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Wal-Mart Is Pushing Compact Fluorescent Bulbs 923

While we all know from reading the internets that Wal-Mart is irredeemably evil, the world's largest retailer has committed to get compact fluorescent lightbulbs into 100 million homes this year. CFLs are found in only 6% of households today. These energy-saving bulbs use 75% less electricity than incandescents and produce far less greenhouse gas to manufacture and use. Wal-Mart seems determined to use its marketing prowess to do what hasn't successfully been done in the CFL's 25-year history: to convince consumers to pay more upfront for large savings over the product's lifetime.
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Wal-Mart Is Pushing Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

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  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:5, Informative)

    by exploder ( 196936 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:24AM (#17439748) Homepage
    The delay is pretty much a thing of the past. The ones in my house turn on instantaneously, as far as I can detect. If they are very, very cold (way colder than you'd ever let it get inside your house), it can take maybe half a second.
  • CFLs (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:25AM (#17439758)
    We've just gotten a couple recently to try them out.

    Positives.. well everyone knows the supposed positives. The bulb near my computer is on 24-7 because someone is generally using it 24-7, so I'm waiting to see whether it lives up to the claims. (I think I assumed it would last 6 months or a year at this rate)

    Negatives... the thought of having mercury gas a few feet bothers me. Why, after figuring out just how bad mercury is, are we putting the stuff in more products that can expose people and especially children to it?

    When I actually do turn it off and several hours turn it back on, it seems to be much dimmer at first. It definitely seems less bright than a normal 60-watt (which is what this one is rated to replace) It's adequate for my computer area.

    There are 3 other bulbs in my house currently. Two in the kitchen which lights it well enough. One in the living room but it's less than satisfactory as well. Perhaps simply because we need more lights in there.

    If any of them are still working by next december (or well if they even last 6 months) we will probably replace the majority of bulbs (except some which are on dimmers) with them.

    One of these days I'd like to try the LED bulbs though.
  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:25AM (#17439760)
    Regular bulbs are cheaper to produce - namely because they don't need a ballast (what is hidden in the base in CFLs) like all fluorescents do. Price a replacement ballast at homedepot for a digital (T32?) fluorescent - it costs between $16-25 for four tubes, sometimes more. So I'm surprised they CFLs got so cheap.

    BTW, 60 watt equivalent CFLs cost roughly $1.50 a piece (8 pack) at Costco. Much cheaper than Walmart. Nice, bright, instant on.

    (A while back, in my dad's new garage, within 3 weeks - 6 of his fluorescent tube fixtures broke. It was a batch of bad ballasts in them. It would have been a bitch replacing just the ballasts - lots of cutting wires, tying the new one together, tearing the fixture apart and putting it back together again - in other words a PITA. We decided to go with regular bulb fixtures with CFLs because we would get the fluorescent cost benefits but the screw in bulb convenience.)

    Anyway, the upfront cost is not worth complaining over - with regular use you got your money back within 3-5 months.
  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `vdalived'> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:26AM (#17439774) Homepage
    This is just smart. Car companies do it too. They sell to people who want fuel economy. If a car company could make a powerful safe car that ran for 500 miles on 1 gallon of gas, they'd do it.

    Walmart has no vested interest selling electricity or energy. Since CFLs are more expensive up front, they get a greater slice of profits. The more expensive the item, the larger profit margin. Warmart is still a company that's only interested in profits, and I'm not ready to slap the saintly tag on them, but this is purely capitalism at it's best. The invisible hand will see where the profits are and follow the money, and when it comes to light, the money is in saving energy.
  • by Nanoda ( 591299 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:30AM (#17439844)
    Make sure you're buying 'soft white' bulbs, not 'cool white' or 'daylight'. The former have a colour temperature of 2700 - 3000K, the latter are more like 4200K. I find my Globe and Luminus brand bulbs match incandescents quite well; Sylvania and perhaps IKEA seem a bit cooler. Globe also make a 150W equivalent bulb that you could try (though it's quite large and wouldn't fit in many enclosed fixtures).

    I specifically have some 'cool white' bulbs in my reading lamp and the bathroom, where I prefer a whiter light.
  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mad Quacker ( 3327 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:34AM (#17439878) Homepage

    The delay is pretty much a thing of the past. The ones in my house turn on instantaneously, as far as I can detect.
    I just bought 2 packs from (speak of the devil) Walmart last week.

