Light Bulb Wars!

Discussion in 'Energy & Fuel' started by Ted Richards, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. Ted Richards

    Ted Richards Well-Known Member
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    Fifteen years ago we began to see Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL's) for sale. They provided the same amount of light (lumens) as conventional incandescent lamps while using 70% less energy and lasted so much longer. I bought a bunch, installed them and was quite satisfied with them. The CFL's (mini-spiral) lamps do have some drawbacks, they contain minuscule amounts of toxic mercury, take time to warm up outside in the cold, and a lot of people are turned off by the mini-spiral shape.

    Now it's Light Emitting Diodes (LED's) to the rescue! They started appearing a few years ago but were so expensive that I wouldn't consider buying them. LED's are instant on, have no mercury, and use up to 80% less energy than conventional incandescent lamps. The only drawback I could see was the high price. Last week our Walmart had 60W equivalent (800 lumen) LED's on sale for $1.50 each so my son bought me 6 and I installed 5 in our in-suite bathroom. They are 5000K bulbs that are daylight color rather than soft-white. A bit harsh on skin-tones but much easier for old eyes in the bathroom mirror. I'm going to buy more this afternoon because I suspect that's an introductory sale price that won't last long.
     
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  2. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    By Maine law, when a CFL bulb breaks, we're supposed to pay for a hazmat team to do cleanup, although I am sure that when they passed that law, they knew that no one was going to do that. We are not supposed to dispose of them in the trash when they burn out, but to place them in special disposal facilities that most towns don't have.

    In reality, when they break, they are swept up and tossed in the trash, as are the bulbs when they burn out. It's one of those laws they passed in order to cover themselves if there should ever be a problem from the mercury. Fortunately, the LED lights that they're making now are bright enough to use. The early ones were far too dim.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
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  3. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    I was always a little it afraid of the CFL bulbs but I used them. They cut my electric bill a lot. I had them in my reading lamp by my recliner. The dog knocked the lamp over and one of the bulbs broke. Panic time!!!!! I got online and read what to do if one broke. It said open doors and windows. Get up glass, put it in a sealable container. Vacuum thoroughly and dispose of vacuum bag. I did all that and I'm still here so I guess it worked. I won't buy any more of them, though. Now I buy the LED ones.
     
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  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I still have a bunch of CFL bulbs because they took the incandescent bulbs off the market and the early LED bulbs were too dim for most things. As they quit working, I am replacing them with brighter LED bulbs.
     
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  5. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    Here's the technical "skinny" on these new light-producers. CFLs DO produce heat, actually quite a bit of it. Possible to burn yourself on one, especially on the porcelain base, where the heat is generated. LEDs produce almost no heat whatsoever, and contain no hazardous stuff, but they produce a projected pencil-like beam of light, which necessitates use of a number of them per "bulb".

    The CFL requires only a very small voltage to operate, which means "ballasting" must be built-in each one, and it is, no real problem. U.S. households commonly use 120 volts for appliances like lights, and it's Alternating Current, on which CFLs thrive, but LEDs require Direct Current only, at typically only 5 volts across the LED to produce maximum light output. So, the LED "bulb" must have provision to change the A-C into D-C, and provide very low voltage for the LEDs. That's one reason LED bulbs were initially quite expensive in comparison. Prices have now come down.

    Color rendition is another consideration, as @Ted Richards points out. Some packaging, especially CFLs, don't even identify the "color", which might range from 2000 to 5000, expressed as "Kelvin Degrees". 2000 looks peculiarly yellowish to me; I hate it. Stuck with it in our kitchen! 5000 is akin to "Natural Light", sunlight, and makes things look to be "proper color", to me. For some, 5000 may be a bit hard on the eyes; the lower "Kelvins" produce "soft tones", whatever that means. When I worked for Sears, I learned their "display" lamps all were required to be of "Ultralume" color output, about 3000K, which to me looked pinkish-yellow. Claimed reason was such lighting encouraged product purchase! Amazing! These lamps cost several times as much as standard fluorescent lamps, which incidentally, are what CFLs are: tiny coiled-up fluorescent lamps.

    Frank
     
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  6. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Thanks for a very well written description, Frank. I understood my reaction to the different types of bulbs, but now I know why I experience them in that way.
     
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  7. Ted Richards

    Ted Richards Well-Known Member
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    So I went back to Walmart and bought ten more of the 800 lumen LED's for $1.50 . There was a whole pallet of them shoved away in a side aisle in the back of the store. I went to the light bulb aisle first and couldn't find them but I did notice the same bran and same size in an "economical" two-pack for $9.98. That works out to $4.99 each! After I left the store I read the label on each package and the units I bought were a 3000K color, a warm white. I wanted the 5000K color so I took them all back and exchanged them for the 5000K bright white color.

    Boy, shopping for light bulbs sure is getting complicated!
     
