Light Bulbs

gadgetsOctober 10, 2002

What are the best, long-lasting, light bulbs to buy for lamps and ceiling fixtures? Is it just my imagination or do bulbs seem to blow out in a much shorter period of time?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My advise is do not buy GE light bulbs. They do not last. Buy Sylvania.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2002 at 7:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I use compact fluorescent "bulbs" in my house. They work great, and consume about 1/10th the energy of incandescent ones. You can light up your whole house for the energy cost of a single 100 watt incandescent bulb.

Most stores now sell the screw-in kind (the kind used in most light fixtures, lamps, etc) so you don't have to buy new fixtures.

I get my screw-in compact fluorescent lights from the local Ikea. They sell for about $3-$4 each, but they last 10 times as long as an incandescent one We had an 11 watt fluorescent light burning on our front porch, which is equivalent to 60 watts incandescent. It burned constantly, day and night, for more than a year. We recently moved to a new place, and it's still going strong.

If you don't have an Ikea near you (Ikea really has the cheapest prices on them), sometimes Home Depot runs a two-for or a three-for special on fluorescent bulbs.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2002 at 7:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree that lightbulbs don't seem to last as long as they used to. Partly because of that I too use mostly flourescent lighting these days. I get more light for less electricity used. For incandescent bulbs I'd long made a habit of stocking up when they were on sale and now have more than I'll probably need for years to come. Quite frankly I think the store brands were generally more satisfactory IMO but I haven't bought any in at least a year and a half.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2002 at 11:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just bought the compact mini fluorescent lights for my ceiling fan and ceiling fixtures. They were 4 for 8.97 at Home depot. Only problem is they were the 60 watt equivalent. I wanted something like the 40 watt range, but they are still only sold in packs of 1 and are pretty high. They also say they have a 5 year I AM keeping my receipts and will see if that is true. The other bulbs do burn out really fast in the overhead fixtures. Also...some of the regular lights say do not use in fixtures where they are pointing down. That might be part of your problems.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 8:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

they may cost less and consume less energy, but exposure to fluroescent bulbs causes the production of "free radicals" in your body -- unstable oxygen molecules that are capable of damaging body cells -- which have been linked to cataracts, Parkinson's, cancer and many more unpleasant conditions.

besides, they give me headaches.

if you insist on using them, please stock up on vitamins C and E, beta carotene and selenium... all are antioxidants that help neutralize the damage caused by free radicals. the same goes for people who don't wear sunglasses (UV rays) and smokers. :o)

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 10:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Never heard of that free radical stuff. do you have any journal references for me to refer to?

Bought a GE flourescent and it lasted no more than a week. Haven't tried returning it since I figured that you can't return light bulbs. I kinda figured it was like returning underwear, or a soggy head of lettuce.. You just can't do that.

I don't know if you can light up an entire house with the energy costs of a single 100 w incandescent. The equivalent of a 100w incandescent is a 20 watt flourescent, so that makes a 5:1 ratio. I have more that 5 light sockets in my house that I use. Even for a 13 w flourescent - I still have more than 8 lights that I use in the house.

People would normally leave on flourescents on longer that incandescents since they think they are using less energy.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 1:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good point on leaving them on longer, tony. I do just that but not because in overall terms it's cheaper than using incandescents for shorter periods but because I crave light, I have plants that need light and flourescent is good for them, and I can have lots more light and still afford it. Personal needs definitely influence the choice of light bulb used. I too am interested in references on the damage flourescents do; the old ones did give me headaches but the new ones don't; my DS is still bothered by the new ones, he says he can even hear them. Glad I'm not that sensitive. I have 2 bulbs I intend to return because they didn't last like they were supposed to; it states right on the pkg to return them to the store if they fail within the first year.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 2:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

everyone interested... here are some links for you to peruse. it's difficult to find specific information on free radicals because chemically they have also been responsible for the creation of things like polyethylene, Plexiglass and other polymers, been connected with global warming, etc.

from the last link... "UV rays oxidize skin cells, releasing free radicals that damage cell membranes and destroy genetic material.... Indoor fluorescent lighting also emits UVA rays."

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Can't take everything at face value. Here's an "article" about lupus that mentions that fluorescent bulbs emit UVB.

Here's a study from the National Radiological Protection Board (UK):

Here are the scare tactics from someone who has a product to sell:

I have found several other Lupus related sites that state "...standard acrylic diffuser panels commonly used in fluorescent lighting fixtures filter out virtually all UVB and UVA rays..."

