Sciencemadness Discussion Board
Not logged in [Login ]
Go To Bottom

Printable Version  
Author: Subject: CFL bulbs: not a bright idea!
Hazard to Other Members, due to repeated speculation and posting of untested highly dangerous procedures!

Posts: 1986
Registered: 2-3-2011
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

[*] posted on 14-6-2012 at 04:01
CFL bulbs: not a bright idea!

_______bad compact fluorescent bulb _______________________normal incandescent bulb ______________

Repeal of law that will soon ban regular light bulbs fails

The USA has already passed legislation that is already in the process of making the sale or manufacture of normal incandescent lightbulbs [B]illegal[/B]. Several congressmen attempted to overturn the ban, but failed to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority.

This is completely ridiculous, the government telling people what products they are not allowed to use. There is nothing wrong with incandescent bulbs. The government should not have any right to force people to use a different product just because they want to force people to use less energy! Someone who is careful to turn off their incandescent lights when they are not in the room is still using [I]less[/I] energy than someone with "energy-saving" lights who leaves all the lights in their house on. What is next, is the government going to force Americans to install motion detectors to automatically turn off lights when no one is in the room?

I absolutely HATE fluorescent lights that the government is trying to push on everyone. The light has an eery tint, and it is more difficult for me to concentrate because there is actually high frequency flickering, although most people are unable to consciously discern this. And of course, some people with pets or small children are concerned about the mercury vapor that could be released if the lightbulb breaks (and it typically does break when put in the trash, realistically not many people are going to properly dispose of these new bulbs).

The only alternative, LED lighting, is even more efficient than fluorescent, but is unfortunately ridiculously expensive (60 dollars for a bulb that would match the light output of a 75 Watt incandescent bulb).

I imagine this lightbulb ban could spawn a thriving black market in the USA. Perhaps we will even see violence associated with organised light bulb crime! :razz:

I think the liberal environmental mantra says it all: "Live more simply so that all may live". If the impact of my using incandescent bulbs is too intolerable on the environment, I say perhaps there are just TOO MANY PEOPLE on the earth. These environmentalists should start focusing on population control instead of the regulation invassion on my home.


Here are the relevent excerpts from the abominable law:

An intermediate base incandescent lamp shall not
exceed 40 rated watts.

[. . . ]
if the final rule does not
produce savings that are greater than or equal to the
savings from a minimum efficacy standard of 45
lumens per watt, effective beginning January 1, 2020,
the Secretary shall prohibit the sale of any general
service lamp that does not meet a minimum efficacy
standard of 45 lumens per watt.

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Title III: Energy Savings Though Improved Standards for Appliance and Lighting,
B. Lighting Energy Efficiency

(I have tried to read the whole Act, but the wording is so obtuse, and the law ridiculously complex. I believe these two excerpts are the primary references affecting normal incandescent light bulbs)

The law, already passed, will demand regular fixture light bulbs must meet at least 45 lumens per Watt. It is practically impossible for incandescent, even halogen hulbs to meet this. A quartz halogen bulb (high-efficiency incandescent) typically produces 24 lumens per Watt, while even the high temperature halogen bulbs (which are not commonly available) only reach 35 lumens per Watt. So regular incandescent bulbs are essentially being banned. I am tired of people falsely claiming the bulbs will not be banned. The exact language of the law is extremely complicated and misleading, and it does not specifically mention that incandescents will be banned, but that is the effect of the law. Now whether the federal government actually has the authority to regulate lighting efficiency standards is a different matter, it is possible the Supreme Court may restrict the enforcement of the law if it feels the federal government is overstretching the authority granted to it through the commerce clause in the Constitution. But most stores and factories are not going to want to risk legal trouble.

CFL's do not even save energy!

The whole intention of these laws are to reduce the consumption of energy. But does this really make sense? There are, for example, other ways to reduce energy consumption, such as just taxing electricity.

The manufacture of the bulb itself consumes energy. It takes several times as much energy to produce a compact fluorescent bulb as an incandescent bulb. Furthermore, because of the use of potentially toxic mercury in fluorescent bulbs and the stringent environmental regulations, manufacturers in the USA are unnable to compete with Chinese manufacturers. So whereas around half the old incandescent bulbs are still produced in the USA, all of the new compact fluorescent lights are produced in China. The energy consumption for manufacturing in China is much more wasteful and less efficient than in the USA. The fact that the Chinese government subsidizes the prices of electric power does not help. 68.7% of the electric power in China is produced from coal power plants, which are often much less efficient more polluting than those in the USA. Indeed, China is the largest consumer of coal in the world. The coal power plants in China use bituminous coal which, while cheaper than other grades of coal, also has a much higher sulfur content leading to acid rain.