    Guess what? There is a delay.. maybe a second or so - and then on top of that it takes them about a minute to get up to full brightness. So the 100W equivalent CFL's I have put out (guesstimate) 20W of incandescent equivalent light. I keep my house at 70F. When the bulbs have been operating and are up to about (guesstimate) 100F, they turn on with about a 1/4 second delay. Who keeps their house at 100F?

    This makes them inappropriate for stairwells, bathrooms, and any place with automatic light sensors.
  • by Ken_g6 ( 775014 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:37AM (#17439898) Homepage
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:39AM (#17439918)

    * Make sure you're buying 'soft white' bulbs, not 'cool white' or 'daylight'. I can't tell the difference between

    * The CFLs I use achieve maximum brightness in about 1 second. I used to have some that took 60 seconds.. but that was 5 years ago. Maybe you just tried a bad (cheap?) brand of CFL? Feit Electric [feit.com] takes 1 seconds to reach maximum brightness. I'm sure other do brands too .

    * Yeah they don't work with dimmers. I don't have any dimmers.

    I think you should give CFLs another chance. The money I save on the electric bill is worth it.

  • LED not ready (Score:5, Informative)

    by oohshiny ( 998054 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:01AM (#17440084)
    I have a bunch of LED lights, and they are not a replacement for CFLs or regular light bulbs quite yet: too dim and not really full spectrum.
  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:13AM (#17440180)
    I would first like to point out that I do, indeed, know that bulbs can vary greatly from different manufacturers. I have purchased 3 or 4 brands of CF bulbs, and have not been disappointed with any of them.

    Are people really in such a rush that a half-second delay is not worth the ~47 watt per bulb savings? Though they may take a minute to reach full brightness, even the light during this warm-up period is completely adequate for general use.

    How is the 'illumination performance' of CF bulbs worse than that of others? I find the light produced by CF to be a cleaner / brighter white than other bulbs.
  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:5, Informative)

    by DDLKermit007 ( 911046 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:16AM (#17440204)
    Just need to spend a buck or two more per bulb. The cheapest ones do, and always will have a delay (Walmart has to be there to serve the cheapass market). Best way to have instant on bulbs is to look for ones that specify "instant on". I've had a few friends & family that switch after seeing mine, but end up buying the cheapest ones they can get their hands on. It's no surprise they end up trashing them once they learn their lesson (bicker over a buck, and get what you pay for) or go back to normal bulbs.
  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:5, Informative)

    by swv3752 ( 187722 ) <swv3752@[ ]mail.com ['hot' in gap]> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:19AM (#17440222) Homepage Journal
    I have several and it really varies from manufacturer to manufacturer as to how bright they are when they turn on and how long it takes to turn on. Some are instant on with about 75% of thier max brightness and only take about 15 seconds to reach thier full brightness. I believe the brand was NuVo, I know I bought them at Home Depot. A real cheap set from Big Lots, take a good minute to reach thier full brightness and take a half second or so to turn on. The rest fall somewhere inbetween. The real good ones will cost you about 4x as much as a good bulb, but they last 8-10x as long and cost about 1/4-1/6 as much to run.

    There is a secnod bonus to CFL, they produce less heat. This is particularly important in Southern Climes where your cooling bill is considerably higher than your heating bill. Even those areas where it is frosty outside, electric heat is very inefficient so you are still better off.
  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:3, Informative)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:24AM (#17440256) Journal
    I believe I mentioned that. You generally get savings from *either* motion sensors or CF. With the frequent switching a motion sensor tends to do, a CF would burn out fairly rapidly. I didn't mention it in the first paragraph because I thought it was patently obvious that you wouldn't tend to leave on anything that was controlled by an automatic sensor by definition.

    *there are circumstances under which a CF would benefit being in the same installation as a motion sensor, but it generally works out that the motion sensor was applied only to avoid having switches. Certain offices and classrooms for instance.

