View Full Version : Know anything about the new compact flourescent light bulbs?

Pete Lamberty
11-04-2006, 11:16 PM
Here in the Chicagoland area, our power company is offering the new compact flourescent light bulbs (CFLs) at a discounted price. We can get a dozen of them for 99 cents each. Seems like a good deal. In the pamphlet that explains the program, it states that the new CFL bulbs cannot be used in an enclosed light fixture. Hmmm, I got to wondering, exactly what is an enclosed light fixture? I would think that it is at least a fixture that is recessed into the ceiling with some sort of glass covering the bottom. But what about the light fixture over my kitchen table? This fixture hangs down from the ceiling on a chain and has four translucent white globes that cover the bulbs. Is this considered an enclosed light fixture? Because the bulbs themselves are covered by the white globes? Could some of the Creek geniuses explain this to me? Thanks for any ideas. Pete

Jim Becker
11-04-2006, 11:40 PM
Virtually every fixture in my house that can use them has them, Pete. Good light; long life (!) unless you physically break them (DAMHIKT!) and lower heat...nice during the summer. Even my exterior floods are flourescent and they are darn bright once they are heated up!

As to the enclosed light fixture...I had a devil of a time finding one that would fit in the fixture over our back stairs. It was a size issue.

One other things...some of these bulbs are better than others. The cheapies take a long while to come to full brightness...noticable. I have one in a small lamp on the other side of my office that is that way.

Ian Abraham
11-04-2006, 11:57 PM
I think it has something to do with ventilation around the lamp. The extra electronics in the CFL may not like being cooked in an enclosed fitting and not last as long. Does the dining table fitting have vents around the top of the fitting to let the air flow and keeps things cool enough?

I run a mix of CFL, halogen and standard lamps depending on the location and use. The CFLs do have a 'warm up' phase where they dont put out full light for a minute or so, but their long life and low power draw makes them great for general area lights that are left on a lot. Also fittings that are hard to get at, because of height etc.

I would get the box deal, you probably wont replace all your lamps with them, but even if you do 1/2 it's a good deal money wise.



Carl Eyman
11-05-2006, 9:28 AM
So I have one in a ceiling fan fixture that is enclosed with a class globe. Luckily this globe is deep enough to accept the bulb. So far no problem. It is a lamp over the dining table so it is only on at meal times, maybe that is why I am getting by with it.

Keith Cope
11-05-2006, 10:21 AM
Ian is on target, heat buildup will cause issues. They typically also don't work well in cold temperatures, either--low ambient temps will result in significant decrease in light output.

Joe Pelonio
11-05-2006, 11:13 AM
Those can normally be $5 each so buy as many as you can! We buy them when we find them on sale, but never as cheap as that.

Bryan Somers
11-05-2006, 11:21 AM
Like Jim I have quite a few mostly in the places where we run those lights alot. Its probably a heat issue with enclosed fixtures when we remodled a bathroom last year I had one in there in a recessed fixture and after about 5 min that light would go off (thermal protection I found out). I put a lower watt cfl in that light and no more problems. Your power co is probably offering the 13 watt cfl, the equivilent of a 60 watt bulb but they put off more light than a 60 watt and its a whiter light.

If I understood your post correctly your fixture has 4 lights each with its own globe. For that fixture you would probably want to step down to a 9 watt cfl and I think there is a 7 watt. Another thing you can do is change the globes. I do have 2 in the kitchen light fixture inside a globe with no problems.

Curt Fuller
11-05-2006, 1:25 PM
A couple years ago our local power company had a similar offer for flourescent light bulbs. If I remember right they sent 4 for free. I have two exterior lights on my garage that I have to get out the ladder to reach them so I put the CFL lights in them. They're confined, subject to the weather, heat, cold, etc. and still going strong. And I leave them on all night every night as a security light. So I'm a believer. I've since replaced almost every light in the house with them. They're supposed to save on electrical usage too but my wife pays the bills so I don't know if they've made much of a difference that way. I just like not having to change the bulbs for years at a time.

Frank Fusco
11-05-2006, 2:46 PM
My son has them in his house with recessed fixtures. They don't come on instantly and don't give off much light. I don't care for what I see (no pun intended) with them.

Pete Lamberty
11-05-2006, 5:28 PM
Thanks for all of your thoughts on this subject. The Kitchen light that I wrote about has 40 watt incandescent bulbs in it now. So I guess an equivalent CFL would be down around ten watts. The globes do not have any kind of venting. Maybe ten watts wouldn't get that warm. They certainly don't get as hot as a incandescent bulb. So maybe it is the size issue. I'll have to get one and give it a try. Thanks again.

Art Mulder
11-05-2006, 6:37 PM
So maybe it is the size issue. I'll have to get one and give it a try. Thanks again.
I really can NOT imagine that it is a heat issue. 100 watt incandescent bulbs get REALLY hot. 60 watt bulbs in a desk lamp, or bedside-table lamp also get too hot to touch.

CF's in contrast get warm, even uncomfortably warm, but HOT ? No way.

Here is an enclosed fixture. It contains 3 ordinary bulb sockets, and is rated at a max of 60 watts each - so 180watts of conventional hot incandescents.

I've been running one of these for over a year now with two 100watt equivalents (23 watts consumption) and one 60watt equivalent (15 watts consumption) installed in it. (So a total of 68 watts usage to get the light output of 260 watts of incandescents.)

This one I just set up with three 100watt equivalent bulbs, and I have no worries at all.

