Do CFL twisty bulbs explode?

Compact fluorescent light bulb

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a story that suggests that they can. Like any poorly manufactured or quality controlled product, failures can occur. But with CFL bulbs, there’s additional things that can go wrong over the simple and century long proven incandescent bulb. Read on and see below for some technical details on CFL bulbs. Some “explosive” video also follows. – Anthony

Via American Thinker: A compact fluorescent light (CFL) on the ceiling burst and started a fire in a home in Hornell, N.Y. December 23, 2010.  “Those are the lights everybody’s been telling us to use,” said Joe Gerych, Steuben County Fire Inspector.  “It blew up like a bomb. It spattered all over.”  Fire Chief Mike Robbins said the blaze destroyed the room where the fire started and everything in it, and the rest of the house suffered smoke and water damage.  The Arkport Village Fire Department as well as the North Hornell Fire Department required about 15 minutes to put out the fire. Link

“Bulb explodes without warning,” reported NBCactionnews.com, May 21, 2010.


“Tom and Nancy Heim were watching TV recently, when Tom decided to turn on the floor lamp next to his recliner chair.  ‘I heard this loud pop…I saw what I thought was smoke, coming out of the top of the floor lamp,’ says Tom.  Nancy suddenly found glass in her lap.  She says, ‘I did not see it. I just heard it, and I noticed I had glass on me.'” Link to story

On February 23, 2011, TV NewsChannel 5 in Tennessee covered “a newly-released investigators’ report that blames a February 12 fatal fire in Gallatin on one of those CFL bulbs.”  Ben Rose, an attorney for the rehabilitative facility in which Douglas Johnson, 45, perished, said, “This result is consistent with our own private investigation. …We have heard reports of similar fires being initiated by CFLs across the country.” Link


October 5, 2010 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported: “Trisonic Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Recalled Due to Fire Hazard” because of four incidents.  It’s official notice states: “Hazard: light bulb can overheat and catch fire.” Link

Concerns about the toxic mercury in CFLs are downplayed by the bulbs’ advocates, but they shouldn’t be.  According to EPA and other sources, the safe limit is 300 nanograms per cubic meter.  When a broken CFL was reported in Maine, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection did the most extensive testing in the nation to evaluate the health risk.  Its 160-page report is shocking:

Mercury concentration in the study room air often exceeds the…300 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) for some period of time, with short excursions over 25,000 ng/m3, sometimes over 50,000 ng/m3. Link

Full story at the American Thinker

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Some things you may not know about CFL bulbs.

1. They have a built in switching power supply, or “ballast” like full sized fluorescent tubes. But they are not encapsulated or “potted” like those ballasts. See below for an inside view of a CFL base.

An electronic ballast and permanently attached tube in an integrated CFL - Image: Wikipedia

2. Capacitors, like the black one shown above, can sometimes fail catastrophically

3. The standard fluorescent lamp ballast can fail. Leaving burned-out lamps in the fixture, using the wrong size lamps, incorrect wiring, incorrect line voltage, operation at temperatures below or above the rated limits, power surges, and even the age can all cause a ballast to fail.

However, not all ballasts fail and stop functioning. Many overheat. Because a failing ballast can get extremely hot, it can become a fire hazard. All modern magnetic ballast designs have an internal temperature sensor that shuts the ballast off it gets too hot. In most designs, when the ballast cools off, the sensor will allow the ballast to turn back on. A fixture where some or all of the lamps shut off by themselves and later come back on is probably a fixture with a failing ballast. However, as shown above, these sorts of ballasts are usually encapsulated, and if a component fails, is contained within.

4. CFL bulbs, being replacements to incandescents, can be closer to things that can catch fire, such as upholstery (a table lamp). Not being fully encased (many CFLs have vent holes for the power supply) they can throw sparks when they fail. They can also breach the plastic case they are enclosed in.

5. CFLS, like any lightbulb, are fragile. However most incandescant bulbs don’t do this when cracked:

This video seems a bit extreme, and I wondered if it was “helped along” like NBC did with the model rocket motors taped to gas tanks fiasco. Though, here’s a news story from Chicago about what happens if homeowners ignore the warning about dimmer switches:

LED lighting is the way to go, in my opinion and experience. See how I retrofitted the biggest power suckers in my own home here:

Swapping my lights: fantastic!

Of course, you can always use your old CFL ballast to make a Jacob’s ladder:

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h/t to Bob Ferguson at SPPI who has this section on mercury issues:

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/mercury/

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97 thoughts on “Do CFL twisty bulbs explode?

  1. 10 watt LEDS seriously heat up. If for some reason the heatransport fails it’ll also catastrophically fail. The danger lies in the fact that the average buyer doesn’t know this and could well install such a led near an inflammable.

    Lesson: Whichever form of power, always count with part of that power being dissipated as heat.

  2. I’ve used CFL’s since 2001. One caught fire in the ceiling fixture. Fortunately I was in the room when it started to smoke, and managed to extinguish the flames before it spread.

    I have CFL’s in most sockets in the house and in some outdoor lights. The outdoor units run 8 hours per day and last about 2 years, or about 6000 hours. Not bad. Some indoor units fail after 2 years, but some of them run only an hour a week or an hour per day. In these cases, the failure mode appears to be infant mortality, perhaps from poor quality electronic components. I have a small box full of dead CFL’s now. I also have incandescent bulbs in closets that have not been changed for at least 10 years. They run so infrequently that replacing them makes no sense.

    I am still waiting for a 1000 lumen LED bulb price to drop by a factor of 10. Maybe by 2015 or so…

  3. 11:30 at night, winter. Had CFL in bedroom start sizzling. Very strong odor (mercury?).
    Winter, so couldn’t open windows for hours. Went to sleep. Only hope no health issues arise.

  4. I am not sure how common this is but I had a CFL explode about 6 months ago, the envelope blew apart but there was no fire. The reminants mostly just the base section was left in the socket put was exceedingly hot as was the socket, it was a normal central hanging lamp, anyone else?

    Alex

    REPLY: Probably a capacitor explosion – Anthony

  5. I’ve had several of the 100W replacements fail, but they’ve never “exploded” – some molten brown goop oozes out of the housing where the curly tubes penetrate. For fear of fire, I never leave CFLs on when the house is unattended. Those electrolytic capacitors will explode quite nicely if they’re installed backwards (reverse polarity) at the factory.

  6. Also pay close attention to whether the CFL can be used in an enclosed fixture. I’ve had two explode in my house, one in an enclosed shower fixture and another in a wall box with vents (lights up a stairwell). There was a warning on the box, but foolishly they printed it on the inside cover – in a spot that is easily ripped when trying to get into the box.

  7. Amazing how the government wants to regulate a harmless trace gas in the air, necessary for all life on earth, but is also encouraging Americans to put mercury containing bulbs all over the house!

  8. The flyback powered Jacob’s ladder was fun. It should be noted the source of the really high voltage comes from the flyback, not the CFL ‘ballast’. That provides a pulsing source of pretty low voltage to the primary of the flyback. So, arriving at the conclusion that CFL ballasts can directly produce maybe 10 kV is not correct.

    Tom Bakewell KE7AVZ

    REPLY: The CFL ballast makes the high frequency AC needed to drive the flyback transformer, I never said it made the whole high voltage for the JL – Anthony KA9NWM

  9. Mercury does not have an odor, but if you get the urge to wear a felt derby or other hat, you might want to get your blood tested.