    When LED prices come down they'll make even more sense everywhere as they don't have a limited number of starts like fluorescents do.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:27AM (#17440296)
    CFLs have small levels of mercury, so they're "toxic." I don't have a link, but I remember reading that energy savings keeps a coal plant from releasing significantly more mercury into the air than the CFL contains. That being said I know you can recycle them at IKEA. Hopefully Wal-Mart will start taking them back soon (about 3 years after this big push?) I'm sure there's some places that would take them back for the cost of postage as well.
  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:29AM (#17440314)
    nVision brand CFL have no noticable delay when they turn on and are bright right away. They're carried by Home Depot, I converted my most of house when they were really pushing them with a deal on bulk packs.
  • The amount of mercury released into the air because of burning coal [utah.gov] to make electricity is far larger (about a ton per year in Oregon [oregonlive.com]) than the amount of mercury in the compact fluorescent bulbs. The bulbs use 1/4 the electricity, which means 1/4 the mercury released because of providing electricity for lighting.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:41AM (#17440408)
    A colder light will generally appear brighter since it is close to neutral. Outdoor daylight varies but on a clear day is usually in the realm of 5500-6500k. Compared to a normal incandescent, which is around 2800k, is very warm by comparison. The normal problem with fluorescents is that their colour spectrum sucks. They don't have a very even distribution of power across the light spectrum, at least compared to the sun and incandescents. However, you can buy much better fluorescents if you look. The term used is generally "full spectrum". Also they may talk about color index or CRI or the like and it'll be above 90 (incandescents are 100 by definition). These generally seem much brighter than normal ones as they have better colour spectrum. Only downside is they tend to be more expensive, like $12 per bulb.

    I personally buy mine from BlueMax (http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/compact_fluo rescent_32_ctg.htm). I've not done much shopping around so there's probably cheaper options out there, but I buy infrequently enough as to not care, and I like their lights. Very neutral light (cold compared to incandescents) and they claim quite a high CRI.

    I think if you pick up a good CFL, you'll find that it's not the temperature that's the problem but the spectrum. However, if you want warm CFLs, they are easy to get. Check any Home Depot or similar store, and they should have them for sale. That's what I used prior to discovering the full spectrum variety (which I can only find online).
  • LED lighting = junk (Score:3, Informative)

    by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @02:08AM (#17440626)
    Apologies, sir, but I have LED based indoor lights.

    I am quite confident in telling you that if you've got an LED bulb that you paid $50 for, and it consumes 5-9 watts of electricity, then it is going to be nowhere near as bright as a 100W incandescent bulb. LED technology will get there, but it isn't there today.
  • by CosmeticLobotamy ( 155360 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @02:17AM (#17440688)
    http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/peckerwood.asp [adl.org]

    Though I was personally unoffended.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @02:29AM (#17440764)
    Unfortunately, the electronic adapters that screw into a standard light socket last about 6 months before dying.

    Time to check your electrical supply for noise and stability. Do incandescent lamps dim when the refrigerator starts? You may have power problems.
  • CFL notes (Score:2, Informative)

    by randolph ( 2352 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @02:45AM (#17440850)
    Sigh...these things are going to be dimmer than the packaging claims; many of them are, already. Bet the ballasts fail pretty fast, too. And they're going to create one hell of a disposal problem; that much mercury in landfills is going to be a quite serious toxics problem.

    CFL buying guide:

    Multiply the wattage of a CFL by four to get an approximate incandescent equivalent.

    Recommended brands: Philips, Panasonic, Feit Electric, Technical Consumer Products. Steer clear of Lights of America, my opinion.

    It surprised me how well 42w 5000K CFLs work in our kitchen in daylight--they don't look yellowish at all.

    Dimming a fluorescent depends on the ballast; dimming ballasts are, alas, expensive. (Note to hardware hackers: a fluorescent lamp power supply--a "ballast"--is a current regulator which provides an initial higher-voltage pulse to strike the arc through the lamp.)

    All fluorescents dim as they age; honest manufacturers state when their light output is measured.

    All fluorescents age more quickly when they are turned on and off frequently.

    All fluorescents have limits on their operating temperatures.

    Some CFLs require vertical, vented mounting: that is, in a conventional fixture, under a lampshade. Check and make sure before you purchase.

  • by wombert ( 858309 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @03:15AM (#17441008)
    Is there any brand of CFL, yet, with a narrower base so it'll fit into a smaller-base fixture? I have floor lamps & ceiling fixtures that simply won't fit the CFL bulb because of the wide base (and they get wider as you go to higher wattages) - are they ever going to be closer to "normal" sizes?

