Dimmable Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Review

buellwinkleOctober 12, 2006

In an effort to reduce our huge electric bill I've been experimenting with different CFL light bulbs. The biggest problem we've had is that they start off at about 1/2 brightness and then gradually get to full brightness after a few minutes, very annoying. Then I tried the new dimmable CFLs, mainly in our kitchen where we have recessed lighting and six R30 bulbs. I replaced them with GE 15W R30 Dimmable Floods and they do the same thing, they take a few minutes to achieve full brightness so it's impossible to set the dimming until they are warmed up. Then the dimming lets you dim to about 1/2 brightness, not a full range like a regular bulb. Also they stay the same exact whiteness at any light level so they don't have the warmth and ambience of regular bulbs when dimmed. The last thing is the glare is horrible. They protrude about 1/2" further than regular bulbs from the cans and give a very direct glare. The nice thing about the new CFLs is they are starting to put them in normal bulb glass so the curly light sits inside a glass bulb. To us this is important because you can see the bulbs in many of our lights.

Has anyone had better experience with these than me?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

No, I've not had any. I put one in the light above the sink, and like you said, it takes a while to get to full brighness. In the meantime, I felt like I was going blind.

I put some in the ceiling lights on the carport. Bad idea in cold weather...would not even come on, and quit working at all after a short while.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 10:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, thanks for the review. I was perusing CFs online recently, research for replacing incandescents used in a commercial application involving dimmer circuits, and noticed the new dimmable CFs. Ended up I didn't buy any, which is good as they wouldn't have worked per your info.

Sue, I have a bunch of CFs outside my house. Six "floods" in the can-light fixtures on my patio, six candelabra bulbs on my porch, and six "curlies" in small can-fixtures under the front eaves for architectural lighting. They've been in use for bit more than 1.5 years, in all weather conditions. One of the curlies has gotten dim but that seems to be a defect as the other five are OK. I also have a few inside the house (oft-used locations). True it takes a couple mins for them to get to full brightness, but I don't find that to be a serious problem. I could swap out several more, but I don't use lighting in those areas enough to justify the change.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 11:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've used many CFLs -- pretty much anywhere I can in the house.

My experience? Generally, cheap is as cheap does. My alphabetic list:

Commercial Electric (aka Feit): Fair. Fair cool-white light. Fair size. Cheap. Have heard from many Internet forums that they don't last very long. I have incandescent bulbs in my house which have lasted for several years, so I'm not the one to judge the longevity of these.

IKEA: Surprisingly good. The only place I've ever found CFLs that actually look like bulbs and fit in the same place as incandescent bulbs. They aren't instant-on, but they're quicker than the cheap brands. The biggest problems I have is that IKEA is a bit of a trip for me and the smallest bulbs don't come larger than about 40W incandescent equivalent.

Sunbeam: Given the brand name, it would not surprise me that the manufacturer varies depending on the size or age of the bulb. That said, the ones I tried have been decent. They're all "curly" cool-white bulbs, but, in fixtures where you can't see the bulb, they switch on quickly and provide good light.

Sylvania (aka Osram): The best I've tried. The nicest (warmest) light, switches on to >90% right away, and casts a very pleasing light. Expensive, but worth it.

I could use some CFLs outside the house (I've tried), but it gets so cold here in the winter that it effectively means changing bulbs for summer and winter (I won't do it; I'll just use the bulbs less).

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 9:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I use CF bulbs in the house and as you have mentioned, they do take a bit of time to "warm up." I've bought the ones that are in a 6 pack at HD and haven't had any issue with them. I found some that look more like a conventional bulb at Big Lots that I'll use in a fan, but haven't used them as of yet.

One thing to mention, just in case you don't know, if a bulb breaks the glass is more dangerous to you than the mercury (minimal, but there). Wear gloves and clean up the glass and any liquid or vapor with a wet rag, do not sweep the area. I found this info on the web but read it in the past - now if I remember it when one breaks, that will be key!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 5:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have them in all our outdoor fixtures and have never had a problem with them not coming on. We are Z4-5.
Overall, I like them. They do not bother me. My only problem with them is that yes, they do take a while to warm up and get to full brightness.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 9:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Saw this website that has some info on CF's worth reading, it's a few years old, but still holds some good info.