For me, a simple 11-15 watt lamp will never give out enough energy to do any real harm to an otherwise healthy individual. It's not like people stand 3 inches from the light source. People who work in office buildings spend 8-10 hours every day underneath fluorescent lights. I think that in the many decades that we have had these bulbs that if something was really amiss it would have surfaced by now.

I'm not going to worry about it.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 6:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

well Brian, i guess that helps explain why the incidence of disease is at such a high rate nowadays. i'm glad your blind eye is there to protect you.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 6:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks to all who responded. Splinter: I had forgotten about the health issues connected to flourescent lighting...thanks for reminding me. I have worked under flourescent lights for about 24 years now.

I think I -am- still going to purchase the compact flourescents for my basement and for a couple of other places but will remain with the regular bulbs in lamps and ceiling lights where I spend a lot of time. A CFL bulb is definitely going in my overhead bathroom light....changing bulbs in it brings out the absolute worst in a person. :-)

Will check out the prices at Home Depot when I can. Closest is a 45 minute drive for me.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 7:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

thanks for referencing those sites, splinter and Brian. I don't turn on the flourescents in my office. I have two desk lamps that I turn on and fortunately I have floor to ceiling windows. The lamps are facing upwards to cast indirect light into my office. I never did like the harsh look of flourescents and these websites will justify my not turning them on ever again. Not even those daylight or full spectrum lights are that great.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 7:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Egad! Those floor to ceiling windows are letting in TONS of UV light, much more than the fluorescent lights you've turned off.

And don't even THINK about going outside. Do you know how much UV there is in sunlight?!?


Sorry to extend this thread's silliness.

There are lots of resources on the web about the compact fluorescents' light spectrums. There are two factors: the "temperature", which refers to the overall hue of the light (higher "temperature" is a "cooler" or bluer light), and the "CRI" or color rendering index, which tells how faithfully colors are reproduced. The broader the spectrum of light, the better colors will look.

Another variable is the type of ballast: Some are instant start, but may buzz, while others have a delay to start but are quieter.

It's probably worth doing a bit of research before buying bulbs that will be there for five years or more.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I heard that there is a fire station somewhere out in California that has had the same light bulb burning continuously for 47 years. General Electric is trying to get it back so that they can analyze it. They don't want to make the same mistake again.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2002 at 4:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I put GE compacts in my bathroom globes, one of them died within a month. I called GE and after a death hold, they took the information and sent me a coupon for $20.

I buy Comerical Electric Compacts from Home Depot, I use the flood light kind for the can lights in the basement, and just picked up the new ones for fans. I have replaced all of the lights in my house with compacts with the exception of the lights in my fish room, I still use 4 ft strip lights (I can't get the compacts in the proper colors I need for the fish) I also have 2 sodium lights for the outside. I know a lot of people don't like the color from flourescent lights, but check out the new ones. I have cut my electric bill by $20 a month since I changed the bulbs, I have had most of them over a year, so they have paid for themselves already. (I have 4 kids that always leave everything turned on) If you like them, you will save using them. As far as the free radicals..Just another thing among many that is going to kill me. Not that sitting 1 foot from the monitor, breathing the air full of who knows what and drinking the water is not already doing it.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2002 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good one suzyq. Just think if we could figure out how they did it and make our own.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2002 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I read the references you cited, and I didn't see any referece to compact fluorescents (or any fluorescents) causing free radicals. Did you mean to post other links?

I'll definitely admit that the visible blinking of the old fluoroescents caused headaches, though. Doesn't seem to be a problem with compact fluoroescents.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2002 at 9:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I found a quite small screw in fluorescent (15 watt=850 lumens) by someone labeling it "Lights of America" "6 year".

It is small enough to fit into all my fixtures. I think they make one smaller. The quality of light is comparable or better than the coiled compact fluorescents and the cheaper tube fluorescents.

Back in the '60s when I was in collage we sometimes risk our lives to free the radicals. Freeing the radicals were good back then. :->