    I've also found that in the lamps where I did manage to fit a CFL, the coiled bulbs tend to stick out because they're taller than the traditional equivalents. Now, is someone going to make a more conforming energy-efficient bulb, or do I also have to replace all my lamps & fixtures in order to use CFLs?
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @03:18AM (#17441020)
    The LEDs also produced more lumens per watt power consumption as well as used the lest amount of energy to turn on, whereas the traditional florescents had a 7x power spike for turn on, and the traditionals had a 1.5x spike, even the CFL's had a power spike. Everything says to use LED lights now.

    Unfortunately we live in a market economy. The cost is a real factor. My average lamp is 900 Lumens. My 1 watt flashlight is only 32 lumens.

    If I live another 30 years in my present home, what is the cost to outfit a 6 bedroom 3 bedroom home with LED lamps and will I have any savings over CF bulbs I now have installed?

    LED lamps are about 20 cents / Lumen.
    Refrence PDF alert. http://www.aceee.org/pubs/a042_l11.pdf [aceee.org]

    At 5 lamps in the kitchen overhead, 2 under the microwave, 5 in the dining room, 4 in the living room, 15 in bathrooms, 12 in bedrooms, 6 in porch and drive, 4 in the laundry, 2 in the hallway, and 5 in the rec room. Average size 60 watt equivelant. Total numbers of lamps is 60 for a total of 54,000 lumens needed.

    To make matters of finding a proper replacement, many LED's are not rated in Lumens but intensity. I don't need a spot of light on the celing above the light. I want the room lit up. Remember there are aproximately 1,000 Mcd to a Lumen. Using that compare this bulb to a typical 14 watt CF lamp.

    http://item.express.ebay.com/Home-Garden_Lighting- Ceiling-Fans__16000-MCD-P60-48-White-LED-110-V-Edi son-Type-Light-Bulb_W0QQitemZ220015435889QQihZ012Q QddnZHomeQ20Q26Q20GardenQQadnZLightingQ20Q26Q20Cei lingQ20FansQQcmdZExpressItem [ebay.com]

    I don't think a 16 lumen lamp is a direct replacement for a 14 watt CF lamp of nearly 900 lumens.

    The LEDs also produced more lumens per watt power consumption

    http://members.misty.com/don/lede.html [misty.com]
    "The better usual modern white LEDs (as of September 2006) produce about 29-45 lumens of light per watt of electricity

    http://hes.lbl.gov/hes/makingithappen/no_regrets/l ighting.html [lbl.gov]

    "while the fluorescent produces over 50 lumens per watt"

    The high effeciency LED's just are not on the market yet for most white LED's.

    I'll stick with CF's as the additional cost of LED's don't yet produce a measurable savings. I have been watching the lumens/watt and cost race for some time. It's getting close, but the average modern white LED is still not as effecient as a typical CF lamp.

    A laboratory prototype of a white LED achieving 150 lumens/watt has been announced on 12/20/2006.

    Wake me when these are on the shelf at a competitive price.
  • So aggravating (Score:2, Informative)

    by cryptoluddite ( 658517 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @03:42AM (#17441150)
    Sorry for the language but it's a load of crap to say the delay is a thing of the past. I have bought a lot of compact fluorescents and what is so annoying is that it is impossible to tell what the fuck kind of bulb you are going to get before you buy it. The claims on the packaging seem to be just made up out of thin air.

    I've got some 6500k bulbs that are "instant on" to maybe 15% brightness and finally get fully bright after 5 minutes (can watch the dark part of the tube slowly get brighter so am sure it takes that long). I have others that come on after 1 second at pretty much full brightness, others that come on after 1/2 second at partial brightness ("instant on" sometimes mean 1/2 second btw). I've got new bulbs that come on quick but are "thin" where I can see flickering for a few minutes... the overhead 60 hz lights make me sick and I can tell 120hz light from the 10khz ones so I am a little more sensitive than average. But still.

    And then on top of that the electronic ones say *don't* use it in a completely enclosed fixture. Well too bad that those are exactly the lights I want to leave on the longest. And it's dumb to say "oh buy the $2 more costly brand its worth it" -- you shouldn't have to shop around to get a freakin' light that isn't defective. I've never had an incandescent from any manufacturer have any quirk other than varying lifetime. They are just solid, instant light. I *want* to use CFL, if only they didn't suck so much.
  • by adrianmonk ( 890071 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @04:26AM (#17441420)
    Go ask - women do not like the light they throw off.