Here is a link that might be useful: COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 8:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They say that you can multiply the fluorescent figure by 4 to find equal value of incandescent bulb ...

... but I don't think so. It seems to me that fluorescent bulbs in that proportion provide somewhat less light.

Sorry to be off topic, this having started as a discussion of dimmable CF's - perhaps I'm the dim bulb, here.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 12:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I won't use them.

DH put one on the porch. It was completely pointless, because if the doorbell rings after dark, and you're not expecting anyone, you don't want to have to wait 5 minutes for the light to finally get bright enough to see who's at the door. When I turn a light on, I generally don't want to have to waste waiting for it to finally warm up. Made him take it out, and put a real light bulb in. The few cents you're going to save using them really isn't worth the inconveniece, in my book. I think you do just as well, by making sure you turn off all lights and appliances that aren't being used. Lights truly take very, very little to run. Look to your heat-producing appliances if you want to see what's really adding up your electric bill.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 7:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

azzalea, I would say you got a cheap CFL. The good ones don't take five minutes to reach full brightness. The cheap ones at Big Orange/Blue/Green -- well, you got what you paid for.

That said, CFLs are not good candidates for lamps which are switched on for a few minutes and then switched off. In those circumstances, you're right -- the few cents you save aren't worth it. But it requires a certain vigilance to switch off lamps when they're not being used. Many people either are not in circumstances where the lamp is off more than it's on or they lack the vigilance to switch them off when they're not in use. For those people, CFLs make a lot of sense. Don't forget -- incandescent bulbs simply emanate as heat 75-80% of the electricity they use. Almost anything can be more efficient than that.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 10:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your right. That is a really old document. $10 to $20 for one 60 watt equvilant bulb? Last month I bought a six pack of those bulbs for $10 and at Home Depot and they work really well. I also picked up a 3-way 50/100/150 watt equivalent that I am really happy with. The "150 watt" setting only uses about 30 watts.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 10:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I was at Home Depot they had a 4 or 6 pack, I forget for $1.99.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Buellwinkle,

A friend of mine put these dimmable CFs in his kitchen and hated them.

We have a few CFs and don't find them objectionable but do have one over our doorstep that casts the most annoying blue/green glow.

It makes me feel like we live in a low-cost motel or RV park.

I would like to find CFs that have the same color cast as incandescents.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 6:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

wblynch, hit your favorite Web search engine and look for "full-spectrum cfl" (without the quotation marks). There are a number of vendors out there who sell them. I've seen a very limited selection of full-spectrum CFLs at the local big-box home-improvement store, but you can find much more on-line.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I don't understand, I've stayed at expensive 4 star hotels that used CFLs exclusively. So for me, having CFLs is like staying at a nice hotel, haha. As for the color, many of them now state their color temperature. I believe standard incandecents are 2700K and you can get CFLs in that color range, specially the ones that look like real bulbs. I haven't tried them yet but the best deal was in a supermarket in Sane Diego. 3 CFLs (the spiral type) for $1 sponsored by SDG&E.

You would think that bulbs don't make much of a difference but for the past 20 years, my neighbor consistantly was 20-25% lower than our electric bill year 'round. In the past few months since we went with CFLs, we are consistantly 20-25% lower than them. Also, we gotten so used to them by now that nobody notices anymore.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Compact fluorescent technology has been steadily improving. Look for color temperture 2700 to 3000 on the label. I have been buying GE bulbs at the local hardware store (Aubachon) for $1 a piece. Unbelievable bargain. I replaced the entire kitchen recessed lights with CFLs and no one noticed any difference in color. The delay in reaching maximal brightness is much less in some bulbs than others. Some say "instant on" and reach brightness quickly. PLEASE TRY AGAIN if you haven't in the last year. The GE bulbs I bought are excellent and the off brand Light wiz and Nuvision are close behind. The energy savings is nice and the reduction in carbon production will help the planet.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't break 'em. Could cost you thousands $$$$ to clean up the mercury spill.

See here:


Here is a link that might be useful: Mercury danger in compact bulbs.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 3:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just wiggled a heat gun on a 14w CE CF that the ac is breathing on lightly ... 174F on the ballast/base part.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 7:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My regular CFLs come on right away. They have similar light quality to incandescents, it seems to me.

Did the ones that quit working in the outside work when you used them indoors?

The first one that I got, a twirly one, didn't last as long as an incandescent.