Kirk (KC) Constable
11-06-2006, 8:40 AM
I have seen exactly ONE of those lights in actual use in a bed & breakfast. Don't know whether it was a cheapie or a good one, but it had a noticeable delay before coming on. I was only there a three nights, but never gor used to it. It did make nice light.


Jason Roehl
11-06-2006, 9:10 AM
The heat issue has nothing to do with the glass tubes. It has to do with the electronic circuitry in the ballast. An incandescent light has no circuitry, so the lamp doesn't care if the bulb gets to several hundred degrees, but the ballast circuitry of a fluorescent can only get to something like 70C or so. Enclosing it raises the probability of that happening.

I've got quite a few of the CFLs in my house now. I've gotten used to them, delay, light color and all. In some cases you may want to shoot for low color temp bulbs (2700K-3000K), as the light is more yellow/warm/natural-looking than the higher color temp bulbs. I'm not fond of bluish-looking fluorescent lamps. Still, I think there is a gene that does not allow some people (the rest of my family) to shut off lights when they're done in a room...

John Schreiber
11-06-2006, 9:39 AM
I love the idea of CFLs for the economy and the environment, and I've tried a variety of them.

Unfortunately, none have met my family's approval. Most of the lamps in my house are 65 watt ceiling cans. The CFLs take too long to turn on and the light is too harsh. Other lamps have exposed bulbs where the bulb is part of the design, CFLs won't work there. In the few remaining fixtures, the color has been wrong (Dad, it looks like I'm at a mall, not my living room).

I keep hoping the technology will improve and I'm watching for lower color temperature bulbs, but at this point, I've got ~ $40 worth of bulbs that I can't use in most of the house.

Art Mulder
11-06-2006, 11:29 AM
The CFLs take too long to turn on and the light is too harsh. Other lamps have exposed bulbs where the bulb is part of the design, CFLs won't work there.

I find comments like this puzzling. Are these current experiences? Are you getting delayed turn-on with CF's that you are buying right now in stores? If so, it seems like someone must be pushing old stock.

The CF's that I'm buying now are almost instant-on. Yes, they might brighten up a bit over the first 20-40 seconds, but they do come on right away. No blinks. The ones we just bought are noticeably faster at turning on than the ones we bought 10 years ago -- but the ones from 10 years ago are still working. Go CF's!! :D

And of course, for the old standby 4' tubes, electronic ballasts rock: Instant on. Very bright. No hum.

We've even got a CF bulb in the main floor powder room. CF's aren't really intended for places where the lights go on-off a lot, but rather for places where they go on and stay on. For us, our kids are bad at turning off lights (is that a theme in this thread?) so the powder room, which should be an on-off place, works well with a CF in the fixture.

And as for exposed bulbs... In the past 2 years there have been lots of CF bulbs introduced which hide the tight coil inside a decorative glass globe. We've got several in our house, and they work fine in exposed fixtures.


Jason Roehl
11-06-2006, 1:08 PM
Don't forget the cold-weather operation of the electronic-ballast fluorescents. Old, magnetic ballasts did very poorly in cold weather (I have some in my unheated shop--they stink below freezing). Electronic ones can have quite low ambient operating temps, though.

Jeffrey Makiel
11-06-2006, 2:44 PM
I asked the Energy Efficiency project manager at my workplace about these bulbs. Seems he has a lot of experience with them and offered me the following advice...
1. There are cheap ones, and there are good ones.
2. The cheaper ones tend to take a little longer to turn on.
3. The better ones are now rated to -20 degrees F for outdoor use.
4. Do not install them in 3-way fixtures or dim-able fixtures unless they are specifically designed for this application. Otherwise, it could be a fire hazard.
5. They are now being offered in a candelabra format.


Jim Benante
11-06-2006, 3:52 PM
I use compact flourescent bulbs. You can obtain bulbs rated for enclosures and even dimmable types. The dimmable cost quite a bit more. Many of the newer lights have instant on. Home Depot used to carry a greater variety, but now only have a few brands. I have purchased encloseable and globe types in the past at HD, but they no longer carry them.

One important note is these bulbs contain mercury here is a link to information about mercury in the compact flourescent bulbs.http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/promotions/change_light/downloads/Fact_Sheet_Mercury.pdf

Jason Roehl
11-06-2006, 6:46 PM
From my Bro-in-Law, who is an electrical engineer working on fluorescent light projects for Universal Lighting Technologies (who bought out his original employer, Magnetek), fluorescents contain a whole heck of lot of other nasty heavy metals, other than mercury. They're working on ways to do it without such toxic substances, but they've not succeeded yet.

Ron Jones near Indy
11-06-2006, 8:30 PM
I just spent a couple of days at meetings in a new Holiday Inn Select. CFLs all over the place.

Pete Lamberty
11-09-2006, 2:01 PM
Here's an interesting new product that I just found out about. It is a CFL that eliminates odors while it is on. It is called Fresh2 and you can see it at fresh2.com. Thought you might be interested. Seems kind of pricey. Ten dollars a bulb.

John Bush
11-09-2006, 3:11 PM
I used CFLs in enclosed globe type fixtures when they were first introduce 8-10 years ago, and they didn't last very long at all. I assumed it was a heat issue affecting ballast or other electronics. The current(oops) generation works just fine and lasts for a couple of years in these 24-7 fixtures. I also use the CFL floods for exterior security lights and they last much longer that traditional incadescents or halogens.