    AFAIK, the two main quality issues with fluorescent lights are:

    1. Ballast frequency, which is a very similar issue to refresh rate.
    2. Color temperature, which is essentially whether the light is yellowish or neutral or blue/greenish.

    With CFLs, the ballast frequency issue was solved a long time ago. Basically, the voltage needs to be stepped up way higher than line voltage (120V in the US, 220V many other places). The low-tech way to do this is with a transformer. This means you get 60 Hz (or 50 Hz, whatever) current at that high frequency. That means flickering. Flickering doesn't happen with incandescent bulbs because it is heat of the filament that is causing the light to be emitted. The electrical current going through the bulb goes to zero 120 times a second (with 60 Hz power), but the filament's thermal mass is high enough that the bulb "coasts" through the zero voltage (and zero current) crossing and continues to emit light. You can even turn off an incandescent and watch it continue to glow for a fraction of a second after power is removed, because it takes time for the filament to cool. But this continuous lighting thing is not the case with a fluorescent, as I understand it. The gas in the tube only produces light when there's a voltage, and it stops pretty much instantaneously when it's not being electrically excited. Thus, with a fluorescent and a low-tech ballast, you get an effect similar to what it looks like when your monitor is set at a painfully low refresh rate, only not quite as bad, but still annoying.

    But, as I said, compact fluorescents don't suffer from this issue. The reason is they have electronic ballasts. Instead of simple, dumb circuit with a transformer in it, they have a circuit that steps up the voltage, but it converts it to a much higher-frequency A/C voltage before it gets into the tube. I'm not sure of the frequency, but googling indicates it is in the tens of thousands of Hz. So, it's fast enough your eye really can't perceive it.

    The other issue, color temperature is a little different story. As this explanation [lightbulbsdirect.com] says, "Warm light is preferred for living spaces because it is more flattering to skin tones and clothing." I think this is the key reason for aesthetic objections to CFLs. Incandescents produce warm light at a color temperature of about 2700K, because that's what happens when you heat up a filament. With compact fluorescents, different options are available. If you want something similar to what you're used to with an incandescent, you should choose a 2700K CFL! It's not at all uncommon for CFLs to come in color temperatures in the range of 4000K or 5000K. That will appear considerably bluer or even weird and greenish compared to an incandescent. Nobody wants their skin tone to appear overly greenish, so 2700K it is, for aesthetic purposes, in most cases.

    On a side note, things are different if you want to, say, take pictures of things. In that case, you might want to go with a higher color temperature, because 2700K is considerably warmer (yellower) than what you see outside on a nice sunny day.

  • Another advantage... (Score:4, Informative)

    by sifi ( 170630 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @04:33AM (#17441448)
    I'm a big fan of these bulbs.

    Another advantage I've come across is that you can put a brigther bulb in a light fitting only designed to take a low wattage bulb.

    e.g. if the light fitting says "40W Max" you can put in a "100W equivilent" CFL bulb since this is really only 20W in terms of actual power, and it is the heat that they are worried about.
  • by rubyfreak ( 740239 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:09AM (#17441862) Homepage
    2) The county dumps in my area have declared the CFLs to be toxic waste. This makes it illegal to throw them in the garbage when they do die. The stores that sell the bulbs are not collecting them, so the only legal way to get rid of them is by driving them to the dump.

    How odd. Here in Sweden, any store that sells CFLs are obliged by law to collect them as well. The same applies to batteries and other toxic disposables.

  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:4, Informative)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `earthshod.co.uk'> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:19AM (#17442206)
    No, you don't need bright light for close work. You need reading glasses. Yes, there's the Inverse Square Law to contend with, but the human eye is remarkable for its ability to see over a range of light levels.

    If you've ever used a camera with a manual aperture setting (remember them?), you will know that the focus is much more critical at f/2.8 that f/16 (you can pretty much get away with leaving it on infinity beyond f/8, which is exactly what cheap cameras do).

    In bright light, your pupils contract. This increases your eyes' depth of focus, moving your far limit further away and your near limit closer, thus allowing you to see better over more range. Wearing convex lenses will artificially shift your near and far limits closer, thus allowing you to see clearly close up.