Put it into a table lamp beside the computer, sort of hung the shade, configured for a round bulb, on it.

A couple of weeks later, chasing a fly, I hit the shade ...

... end of bulb.

I hadn't heard at that time that the CFLs were especialy dangerous, but knew that the coating on regular flourescents is risky, to cleaned up with some care.

Is the mercury in the bulb, or the base?

I think that I just threw the base out with regular garbage - not knowing any better (at that time).

For my money - I can't mutiply the flourescent rating by 4 to get equivalent value to incandescent ... maybe by 3 - 3-1/3.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 4:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That article posted above is probably not accurate.
It claims that this happened in Maine. Linked below is instructions from the Department of Environmental Protection in Maine for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb. The homeowner can do it themselves.

If the article is true, then it is an extreme.

CFLs have no more mercury than the millions of fluorescent bulbs used throughout office and commercial buildings. So this isn't really a new concern. And it contains way less mercury than that contained in your watch battery or old mercury-switch thermostat.

And joyfulguy, I believe the mercury is a vapour contained in the bulb, not the base.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks. It is always best to get ALL the info that is out there when making a decision. I have learned that newspaper articles are not always accurate in many cases.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 1:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Is there such a thing as a CFL that dims below 20%? I would love to use them in our recessed lighting but we have a lighting control system and the ones I have tried (GE) Just don't dim low enough.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 11:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The only way I've seen to dim compact fluorescents below 20% is to get commercial-grade recessed lights with good dimming ballasts. These ARE NOT cheap, but some of them do go down to 1%.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 12:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I thought I would chime in and shed a little light, err I mean information on the subject. So that I don't bore everyone with explaining how fluorescents work I'll give you a link so you can check it out if you want.


What it all breaks down is that steve_o (4th post) was right, you pay for what you get. The Mega hardware stores typically don't carry the higher grade of CFL bulbs that have quick start, wide spectrum and have higher quality components so that they last longer. The Mega hardware stores care more about selling CFL's which are made as cheap as possible so they can increase their profit margins.

I have been using dimmable CFLs for about 3 years now long before they showed up in the Mega hardware stores but I admit the first generations weren't all that great. I've been purchasing higher grade CFLs through a commercial lighting supplier that doesn't sell to the general public but sells to contractors, builders and similar businesses. These types of specialty lighting businesses are the way to go whether you're building a new house and wanting to plan the lighting or simply replacing existing lighting fixtures their staff typically are far more knowledgeable than the Mega hardware stores. I have found a number of specialty lighting stores that do sell to the general public but the one I happen to go to is real close to where I live and I have an *in* since my wife is an architect.

* Posted by sean_m (My Page) on
Thu, May 31, 07 at 12:57

The only way I've seen to dim compact fluorescents below 20% is to get commercial-grade recessed lights with good dimming ballasts. These ARE NOT cheap, but some of them do go down to 1%.

Sean is absolutely correct here, its all about the components that are in the "base" or ballast of the CFL bulb. I've gone a step beyond what most would likely do in their "lighting scheme" as I've taken the commercial grade dimmable ballast and other components from the straight 4' or 8' fluorescent lights and have used them to drive CFL which don't have the ballast already built into the base. I've been able to replace incandescent bulbs in fixtures where a typical off the shelf CFL would have not worked or as mentioned above would have stuck out the end of the can light fixture. Going the route I have done does require a bit of work but the end result I think is a much better. I wouldn't have known I could take the ballasts and other components and built my own dimmable multi-light circuits if I hadn't gone to the specialty lighting stores so it definitely worth checking out.

One last tidbit of information is that some manufactures of dimmable fluorescent lighting fixtures suggest not using your typical off the shelf wall dimmer you find at your Mega hardware store. Talk to a lighting professional before you swap out your incandescents with dimmable CFL's to see what they recommend.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 1:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Today I purchased 24 four-packs of soft white light bulbs for 88 cents a pack. That amounted to 22 cents per bulb. A three pack of CFL bulbs was $12.84 or $4.28 per bulb. The CFL claimed to save $8.22 per bulb in energy. However, closer examination of the claim spreads the savings over the 9-year life of the bulb. In other words, a little over 91 cents a year or almost 8 cents per month if you are lucky enough for the bulb to last "up to nine years". With the soft white light bulbs, I saved money and I do not have to worry about mercury gas leaking out or spilling when one is broken.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 7:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i also would not pay $12.84 for a 3 pack of cfl's!!! you can find them MUCH cheaper!!! the dimmable ones are still abit more expensive, however.... but, i think the point of cfl's are energy savings, which we all need to become more aware of as we are rapidly consuming the earth's resources! plus, it's very convenient to not have to change light bulbs so frequently!!! we have MANY light bulbs in our home... i still use halogen recessed lights in certain rooms, mostly because of appearance...but use cfls wherever i can..........

