Are new transformers(ballast) any more efficient than those of twenty years ago?
Speaking from personal experience I'd have to say no, but not with any technical know-how. It's also difficult to find ballasts when you need to replace them (even from the store where you purchased the fixture). If you do find them, they cost nearly as much as a new fixture - especially if the new fixture includes the florescent tubes.
We bought our home 7-years ago (new-build) and have replaced the main florescent light in our kitchen and laundry room TWICE. They seem to last about 3-years. The next time, we will eliminate the florescent fixture entirely instead of replacing it with florescent again. We're on the lookout for something with LED lights. In fact, we are replacing all lights with LED.
I'm more and more convinced that the old-fashioned incandescents are the way to go.
We gave LED's a try. They seem to be fine at first, but soon start to go dimmer and dimmer. In some cases they lasted only slightly over 20 hours (and this happened repeatedly.
The CFL's have a number of issues, including the disposal issue. And just recently, my husband's dermatologist warned that we should all be wearing sunscreen all day, inside and out, because CFL's give off ultraviolet rays in sufficient quantity to be a health problem.
Aside from that, I've never had any new-fangled bulb last as long as most incandescents--some I've used have lasted 6-10 years and longer, with DAILY use. The new ones? be they LED or CFL NEVER last longer than 6 months to a year.
Incandescent bulbs should not be called light bulbs, they should be called heat bulbs, since they produce more heat than light.
The amount of UV rays that a CFL puts out is minimal.
Yes, newer ballasts are more efficient.
They use solid-state components, are smaller, give off far less heat, and turn on faster.
I have two circular fluorescent ceiling fixtures in my kitchen. Those lights get turned on and off probably 20 times a day. I find they burn out at least every 5 years. From my point of view, there's not much of an improvement. Yeah I could do the math 20 times 365 times five equals a lot of usage.
If the led reading lights are an example of their brightness I will never buy one. I will not use fluorescent lights except for the outdoor flood lights. I put cfls in there because they are cheaper to run all night.
I'm going to up-date my florescent light experience since I posting in July. Earlier this month we replaced the florescent lights in our kitchen and laundry room with LED lights, and are delighted with the up-grade. We found both fixtures at Lowe's, and it's amazing how much light they put out, especially compared to the failing light of the florescent fixtures the last few weeks before we replaced them. If they last longer than 3-years, we will be money ahead..... Not only from less electricity used, but from having to replace the fixtures so often.
EmmaR, your experience with LED lights doesn't seem to be very extensive, nor is it up-to-date with what's available these days. A friend of ours is an electrician and he just did the electrical in a new home and all the lighting in the home is LED, and he's seeing more and more of it being installed in new homes.
We've used LED lights for many years now, and they have all been different in style as new products came available, and are getting better and brighter all the time. We were the first people we knew with CFL bulbs in most of their home in the late 80's, and now we have eliminated all incandescent lights (except for the refrigerator and oven lights), and all but eliminated CFL from our home (there are 2 CFL recessed can-lights left in the guest bathroom). We have LED bulbs in all kinds of fixtures and lamps, and in the near future, that's all we'll have.
In our town, burned-out CFL bulbs have to be taken to the hazardous waste site for disposal. You can't toss florescent tubes in the trash anymore, either. What I've enjoyed the most is not having that ghastly orange glow from CFL over my vanity while they warm up in the cooler temperatures we have in the house during colder weather. LED lights are instantly clear and bright.
Thanks for that info Grainlady, I am sure they have improved them. Now that I think about it, the problem I had was not with brightness, it was the spot light effect. I had to move the book lite or the book to read the whole page. I haven't had to use one since my husband died. I will buy a lamp or a bulb and try it. I think I might be moving out of this terrible HOA community and will build a new home. Buying something to check it out may be worth it in the long run. I will also have more of the recessed lights in my home. My neighbor had 6 or 7 put in her living area.