  10. In the electronics industry about a year ago, some Chinese companies were taking under voltage or under sized capacitors that cost less and enclosed them in a larger case with a higher rating on them. Some of the pictures showed a small part inside a larger can. Another problem to watch out for is floor sweepings. Those are parts that for some reason didn’t meet specifications and are sold at a discount. In the hobby market they can be fine because the designs often don’t put the part very hard but in the commercial market they can be dangerous.
    Our company avoided this problem by being careful about our vendors but we still ran into an IC with one date code that was bad. Any board we received with that date code had all of those chips replaced even if they hadn’t failed yet.

  11. I was replacing the incandescent bulbs in my house with CFL’s to reduce my energy bill. I have stopped and started putting the incandescents back in because of the poor performance and short lifetimes of the CFL’s. To me, this just another good indication that we should let the market pick our preferred technolgies and not rely on the good judgment of government bureaucrats and green advocates.

  12. RE: LED lighting is the way to go, in my opinion and experience. See how I retrofitted the biggest power suckers in my own home here:

    LED Lighting has a lot of good things going for it:
    (1) Long bulb life.
    (2) Instant on.
    (3) Can deal with many ON/OFF cycles.
    (4) Energy efficiency.

    However the high cost per equivalent light output of CFL or standard bulbs is discoursing. The longer life and energy efficiency is not enough to justify using LED lights for most of my home. On the other hand, if a bulb is next to impossible to reach OR we have an application with tons of On/Off Cycles, the LED can be justified.

    The only place in my house where we have LED lighting is for our Garage door opener. LEDs survive the frequent On/Off cycles and vibrations better than other bulbs.

    I expect that in another 10 to 20 years, improvements in LED Lighting Technology will make the LED the technology of choice.

  13. Recently I’ve been replacing my incandescent bulbs with adaptors which take G9 halogen capsules, which then have a diffuser globe over the top that looks like a frosted (pearl) lightbulb.

    Trying to get a frosted lightbulb in the UK is impossible now, even for decorative bulbs (eg. golf ball bulbs with SBC bases).

    A halogen capsule uses about 30% less power for the same light output as an incandescent and is supposed to last for twice as long as the incandescent. They’re also cheaper than CFLs (when you take into account the true lifetime of CFLs). The colour spectrum is a continuum, just like an ordinary incandescent bulb, rather than a series of spikes. They’re more eco-friendly: less glass is used and they can be placed in the ordinary dustbin (trash can) when they die. Just remember not to get any fingerprints on the bulbs when handling them.

  14. There is another hazard with CFL’s. They take a lot longer than incandescent bulbs to emit their full light output. This is dangerous for the elderly if they are used to light staircases and there have been incidents where people have fallen down the stairs.
    Am I also right in saying that a few house fires with consequent rebuilding and refurnishing are going to create more carbon dioxide than these bulbs are going to save?

  15. I’ve been present when the CFLs pass on to the great GoreInTheSky. I hear an arcing, then the inevitable ‘Pfffffft’, followed by the smoke and odor. Several times the ballast housing has been significantly blackened on the outside.

  16. I find this article distressing. So, twenty-five percent of Britons consider GW “the most pressing environmental problem.” I suspect that number would be similar here in the U.S. That means that 1 in 4 of those around us is truly Koo Koo…..and there is probably another 1 of 4 who are semi Koo Koo. The rest of us, the sane, are going to have to watch our backs every minute, for many of these environmental wackos are deranged. I don’t like the odds!

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1378483/Do-global-warming-fatigue-Just-25-Britons-think-climate-change-important-environmental-issue.html#ixzz1K5emQap8

  17. New fears: Cancer causing chemicals are released by energy-saving bulbs when they are switched on, scientists said

    Energy saving bulbs emit cancer causing chemicals it was claimed last night as new fears were raised about their safety.

    Scientists said they should not be left on for long periods of time or placed close to a person’s head because they release poisonous materials.

    The EU has unveiled plans to phase out ‘normal’ incandescent bulbs by the end of next year as they try to cut carbon emissions.

    They should not be used by adults to read or kept near a child’s head all night, the experts said.

    While it is already known that harmful amounts of Mercury are released if one of the new ‘green’ bulbs is broken, the latest research shows other carcinogenic chemicals are emitted when they are switched on.

    The German research shows that the chemicals are released as a form of steam.

    The harmful substances include phenol – a poison injected by the Nazis to kill thousands of concentration camp victims during World War II – and the human toxins naphthalene and styrene.

    Tests showed that the materials used to make the lamps are probably responsible for their potentially harmful side effects.

    Andreas Kirchner, from the Federation of German Engineers, said: ‘Electrical smog develops around these lamps. I therefore use them only very economically. They should not be used in unventilated areas and definitely not in the proximity of the head.’

    ‘They should not be used in unventilated areas and definitely not in the proximity of the head.’

    The report on German television forced the country’s environmental protection agency to issue a warning against ‘public hysteria.’

    The Department for the Environment has insisted that the bulbs are safe.

    Dr Michelle Bloor, lecturer in Environmental Science at Portsmouth University, told the Daily Express: ‘Further independent studies would need to be undertaken to back up the presented German research.’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1378757/Energy-saving-bulbs-release-cancer-causing-chemicals-say-scientists.html

  18. I have lived in my current house for about eighteen years. Apart from the living room and a couple of bedside lamps all of our bulbs are compact flourescents. I have never known one to explode and in eighteen years we have had three failures. As for the incandescents, they drop like flies.

    These are just observations on my own personal experience. The comparison is complicated when stuff becomes politicised. If everyone could be left alone to make their own decisions about which type of bulb they prefer, life would be so much simpler. Instead we have our government trying to coerce us into using the bulb that they prefer, on very questionable environmental grounds. Incandescents provide a better quality of light, use a tiny bit more power, have a shorter life but are much cheaper to replace. When I say cheaper to replace I don’t limit that judgement to just the retail price but bash the ball into the enviromentalists court and say cheaper with regard to the Earth’s resources that they are so concerned about.

  19. Well I have converted our house almost entirely to LED. There are still a couple of places in the house (front door outside illumination, and wife’s bathroom sink where I still have 60 Watt halogen bulbs. The stupid over the sink makeup mirror, has a line of eight lamp sockets, but only one bulb in there now.
    I use Phillips 60, 40 and 15 Watt equivalent LEDs and have removed ALL of the CFLs.

    The 40 W LEDs use 8 Watts of juice, and the 15 Watt ones use 3 Watts of juice. I have one of those in the frig. I have a candelabra, that has five 3 Watt decorative (peardrop), and one central 3 W globular LED, so it uses 18 Watts of juice if everything is on. The central one can be turned off, if no one is sitting at the table reading.

    I have a bunch of 50 mW “nightlight” lamps all over the place, that turn off in daylight or if you turn a room light on.

    LEDs also use some sort of dc-dc converter, so they aren’t necessarily immune to failure. Some LED lamps for some reason are not instant on; they have a definite turn on delay. The ones that exhibit that behavior, also do not seem to be too efficient; and I stopped using one of those for the center lamp in the candelabra, because it is upside down in a poorly vented cone, and was getting quite hot. The Phillips replacement comes on immediately and runs cool even in that confined space. The 40 and 60 Watt equivalent Phillips lamps do get hot; just like an incandescent does; but they all have passive metal heat sinks on them.

    I don’t like the CFLs because of all the RFI noise. Haven’t detected any of that from the LEDs. My son has some carnivorous plants growing inside plastic clothing carriers, that he can turn into rain forest (pitcher plants) and he uses some blue/red LED arrays to keep them working all night. They have just about taken over the whole house since he put the lights on them.

    The neighbors probably think we have a pot farm, with the eerie glow all night long.