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 7:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Busybee3, if a CFLs only save less than 10 cents a month, how much energy are we really talking about? If we are really concerned about the earth's resources, we would press congress to make the auto industry manufacture air powered cars like they make in Turkey. Now talk about energy savings - when a car runs on compressed air lifting the pistons instead of little fuel explosions lifting them, then they are really earth friendly.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm not too sure about your math there lexi7. But to go into detail is clumsy. Think it over. A 13w CFL is comparable to a 60w incandescent, which is 21.7% of an incandescent. So it boils down to the amount of electricity you use for lighting. $10 worth of incandescent lighting will cost $2.17 in CFL lighting. The savings are most significant in lights used a lot. Naturally if the light isn't on, there's no savings.

You got me curious about the package. I just grabbed the package for a dimmable CFL that I put into the kitchen. It's a 26w/100w comparable It says $74 in energy savings. "Electricity cost savings based on using the bulb for 10,000 hr. rated life at 10¢ per kilowatt hour compared to 13 100 watt Soft White incandescent bulbs (rated life 750 hrs)." It also says "Lasts 6 years" with the disclaimer "Limited Warranty: Guaranteed to last 6 years based on rated life at 4 hours consumer use per day at 120v" Now there's a couple things here. $74 savings is based on 10¢/kwh and I pay 50% more than that so that means $111 alleged savings using real costs. 6 years is 72 months, so at the 10¢/kwh savings, that's $1.0278 per month. Based on actual electric cost it would be $1.54 per month. Now I realize bulbs vary and these are all figures and each person's mileage varies. I can say this from experience: When I put in the first 3 CFLs, it was wintertime and on 2 living room lamps and 1 bedroom lamp. Within two months my electric bill went down about $5 per month. I couldn't attribute any other significant change to my electrical use around that time and the bill remained consistent. The more I added CFLs, the more my bills have decreased unless other use increased and considering electrical costs have gone up it demonstrates to me what I could consider a significant difference. I'm sure we'll disagree, but this is my experience. I'm happy with CFLs and I'm not paranoid about the mercury scare. It amazes me that people get so worked up over a CFL when they say nothing about a coal fired power plant that put far more mercury into the air in a month than all the CFLs in the world combined have for potential and considering the increased use of the coal plant to operate incandescents (remember it's 4 times as much to operate incandescent than CFL) I'm far more concerned about that mercury threat.

Oh, and in fairness, you can buy CFLs far cheaper than $4.28. I think that's what it cost for the dimmables I bought and they weren't on sale. I often see 4 packs for about $6 and occasionally 6 packs for about $4.

BTW, back to the topic, I'm not impressed with the dimming on these bulbs, but I blame that more on the dimmer. Fact is I don't dim them. I wanted the dimmer because it has a remote control so I can turn the light on and off from the other side of the room. So for me it works fine. And dropping a three light fixture from 75w bulbs to 26w gives me more light for less money. 78w vs 225w being used while its on so it doesn't bother me as much to leave them on a little extra if need be.

I guess I look at it like weatherstripping. I think it's worthwhile. Many people argue that weatherstripping isn't cost-effective and will argue the up front costs and say you don't save anything. I disagree on that too.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 12:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My math is based on the information on the package. It stated that a bulb saves $8.22 over the life of 9 years. $8.22 divided by nine amounts to $0.91333 per years. $.91333 divided by twelve months equals $0.0761111

Anyone seriously wanting to save our planet from greenhouse gases should take a look at this site.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 12:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I put in the first 3 CFLs, it was wintertime and on 2 living room lamps and 1 bedroom lamp. Within two months my electric bill went down about $5 per month.When I read reports like this, I always have to wonder how it can be confirmed that CFLs (or whatever is the item or change-in-habit being discussed) is the source of the reduction? My electric bill may vary considerably more than $5 on a month-to-month and year-to-year basis as a matter of normal course. A $5 increase or decrease, or even $20 or $30, wouldn't mean anything to me as an indicator of anything other than normal fluctuation.