    Bookmark   October 14, 2002 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been changing out as many regular bulbs to compact fluoresents as I can, however reading the packaging you have to be careful, some brands can't be installed sideways, some can't be in an enclosed fixture, some can't be used with dimmers, etc. All in all I'm happy with what I have replaced so far and no longer feel as guilty if I leave a light on using 11 watts rather than 60 or 70.
I just wished they would work outside below zero in the winter so I could install them in the porch fixtures, and that they'd work with photo-cells which they don't.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2002 at 7:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The biggest thing you might want to look out for with fluorescents are that they are usually required to be disposed of as hazardous waste, as they contain mercury. They are often banned from solid waste disposal - check with your local trash company for information for your area.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2002 at 10:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


no, i did not mean to post other links. my main point was that fluorescent lights (tubes) emit UV rays, as does the sun. UV rays release free radicals from skin cells, which damage cell membranes. the other links showed what free radical damage can do to your body. i don't know if the same holds true for compact fluorescents.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2002 at 11:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Thankfully the sun's rays doesn't shine directly onto me but the wall opposite my desk. It does get hot in here, but our windows have a uv tint to it and it is supposed to block out UV rays, but don't know how much and what kind. I think the benefits of sunshine are just as good if not better than any harmful UV rays that i might encounter in an otherwise thankless office environment (ie job), especially in the winter months.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2002 at 12:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, you can return ANYTHING, including light bulbs and lettuce. I've returned ice cream that has freezer burn.

The only concern I've come across w/r/t compact (or other) fluorescents is radiation emanating from the gases within the tubes. One can purchase "shielded" CFs to mitigate the radiation.

Other than that, I use silent, economical, un-lethal compact fluorescents in every possible light socket, including the one on my range-hood. There are lights I keep switched on for security purposes, and the CFs help keep the energy bill down. I also enjoy the satisfaction of not using those incandescent bulbs designed to burn out every few months. What a rip-off.

The reason I'm here is to ask if anyone is acquainted with FULL SPECTRUM CFs or incandescents, and if so, do they like them, and can they recommend a brand, or which type might be better. I want to use them for artwork. I'd prefer FS CFs, for obvious reasons, but if the FS incandescents are better (such as Chromalux and Verilux) I'll use those.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2003 at 9:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Daisy, I'm not familiar with FS CFs. But I do have the incandescent GE reveal bulbs. I'm very pleased with the color. It's very blue (like daylight) compared to the orange of ordinary incandescents. They're not cheap, but not too expensive either. They're much cheaper than "daylight" incandescents that I've seen in catalogs. I got them at HD.

If you're willing to change the light fixture, there are many many full spectrum tube florescents on the market. The choices will make your head spin. Many are marketed for aquariums. But, I find that the ones marketed as grow lights are less expensive (depending, again, on where you shop.) I got mine at HD. The best advice I can give you when shopping is to take Eric's advice above about temperature and CRI. The boxes usually have pictures to make it less complicated.

Just a word about free radicals: I studied MUCHO chemistry in college, and actually know a little about free radicals. Without making your heads spin, let me just say this: the foods we eat probably cause the release of more free radicals than the little bit of UV from a light bulb. The poor American diet and lack of exercise is also probably more a factor than all other health concerns combined. Furthermore, plastic blocks UV radiation. So, if you have plastic diffusers over your florescent bulbs at work, you should be okay. And if you don't have plastic covers, the radiation is very minimal compared to the sun anyway. I'm probably getting more UV radiation by sitting in front of a glass window than I would get over my entire lifetime sitting under florescent lights with plastic light diffusers. I've never heard of anyone getting skin cancer from florescent lights. Have you? If so, everyone would be wearing sun block to work. :)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2003 at 5:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We've been changing lightbulbs left and right here in our apartment. I think it's contributed to one of two things, if not both: dirty power (which sometimes causes surges, flickering, etc.) and too high a watt bulb in a socket that is meant to accommodate something lower. Maybe we need to get three inches from the light source to be able to see what watt bulb it is. I'll put my sunglasses on first, tho. ; )

I have a small flourescent light at work - too far away from windows and people usually keep the blinds closed. The light is a marked improvement over a dark cube - I proofread a lot of fine print and other materials so I need to be able to see. I wonder, however, why houseplants love flor. lighting, however, and it is supposedly bad for humans. Interesting. Anyone care to answer?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2003 at 8:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


plants love fluorescent lighting because it emits UV rays, similar to the sun. and we all know (ad nauseam) how the sun's rays aren't great for us. :o)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2003 at 10:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I buy my light bulbs from a lighting contractor (they sell fixtures) or my electrician. They cost a little more, but last a whole lot longer than those I get at Wal Mart, Lowe's, grocery store, etc.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2003 at 12:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Splinter, I'm sorry, but I can't say it any other way: you are 100% wrong. Let me "enlighten" you. Plants use visible light to carry out photosynthesis. For those who don't know, visible light is just one type of energy along the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum also contains UV rays, x-rays, and gamma rays (all of which are higher in energy than the visible light,) and infrared, microwaves, and radio waves (all of which are lower in energy than visible light.) Why do plants depend only on visible light? According to one theory, the longer wavelenghths of energy (IR, etc) may not be strong enough to excite the molecules of photosynthesis, and the shorter wavelenghths of energy (UV, etc) may be too strong, and actually break chemical bonds of the molecules. Anyway, the fact remains: plants DO NOT use UV radiation; they only use visible light.