    PG&E must be getting paranoid, wondering what happened to our electricity usage. Those dummies recently sent me a notice asking if I wanted to invite them to come and rig my air conditioner, so they could decide whether to let me use it or not, with them setting the Temperature. I haven’t responded yet. I don’t have the heart to tell them that we have lived in this same house for the least eight years or so, and the air conditioner has never ever been turned on. In fact, I can’t swear that there actually is one there. Maybe I should invite them to come and install their smart gizmo; that would be one less to bother some other poor soul.

    Nah, I think I’ll just tell them to e-mail me, when they want me to turn up the Thermostat. That wouldn’t work either since I never read my e-mail at home.

  20. Anecdotally I’ve had one explode in my dining room. It was an old fixture and now houses no bulb, as indancescent bulbs are banned in Australia. I was worried about the mercury, but cleaned up the remains thoroughly enough that it shouldn’t pose a threat. The worry is what to do in my kitchen and dining rooms, LED seems my only safe option immature a technology as it is. I loathe the ban on plain bulbs, my bedroom houses the last one I own and I’ll be rather annoyed when it’s blown. Why government feels the need to interfere with the way I use the power I pay for is insulting. It is an assault on my liberty, however small.

  21. I had one of those CFL bulbs explode a few years back. Actually, “explode” is probably an overly dramatic term. “Poof” may be more descriptive. The CFL in question was in a standard Ikea table lamp with a glass shade. The lamp had been on for a couple of hours when I heard the explosion-poof. The light flickered than went out and white smoke started curling out from under the shade. I immediately unplugged the lamp and took it outside. Good thing I was home at the time! I can’t remember off hand if the glass tubing had been damaged or if it was just the base that had cracked, but that was the last time I used a CFL inside my house.

  22. Wet electrolytic capacitors are also in LED bulb electronics, so all reliability concerns must apply here as well. At 100++C, electrolytic cap does not last long. One day I counted more than 20 electronic components in the consumer CFL “ballast”. No electronic components like 120C temps, nor solder joints, especially when assembled by Chinese prison labor. So the 20,000-25,000 advertised life time of CFL bulbs is a lie. More, electrolyte dries out even if not powered.

    Also, typical start-up voltage of small CFLs is 1-2kV, then it drops to about 400-600V, this can be found even in your laptop LCD backlit, or in any regular LCD display. So, take care.

  23. The capacitor over-voltage video bought back memories.

    Long, long ago, in a land far, far away, when I was but a whippersnapper, I was doing an apprenticeship with a company that amongst other things, rented TVs. During busy periods (vacation times, Christmas etc.) I was coerced into working on TV repair.

    One time, in the workshop, everything was normal, quiet, except for the odd swear-word as someone would drop hot solder on their hand, when suddenly there was this almighty

    B A N G

    the entire workshop was suddenly filled with bits of “confetti”, white smoke, and an aluminum foil “streamer” which shot upwards, hit the ceiling and bounced around the workshop.

    Old aluminum foil electrolytic capacitors (the ones about 6″ long, and 2″ diameter) really get upset when some idiot applies 240v AC directly across them.

    Put those modern wimpy things to shame.

  24. Douglas DC says:
    April 20, 2011 at 10:39 am
    Hoard incandescent lights until our betters get the message…

    Definitely stock up, but don’t expect to those in power (certainly not our betters) to change policy. GE is #1 in CFL bulbs and our “President” is a good buddy of Immelt the CEO of GE. GE has positioned itself as being a green company, ready to scoop up large government subsidies for pseudo religious green products.

  25. Y’all are being taken in by something you’d like to believe because you hate the things that greens like. But this just isn’t true. UL-approved CFL bulbs have a fuse in the base. They can’t possibly draw enough current to throw a flame without blowing the fuse. It might smoke a bit of resin/plastic that vaporizes at low temperature before blowing the fuse. Exceptions would be for high wattage bulbs (like a grow-light) but for the normal range of 7-25 watts sold as incadescent replacements it ain’t gonna burn if it’s UL approved.

  26. Did anybody else get the optical illusion of the picture of the bulb seeming to grow while reading the top of the article. Pretty cool.

  27. Dave Springer says:
    April 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Hmmm…seems “y’all Dave Springer” can’t read too well – or has lost the power of word recognition.

    Now if you would like to drop the “y’all” and address my point individually and tell me that what I have heard is wrong (and what the news report stated as fact based upon the WRITING on the box of a CFL), then please do so. Otherwise, “y’all” don’t know what the word “y’all” means.

  28. Dave Springer says:
    April 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm
    Y’all are being taken in by something you’d like to believe because you hate the things that greens like. But this just isn’t true. UL-approved CFL bulbs have a fuse in the base. They can’t possibly draw enough current to throw a flame without blowing the fuse.

    Dave, I have what’s left of a box of “Sylvania Super Saver Energy Efficient CFL” 23 W (“100 Watt replacement”) bulbs, labeled with the UL Listed logo. I say “what’s left” because two of these bulbs did catch fire. I’ve experienced the same thing with other brands. I do not let these run unattended. I’m shifting back to incandescents. In the long run, I think LEDs are the way to go (bearing in mind that someone may still invent something even better), but they’re too blasted expensive for me now.

  29. Huh? Put up a comment that seems to have vaporized. Did I say something offensive?

    REPLY: Don’t see in in que or SPAM, try again. – Anthony

  30. One thing about LED Lights, like may other products, unscrupulous manufacturers can over drive the LEDs to make them brighter, BUT the life is greatly shortened. I’ve known of a few people who picked up some LED lights, only to find them dim rather quickly.

    LED Lights that follow the L70 standard will output about 70% (close to the -3dB point) of their initial light output at the end of the product life.

  31. I live in what was once known as Great Britain, where incandescent bulbs are rapidly being phased out on the orders of our unelected Kommisars in the EUSSR.
    I have hoarded a couple of hundred 100W incandescent bulbs which, at the present failure rate, will be enough to see my grandchildren being able to read without eye-strain!
    A while ago I was sent six CFL ‘bulbs’ by my power supplier (they got their money back through the weird Govt. scheme to count this action as ‘reducing CO2′). I’ve tried two of those bulbs. Neither lasted longer than three months in rooms where it is normal to switch on for at least two or three hours. Both bulbs failed with a “Zzzzt” and a foul smell. Black residue was found around the base of each bulb.
    That’s when I started hoarding via internet sales. No CFL bulb is ever going to be used in my house. LEDs? When they are affordable I might give them a try but with the way our economy is going and my being on a fixed income, I don’t think it is going to be any time soon. My latest electricity bill has gone up by almost 15% and I’ve recently been informed that I am going to have to pay for a ‘smart-meter’ to be installed.
    My wife and I have agreed that as soon as our daughters have finished at University we are going to return to Central Africa, where we both grew up and where this Green Madness has not (yet) infected the politicians.

  32. “Y’all are being taken in by something you’d like to believe because you hate the things that greens like. ”

    There is some truth there — I hate totalitarianism.

  33. I’ve had two twisty CFLs overheat in surface-mounted ceiling fixtures. I could smell them and was able to shut them off before they went any further. They were in fixtures that are rarely used and I’m back to low-watt incandescents in them.

    I also had a CFL catch fire in a table lamp. I was in another room and could see the lamp dimming, then flickering. Then I smelled it. By the time I arrived, the base had a steady flame growing from it.

    Please don’t take my incandescents away. I don’t like CFLs.

  34. Related:
    BARKHAMSTED, Conn. — Fire officials suspect an electric hybrid car may have sparked an overnight blaze in a garage in Barkhamsted on Center Hill Road.

    Homeowner Storm Connors and his wife, Dee, said they awoke to the sound of a smoke alarm around 4 a.m. The couple said they have lived in the home for nearly 40 years. They built it and raised their children there, so when the flames took over their attached garage Thursday morning, burning it down to its beams, the couple started to panic. They said they were worried they were going to lose their home and the memories inside.