Take Feb > Mar 2008 as an example. A decrease of about $6. Did I install CFLs or do anything specific to account for the reduction? Nope. I've been using CFLs in select areas of the house throughout the cited history.
2006 2007 2008
billed\KWH ------ ------ ------
Jan 105.09\1263 88.40\1046 89.99\1050
Feb 97.46\1103 106.60\1314 129.99\1359
Mar 112.36\1083 148.75\1562 123.42\1125
Apr 96.85\760 87.52\652 114.46\873
May 103.74\831 94.78\659 115.33\840
Jun 127.40\1075 135.00\1033 149.70\1165
Jul 178.49\1523 199.83\1636 223.06\1751
Aug 202.25\1756 184.45\1493 225.04\1679
Sep 214.58\1877 152.00\1803 249.06\1882
Oct 154.05\1476 104.68\1323 200.19\1674
Nov 102.52\1031 104.44\1319 149.04\1181
Dec 74.86\829 66.90\925 101.57\842

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hi lexi7...our packages vary quite abit...the package of 60 watt equiv cfl that i'm looking at right now states that it saves 46$ per bulb based on an average of 4hrs/day use over it's 10,000 est bulb life (~ 7yrs)... i don't know why your bulbs are so different. so, this package of 6 will save ~$276 over the course of their lives. i probably have ~30 60 and 100 watt equiv cfls in our house now, but have installed them over the past 6 years bit by bit, so i haven't really noticed on our electric bill.....there are always fluctuations... what i have noticed to significantly lower our summer bill(we heat with gas)was when i installed programmable thermostats in our home... that is a noticeable difference!!!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I knew this would stir up a debate, but that is ok because it is worth the discussion. "this package of 6 will save ~$276 over the course of their lives" If the life of the bulb is 7 years, that equals 84 months. Right? (7X12=84)
$276./84 months = $3.2857142 savings per month for all six bulbs
$3.2857142/6 bulbs = $0.547619 Almost 55 cents per bulb per month.

Fifty five cents is still not enough money for me to risk mercury poisoning to my family. CFLs are considered hazardous waste. If one gets broken or blows out, your home is a hazardous waste site, and they will get broken. Do not kid yourself. Think about the effect of all those CFLs in our trash.. It just isnt worth the risk to me.

The Nexus II air powered car from Turkey produced no carbon dioxide, and it would eliminate our dependence on oil.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 6:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have heard that one should use them where a light is used substantially but not turned on and off a lot.

I am on dial-up internet and near the kitchen, so I go in and out of the kitchen quite a lot ... so if I leave the light on when I leave the room I'm not saving power ... but if I turn the light on and off a lot, quite likely I'm shortening the life of the bulb substantially.

As I said, I disagree with their claim that 25 watts of CFL equals 100 watts of incandescent.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 11:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


In these cars that you keep mentioning, how is the air compressed in first place? By using electricity.
How is most electricity generated? By burning fossil fuels.

I'm not trying to say it isn't a step in the right direction, but there are other steps that have to be taken along with that one.

If everyone switched over to electrical powered (or air powered) cars tomorrow, our electrical grid would not be able to handle the demand. Not just the production but the distribution too.

I think the biggest step we need to take is getting rid of fossil fuel powered electrical plants and moving on to clean, renewable sources.

CFLs are another small step in the right direction. And you are way too concerned about the mercury poisoning. It takes a significant amount to have any affect. The occasional breakage will not harm you. Just air out the area if it happens.

The media has made such a big deal about the 'dangers' of CFLs because of the mercury. I don't get it. Nobody seems to realise or mention that most/all commercial buildings have been using flourescent lights for many many years. If you are so concerned about mercury poisoning then don't go into any malls, grocery stores, office buildings, etc because I can pretty much guarantee you that a bulb has broken in there at some point.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 12:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Greg, the car uses only a small amount of electricity since it has a built-in air compressor. It cost only $3 to travel 125 miles in the air-powered car. Further development could make it even more efficient by designing it to run off its own generated compressed air. Check out the links provided for your convenience. Here in the United States, fuel tax would be the rub. It takes money to build roads, so a tax on the miles driven would be a fair alternative.

