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.

CFL benefits:
Recent CFL improvements:
CFL issues/usage:


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 TCPI (www.tcpi.com). This 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:  Rated at 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 40 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 sale anymore.

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 fires!


WARNINGS:

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 and www.esa-safe.com/pdf/rn/Globe%2013W%20press%20release.pdf

There's a recall on the TCPI/Commercial Electric/DuraBright 32w 3-way CFL. Please 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 website: www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml05/05005.html

Links:

Doug Hembruff's CFL website: www.execulink.com/~impact/fluorescent_lights.htm

Don Klipstein's CFL website: http://members.misty.com/don/cfx.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp

Questions or comments, email me!
This webpage was last updated Jan 14th, 2007.

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