    I was born short-sighted -- I can't see anything clearly that is more than a couple of metres away. Some time before my 17th birthday, I got my eyes tested and found I would need glasses for driving. It's like having a macro mode when I'm not wearing my specs (which is most of the time, because I'd rather bump into things than wear glasses.) So I don't need reading glasses.
  • by oohshiny ( 998054 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:41AM (#17442302)
    Well, the GP specifically talked about $40 LED lightbulbs, and, as I was saying, those just aren't bright or full spectrum enough to be used for regular lighting yet.

    ColorKinetics's claim to fame is that they mix RGB for lighting effects, plus a bunch of ways of communicating with LEDs. But since they are using the same LEDs as everybody else, their lights aren't going to compete any better with CFLs than any of the other LED based lights. To make LED based lighting happen, either our existing LEDs need to get a lot cheaper, or they need to get a lot more efficient.

    Incidentally, ColorKinetics patents a lot, but most of their patents seem to be for trivial and obvious engineering designs; I think they're evil, and I hope you won't support these people by buying their products.
  • by Phreakiture ( 547094 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:09AM (#17442424) Homepage

    Home Depot sells the Commercial Electric and nVision tubes. No delay. They work really well.

  • by 1961fordgalaxie ( 847688 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:30AM (#17442592) Homepage
    I use these bulbs in my house because of the cost savings over time to operate them. Now I have found that they take a small amount of time to light...maybe half a second. I have found that they work very similar to a long white floresent bulb meaning that they are dim while they warm up and after a few minutes they put off their full amount of light. I have never had one burn out or give me any trouble. I like these bulbs and am very interested in what LED technology will do in a light bulb for my lamp.
  • I have the 100 watt equiv. versions in my garage which is rarely above 40 degrees this time of year (I live in Maine) and is frequently close to freezing. I see a delay similar to what I see with the 40 watt and 60 watt equiv I use in other parts of the house.

    There are places they work, and places they don't work.

    In my kids' bedrooms -- especially their closets -- they work wonderfully. The kids constantly leave on lights and I get slightly less pissed off about it this way. In places that need a lot of light, the slower startup to full light output can be annoying. In many places with multiple bulbs, I'll use one incandescent bulb and the rest as CF.

    The CF "natural light" versions are just as bad as incandescent so called "natural light" bulbs. They may be technically better about spectrum, but aren't the light you expect for the room so they don't meet expectations. That makes convincing your family that CF are a good idea more difficult because you're changing two things at once.

    The #1 problem I have is that the equivalent light output bulbs are still slightly larger than the incandescent ones they replace. As a result they don't fit well (or at all) in many fixtures.

    Startup times are 1/4 to 1/2 a second in most of mine though it can vary. I don't notice a flicker, and I'm someone who can't use a monitor at 60hz because of the flicker so I tend to be sensitive to such things.
  • issue with bulbs (Score:2, Informative)

    by kurtis25 ( 909650 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:59AM (#17442820)
    This is the problem. With the old bulbs I know what I am getting, now that I pay $10 for a pack of bulbs and don't know what I am getting returning them until I get what I want is annoying. I bought a 3 pack, the bulbs only fit in 3 of my lights. They don't fight in my overhead lamps, or my desk lamp or the lamp on my nightstand. Yes I could get the small ones but they are more expensive and according to my figures not worth the upfront cost. I have the GE bulbs, I don't find them to be bright enough, I could by brighter ones but there is a huge price gap between the 75 watt equivalents and the 150 watt equivalents. I am going to wait a bit before I recommend them to many people.
  • Re:Plop (Score:3, Informative)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:59AM (#17442832) Journal

    I've just changed a bunch of them back to incandescent.

    They don't give out "the same amount of light for 75% less" - its more like 75% light for 50% less. I tried various makes, and the ones that claimed to be the equivalent of a 100 watt incandescent were more like 60 watts. The worst were the trilights - spending $25 on a couple of bulbs that are useless galls me no end. So I'm sitting on a couple of hundred dollars (I had changed all the lights) of CFs that are going to end up as dust collectors.

    Buy better-quality incandescents - they give more lumens per watt than the cheap incandescents (you can check the lumens output on the box). And avoid those "long life" incandescents - they achieve their long life by being VERY inefficient. CFs don't save money if you have to use twice as many to get the same light output.

