Compact Flourescent Light bulbs (CFLs)
This webpage is a work in progress. I started it because there's not
much online information about CFLs. Most manufacturer's webpages are
lacking specifications and details. I will update it as I collect more
information or experiences with specific models.
Standard incandescent light bulbs are very inefficient. Only
approximately 10% of the electricity used is converted into light,
while the remaining 90% is wasted as heat. CFLs were introduced to save
electricity costs, as they are approximately 4 to 5 times more
efficient. Old CFLs were problematic because they had a magnetic
ballast,which caused the large size, audible humming, and 60 Hz
flicker. Newer CFLs have switched to electronic ballasts. Newer
miniature CFLs (introduced around 2003) have really minaturized their
size along with other improvements. Now, CFLs can be placed into
almost any socket that tranditional incandescent light bulbs can be.
Recent CFL improvements:
- Electricity/costs savings!!!
- Environmentally friendly: electricity savings, which in turn
further lowers net mercury emissions and radioactive emissions from
coal burning power stations.
- Possible to place a CFL in a limited watt rated socket for more
light output. For example: Placing a 23w CFL in a 60w rated socket for
the equivalent light output of a 100w incandescent bulb.
- Long bulb life. Average 8,000 hours compared with less than
1,000 hours for incandescent bulbs.
- Less heat generated. This means less air-conditioning costs, or
cooler temperatures for those of us without air-conditioning!
- Comes with a warranty for 3-6 years.
- Smaller size.
- More efficient than magnetic ballast versions.
- No hum or buzzing.
- Instantly turn on, with no flickering.
- Gracefull end-of-life electronics to prevent CFL from getting
hot/smoking when they "burn out".
- No 60 Hertz flickering. Electronic ballasts now operate at around
20-60 kHz (20,000 - 60,000 Hertz). This means no more headaches/eye
- Cheaper price. Now very inexpensive, especially when compared
with electricity costs.
- Improvement in color. Newer lamps give color consideration,
moving away from greenish/bluish white to a more warmer color.
- Do not use in a totally enclosed fixture unless stated that it's
allowed on the packaging.
- Do not use outside or in a bathroom with a shower or bathtub
unless stated that it's allowed on the packaging.
- CFLs start off somewhat dim before they warm up and get to
maximum brightness, so they're not recommended for places where the
light is typically turned on for a short periods of time.
- Avoid using outside when it is cold (below freezing). Most CFLs
are only rated down to around -20 oC (-10 oF), at which point that they
turn on at all. They are also very dim for quite a long time before
they warm up. Unfortunately this means they are not very well suited
for outdoor use in Canada.
- Cannot use with a dimmer switch, or tri-level lamp (3-way),
unless it's a
special dimmable CFL.
CFLs I've tried, with specifications and comments:
23w Luminus (2006): Rated at
1600 Lumens, 10,000 Hours, minimum
starting termperature: -23 oC / -10 oF, This lamp may be used in an
enclosed fixture. This bulb is availble at
Costco. This bulb is manufactured for Conglom (www.conglom.com).
This is a longer
100w equivelant bulb. It has a nice warm color to it, but takes a
moment before it turns on (approximately a second). Approximately 5.3
inches long by 2.8 inches wide. I was quite disapointed with the slow
turn on time of this lamp since the last generation of this lamp was
truely instant on.
14w Commercial Electric: Rated
at 800 Lumens, 6,000 Hours, minimum starting termperature: -29
oC. Suitable for totally enclosed fixtures. This bulb was available at
Home Depot. This bulb is manufactured by
is a great little spiral bulb. It's the same size as a regular
incandescent bulb, so it can be used almost anywhere. It is also very
inexpensive now, about $18 for a 6 pack. I've had one silently and
safely fail out of ten that I've purchased within the first year. Easy
and pleasant warranty handling for the failed lamp. It turns on
instantly, flicker-free. 3.9 inches long by 1.9 inches wide.
23w Commercial Electric:
Rated at 1600 Lumens,
10,000 Hours, minimum starting termperature: states both -20 oC and -20
oF on the package, one which must be an error. This bulb was available
at Home Depot. This bulb is manufactured by TCPI (www.tcpi.com). This
is a 100w equivelant bulb. When I bought six of these lamps, one made a
humming noise when turned on, so I got it exchanged hassle free from
home depot. It turns on instantly, flicker-free. Unfortunately, this
lamp is still a bit longer than a standard incandescent light bulb at
5.0 inches long by 2.3 inches wide. I've had one silently and safely
fail out of three that I've purchased, after two years of use.