I agree wholeheartedly that clean renewable energy (such as solar and wind) is the answer.

Greg wrote, "If you are so concerned about mercury poisoning then don't go into any malls, grocery stores, office buildings, etc because I can pretty much guarantee you that a bulb has broken in there at some point." But Greg..I do not have to live in the mall or grocery store. However, I do spend more time there than I would like.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 3:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The new CFL bulbs that are coming out are 'instant on'. There will be constant improvement on these. We won't be buying new ones until our old ones go out but we have them all over the house and there is a noticeable drop in the elect. bills since we started using them.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2008 at 8:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

On Feb 9 2009 I purchased 5 two packs of the FEIT Electric ECObulbs Dimmable Compact Fluorescent 23W=100. In the first week 3 fried. I spoke with their customer support and explained what I have and on their suggestion I replaced my 1000W digital dimmer switch with a 600W mechanical dimmer switch. I went back to Home Depot and they cheerfully replaced the bulbs. Since then 5 more have failed. For those of you that haven't done the math thats 80% failure in eleven days. today is Feb 21 2009. Unless FEIT can come up with a reasonable explanation for their products dismal performance I will be returning all 10 and going back to incandescent.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 2:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A comment on mercury.

The long and the short of it is that of the 2.5 to 4 mg of Hg in a CFL, only 14% of that can be released from the bulb. The EPA estimates this to be 0.6mg. By contrast a mercury thermometer can contain 500mg of Hg and it can all pour out!

But all of that isn't the real kicker. Apparently our coal fired power plants release 104 metric TONS of mercury into the atmosphere each year. Take all of the bulbs sold in the US in 2007, trash (and break) them and you would get 0.16 metric tons of Hg released.

If you take the power savings of a CFL and realize that a power plant puts out on average 0.012mgHg/kWh, an incandescent bulb is responsible for putting out 5.8mgHg over 8000 hours (multiple bulbs) and a CFL puts out 1.8mgHg, 0.6mg of that assumes LANDFILLING (and breaking) a CFL. So using a CFL means you cut Hg pollution by more than 3x - if you recycle afterwords, you cut Hg pollution by almost 5x.

Take your burned out CFL bulbs to Home D for recycling and you avoid landfilling the 0.6mg of Hg.

The biggest risk factor for Hg exposure is eating certain fish types.

All information given is condensed from the Energy Star document linked above.

My comment to oljoyfull on a 100watt incandescent being unequal to a 23watt CFL: These are pretty straightforward measurements. You measure the lumens of both bulbs, and then measure the power consumption. A Phillips 100watt incandescent bulb puts out 1560 lumens. A Sylvania CFL puts out 1600 lumens and uses 23 watts. In my two bulb kitchen lamp (dimmable) I figure I am saving $32/year on that fixture alone (its on alot).

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 5:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Been trying to tell people this for a long time mote, but seems curious that people go Chicken Little on one thing and ignore a far more serious danger. And amazingly, people will recycle pop bottles and tuna cans, but won't recycle light bulbs. I truly wish I could understand this fear of change.

Personally I think the life span of the CFL bulb useage as a whole will be short in the grand scheme of things, all things considered, as I believe the LEDs will be soon taking over with even better savings. However, people will still put crosses in their windows and sprinkle salt at their doors at that time too I imagine. Somewhere in the future there's going to be a lot of peoples' estates given the chore of disposing of all these hoarded light bulbs too I suspect!

I will say that there are some differences in color temperature on bulbs and certain bulbs won't seem as bright as others. I find this true with streetlights when you compare sodium vapors with mercury vapors. (Oh heavens!!! MERCURY!!! Our towns are now hazardous waste sites as are many warehouses, even stores. What will we do?) The lamp next to my recliner had a 100w bulb and 2-60w bulbs. I'd use a 60 for general lighting and if company were here, all three would be on, and for reading the newspaper or something the idea was the 100w. It got to the point with incandescent, I needed the 100w with a 60 for comfortable reading. I switched to a 23w and two 13w CFLs. For reading now I only use the 23w (100w comparable) so in reality, during those times, I'm using 23 watts instead of 160. And there were times I'd burn the 3rd bulb so even to offset the occasional use of two at once, it's still clear about the savings.

