Good, better, best CFL

ionized_gwMay 1, 2012

I've been using screw in CFLS for decades. I am tired of the residential grade crap. It is a poor fit to my lifestyle and desires. I'd like more choice in color temp. (I am partial to 5000 K long tube fluorescent in that type of luminaire.) I am tired of replacing screw-in CFLs before their time because they have been switched a lot. I am tires of poor power factors. There has to be a better way than installing screw-in CFL.

I don't want to replace my luminaries with new ones designed specifically for CFL. that will cost too much, but probably will be done with renovation in the future. Modular, screw-in CFLs seem to be more bulky, but may work in some existing luminaries. How do I find equipment (ballasts) that is easy on the "bulbs" (i.e., suitable for occupancy sensor)? Is there any practical way to retrofit if the modular CFL do not fit (i.e. can a socket be retrofitted and a ballast mounted somewhat remotely?

Where do I get started to find the hardware that I need to retrofit effectively?

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David

It might be easier to get occupancy sensors intended for use with fluorescent lighting or switch to led A lamps when the pricing becomes more rational.

Electrical supply shops should have a nice range of electronic ballasts and connector bases. However, the sum of the cost of the individual parts will probably make it economically impractical.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:21PM
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ionized_gw

Thanks, David,

Due to my hasty writing, you misunderstood some of what I wrote. I am not really that interested in occupancy sensors so much. Sometimes ballasts are advertised as suitable for use with occupancy sensors. That is an easy way to spot something that is relatively gentle on the tubes assuming many on/off cycles. In my mind, residential lights are turned on and off a lot compared to most any commercial situation save for some-occupancy sensor application like restrooms.

I am retrofitting a lot of linear fluorescent fixtures right now and that is my point of reference. Most residential equipment for fluorescent lighting seems to be real garbage. I see a lot of "residential" lights and replacement ballasts that are instant-start that will really chew up the tubes. If you are lucky, you will get some cheap rapid start electronic ballasts that are somewhat better. By contrast, I have one box each, for two- and four-tube T8, of nice GE, program-start ballasts. They should save my fluorescent tubes and are pretty efficient. I started with a few 4' T12 fixtures, and I have retrofitted half of them. I am about to start on my 8' T12s and that is a little more complicated. People tried to tell me that it would be less expensive to replace them, but I am finding that is not nearly true. I can retrofit an 8' duplex instant-start fixture to 4 x 4' T8 for $35-40 if I do it with my own hands. There is no way I can buy a couple of 4' T8 fixtures of any quality for twice that.

I am thinking ahead to what my next move is in making my lighting more energy-efficient. Everyone wants me to replace remaining tungsten bubs with, what I see as crappy, residential CFL. I am sorry that I wrote, "find the hardware" in my original post. What I really meant was "learn about the hardware". I'd like to find out what is available that will be as close to a drop-in replacement to the tungsten bulbs as possible.

You might be right that it will be less expensive to replace the luminaires in this case. I probably won't be buying stuff in lots of 10 on eBay, as I did (linear tube) ballasts, so the price will go up, a lot. I still think, however, that I should learn about what CFL technology has to offer because it will help me choose good OTS luminaires if it comes to that.
Thanks for reading. If anyone knows of any readily available resources that discuss quality CFL lighting, I would sure appreciate some direction.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 4:19PM
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ionized_gw

I have been able to slowly educate myself over the past few weeks. It has not been easy. I was spoiled by my experience in the T12-T8 conversion project. There are CFL ballasts that are biased towards longer lamp life with frequent starts vs. others designed for low power consumption in long on periods.

It is very difficult or impossible to find information about Edison-base CFLs compared to separate ballasts. The former is just so dominated by products designed to be cheap. One last piece that I have not investigated fully is if it is possible to get that kind of information for ballasts for modular CFL that screw into Edison sockets. I am not hopeful.

One way to summarize the reasons that retrofitting my luminaires with truly efficient CFLs is the following. I see at least three barriers:

1) not so easy to find cheap ballasts sold at surplus prices. This is somewhat due to the fact that there are so more types of ballasts. I can't really buy them by the case.
2) can't easily install the sockets and ballasts in existing luminaires,
fixed or portable.
3) the market for what I am looking for is too small for manufacturers to
compete with a variety of quality products and to get the information out
there.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 10:33AM
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attofarad

ionized,

Did you come across any CFLs (screw in) which are rated at higher temperature operation? I expect that heating in cans is what is making my screw-in CFL life shorter than it should be. I have some enclosed globe lights that I would like to put CFL in, but don't want them dying prematurely.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 12:33PM
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ionized_gw

No, but I have not looked in a directed manner. I think that some are. If you find any, please post back. That is one thing that I might be looking into.

First, can lights:

There are lots of can retrofit kits for 2 or 4-pin CFLs. I encourage you to look into those. You can make your choice of ballasts with those, instant, program or dim.

I stumbled across this today. I really was not looking for this kind of product. It is somewhat different from all the other can retrofit kits I have seen.

http://www.greenelectricalsupply.com/maxlite-mlfcrk-70218-faux-can-retrofit-kit.aspx

Now for globes. I have never had my hands on any or looked at them much:

I am not sure what your enclosed globes look like on the lamp end or where they are attached. One option would be to modify them to put the ballast at the box and rewire with appropriate wire to a new CFL socket in the globe. This is really not what you are looking for, but might inspire you. I'd build my own mount and see if some Fullham Pony ballasts might fit. Of course, you only want to go this way if you have some luminaires that you love or you need a hobby :-)

http://www.lightingdirect.com/progress-lighting-p7200str-wall-boxes-from-the-wall-pockets-collection/p358803

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 2:46PM
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