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  8. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Ken Anderson
    My need for "depth of understanding", everything, has produced much different reaction on another of my forum digressions. It's a dedicated car forum, about Ford Mustangs, entitled "StangNet". I reveal this fact encouragingly, thinking perhaps someone might look there. One of their Mods has admonished me for "overthinking everything". When I explained to him I was career-trained to do just that, his superior, the Mother-Superior Admin, I suppose he is, took up sides with his underling. I PM'd the Mod, voicing objection to being ridiculed ridiculously for each technical observation. He did kind of apologize. Perhaps I would fare better in this miraculous Internet world if I had a thicker skin.......

    I do not post to "show-off", being fully aware that great numbers of folks are far more knowledgeable than I. If I "know" about some generally maligned or usually misunderstood device or concept, I try to present my view of it, in order to promote further general understanding of it. To me, "knowledge" is the key: one can't get it by being divisive, or ego-aggressive.

    So, having gargled this response to death, how do you like the new LED technology as it is now widespread among us? Virtually all new cars & trucks I see are emblazoned with them, front and rear. Red, yellow, orange, a carnival hocus-pocus if you ask me.

    One other thing failed to mention. CFLs are long-lived, perhaps some thousands of hours. The old stand-by filament-type light bulbs were limited to hundreds of hours (so long as you did not BUMP them!). LEDs go tens of thousands of hours, in theory, forever. They are pure, solid-state devices born of the "transistor age". FWIW, LEDs are in reality electronic "valves", called Diodes (Light Emitting Diode). They allow the passage of Direct Current in one direction, when connected "+ to"+, and under that condition emit light; connected "+ to-", they go dark, and sit doing nothing. Thus, they have made a liar of me: connected to Alternating Current, an LED will flash on and off as the direction of current changes. Frank
     
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  9. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Ted Richards
    Some obscure Federal Act of the '90s outlawed "cool white" fluorescent lamps. Afterwards, those lamps, always my favorite, began showing up with differing descriptive nomenclature, though their light output looked identical. Today, "cool white" may be found inscribed on lamps in the stores.

    What changed, I dunno. Frank
     
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  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I don’t always know what you’re talking about, Frank. But sometimes I do and the explanation is appreciated.
     
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  11. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Ken Anderson
    Here are a few pics of my shop drop-cord light, LED-equipped. I splurged and spent the money.

    The bulb is 100-watt equivalent in light output, chosen because that was the size incandescent bulb I ways used. Note this bulb is shorter, and smaller in diameter; the incandescent filled the lampholder.
    [​IMG]


    Close-up, for size illustration. The LED bulb is not glass, but rather plastic, safer and not HOT!
    [​IMG]

    The light overwhelms my camera. I chose 5000K, a white, natural hue.
    [​IMG]

    With all the lights off in the shop, the little lamp does an outstanding job.
    [​IMG]

    The back of the lampholder cage. I have numerous scars on my forearms from brushing against that metal shield while groveling about under a vehicle! Have had the dropcord forever, considered a mini-fluorescent lamp many times, but the ones fitting a small cage give little light. Now, CFLs will fit, but are made of glass, and thereby prone to breakage, plus, they do get hot. The LED barely gets warm, but I still cringe if I brush against it, after years of habit! Lamp is on in this pic. Frank
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Harry Havens

    Harry Havens Well-Known Member
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    Is that an A19? If so what brand? I keep trying to find a 100w equivalent A19, with 5000K and can only find 2700K. I have a bedroom I use as an office, with a 60W single bulb. Great for bedroom, but lousy for office. The a19 is necessary to fit inside cover. Currently using a21 without cover.
     
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  13. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Harry Havens
    You know, I don't have any idea, sorry to say. I believe I bought it at our 99-Cent Store, for $1.99. Very reasonable, but their display is now very limited. Apparently they buy close-outs, cosmetic defects, etc. I will however investigate further. Too late today to go over to the shop. Don't think I would like a 2700K. Frank
     
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  14. Harry Havens

    Harry Havens Well-Known Member
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    @Frank Sanoica
    Me chasing the elusive 100w A19 5000K is not unlike the dog chasing the car. What to do if I find it? I'm not so certain I would install the cover over the bulb.
     
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  15. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    I absolutely detest the modern lightbulbs. I am now forced to use the GE 150W (General Purpose A21) bulbs which is gawd-awful compared to the incandescent sort it replaced. Doesn't last as long, doesn't register as 150W output on my light meter, and costs more. Yet one more example of the Nannyites getting their way, and forcing it on the rest of us.
     
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  16. Terry Page

    Terry Page Veteran Member
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    Here in Russia in a typical way of how the laws are overcome, when the authorities followed Europe in initially banning 100W incandescent bulbs, the manufacturers immediately commenced production of 92W bulbs, which are still on sale to this day because the original law was never changed. ;)

    A bit off topic but beer was regarded as a soft drink here until 2013, so it could be bought anywhere and at any age until the law changed ..... :eek:

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a bill that officially classifies beer as alcoholic.
    Until now anything containing less than 10% alcohol in Russia has been considered a foodstuff.
     
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  17. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Veteran Member
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    The new LEDs are much better than any previous types. We had fluorescent tubes in a bathroom, replaced them with an LED fixture and it's much better. I have been replacing the twisted tubes (CFLs) with LEDs as they burn out.
     