The mere production of the new compact fluorescent bulbs consumes 1.7 kiloJoules of power per bulb. This is not electric power from the USA, but rather electric power from China that results in much more pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. So the new laws are not only resulting in more pollution, but also the loss of more American jobs.

Then there is cost. A typical compact fluorescent bulb costs three times as much as an incandescent bulb. While suppossedly fluorescent bulbs can last 8 times longer than the old incandescent bulbs, in practice most of the compact fluorescent bulbs coming from China are of inferior quality, and it is my experience that they only tend to last between 1.5 to 3 times as long. Their rated lifespans will be reduced even more if put on a dimmer switch. If you go to the store and find that compact fluorescent bulbs are the same price as the old incandescent bulbs, it is not because they are actually cheaper. Rather, the taxpayers are indirectly subsidizing the difference of cost through grants to local utility companies. Compact fluorescent bulbs also are intended to be specially disposed of, because of their mercury content. Taking the trouble to properly recycle the bulbs and prevent the glass from breaking also adds cost, trouble, and indirectly consumes more energy.

Now to bring up the subject of energy efficiency. It is widely claimed that compact fluorescent bulbs use 70% less energy than ordinary incandescent bulbs. But this is only in terms of light output. It actuality, incandescent bulbs are essentially 100% efficient. It is just that most of the energy output is in the form of heat rather than light. Because of geographic distribution, most American households use more energy heating their homes than air conditioning. So it makes little sense to be using fluorescent lighting for most of these households. Why go to the trouble of trying to avoid electric power from being converted to heat in the lighting while simultaneously separately consuming electric power to generate heat? It makes no sense. Even in warmer locations, lights are typically used most in the night time, when it also happens to be colder. Even most homes in the "sun belt" have their heaters turned on at night in the winter. So compact fluroescent bulbs, in many situations, will not reduce the consumption of energy. They will produce less heat, and people will just turn up the setting on their heaters to compensate.

The argument about saving energy is not a particularly good one. Household lighting only composes a very small fraction of the total energy consumed. In a typical household, normal incandescent lighting consumes only 15% of the home's electric power use. In fact, home heating consumes around HALF of a typical household's electricity use. Most of the American population lives in in the north half of the country, where the climate tends to be cooler. For a house with its heater on, "energy saving" CF bulbs will NOT actually save any energy. All types of lighting are actually 100% "efficient", it is just a matter of how much energy is converted into light and how much into heat. Forcing households in Minnessota or New York to convert to fluorescent bulbs is completely senseless.

Manufacturers usually claim that their CFL's have a lifetime of 5000 hours, but this is often a lie. Many of the cheaper CFL's have a lifetimes as low has 2500 hours. I am surprised there has not been any class action lawsuits against these companies yet. Many of these companies are using inferior electronic parts that cause the bulb to fail early, not just because it is cheaper, but also because they can sell more bulbs that way. Remember, all these bulbs are made in Chinese factories, and we all know Chinese companies have much lower ethical standards.

One source I found stated that producing a compact fluorescent bulb consumes about five times as much energy as it takes to make an incandescent bulb.

Here is one comment made by James Rhyner at St. Cloud University:

"I have been trying CFL's for several years and have yet to have one that lasts longer than an incandescent bulb. Again the politicians are trying to run our lives. As another writer mentions, the costs of producing and disposing of the CFL's are probably much greater than the operating and disposal costs of incandescents. Of course no one wants to analyze that as the politicians will lose their kick backs from the Chinese manufacturers (I despise congress and don't trust them)"
(December 15, 2011)


"I have a combination of incandescent and CFL bulbs. ... My home was built in 1999, and all the bulbs in it are 60-watt bulbs. Just in the last year they started to burn out. 11 years for an incandescent bult is pretty darn good. I have replaced some of these with CFL's and NONE of them have lasted more than 3 years."
(Darryl Buss, comment left on Popular Mechanics website)

Exaggerated lifespan
Real-world reports from the home front show that the claimed extended lifespan of CFLs is often greatly exaggerated. There is ample data indicating that the frequent switching on and off of CFLs greatly shortens their life. A study by H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and co-author Amanda Berg concludes:
“Unfortunately, except under a fairly narrow range of circumstances, CFLs are less efficient than advertised. Manufacturers claim the average life span of a CFL bulb is 10,000 hours. However, in many applications the life and energy savings of a CFL are significantly lower. Applications in which lighting is used only briefly (such as closets, bathrooms, motion detectors and so forth) will cause CFL bulbs to burn out as quickly as regular incandescent bulbs . . . When initially switched on, CFLs may provide as little as 50 percent to 80 percent of their rated light output and can take up to three minutes to reach full brightness.”