  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:3, Informative)

    by 241comp ( 535228 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:05AM (#17442896) Homepage
    You're correct, however, in most locations energy derived from burning natural or propane gas is significantly cheaper than electric so while they may be 100% efficient, it doesn't necessarily cost the same amount. And when you're cooling.... a huge difference.
  • Re:Three... (Score:4, Informative)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:36AM (#17443202) Homepage Journal

    Jesus H Christ, use the fucking fire door, if they fire you for it, that's definately grounds for a Wrongful Termination lawsuit.

    Another example of how the system is set up to favor bastards. The thing is, most people don't believe in suing at the drop of a hat. In fact, they don't even consider the possibility of suing as part of their normal decision making process. For normal people, it's only after stewing on wrongs done to them that the idea of suing occurs to them.

    In any case, your chance of successfully pursuing a wrongful termination suit depends on the jurisdiction. If you are an at will employee, the employer can fire you for any reason, unless firing for that reason itself breaks a law (e.g. violation of anti-discrimination or whistelblower protection laws). In many jurisdictions there is a public policy exception to at-will termination. Employees cannot be terminated for filing workman's comp claims in jurisdictions with a public policy exception, because such terminations are clearly in violation of the intent of the workers' compensation laws, even if those laws don't explicitly forbid termination for filing claims.

    If there is no local law against discouraging employees from seeking medical treatment, there might not be a public policy exception to at-will termination in your state. Your state might not recognize a public policy exception at all.

    What you need is a lawyer versed in the employment laws of your state. Good luck finding one at 3 in the morning while you're suffering an asthma attack.
  • No. Wrong. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @10:15AM (#17443586) Homepage Journal
    Also, as well as using 75% less electricity, they give around 50% less light. Don't believe me? Check with a good light meter. Just to put the icing on the cake, not only do they have a hideous colour cast, but their colour temperature changes over the first few minutes.

    Erm, if you're using a light meter that's designed to be used with incandescent bulbs, it won't read properly when exposed to the light being produced by a fluorescent bulb. This is due to the design of the meter, not to the bulbs actually producing less light. Fluorescent bulbs produce their light in well-defined peaks across the visible spectra [1], while incandescents produce a continuous distribution (which actually peaks somewhere down in the infrared). A light meter designed to work with black-body radiators (e.g. sunlight, incandescent / tungsten lamps), which includes most of those with CdS or silicon cells, won't accurately measure the light output from a fluorescent bulb (or an LED, or neon tube, or Hg-vapor), because they make assumptions about the radiated spectra that simply aren't true, namely that it is continuous, and that a measurement at a particular wavelength can be extrapolated out to give an idea of the light's intensity. With a fluorescent, if you don't measure the particular wavelengths that it emits light at, you will get a very low reading. Thus in order to accurately assess one's output, you need to measure intensity continuously across the visible spectrum and then integrate.

    This is done using a spectrophotometer, which is a significantly more complicated piece of equipment than a simple light meter. Luckily for us, the manufacturers of light bulbs (both fluorescent and regular) do this at the factory and print the light output on the packaging, measured in lumens. Granted it's probably under idealized conditions, but since the numbers printed on incandescent bulbs probably are as well, it's good for comparison purposes. It is trivial to see, based on power consumption and light output in lumens, that fluorescent bulbs are far more efficient at producing visible light than incandescents. (And looking at the spectra of each [2], it's pretty clear why this is.) In general, fluorescents can produce around 60 lumens/watt, while incandescents are around 15.

    While you have a point about the power factor of fluorescents versus incandescents, it's not a particularly significant problem. There are lots of large-scale deployments of fluorescent lights which have lower power factors than incandescent bulbs, and still manage to be far more efficient. Utility companies have been dealing with power factors for decades, and it's not difficult to correct for it, when it becomes a problem. (Also, high power factor (HPF) ballasts can have a factor higher than 0.9.) That power factor issues would completely eat up the inherent energy efficiencies of fluorescent lights is ridiculous -- if they did, you wouldn't see them as often as you do. Lighting represents only 8.8% of residential power consumption in the U.S. [3], about half that of air conditioning (which is a low PF load), and with fluorescent bulbs it would be even smaller. The impact on overall apparent power consumption, if not negligible, is probably very small.