    Now investigators with the state fire marshal’s office and the couple’s insurance company are looking into what exactly in the garage sparked the fire.

    Officials said they can’t rule out that the couple’s brand new Chevy Volt hybrid had something to do with the blaze.

  35. LEDs might be preferable in the long run, but right now the economics are problematic. For example, the annual electric cost for a 60-watt equivalent bulb used 4 hours a day here in California is:

    Incandescent: $12.65
    CFL: $2.74
    LED: $1.26

    Switching to the LED instead of the CFL saves you an extra $1.50 a year at ten times the upfront cost.

  36. i still use alot of incandecent bulbs. If you go to a dollar store you can get them really cheap and they last just as long as CFls in my house. CFLs didnt work well at all with the dimmer swithes ( alot of buzzing). Plus i just like the light better from the incandecent bulbs. I really dont see what all the hype is about the CFLs. I really dont notice them lasting any longer than the old bulbs.

  37. We’ve used CFLs for 11 years, since we moved into our new house that happened to have dozens of can lights. We have never had an issue with any bulb and most of them lasted 8 years, even with constant use in the kitchen and bathrooms.

    We don’t use them in the dining room where we have a dimmer and I have a couple of vintage lamps where the shade sits on the bulb where we can’t use them either.

    We just put them in our outdoor lights and I have to say I don’t like them there. They take too long to warm up, it will be interesting to see how they do in the winter.

    Our electric bill is high enough with the CFLs, I can’t imagine what it would be with standard incandescent bulbs.

  38. We have CFL bulbs throughout the house – and have had them for many years now – starting with the “straight” ones and then more recently moving to curly as they are replaced.

    It is taking a long time to move to the curly — because we would be lucky to replace one bulb every six months — and we have a lot of bulbs — for instance 14 in our main living room and 10 in the next most commonly used room.

    Our experience is:
    1. We really like the savings in our electricity. I have lots of better ways of spending my money.
    2. We really like how much cooler they burn. It makes things like bed lamps much safer.
    3. We have never had any explode — and while I can’t remember when we changed it must of been well over five years ago.
    4. On the negative side they can take up to 20 seconds to get to full brightness.
    5. They are a bit of a pain to get rid of when they die – as we are not allowed to put them in the standard rubbish. I think I had to take 3 bulbs to the disposal centre at the end of last year along with some paint tins which held some paint remnants.

    I agree we should have the choice (and in NZ we do) but I would not choose to go back to the old incandescents ever — which does not mean there may not be something better than CFLs — just that I am not aware of it.

  39. Home Depot is selling pretty much the same LED cans that Anthony installed for $50 a pop. The ones he installed are CREE “LR6″ and the ones that HD is selling is a branded version of the “CR6″.

    Many POCOs are subsidizing them, which brings the price down somewhat. In SE PA, they cost $40. I’ve heard reports of people finding them for $20 subsidized in other parts of the country. You can search for it on HD’s website. Search for “E26″.

    Considering I didn’t have to buy a trim kit nor a bulb for the new fixtures I installed, the additional up-charge for me is about $20 a bulb. That amount is well worth it given:

    * they only use 10.5W
    * at full brightness, produce a color rendering that is indistinguishable from the incandescents they replaced. (When dimmed, they keep the same color temperature instead of getting more yellow like a traditional bulb).
    * Will last for 30k hours
    * Don’t hum when dimmed (which can be done with a standard dimmer).
    * Come on at full brightness instantly

  40. Its still possible to get incandescent GLS bulbs in the UK but I have started replacing failed ones with halogen bulbs (which I buy when I see them on a special offer rather than full price). I originally replaced them with CFLs but don’t like the light quality, dimness, slow start up, etc.
    I don’t believe that CFLs, etc., achieve the quoted energy savings in practice, because most of the time I have lights on it is night or the dark days of winter when they contribute to heating my house. Any reduced heating from lights under those conditions has to be made up for by the central heating system, so overall there will not be much energy saving.
    I like the LEDs that I have seen, but so far they are expensive and I haven’t seen any of a high output that simply replace a GLS incandescent bulb.

  41. Short life of standard incandescent bulbs is another stretch of truth. I was lucky to install a right dimmer switch in my bathroom. Under “right” I mean a reputable manufacturer like Lutron (not sizzling stuff made by GE), and not just any switch, but the one that ALWAYS starts in soft (low to no light) mode and doesn’t have an option to go straight to full throttle (or any pre-set value). In 15 years I don’t recall seeing a single burned bulb out of eight of them, even if the bathroom is a high-traffic place, and we try not to forget to turn lights off. So, it is on-off-on-off many times per day, for fifteen years and counting … Try to beat this with CFLs…

  42. nano pope says: “…Why government feels the need to interfere with the way I use the power I pay for is insulting. It is an assault on my liberty, however small.”

    Little steps for little jack-booted feet.

  43. For Anthony;

    OK sir, now my curiosity has been piqued.

    When I can I’ll hook a ‘scope up to a CFL ballast just to see what it looks like. Yes, with one hand tucked into a hind pocket. And I’ll look to see if there is an inline fuse somewhere in CFL ballast. If not, Buss is going to get some of my money as I’ll install inline fuses in for all of my CFLs.

    What a constant source of brain food you provide!

    Thanks again Sir Anthony

    Tom Bakewell KE7AVZ ex WB6HLR

  44. Be sure to read the fine print on the CFL packaging. Some will explicitly warn against “base up” installation (e.g. standard basement bare bulb ceiling fixture), and as others have noted, the heat buildup in enclosed fixtures can be problematic. I have several lamps where the shade is supposed to clamp on the bulb – incandescent only, here! As for outside lights, CFL’s don’t work very well in the winter, do they?

  45. I learned about CFLs on dimmer switches the exciting way. I replaced four incandescents in a pair of ceiling fixtures with four new CFLs that I had just purchased in a large multi-pack. As I flipped the sliding dimmer switch from off to full on there were loud pops and bright flashes as two of the bulbs self-destructed. I am familiar with infant mortality of electronic devices, but this seemed like more than just a coincidence. I suspected that it might have been the dimmer that did them in. It took me several minutes of scanning the verbose packaging before I finally found the place down in one corner where the fine print said that they could not be used with a dimmer.

  46. “Leaving burned-out lamps in the fixture…can…cause a ballast to fail.”

    In a fixture that’s seldom used, it’s hard to know whether the switch is off or the CFLimp has burned out. Such fixtures save no money when the cost of the spirochete bulb is figured in. Only incandescents should be employed in seldom used fixtures.

  47. Seems that CFL’s would pollute a lot more just in the manufacturing of them……..
    …not to mention the problem with mercury after the fact

  48. I found a sooty deposit arround the fitting of a CFL that had worn out and did not know what to make of it?

  49. Davey says:
    April 20, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    … As for outside lights, CFL’s don’t work very well in the winter, do they?

    _________________________________________________________

    The CFLs in my chicken coops work just fine all winter long.

    It depends upon the type and if you are impatient or not as to how well they work for you.

    We bought this house in 2007, it was new, and we replaced every light except for two with CFLs. We have had 6 basically DOA units, which I attribute to the handling given to them at the big box we bought them at. There are 67 CFLs used at the house, six of these are outdoors.

    You do need to consider color rendering.

    YMMV

  50. Had one in a base-down table lamp. About a year after I installed it, turned it on, poof, crack, zap. Glass busted off, and the thing started emitting hot sparks as I tried to turn it it back off by reaching back in under the shade.

    CFL’s are not safe yet. There’s no way I can be the luckiest guy in the world. They are a fire hazard. If you must use CFLs, get the kind that are doubly enclosed in a separate outer bulb. Incandescents are the safest. Halogens can also shatter, but they will only send hot glass shards flying. All new halogen fixtures today are sold with glass enclosures to filter the UV and contain the hot shards. And LED’s are not yet cost-effective (the payback time is too long, and the reliability is too low).

  51. Mercury is bad stuff, and when combined in a twisty fragile contraption, there’s going to be a long-term health issue.

    Symptoms of mercury poisoning in humans

    1. Psychological disturbances
    Angry fits, short term memory loss, low self esteem, inability to sleep, loss of self-control, sleepiness. Loss of an ability to learn new things, doing things by rote.

    2. Oral Cavity problems
    Inflammation of the mouth, loss of bone around teeth, ulcerated gums and other areas in the mouth, loose teeth, darkening of gums, taste of metal, bleeding of gums.

    3. Digestive tract problems
    Cramps, inflamed colon, GI problems, Diarrhea and other digestive problems.

    4. Cardiovascular problems
    Weak pulse, blood pressure changes, chest pain, or feeling of pressure in the chest area.

    5. Respiratory problems
    Weakness and problems with breathing, Emphysema, Coughing persistently.

    6 Neurological Problems
    Headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, shaking in various areas of the body (eye lids, feet etc)

    Symptoms in children
    Mercury poisoning in Children is a cause of many symptoms of developmental disorders including Autism, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, ADD.

  52. In Australia we can get 240V halogens. They are way better than CFLs, none of that flickering that I sometimes notice for example. I don’t know what halogen options are like in other countries though.

  53. Doug Stanley says:

    April 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    “Did anybody else get the optical illusion of the picture of the bulb seeming to grow while reading the top of the article. Pretty cool.”

    No, but can I buy a nickel bag of that stuff? ;o)

  54. Sorry about dup, I must have hit Return or something.

    I started to read that Maine DEQ report, then realized the data in the report wasn’t nearly as interesting as the pictures. In all the pictures, the experimenters are wearing full Hazmat suits.

    Tells you all you need to know about the danger. They weren’t going to take chances on their own health.

  55. Same thing happened to me Alexander.Just the base left,and another one in a lamp,that left a hole in the globe.They are awful lights.They go dim after a few weeks of use,sometimes they need to warm up when you turn the light on.I had a power failure one night.All lights were off,except the one in the kitchen,it was still glowing,not enough to see by though.
    They are a waste of money,and do not last as long as claimed,or shine as bright as claimed.

  56. hehe Margaret.
    I throw mine in the rubbish.Too bad if it pollutes the ground,I didn’t ask for them,and if governments think disposal is a problem,why don’t they put disposal bins in every street?

  57. Every story I’ve seen re the mercury issue in CFLs only discussed the problems associated with a single bulb failure.

    Has anyone bothered the calculate the environmental impact of an area hit by a Katrina-like hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or tsunami? I was on the Gulf Coast just days after Katrina . There were entire neighborhoods gone – much of them washed into the Gulf. People live where they work, so many homes of workers in the seafood industry ended up in prime fishing areas of the Gulf. How much mercury does it take before the government bans fishing in contaminated waters?

    Has there been any research on this issue wrt Japan’s earthquake/tsunami? I think they converted to CFLs to a great extent. Probably not; I doubt if the government really wants to know the answer.

  58. As an engineer that has designed many optical systems using different light sources including among other things; LED’s (Visible and IR), Gas Lasers (HeNe, CO2, etc.), Xenon Arc Lamps, Solid State Lasers (Visible and IR), Tungsten Halogen and Incandescent Lamps, I DO NOT ALLOW CFL’s in my residence. The TRIVIAL energy savings are not worth the performance limitations including; safety (i.e. presence of easily released TOXIC materials), quality (i.e. useful lifetime), start-up time, color rendering, etc.

    LED technology is actually quite mature; the problem is that the LED companies have not had “crony capitalism” steered their way to reduce the cost of building the factories to reduce the production cost. This seems to be since the CFL solution is the only STATE SANCTIONED solution, no doubt due to heavy lobbying from the CFL manufacturers.

    I have installed a few LED’s where the conditions (ease of replacement or frequency of use i.e. always on) justified the extra expense. I will continue to evaluate other locations in my residence where LED’s might make sense. Otherwise I am a totally incandescent man.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  59. Dave Springer says:
    April 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm
    Y’all are being taken in by something you’d like to believe because you hate the things that greens like. But this just isn’t true. UL-approved CFL bulbs have a fuse in the base. They can’t possibly draw enough current to throw a flame without blowing the fuse. It might smoke a bit of resin/plastic that vaporizes at low temperature before blowing the fuse. Exceptions would be for high wattage bulbs (like a grow-light) but for the normal range of 7-25 watts sold as incadescent replacements it ain’t gonna burn if it’s UL approved.

    A Longstar 105W CFL 5000K used in a photographic lighting fixture was being used for the first time and had been on for less than about 20 minutes when something in the base exploded with an ear splitting BANG, smoke erupted from the fixture, and open flame licked out of the base by several inches before I was able to pull the powerr plug and smother the fire with a towel. The seller apologized and shipped a replacement.

    A GE spiral 26W CFL in a table lamp went off with a bang while I was in the next room. By the time I reached the table lamp, the fabric shade had a small burning hole where something hot had started it to burn slightly before I smothered it. A lot of very acrid smoke was coming out of the CFL, and the hot gooey brown stuff was spewed on some areas of the base along with the blake smoke residue.

    Another GE spiral 26W CFL drew immediate attention when it made a loud poppping and fzzzzzt noise in a table lamp. I turned around just in time to see yellow flame shoot out of the base, before the glass popped and shattered all over the table. The falme immediately extinguished itself, but the acrid smoke and smoke deposits, molten goo, and shattered glass were troublesome.

    Then there was the GE 12-23-29W 3-Way spiral CFL in a floor lamp which went off with a very loud bang and gifted us with some acrid smoke for awhile, but no flame that we noticed.

    I won’t continue with the 25W and lesser CFL lights which failed in somewhat less spectacular fashion, yet remained ominous with broken glass, burning hot resin shrapnel, and the unpleasant smoke and noxious burning fumes.

    It should also be noted how the incandescent light bulbs have changed so dramatically in the latest years. I’ve occasionally kept records on the 100W, 75W, 60W, 40W, and other incandescent bulbs to see if they were not meeting the claimed service life. What I found was that many did not, but they sometimes came close on average. What was disturbing, however, was the claimed service life was a small fraction of the service life we enjoyed in past decades of usage. GE and the other companies are making these standard incadescent light bulbs with a drastically reduced service life when they are compared to what was in use in a period such as 1950 through perhaps around 1990.

    When questioned about this reduced service life, the customer service representatives readily acknowledged it while reminding us that a tradeoff was being made between a much shorter service life versus a reduced usage of electricity and lower electrical bills. The Chicago area electrical utility used to supply free light bulbs to its customers about the 1950s, so the utility kept its costs ofr the incandescent bulbs lower by delivering and installing incandescent bulbs which lasted for 5, 10, and more years before they burned out. In the 1960s we often did not change a light bulb for one or more years, even when they were usedd most hours of each day. It seems, however, as the years went by, the service life dropped from years to only tens of days. Whatever savings there may have been in electricity and electrical bills, we still had to wonder whether the energy costs needed to manufacture, transport, and sell so many additional light bulbs and generate so much additional sales revenue doing so perhaps greatly outweighed the claimed energy savings?