14w Commercial Electric Flood Lamp:
640 Lumens, 8,000 hours, minimum starting temperature: -29oC. This bulb
was available at Home Depot. This bulb is manufactured by TCPI (www.tcpi.com). This
is a standard size flood lamp, equivelant to a 65w bulb. It turns on
instantly, flicker-free. When below freezing, it comes on very dimly,
and takes quite a while to warm up and get to full brightness. I would
not recommend outside CFLs for use in Canada, unless you want to swap
them in and out during spring and fall with regular incandescent lights.
7w Ikea: Rated at 286 Lumens,
10,000 hours. This bulb is available at, you
guessed it, Ikea. This is an interesting
minature 40w equivalent bulb. It has 2 flourescent tubes inside of a
protecting bulb. It's glass
covered by clear rubbery plastic. It's size is about the same as a
watt utility/ceiling fan bulb, approximately 3.5 inches long and 1.8
inches wide. This light turns on flicker-free, but does not turn on
instantly. There is a very small pause (about half a second) before
coming on very dimly. It takes quite a long time (about two minutes)
before it reaches full brightness, significantly longer than either the
Luminus or Commerical Electric brands. I still find this lamp very
useful though, since I have hanging lights in my kitchen that a normal
sized light bulb would look unattractive in. I tend to leave these on
all the time, so these issues do not pose a problem for me. Out of four
lamps that I bought, one stopped working (quietly and safely) the same
day I installed it.
27w Philips Daylight (2006): Rated at
1660 Lumens, 8,000 hours, minimum starting temperature -20oC, 80 CRI.
This bulb is available at many places. The packaging said "daylight",
but when I turned it on, it was very bluish. I'm not sure what planet
the marketing staff at philips live on. This light turns on instantly,
but isn't initially as
bright as the TCPI/Commerical Electric CFLs I own.
13w Archer Lighting (2006):
Rated at 10,000 hours, 4200K color, equivelant to a 65w incandescent.
It is approximately 4.75 inches long by 1.7 inches wide. It turns on
instantly, at almost full brightness. With 4200K color temperature, it
is a cool, very white light.
13w Sylvania SUPER mini (2007):
Rated at 10,000 hours, 900 lumens, minimum starting temperature -18oC,
3000K color. This bulb is available at many places. The light color is
a very neutral white, so people will notice the difference when they
switch from an incandescent bulb. It turns on without flicker, but is
very slow to turn on (approximately a second and a half). It's size is
approximately the same dimensions as a regular incandescent 60w bulb.
Older CFL reviews I've done can be found here.
I've removed them from this section since they're not available for
General Comments on brands:
So far the best incandescent replacement bulbs I've found are the TCPI
/ Commercial Electric brands. They are quite warm colored, so they
produce about the same light quality as a normal edison bulb would.
Secondly, they were the smallest CFLs available for a couple of years,
ahead of the competition. Thirdly, they turn on instantly. It's
annoying to turn on a light switch and wait, that's unacceptable.
The "big three" light bulb companies in america are GE, Philips, and
Sylvania. I've found these CFLs to be quite disapointing. No wonder why
consumers didn't want to switch to CFLs if they tried these first!
They're generally horrible. Their color is terrible, they have a long
delay when you turn them on, and for quite a few years, were so much
bigger than a standard bulb size they didn't fit anywhere! It's almost
like they were trying to sabotage the CFL lighting revolution...
Finally, stay away from dollar store/bargain cheap brands of CFLs. Many
aren't even CSA/UL certified. Some of these are unsafe and may cause
There's a recall on the Globe Electric CFL for their 13w mini spiral
CFL manufactured from January 2002 to April 2003. Please read about it
on their website: www.globe-electric.com/pdf/Press%20Release%20Fujian%20Joinluck%20October%2028.pdf
There's a recall on the TCPI/Commercial Electric/DuraBright 32w 3-way
read about it on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website: www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml05/05064.html
Recall for 9w Teng Fei CFL on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission
Doug Hembruff's CFL website: www.execulink.com/~impact/fluorescent_lights.htm
Don Klipstein's CFL website: http://members.misty.com/don/cfx.html
Questions or comments,
This webpage was last updated Jan 14th, 2007.
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