I have a customer who is wanting some information on the compact flourescent bulbs that go in lamps etc.. to save on energy. I have not got any in my house so I don't really have an input. Do they give off as much light as a regular incandescent? I do think they make some now that will fit into fixtures with a globe on them. I went into one man's house a while back, and he had to leave the globes off his light fixtures to use the bulbs. Looked sort of tacky though. My customer, who is also my neighbor, is thinking replacing all of her lights, but don't want to spend that much money on something that she might not be pleased with. I think she ought to try a few and experiment with them. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks ... Steve
I am for CFL's, but with caution. Here are some typical Lumen numbers (Inc-Incandescent).
40W-Inc @ 450 9W-CFL @ 500
60W-Inc @ 800 13W-CFL @ 775
75W-Inc @ 1000 18W-CFL @ 1075
100W-Inc @ 1500 26W-CFL @ 1500 32W-CFL @ 2000
These will all vary depending on the manufacturer, the lamp (and ballast combination), the ambient temperature, and other factors.
My caution is there seem to be some real poor CFL lamps available (both in percieved light and short ballast life). I wish that I knew which ones (my experience was with TCP which were the biggest waste of money I have ever done in lighting). Look for a minimum CRI (Color Renditioning Index) of 82. You will likely have to go to the manufacturers literature.
Some express the opinion that an incandescent fixture is not listed for using CFL's and thus CFL's are not allowed. CFL's of the proper listed styles for the fixture, and not exceeding the fixtures wattage are allowed.
The CFL's take a bit of getting used to. I have a few here and now that I'm used to them they're fine. Remind your customer that if she has any lighting controlled by a dimmer that it'll have to be taken out of the circuit.
There are a few CFLs available that are supposed to work with dimmers, but they are hard to find. I have not tried any of those out, so I don't know how well they work. They also make CFLs that work in 3-way lamps.
Pay attention to the color temperature of the CFLs. Most people will probably prefer the lower temperature lamps ("warm white"), as they produce a more reddish light similar to incandescents. Some CFLs produce a whiter light (sometimes sold as "daylight" bulbs or something similar), and these produce a very white, almost bluish light. I currently have a 5-lamp fixture in my house that has 3 warm white CFLs and 2 "daylight" CFLs. It looks rather odd, and I am going to replace the 2 with warm white CFLs to get them all the same color.
CFL's have come a long way; I have VOLUNTARILY changed all my household bulbs to CFL's. Here's what I've learned over the past six years or so:
- A rough conversion of size is 4x the CFL watts = Normal lightbulb watts. - CFL's tend to run almost forever - or crap out within a month. A fairly high percentage will not last six months. I attribute this to poor quality control.
- Most CFL's are physically larger than the equivalent 'normal' bulb, so there will be problems with light trims and globes.
- The perceived heat given off by a CFL is notably less than that of a 'normal' bulb. Especially in summer, you WILL notice the difference.
- CFL's are available in different 'color temps.' I have found my preference has changed to the "daylight' types. Even the 'cool white' seems too yellow now. - CFL's perform well in the weather, and rough service. For example, one has served well in my trouble light. The also perform well in cold weather, even into the teens.
- CFL's take maybe 15 minutes to reach full brightness.Personally, I like this trait when I first awake. Especially in cold weather, this warm up period is noticeable, and folks will often think something is wrong.
I have not encountered any CFL's that can be dimmed, despite the claims of politicians and the trade press. I suspect that, like LED's, the dim-able CFL exists only in the marketing departments.
I have done two projects that had an abundance of recess light fixtures lamped with Phillips dimming compact fluorescent lamps. The first one I did was 5 or 6 years ago and then I paid $25 each. Last Decembers job the cost per each was less than $10. Regular Lutron dimmers work fine with them, but they drop out at about 20 % unlike incandescent lamps when dimmed way down.
I suggest that the installation date be written on the ballast housing of CF lamps, so that you have some idea of how long they last, and know when you've gotten bad ones that should be replaced under warranty.
Also be cautious with enclosed fixtures; some fixtures get too hot for some lamps because there is no airflow.