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   When you enter a dark room and flip a light switch, as long as something lights up you probably don't think too much about it. Well, yesterday I thought about it because one of the bulbs in the basement has started flickering and needs to be replaced. Thing is, that bulb is probably at least 15 years old, and not really a bulb at all. It's an early Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL).

     I actually don't know how old it is. I got it and a whole bunch of CFL's just like it years ago. I was leaving work by the loading dock one day, and I found several dozen of them being thrown out! There was some problem with the light fixtures they were putting them in. In any case, I salvaged them, gave some away to people who wanted them, and took the rest home.

   They're an early design. Instead of the spiral tube that's become common, this one has three parallel U-shaped tubes coming out of the base. According to the markings on the tube, it's a Philips Universal, SLS 23W, 120V, 60MHz, 325mA device made in Mexico. Assuming this web page is referring to the same CFL (SLS-23), they're priced at $3.00. Here's one on eBay with a picture, listed at $15.99.

     I've had some of these CFL's burn out earlier; I have others out in the garage still going strong. They take a short warm up time to come to full brightness, and can get pretty warm if they've been on for a while, but they give decent light. Considering they were originally 'free', have lasted for years, and save on electricity, they've done really well by me. I haven't done a rigorous comparison, but I suspect they last longer than some of the newer CFL's out there - but that's just my impression. They certainly last longer than filament type incandescent bulbs.

    This is just one person's experience; your mileage may vary. The even newer LED bulbs coming into use promise even better savings and performance without the problem of mercury fluorescent bulbs have. I haven't invested in any of those yet (aside from one or two strings of Christmas lights and in flashlights), but I will be willing to consider them. In the larger scheme of things it's not that big a deal by itself, but the cumulative effects from millions of people using these? Worth thinking about.

Poll

When you turn on the light, what does it for you?

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| 38 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    One of the crazier things out there is the wing nut obsession with incandescent bulbs FOREVER!!!

    Some people live in darkness due to ignorance; others by choice. Educate the one and beware the other.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 10:18:00 AM PDT

  •  First I bang my knee, then curse the dark, (4+ / 0-)

    and then I turn on the light. A CFL in most cases. Some of my old bulbs haven't burned out yet.

  •  I had mostly converted to CFLs (5+ / 0-)

    before I really thought it out. And I will go to LEDs when I can.
    But I have a few problems with these new forms.
    CFLs as you note, have mercury in them. They also have rare earths in the coatings, a circuit board and transformer in the plastic housing, et cetera. This is a waste stream nightmare by comparison to an incandescent, which is glass, a tiny sliver of tungsten and a piece of aluminum.
    LEDs also have circuit boards, plastic, et cetera in them (not as bad as CFLs, but still much worse than incandescents).
    And neither CFLs nor LEDs have worked out the spectrum or flicker problems. CFLs have improved their color spectrum reproduction but still don't quite get it, LEDs are a long way from decent color range and the flicker, particularly from LEDs causes me and most of my family (and about 20% of the population) to have migraines and can even trigger seizures.
    There is a solution using incandescents: dimmers. I use dimmers in most of my residential area, where I will be most of the time and I keep them relatively low, my power usage is as low as a CFL until I need bright light and for that few minutes, I hog the full 75 watts. The warm 3200K light is pleasant and there's no flicker.
    I would love to see a replacement for the standard Edison bulb, but I don't believe that the CFL is it. Maybe when LEDs mature (and come down in price) they will fit the bill.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 10:53:58 AM PDT

    •  Check out Home Depot, especially the Cree lights (4+ / 0-)

      Our local Home Depot has a display case where you can see the new LEDs lighted. No flicker I can detect, and a full warm-to-cold range to pick from.

      I find with LEDs, the so-called 'cold' end of the spectrum is pretty nice...not the greenish 'cold' like with old CFLs.  More like daylight.

      "I wonder why Congress again in a new poll out today--11% approval rating. (It's) because they don't work for us. They work for the sons-of-bitches who pay them." Cenk Uygur

      by Dave in Columbus on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 01:11:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  at Costco this week (6+ / 0-)

    I was able to buy a 6-pack of CFLs for...wait for it....$2 (TWO).

    It seems like the LEDs have finally begun to make themselves competitive on a large scale. They are much more efficient and they last much longer (fovrever?)

    If the purchase was for myself not the house I am fixing up, I would have gone with the LEDs even though it was only TWO DOLLARS for 6 bulbs!

    Global warming & smoking cigarettes = Nothing to worry about? Those who deny climate science are ignorant, evil or worse. Google Fred Singer.

    by LaughingPlanet on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 10:55:12 AM PDT

  •  My aunt used christmas tree lights , led , (5+ / 0-)

    as normal lights .

    Any of the above beat using Whale Oil.
    Do you know that whale oil is illegal ? http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/...

    I have photographic equipment that is designed for incandescent bulbs , I'd dislike not being able to get the proper replacements .  

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

    by indycam on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 10:58:01 AM PDT

    •  Whale oil may be illegal, but... (4+ / 0-)

      It's a 'renewable resource' in that whales can make more whales. And if we had a whale oil lobby like we've got for ethanol from corn, well... Keeping track of the details can be important in figuring what is the best choice.