    [1] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Fluorescent_lig hting_spectrum_peaks_labelled.gif [wikipedia.org]
    [2] Incandescent and 5000K fluorescent spectra compared: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:SPD.png [wikipedia.org]
    [3] http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/brochure/electricity/e lectricity.html [doe.gov]
  • by Goldenhawk ( 242867 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @10:52AM (#17444086) Homepage
    I see a lot of angst in this discussion without a lot of careful thought. (Hey, this IS /. after all... I shouldn't be surprised.)

    The performance of these bulbs does vary ***greatly*** with the orientation of their installation.

    As a personal example, I bought some CFLs for my parents' house and installed them base-up in overhead recessed fixtures. They were very understandably unhappy with the startup time - almost a minute of dim light in a kitchen is very unacceptable. But those same bulbs, base-down, were fine in other places in the same house. If I'd thought about it ahead of time, we could have purchased CFL "instant-on" bulbs and gotten much improved performance in the recessed cans.

    CFLs use various types of gas mixtures, and some use drops of liquid mercury like other big fluorescents. If it's a liquid mercury bulb, it takes a short time to evaporate all the mercury when it's first powered on. In this situation, a base-down bulb will probably brighten faster than a base-up bulb, because the drop of mercury will initially be condensed near the emitter coils. The so-called "instant on" CFLs use a different, non-condensing gas mixture.

    Also, the brightness profile may have some effect on bulb lifespan: instant-on bulbs may last a shorter time for various reasons. If you're willing to tolerate a slower warmup, you may pay less over the long run for bulb replacement.

    See the discussion on this link, or google for "cfl base-up brightness":
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php ?t=104314 [candlepowerforums.com]

    Moral of the story: there are reasons for these differences, and you can use those differences to your advantage, IF you're willing to think thru the data and specs a bit. Don't toss the baby out with the bathwater just because the "Duh, CFLs are good, heh heh heh" line isn't the whole answer.
  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @10:56AM (#17444160) Journal
    Most aren't even capable of understanding the damage walmart as a hole does to the country (wage depression which leads to manufacturing outsourcing which leads to more wage depression)

    But ultimately that is exactly where we should be heading. As more products are purchased overseas more Americans are able to afford more stuff with less and less actual work. Its the same theory as with robotics. Your not replacing workers with robots (or people from china) your allowing us to get stuff cheaper and those workers to move to more knowledge based work. :)
  • Re:Three... (Score:3, Informative)

    by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @11:19AM (#17444462) Homepage Journal

    I wish someone would mod this up, because you're right on the money, so to speak. "Wrongful termination" lawsuits are a joke when you live in an at-will state such as mine. Unless you're protected under a specific law (such, as mentioned, as discrimination laws), employers can fire you at any time for any reason. Yes, even for things such as leaving a work site to take care of basic medical needs.

    When these kinds of laws were set up, it was the assumption of those that passed them that no employer in their right mind would actually be coldhearted enough to do such stuff. Obviously, they underestimated just the kind of soulless bastards they were dealing with, and many companies, especially large corporations, make no bones about exploiting laws like this to the fullest of their advantage.

    Wal-Mart figured out a long time ago that it doesn't make a damned bit of difference what they do to screw over communities and its employees. As long as they put enough cheap shit on their shelves, people will still come in there and shop, no matter how much it destroys their community. They know the psychology at work: offer people a concrete and tangible advantage ("get cheap shit here"), and it will win out every time over abstract notions of what's right and wrong or what will ultimately destroy the communities people live in.

  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:4, Informative)

    by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:50PM (#17445880)
    Incandescents and the sun give off yellowish light.

    No, the sun gives off pure white light by definition. (That's why we have evolved to see that spectrum as the neutral colour. If you look at the spectrum [lbl.gov], arguably it's actually a shade of green.) The reason the sun looks yellow in the sky is because the blue light has been scattered away by the atmosphere, making the sky look blue; the remaining (less scattered) light looks yellow as a result. However, if you look at a piece of white paper in the sunlight, it looks white because the yellow light directly from the sun combines with the blue light from the sky and adds back up to pure white again.

    The reason people prefer "warm" yellow light is purely emotional as far as I know. It reminds them of campfires and candles.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford