Earth Light” in Whole Earth Review (probably). It had an improved mix of phosphors to give a better color of light than the standard tube fluorescents available at the time. It did not last as long as promised, but it was a start. CFLs have improved tremendously over the years. Early on they were too big to fit in most lamps, took a long time to come up to full brightness, and had a generally awful color temperature.

But they lasted a long time (unlike the Earth Light) and saved electricity, and once they invented the twisted tube and miniaturized the electronic ballasts, they are small enough to fit even in my green “banker’s” desk lamp.

I now use them in almost every socket, except those on dimmers - they don’t quite have that right yet. I even have them in both outside porch lights, and they turn on even when it’s 5º F or colder.

The full-spectrum Verilux are expensive, but have a bright white light. The standard-issue CFLs are for utility use only - the recessed light in the bathroom, for example. I find the Bright White CFLs with a color temperature of about 3500K are good for reading at the dining table. The Daylight color temp (6500K) are a little too harsh for my taste.

Over the years I can remember only a few that burned out a ballast and let the smoke out of the case. Usually the lamp itself goes bad, like all fluorescents. The only other drawback I have found is that until they reach full brightness, CFLs emit a flood of infra-red, which overwhelms the TV remote control.


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