    You don’t suppose there has been a long-term effort to slowly indoctrinate the younger generations of people to accept reduced service life for the lighting, and getting people accustomed to paying for television programming rather than receiving it for free as in the past?

  60. We are using twisted CFL bulbs since about 4 years here in our hot tropical climate in two varieties: 220V AC and 12V DC (with build in inverter to 220V AC). Out of 35 bulbs non exploded: we did not buy the cheapest Chinese quality. I like them: good light with a lower electricity bill.
    I will keep them, I am not easily scared ;)

  61. AntonyIndia says:
    April 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm
    We are using twisted CFL bulbs since about 4 years here in our hot tropical climate in two varieties: 220V AC and 12V DC (with build in inverter to 220V AC). Out of 35 bulbs non exploded: we did not buy the cheapest Chinese quality. I like them: good light with a lower electricity bill.
    I will keep them, I am not easily scared ;)

    Isn’t it so interesting to see how the Precautionary Principle does not apply to CFL lights or anything else near and dear to the hearts of the who believe….

  62. This is true, Ive seen it firsthand,not so much with the low watt ones but with the 100 watt and down to 60 watt…watched them catch fire and burn in their sockets usually shattering too, half a dozen times at least if I hadnt been there Id have lost the buildings…I use the small wattage ones mainly outside on poles where if they burn no real harm can happen but I will never use them indoors regardless of what the govt or envirokooks say! I got me lots of incandesents!!

  63. I still go for halogen rather then LED. The light can be dimmed using a standard triac, the lumen per size is way higher, the cost is way lower. With a dimmer one can variate the color too. The lower the warmer. Installing 50 w halogens with dimmers gives the best bang for the buck.

    To get the same lumen (around 800) from a LED you need to use 8 (EIGHT) power LEDS,which sell over here from 30$ to 60$ a piece. A halogen sells for 1.50$.

    Living in France with the low energy price due to the nukes LEDS can’t even come close since you can’t recoup the investment in energycosts. The thing will be long time burned out before you get your 300$ plus back.

    No brainer.

  64. I’ve used CFLs for many years, generally because of the saving in the cost of power.

    The quality has gone done, though, as the cost has dropped and they became The Law here in Australia. This was brought home when one exploded – no fire, but the glass glowing thingy was ejected from the base/ballast, and shattered all over the floor.

    I’ve only had a single experience of this after using dozens, however, it does not give me any comfort that there has been only a single occurrence – one is one too many.

    (But then again I also had an incandescent lamp fly apart many years ago, where the glass bulb was ejected and landed on a carpeted floor. The only damage was a scorch mark.)

  65. Ok. Second try…

    I shared this posting with a friend, and we have a question:

    How many CFLs do you have to use and for how long to offset the carbon footprint of burning a house down?

  66. Oddly enough here in Australia where the incandescent bulb is banned an Australian brand of light globes called fused safety globes are available. They are real deal bypassing the BS. However the fuse is real are so are the globes.

  67. ew-3 says:
    April 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Definitely stock up, but don’t expect to those in power (certainly not our betters) to change policy. GE is #1 in CFL bulbs and our “President” is a good buddy of Immelt the CEO of GE. GE has positioned itself as being a green company, ready to scoop up large government subsidies for pseudo religious green products.

    To heck with our Potemkin President (with any luck he’ll be gone by January, 2013). Write your Congressman. Congress passed the initial ban on Edison incandescents, and Congress can—and must!—repeal it.

    /Mr Lynn

  68. Carl Bussjaeger says:
    April 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    “Dave, I have what’s left of a box of “Sylvania Super Saver Energy Efficient CFL” 23 W (“100 Watt replacement”) bulbs, labeled with the UL Listed logo. I say “what’s left” because two of these bulbs did catch fire.”

    If they carried a legitimate UL approval they did not catch fire. The plastic base in UL approved bulbs is flame resistant. To set it on fire you need to use a blowtorch and it still won’t continue burning once the torch is removed. Depending on failure mode they may produce some smoke but no flames. Anecdotally I’ve been using about 20 of them for 4 years. Out of those 20 one of several that are on in excess of twelve hours per day failed after two years. There was no visible discoloration on the bulb or base. It was working one day and not working the next day. Caveat: I have none of these in enclosed recessed fixtures per manufacturer warning and the ones that are on dimmer circuits are ones that are explicitely designed for dimmer circuits. Most of them reach what appears to be full intensity instantly and the exceptions are outdoor floodlights which take up to 30 seconds to reach full intensity. The only real complaint I have with them is the “dimmer” bulbs don’t dim like an incandescent. When the dimmer switch is at about the halfway mark and the bulb is about half as bright as normal if you try to dim it further it cuts out altogether which makes it practically useless as a dimmer for me because I want it to go from being a nightlight to a work light which an incandescent bulb will do easily. Other than that I can detect no flicker and the color is acceptable provided I pay attention to the bulb type – “warm” for living areas and “cool” for work areas which is something I’d been doing with conventional flourescents for decades. I’m not sure if CFLs have longer or shorter life than conventional flourescents as I’ve only been using CFLs for four years and I get probably twice that many from from conventional flourescents. At this point they appear to be equivalent.

  69. Merrick says:
    April 21, 2011 at 3:44 am

    “How many CFLs do you have to use and for how long to offset the carbon footprint of burning a house down?”

    None. Burning biomass is considered carbon-neutral. Wood is a type of biomass. The carbon released when biomass burns is carbon that was recently taken up by the biomass when it was alive and growing. Technically fossil fuels would be biomass (discounting hypotheses that purport oil is produced by inorganic chemistry) too but since the sequestration of carbon was millions of years ago instead of tens of years ago and the sequestration lasts an indefinitely long period of time. Wood will normally release its stored carbon within a few years of dying whether it is burned or left to decompose naturally.

  70. Dave Springer says:
    April 21, 2011 at 7:03 am

    If they carried a legitimate UL approval they did not catch fire.

    Hahahaha! You are a riot. So you are saying that something MADE by man may be fallible, but something “approved” by man is infallible?

    Thanks! I needed a laugh today.

  71. Dave Springer says:

    April 21, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Merrick says:
    April 21, 2011 at 3:44 am

    “How many CFLs do you have to use and for how long to offset the carbon footprint of burning a house down?”

    “None. Burning biomass is considered carbon-neutral. Wood is a type of biomass. The carbon released when biomass burns is carbon that was recently taken up by the biomass when it was alive and growing. Technically fossil fuels would be biomass (discounting hypotheses that purport oil is produced by inorganic chemistry) too but since the sequestration of carbon was millions of years ago instead of tens of years ago and the sequestration lasts an indefinitely long period of time. Wood will normally release its stored carbon within a few years of dying whether it is burned or left to decompose naturally.”

    Really? So all of those synthetic materials that the EPA/State are making us put in our homes (like isocyanurate foam insulation, asphalt shingles, vinyl window materials, etc.) and all of the other plastic (wires, plug boxes and receptacles, vinyl siding etc.) that will either burn or vaporize don’t work into your calculation? What if the house has synthetic fiber carpeting or linoleum counters and floors? What about all of the plastic that might reside in all of the cheap lamps, etc. from Walmart?
    I’m sure there’s a lot more non-biomass material that will eithe rburn or be vaporized in a house fire than you suggest.

  72. Interesting comments regarding CFLs.

    We purchased a plethora (ha ha) of Panasonic CFL lighting to light most of our home back in 1999. The experiment rendered an instant > 25% savings in the ever threatening power bill. My other half likes to leave all the lights on as she moves about the home. Imagine that. Those Panasonic lights have been lighting the outdoor fixtures constantly for 12 years now. A couple of indoor have since failed; however, the best and longest to last are those Panasonic lights. I do not believe the Panasonic CFLs are available now, which is unfortunate.