      On the photography side, it's not just lights. I have some SLR's that you can't get batteries for anymore.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 11:10:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Brighten the corner where you are (0+ / 0-)

    As soon as I got the word, I bought a 30-year supply of incandescent bulbs:  lots of 150W and 100W bulbs, with only a few 60W bulbs for the closet (it pays to economize a little bit).  I just love that Las Vegas effect, where nighttime is brighter than daytime.  No flickering, no migraines, no depressing look of poverty from the CFLs, and no concern about mercury if one breaks.

    I suppose they cost me a little more in the way of utility bills, but since I have my air conditioner humping full blast anyway to ward off the south Texas heat, it probably does not make much difference.

    Speaking of Texas, I hope they start manufacturing incandescent bulbs here eventually, just in case I live more than another 30 years.

    •  You got "the word"? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Calamity Jean

      In 1983 (30 years ago) we had yet to witness:

      Internet, broadband, WWW (browser and html)
      PC/laptop computers
      Mobile phones
      E-mail
      DNA testing and sequencing/Human genome mapping
      Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
      Microprocessors
      Fiber optics
      Office software (spreadsheets, word processors)
      Non-invasive laser/robotic surgery (laparoscopy)
      Open source software and services (e.g., Linux, Wikipedia)
      Light emitting diodes
      Liquid crystal display (LCD)
      GPS systems
      Online shopping/ecommerce/auctions (e.g., eBay)
      Media file compression (jpeg, mpeg, mp3)
      Microfinance
      Photovoltaic Solar Energy
      Large scale wind turbines
      Social networking via the Internet
      Graphic user interface (GUI)
      Digital photography/videography
      RFID and applications (e.g., EZ Pass)
      Genetically modified plants
      Bio fuels
      Bar codes and scanners
      ATMs
      Stents
      SRAM flash memory
      Anti retroviral treatment for AIDS

      To openly admit you do not wish to see a change in how you illuminate your home for another 30 years is doing a disservice to yourself.

      We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

      by Patriot4peace on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 02:28:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  JU5T 5AY N0 2 HITL3R 8UL85!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Columbus
  •  What are you waiting for? (4+ / 0-)

    The new CREE LED bulbs are available at Home despot for about $12.00. I have been putting these all through my home, starting at the places I use the most. Yeah, they are expensive. But the purchase price is only part of the cost and I can light 6 of these things and STILL use LESS electricity than one standard 60 watt bulb, with the same amount of light!

    I think they pay for themselves in just a little over a year, but I'm not sure. I just like the damned things and enjoy the fact that I am doing a small part on the energy front.

    I also don't expect the price of electricity is going to go down anytime soon.

    I LOVE THESE THINGS!

    •  Here they are $15 for 60 watt equivalent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldpotsmuggler, xaxnar, Calamity Jean

      Once they hit that price, I switched to LEDs. Every time one of my CFLs burns out, I replace it with an LED.  Plus, I replaced all the really-hard-change lights ahead of time--and I will probably never be changing those again.

      (I now have a box full of CFLs to use up or give away.)

      Home Depot seems to have the best prices.  Also the best selection, and I started out getting the ones most like "warm" incandescent...but soon I decided I much preferred the more daylight like lights. They almost give you the impression there is a skylight throwing some sun into the room.

      Since they pay for themselves after a few years, I guess I could justify switching all my lights to LEDs, but I wonder if they will be coming out with even more energy efficient LEDs in the future.

      "I wonder why Congress again in a new poll out today--11% approval rating. (It's) because they don't work for us. They work for the sons-of-bitches who pay them." Cenk Uygur

      by Dave in Columbus on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 12:44:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Light Emitting Diodes (5+ / 0-)

    are obviously the next "thing" in interior and exterior lighting.

    I have a 5"x5" square solar panel that fully charges an 80 LED array that is connected to a motion switch. It will stay on for 8 hours on a full charge. 25 square inches of solar panel is all that is required for 8 hours of light. My entire home can be illuminated for hours on a few square feet of solar panel.

    Light for zero carbon.

    Why not use the best available technology today? The undesirable circuit board and plastic is much less a concern when you consider the life cycle of an LED light bulb is still unknown because the first ones are still working.

    Buy LED's before they start designing them to fail after "x" number of years, because eventually they will.

    We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

    by Patriot4peace on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 12:58:40 PM PDT

  •  There are rip off light bulb companies, and there (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar

    are legitimate ones. I'd favor some consumer friendly standards in this area, but that's just me. People trying to be a little green shouldn't have to worry about being taken advantage of.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 02:02:54 PM PDT

  •  I have to say all of the curly q (0+ / 0-)

    CFL bulbs I have used have burned no longer than your basic Thomas Edison bulb, and the light given off pretty much sucks. So, for four times the cost (at least) I've gotten a crap product. So, I switched back to the Thomas Edisons.
    Wake me when somebody comes up with a decent alternative at a decent price.

    •  I can believe it (0+ / 0-)

      One of the more insidious elements of product developments these days is the effort that goes into determining just how cheaply and crappy a product can be made, before people will stop buying it. If it were possible to make something that would last forever, nobody would want to manufacture it because they'd never get repeat customers.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 10:23:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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