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  18. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I don't mind the LEDs now that they're making them bright enough to read by. I hate the curly bulbs, and they were the only alternative for a while after they took the incandescent bulbs off the market, which was insane given the mercury that's put into the landfills whenever someone replaces one, or into the house whenever one is broken.
     
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  19. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Veteran Member
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    I don't know what we use. The CFLs I guess, those tubular circles giving off white light. I was opposed to them but my roommate wanted them. We replaced all bulbs in the house and garage. I broke one once while replacing it. My roommate said you're not suppose to handle them like you're doing. I said this is no longer a light bulb, it's a mess and I picked up the larger pieces and swiped up the rest. I've never known what you're supposed to do.
     
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  20. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    By Maine law, we are not supposed to dispose of CFL bulbs in the regular trash, but as designated collection facilities, which most towns don't have. Pretty much everyone tosses them in the trash, and I am sure they knew that everyone would do that when they passed the stupid law. Even worse, if a CFL bulb breaks, we're supposed to pay to have a special cleanup crew take care of it. Yeah, like anyone is going to do that every time they drop a light bulb. There seems to be no doubt that the potential harm caused to the environment by the mercury-filled CFL bulbs far outweighed whatever the problem with incandescent bulbs was supposed to have been.
     
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  21. Terry Page

    Terry Page Veteran Member
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    The problem with incandescent bulbs was there short life and high energy consumption, the overall effect on the environment is shown in the graph below, but the disposal and harm caused by the dangerous chemicals such as mercury used in cfl bulbs is another factor, but the energy saved can be weighed against this.

    LINK
    [​IMG]

    LINK
    More than half of the electricity generated in the United States is made by burning coal, which contains mercury. As the coal is burned, the mercury is vaporized and sent up the smoke stack. Mercury in vapor form is much more dangerous than in the solid state form used in the manufacturing of CFLs. Furthermore, coal power plants are the single largest source of mercury emissions into the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the mercury released from powering an incandescent bulb over five years is 10 milligrams; however, only 2.4 milligrams of mercury is released over the same period of time to power a comparably luminous CFL. Thus, by using up to 75% less energy than incandescent lamps, CFLs decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere and help off-set global warming.

    Standard CFLs contain approximately 4 milligrams of mercury inside the tube. When the 2.4 milligrams of mercury emissions from the coal power plant is added, the total environmental impact of a CFL is 6.4 milligrams of mercury. Compare that to 10 milligrams of mercury emissions released by the incandescent light bulb; the CFL has 3.6 less milligrams of mercury. In the long run, CFLs have a lower mercury content than incandescent. To make the biggest environmental impact, look for CFLs that have the lowest mercury content.

    For example, Neolite CFLs only contain 1 milligram of mercury inside the tube. That’s 75% less mercury than the industry standard! With only 3.4 milligrams of mercury used over the course of its life, Neolite yields the greatest reduction of mercury emissions, making it a much safer lamp for the environment.

    [​IMG]
     
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  22. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    We didn't notice any improvement in our light bill when we switched to them and, while the CFL bulbs lasted a long, long time before they took the incandescent bulbs off the market, they have since been manufacturing them to burn out within a year or less. Some of the first ones we bought, while they still had to compete with the incandescent bulbs, are still working. The newer ones we bought lasted less than a year. I don't suppose they can make a profit by producing bulbs that last seven years so they are manufactured to burn out. The LEDs, I can live with but we're no long wasting money on the curly bulbs.
     
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  23. Terry Page

    Terry Page Veteran Member
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    I like the LED ones but find they are hit and miss, some fail after a few weeks others have lasted a couple of years so far, I think all our CFL ones in the UK have been replaced now
    The majority of bulbs being sold here in Russia are still incandescent probably 90%, it's down to cost they only cost 20 cents against several $ for CFLs and even more for LEDs
     
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  24. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    Well, guess I can't challenge the energy consumption, but the short life bit I would call a foul on. Not at all my experience. Incandescent bulbs lasted an average of three to three and a half months, and this was back when I was not turning off the lights when I left a room. I would also mention that by adding those thingies called 'light bulb life extenders' I had bulbs that lasted six months, plus I never got a bad incandescent bulb (one that went out in a week or two). Lets compare that to the current rot. Before I started turning off lights they lasted no more than two months. By turning off lights, I have managed to get their life to two and a half months. As for quality control, there is none I think. At least every few months I get stuck with a bulb that burns out in a week or two. So lets talk expense. Incandescent bulbs I paid about $3 for a 150 watt. For the new junk bulbs a 150 watt costs nearly $5. So as I see it, in return for saving power I get:
    1. A 150 watt bulb that does not output the same amount of light as a 150 watt incandescent, according to my light meter.
    2. A bulb that burns out at least two to four weeks sooner than an incandescent.
    3. A bulb where quality control is lacking....way too many 'lemons'.
    4. A bulb that costs more and obviously provides less.
    So I'm definitely no fan of the current crop, and view this as a shoddy product that is inferior to the incandescent in all ways except saving energy.
     
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  25. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    Ran across this recently that has a bit of relevance to post #24:
     
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