    Other brands we purchased have failed within a year. None have exploded or burned in any way. Considering the cost of CFLs and as a consumer product it would be nice to have a break down of which brands fail sooner and which brands have yet to fail show defects.

  73. I should point out that going to an LED household was a decision that was NOT made for any economic reasons. I really don’t care what LED bulbs cost, so long as they do last about what I have come to experience in typical LED lifetime. So all the chaff about electricity rates, and pay back times, is irrelevent to me. Now that does not mean I consider it irrelevent as a general considereation.

    My wife leaves lights on; I don’t think she has ever turned a light off at any time in her life; someone else has always done it for her. I switched from incandescents ti CFLs to get some longer life; and I have used CFLs in outside fixtures, and they did work. The problem was not so much rain getting into the lamp houseing, and damaging the elctronics. The spiders building their nests all over them was more of a problem. So now, I just let her leave the lights on, and I don’t mess with them.

    Then I found that the available CFLs were RFI nighmares; I don’t know how they pass FCC muster, and I didn’t like the heating characteristics, of CFL bulbs laid over sideways, in enclosed ceiling fixtures; seemed like they got too hot to me. I always thought that fluorescents ran cold; well the tubular ones may, but the CFLs run hot.

    I have never in my life busted a fluorescent tube and I have never broken a CFL or had one explode. So I don’t consider the Mercury in the home to be any kind of a hazard. Maybe its a disposal problem, when they get so many of them thrown away. Hey I have had Mercury fillings inside my mouth sucking on them for over 60 years. Ho hum; if my candle goes out a bit early well I have already had a good time; and I think my memory is still better than most. So mercury is about as much threat as lead paint or global warming. I don’t eat lead paint, and I don’t mind it being warm.

    So I consider my LED house, as simply an investigation; to see what it is like living with them. I’m more than happy with them; I expect they will get better; they al;ready meet my needs, and cost wasn’t even on the list of factors. They were expensive. So are cars; you can’t justify the price of owning and running a car on economic gorunds; it is still a lot cheaper to walk ; and even with all the walking I do, a $14 pair of communist red Chinese shoes from Walmart, still lasdt me about five years, until the holes in the sole let too mcuh water get in, and I have to spend another $14.

  74. Has happened, one question is how often compared to fires from incandescent bulbs (such as fire caused by a cat knocking an incandescent lamp off a table, or ceiling pot that got covered by insulation – those are hypothetical, I do not know).

    Certainly quality is something to look for.
    Example: I took apart a cheap power bar for grins, and found that only one of its sockets had the third wire connected (the protected ground).

  75. I just bought a variety of 130v rugged duty incandescents online from eBulb.com. I got 60w, 75w, 100w, a dozen 3-ways for the bedroom and some outdoor yellow bug bulbs – 140 bulbs in all. I’m stocked up. I am not buying fluorescents or leds. They are all at least 6x the cost of what I just paid and the fluorescents are garbage.

    These will probably last me about 20 years. Maybe by then we will have regained our sanity.

    Does anyone know if halogens will still be available?

  76. George E. Smith says: April 21, 2011 at 10:12 am “…you can’t justify the price of owning and running a car on economic gorunds; it is still a lot cheaper to walk…”

    Actually, I can George. I live 17 miles from my office, there is no way I am walking that distance back and forth every day. I am not going to bicycle either. Winter snow doesn’t allow for it and the summer heat would just have me hot and smelly at work all day. It’s not happening.

    The cost of leds may not be a factor for you, but it is for most everyone else, and there is no way you are going to get a reasonable payback on a $20 led bulb to make it worth buying using current dollars versus future dollars. And the cfls don’t last any longer than the incandescents. GE is lying when they say they do, but lying and stealing is mostly what GE does anymore which is why I am boycotting them. I encourage everyone else to do the same.

  77. Dave Springer says:
    April 21, 2011 at 7:03 am
    Carl Bussjaeger says:
    April 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm
    [....]
    If they carried a legitimate UL approval they did not catch fire. The plastic base in UL approved bulbs is flame resistant. To set it on fire you need to use a blowtorch and it still won’t continue burning once the torch is removed. Depending on failure mode they may produce some smoke but no flames.

    Thank you for providing a classic example of purported experts using flawed hypotheses to reach an invalid conclusion while denying experimental results which tend to invalidate the hypotheses. The base of the CFL does not have to catch fire and burn with an open flame for there to have been an open flame erupting from the CFL. First hand experrience demonstrated that a blue flash followed by a yellow flame and black smoke erupts from the CFL UL has been provided with numerous anecdotal reports of these UL labeled CFL lights flaming out, but UL appears to be dismissing them when the person reporting the incident is unable to supply every detail requested by UL. I guarantee you that the building would have been destroyed by the 105W CFL and its sustained open flame if I had not been there to smother the fire in the CFL light. The smaller CFL lights may or may not have extinguished themselves, but the shattered glass and burning hot resins and/or pieces thrown from the CFL could very well have ignited nearby flammable materials.

    The number of these dangerous CFL failures have been only a few in my own experien ce, but one is entirely too many. The problem is that many other people are experiencing one or more of thesee exploding, shattering, and/or burning CFL incidents. This is a a serious fire hazard, with or without a UL acknowledgement.

  78. Doug Stanley asked: Did anybody else get the optical illusion of the picture of the bulb seeming to grow while reading the top of the article. Pretty cool.

    If I look closely, I think I can see the one on my screen breathing.

  79. “”””” woodNfish says:
    April 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm
    George E. Smith says: April 21, 2011 at 10:12 am “…you can’t justify the price of owning and running a car on economic gorunds; it is still a lot cheaper to walk…”

    Actually, I can George. I live 17 miles from my office, there is no way I am walking that distance back and forth every day. I am not going to bicycle either. Winter snow doesn’t allow for it and the summer heat would just have me hot and smelly at work all day. It’s not happening. “””””

    I stand by my statement; it IS a lot cheaper to walk; evidently your excuses for not walking have nothing to do with the cost; simply the convenience.

    And the cost of the LEDs was a concern to me; if they had been offered to me at half the price, I still would have bought them; it just wasn’t the reason I bought them.

    I know that a lot of peopel buy a lot of stuff based simply on price. To them I commend the sage advice of the vendor, who said:- “We have no quarrel with those who sell their goods or services for less than we do; they of all people should know what their stuff is worth. ”

    The world is full of junk waiting to be sold to those who buy simply on price (either low or high price).

    If LEDs aren’t worth their price to you; my advice to you is “Don’t buy them”.

    If and when they get a bit cheaper, or higher Lumens, I’ll probably buy some more; and I have a special box in one of the closets, containing a full set of incandescent lamps, for every socket in the house, including the one inside the frig.

    The day we move out of the house, I’ll reinstall every last one of those incandescent bulbs; just in case the next owner/occupant doesn’t like LEDs either.

  80. jorgekafkazar says:
    April 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm
    nano pope says: “…Why government feels the need to interfere with the way I use the power I pay for is insulting. It is an assault on my liberty, however small.”

    Little steps for little jack-booted feet.

    You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    CFL lights are being sold to the public and politicians as an environmentally friendly way of reducing the use of energy and the fossil fuels used to generate that electrical energy. Unfortunately, the dirty little secret is that CFL lights do not save nearly as much energy as the publicity leads people to believe, and they may to some extent actually increase energy use and the need for more fossil fuels. How?