And what about the fact that all the new "energy saving" bulbs are made in China? Because the compact fluorescent lights contain mercury, and the EPA has so many expensive regulations on toxic substances in the workplace, American companies are just unable to compete with China. I bet all those poor Chinese workers making our compact fluorescent lightbulbs are breathing in mercury vapor.


Unfortunately that Energy Independence and Security Act actually allocated funding for public "education" about "energy saving". Essentially the taxpayer is subsidizing millions of dollars in propaganda in favor of CFL's. Even on the official government website there were several blatent lies about CFL's.

I found this on a found this from a pro-CFL cite:

Myth: CFLs don't save money because my heating system has to work harder to produce the lost heat I would have received from my regular incandescent.
Reality: The heat lost when switching from an incandescent to a CFL has a negligible effect on your heating system.The heat that emanates from incandescent bulbs tends to hang up near the ceiling, and has little effect on your thermostat.

What a lame defense! Looks like they are really trying hard to counter the anti-CFL movement. Even if the effect truely is "negligible", one could logically argue that the potential energy saving themselves from CFL are also "negligible" compared to the energy consumption of the heating system. In any case, this does nothing to adress the original argument itself: that it is pointless to try to prevent electric power from being converted to heat while one is also using energy to heat the home at the same time. I suppose an argument could be made if only using a wood burning fireplace to heat the home (biofuel), but how many commonly people do that? All heat tends to rise upward toward the ceilling. A heating system typically has a fan that pushes the air around. This movement of air will also push around the air towards the ceilling. And if the air near the ceilling is already warm, it will just prevent more of the warm air from the heater from also similarly rising and being "wasted".

[Edited on 14-6-2012 by AndersHoveland]
View user's profile Visit user's homepage View All Posts By User
International Hazard

Posts: 2793
Registered: 16-8-2008
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

[*] posted on 14-6-2012 at 05:11

I cannot for the life of me figure out what relevance this has to amateur science.
View user's profile View All Posts By User
National Hazard

Posts: 316
Registered: 22-10-2008
Location: Perth Western Australia
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

[*] posted on 14-6-2012 at 06:01

What realy annoys me about CFL's is the way they take 10 minutes to reach full output.

if im going in and out of a room I want the light to come on when I flick the switch. Otherwise.. the light gets left on..

They are also not very "bright" in the technical sense meaning that the emission area is very large compared to its output power so you cant use them to project a beam of light onto anything like you might with a flood light or a down-light. (if your interested se

The only place i think CFL's might make sense for is outdoor porch lights that spend allot of time on.

However i do quite like the newer style "halogen globes" that are a traditional globe package with a small halogen bulb inside these they reach full brightness instantly and have a nice even spectrum making colors look more correct compared to daylight. They do seem to have quite a short lifespan though :(

View user's profile View All Posts By User
Hazard to Others

Posts: 174
Registered: 24-3-2012
Location: In the Octet
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

[*] posted on 14-6-2012 at 12:03

Really the problems with the CFL bulbs are the cheap power supplies that makes the high voltage for the light to run.

If you were to make a special adapter with a GOOD power supply in it and CFL's that are just bulb, no supply then the advertised life span should be reached even exceeded.

As for the ~60 hz flashing that could probably be fixed by adding a bridge rectifier to the output of the bulbs. That may be expensive but if you need solid light I don't see any reasons why that would not work.

Do you have mole problems? If so, call Avogadro at 602-1023

My Youtube Channel
View user's profile Visit user's homepage View All Posts By User
Now celebrating 18 years of madness

Posts: 3164
Registered: 19-5-2002
Location: The Sunny Pacific Northwest
Member Is Offline

Mood: Waiting for spring

[*] posted on 14-6-2012 at 15:25

If there's any relevance to amateur science in this issue, OP failed to include it in the first post.

PGP Key and corresponding e-mail address
View user's profile Visit user's homepage View All Posts By User
Now celebrating 18 years of madness
Thread Closed
14-6-2012 at 15:25

  Go To Top