I can't understand how anyone would think a $5/mo variance in a $30 bill with rates and general useage would not be noticible! So it's no sense trying to discuss it.

Question for you hersraterdave: If you had the same failure rate on a single particular brand of incandescent bulb, let's say a batch of Binford brand had similar failure, would you quit incandescents and start using candles? Or might you consider another brand or source? Or some other cause of the trouble? I'm just curious. :) Seriously though, although I'm not pleased with the dimming on the dimmable bulbs I put in the kitchen, I am pleased that I'm using 75watts instead of 225 watts and getting more light in the process. That's the result I wanted anyway. But to be fair, I wasn't pleased with the flickering of incandescent in the same fixture on the dimmers either. Given the energy use, I don't feel bad about leaving it on for a while since it's still cheaper than the incandescent. It remains to be seen how long these will last, but (knock China-made wood) so far, so good.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 7:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our outdoor lighting is 100% CFL. The inside is mostly CFL. One fan fixture is using vibration resistant incandescent due to failures of MANY other bulbs.

The great news - LED bulbs are coming soon. Sams Club (and also the Ace Hardware website) carry LED bulbs from Lights Of America. These 1.5W bulbs have a pretty tiny output per bulb - but I installed 12 in a chandelier fixture and it looks fine. Pricing is 3 for $16. I have also used the 1.5W bulbs for stair lighting. If you tried the $7 Walmart LEDS in August, 2008, please be assured that the newer bulbs have much improved color output. The LED bulbs are mercury free.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 11:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A couple things.

Most modern electronic dimmers set output levels for incandescent lamps (a category that also includes halogen). For these types of lamps, the light output at the relative dimming level is *almost* linear. This means that at the halfway point on the control (whether slider, rotary dial, or LED indicator) the lamp should be producing roughly half of the normal light output.

The dimmable CFLs I've seen in the past ($18 per! with a CRI of ~80 5k temp) while perhaps provided with half the voltage through dimming, remains at a relatively high state of light output. This means that for most of the travel or range of your dimmer the light would stay at about the same level until you reached the end of the range where you'd see a very sharp falloff in output. Not good for "Movie Night" dimming.

Some dimmers require minimum current levels for proper operation. I can't recall but the Lutron Radio Ra needs ~15 watts to work. If you've got only one or two lamps on the circuit the lowest levels of dimming may not even work.

CFLs used outdoors or any cold environments will take longer to reach maximum brightness. If the bulb uses an amalgam coating then it will take even longer.

The amalgam sort of "traps" the mercury in the coating making broken bulbs safer since the mercury vapor isn't floating around.

As others have mentioned, the economy of using a CFL versus regular incandescent bulbs usually assumes the best case scenario for lifetime. I've found that any CFL, regardless of price tend to burn out as quick or quicker than the older incandescents. Factoring in the higher replacement costs due to premature failure drops the "money saved" portion of the equation down, even as the higher rates here in Hawaii skews it back up. In the end it's a wash as our current setup is still well lit and cheap and efficient thanks to a number of "A" base 20W soft whites.

The last lamps I tried were very expensive but that was about 3 years ago. Since we have a well designed lighting plan and we're skating by on 20W incandescents for all the recessed lights, I don't feel a huge pressure to get it done now. We'll see what happens next.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 8:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

as to the post about the high failure rate, I actually just talked to a guy at a local lighting store about that, and he stated that they stopped carrying the FEIT bulbs because of the high failure rate. Evidently, in order to properly use a dimmer with dimmable CFLs, you need to turn the bulb on to full brightness, then dim it down. when turning it off, you have to use the kill switch and turn all the way off, not just dim it to where it appears off. He stated that FEIT was aware of this problem and was recalling lots of there bulbs based on this, as people were thinking FEIT bulbs were defective, but it was actually that people weren't using the dimmers with them correctly..

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 12:12PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Quite a few made big savings on Amazon
Due to a quirk in their pricing software ... quite...
Off topic: A sad tale but also true...
A widow friend of mine was telling me today about the...
Need Ideas-Extra Space/Supplemental Income
My wife and I recently had twins which upped our kid...
How to get $1.00 worth of Cdn. charitable value for 50 - 60 cents
If I buy some groceries in the food store and put them...
How to Retire 35 Years Early
Wall Street Journal's Market Watch did a feature on...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™