    First, there is the problem with very slow startup of the CFL light when the power is turned on and waiting for the bulb to reach its normal brightness. There is also the consumer concern for the service life of the light being drastically reduced by turning the CFL light on and off when entering and leaving a room. Because of these two concerns, consumers tend to leave the lights on all of the time or much longer through the day than a comparable incandescent light they would otherwise turn on and off in seconds and minutes. Since consumers find a need to keep the CFL light turned on far longer than a comparable incandescent light, the CFL light may consume much more electrical energy because its is used far longer than the incandescent light in the same light fixture.

    Second, defenders of the CFL may argue that the CFL lights can be used for much longer times and still save electrical energy and fossil fuels because they use dramatically less Watts of electricity than their incandescent equivalents. Unfortunately, this argument is simply not true. It is true that consumers may in many cases be able to save money on their electricity bill by using CFL lights as a replacement for the equivalent incandescent light. However, some consumers do not enjoy those savings, because they leeave the CFL lights on all of the time for the reasons previously described.

    Whether or not a consumer saves money of the electric bill, they are not reducing the need for electrical energy and fossil fuels by much, or they are actually increasing the usage of electrical energy and fossil fuels. While the electric bill may be reduced, at least temporarily for the present, the usage of CFL lights is putting a greater burden on the electric power plants and their generating capacity by putting a vast new load of CFL circuits onto the power grid with low power factors. The low power factors of the CFL lights translates into a power load, where a nominal 15Watt CFL light may actually consume 29VA of power from the power plant and its electrical power distribution network. Instead of reducing the need for electrical energy production, the CFL lights may increase the need for such electrical power capacity.

    Worse still, electrical power utility companies normally charge their industrial, commercial, and government customers more for their service when the customer is using electrical equipment which has lower power factors requiring more electrical power generation capacity. With the State of California now legislating the installation of smart power meters to charge consumers variable power rates, a person has to wonder how long it will be before the electric utilities will demand the use of those smart meters to claim higher prices for the customers using low power factor CFL lights that require more power generation capacity? In other words, the consumer may think they are saving money and energy, only to find in the long run that they are not saving fossil fuels and end up paying even more for the reduced Watts of electricty used.

    Note how General Electric (GE) publicizes the need for Green energy saving though the usage of CFL lights they manufacture at higher costs, and they produce and sell the electric power generators and electrical equipment needed to supply electricity to those low power factor CFL lights which save little actual energy, if any, compared to the incandescent lights they helped lobby to make illegal.

  81. Then there’s the challenge of a broken bulb. In our case, a CFL fell off a low living room table onto the carpet, and the glass shattered. Our shock that a one-foot fall onto carpet caused such a big mess, was only the beginning.

    An incandescent bulb is easily cleaned up: sweep up the pieces into a trash can.

    But a CFL? It’s hazardous waste. Read the cleanup procedure here. Turns out carpet is the worst thing to have anywhere near CFL lamps!

    Before you begin cleaning up…

    “Have people and pets leave the room, and avoid the breakage area on the way out.
    * Open a window or door to the outdoors and leave the room for 5-10 minutes.
    * Shut off the forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
    * Collect materials you will need to clean up the broken bulb:
    o Stiff paper or cardboard
    o Sticky tape (e.g., duct tape)
    o Damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces)
    o Glass jar with a metal lid (such as a canning jar) or a sealable plastic bag(s)”

    Now it’s time to scoop up the glass…

    “Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)”

    But you’re not done yet:

    * Use duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder; put that in the glass jar…
    * Use wet paper towels to wipe up any visible remains (and put in the jar)
    * Avoid vacuuming (but see below); if it is necessary, be sure to have windows open, use the hose, and put the vacuum bag in the glass jar when done.
    * Wash your hands with soap and water
    * Leave the room airing out for several more hours, with any forced air H&AC off

    And that’s not all!

    “The next several times you vacuum the rug or carpet, shut off the H&AC system if you have one, close the doors to other rooms, and open a window or door to the outside before vacuuming. Change the vacuum bag after each use in this area.
    After vacuuming is completed, keep the H&AC system shut off and the window or door to the outside open, as practical, for several hours.”

    Bottom line:
    * A CFL broken on carpet can be expensive! It will cost you several vacuum cleaner bags, plus the other materials.
    * Be sure to keep duct tape and glass jars handy (large enough to hold a CFL plus misc towels.

  82. (What I find interesting: the package label simply says you should refer to local authorities or EPA for cleanup instructions. Not a hint that this is such a big deal. Yet almost any other product requires page after page of safety warnings.

    Are the warmists getting a pass because someone decided hazardous waste concerns are trivial compared to the value of saving a few Watts?

  83. Also, CFLs will cause your hard drive to fail and your grandchildren to be born with tusks.

  84. BudFoster says:
    April 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm
    Also, CFLs will cause your hard drive to fail and your grandchildren to be born with tusks.

    No, you’ve got your talking points script all backwards. It’s the Global Warming (also known as Anthropogenic Global Warming, Climate Change, Climate Disruption, ad nauseum) which is responsible for those problems and a few more…many more…well everything imaginable, really.

  85. back in the early eighties we were seeing rapid increases in electric rates and so as an attempt to keep the electric bill in some kind of line the wife and i replaced most of the household incandesant bulbs with flourescents. the electric bill stabilized (it had been creeping up about 4% per month.)

    HOORAY!!!!

    after about a year and a half we recieved a bill that was 15 times what was normal.

    several telephone calls to the electric company with EXTREMELY bad language on my part ensued followed by a couple of real smoking hot letteres to the public utilities commission.

    turned out that the meter reader had been sitting under a bridge “sharp penciling the readings”. he was summarily fired.

    i paid off the overage at the rate of five dollars per month (i think that i am still doing it) with no interest charged.

    oh, i have a pigtail type on a fixture on my garage (outside) and simply leave it on. bulbs in that fixture seem to last about six years.

    C

  86. BudFoster says:
    April 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm
    “Also, CFLs will cause your hard drive to fail and your grandchildren to be born with tusks.”

    Close, very close. But it’s actually the wet drive that fails. They manage to choose phosphors that emit at the frequencies most likely to cause migraines, which coincidentally, can make you feel as though you’re growing tusks. In my case it can take as little as ten minutes. YMMV.

  87. George E. Smith says: April 21, 2011 at 5:48 pm, I stand by my statement; it IS a lot cheaper to walk; evidently your excuses for not walking have nothing to do with the cost; simply the convenience.

    A convenience? I want what you are drinking George. Just how fast do you think you can walk 17 miles twice a day? An average person could walk about 3 miles per hour, so that is about 12 hours per day just walking. If you think that is a convenience, well I think you may want therapy.

  88. Well WoodN, you were the one who chose to live 17 miles from your place of work; in the good old days, people didn’t do that. So like I said, you like the convenience of being able to work miles away from where you live.

    R Buckminster Fuller long ago advised people that didn’t make any economic sense at all. He designed whole city complexes, that had living quarters close to the work places. That idea has re-surfaced. San Jose’s Santana Row is a bunch of (overpriced) upscale boutique shops, with apartyments, and condominiums built over the street level shops for people to live in.

    Of course today, a lot of people Telecommute, and do their business over the internet.

    Remember the question was which was cheaper; meaning lower cost. If you choose a more expensive lifestyle, that’s perfectly ok with me; but don’t claim it is cheaper; and walking is much cheaper than any other form of transportation; it is just more restrictive in travel range and payload.

    My 92 year old MIL, still has her driving licence; recently retested and renewed, and she has a car too, but she walks almost everywhere she wants to go. About the only place she drives to, is to the local “Indian” gaming casino, which she visits maybe once per week; but that is purely entertainment; until she loses her $20 or gets bored with it. She doesn’t do it for gain; just for recreation; so the cost of driving to it, is part of her entertainment budget.

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