Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CFL Fluorescent Light Bulbs: More Hype Than Value

The following is a very interesting article on the Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs written by Paul Wheaton the founder of Permies.com

Don't get all bent out of shape if you don't agree.  I think he brings up some very valid points.  An interesting read...

I used to like fluorescent lights and then I changed my mind.
As the years passed, I found more and more folks like me, and more and more reasons to be uncomfortable with fluorescent lights. When some people see that I don't use them, they try to tell me about how great they are. When I try to explain why I prefer incandescent, I nearly always get a dismissive wave - signaling that I am clearly a fool and whatever tripe I am about to utter is clearly not worth their time. This article represents a glimpse into that tripe.

If you leave all of the lightbulbs in your house on 24/7, then replacing all of the incandescent light bulbs in your house with CFL light bulbs will save you money. For people that typically leave lights off when not in use, it turns out that incandescent light is cheaper than fluorescent light - the exact opposite of what we have been told all these years. 
With a little knowledge, you can stop wasting money on CFLs. Both in the short term and the long term. The long term stuff includes tax issues and the toxicity tie-in which leads to superfund cleanups and medical bills. 
In a nutshell:

  • CFLs do not last as long as is claimed
  • Many CFLs provide 42% less light than claimed
  • CFLs put out 20% to 30% less light as they get older

With these three things alone, I will make a rock solid case of how incandescent lights are cheaper than CFL. But there's more:

  • CFLs are subsidized to make them appear cheaper
  • the toxicity of a CFL is downplayed
  • there are better ways to save electricity than fiddling with bulb type
  • There are incandescent bulbs that are claimed to last longer than fluorescents
  • There are new incandescents coming out that give off more light per watt


  1. I found more and more folks like me, and more and more reasons to be uncomfortable with fluorescent lights now after reading the blog.

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