So, why do plants love florescent lights? I would say that they don't LOVE florescent lights, so much as they HATE incandescent lights. The reason, I would guess (which is an educated guess based on real science, not quack science,) is that florescent light more closely emulates sunlight (at least the visible light portion of sunlight.) Chlorophyll absorbs a high amount of blue and violet light, very little green, and a large amount of red, orange, and yellow (although, not as much as blue and violet.) Incandescent lights have a short supply of blue and violet; they are mostly orange, although they do emit all colors to some degree. Florescents also emit all colors, and although they emit a lot of green, they also emit a more balanced amount of blue, violet, yellow, red, and orange. And, of course, if you buy a full spectrum florescent, you will get an even more balanced spectrum, for even happier plants.

Another factor to consider is that florecents emit more lumens of light than incandescents, in general, and also emit less heat than incandescents. Houseplants generally do not do well in dry environments, and incandescents light can dry out a plant just by virtue of the heat that they produce.

Finally, splinter, if you still believe that plants thrive on UV, then why are grow lights full spectrum, instead of just black lights? Black lights are, after all, UV lights with a little blue violet thrown in so the operator can see that they are on, since UV is not visible to the naked eye.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2003 at 10:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


in fact, my post was a (somewhat) educated guess. i suppose i should have put it forth as such. thank you ever so much for "enlightening" me. somehow, i don't feel quite as dumb.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2003 at 9:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Windchime, splinter, et al,

That's what we come here for - to get enlightened.

Uncle Ed

P.S. (Without throwing rocks). EB

    Bookmark   January 23, 2003 at 12:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hehehe, point well taken, joyful. :o)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2003 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Talk about alot of replies!I bought a flourescent for my living room nine years ago and it is still going strong.I read that they last if they are not turned on and off frequently.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2003 at 6:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i have to agree with splinter. if you do your research you will find it is all true. you might be saving money now, but your health will make you pay later guaranteed. also people that work with aquarium lights, black lights, and germicidal light

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Flurescent lights do not emit significant UV radiation, their design makes it impossible. They're a glass tube containing a small quantity of mercury and inert gas, coated internally with phosphor, and with a cathode at each end.

When the power is turned on the cathode bombards the mercury with electrons, this raises the energy state of the mercury and it becomes a vapour. However, the higher energy state is unstable and the mercury atoms return to their original state by throwing out the excess energy as photons. These photons are predominantly in the UV range. The phosphor coating adsorbs the UV photons, increasing its energy state much like the mercury did and then returns to its original state by throwing out a harmless photon in the visible spectrum. In the very unlikely event some photons in the UV range were missed by the phosphor coating, the ordinary glass used to make the tubes adsorbs much of the UV spectrum anyway and turns it in to heat.

Lacking a phosphor coating, your incandescent light bulbs are actually emitting *more* UV radiation than flurescent bulbs - although it still isn't enough to be a health risk to you, and much of it will also be adsorbed by the glass bulb.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 5:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi all,

Is it true, then, that those who live with glass tubes ...

... shouldn't throw rocks?

Especially since, should the glass tubes be fluorescent light ones, their breakage would release (even minute quantities of) harmful mercury?

Whether they are straight, or spiral, I imagine.


Can't seem to turn around, any more, without causing some kind of trouble.

As more even more complex chemicals are discovered ...

... and more widely distributed ...

... and there's even more pollution of air and water ...

... who can claim that we won't have to deal with even more cancer and other nasty diseases, as many of them surely will be human-undriendly?

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 6:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Fluorescent and incandescent lights both emit light in the 400-700 nm wavelength. Any effects for one are the same as the other.

Saving electricity will help deter global warming ( if you believe ) and lessen pollution ( no controversy ) and are therefore good for you and everyone else.

Sunlight exposure produces vitamin D --- much better than popping pills and not only does that strengthen bones but very likely reduces your risk of cancer.

Websites that post health stories that are not from peer reviewed journals should be avoided. They are bad for your health.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 7:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A lot of people are under the impression that the modern world is toxic, that our environment is bad for us, full of toxins and free radicals.

At the same time they say this, humans are enjoying the longest average life spans in history.

How can we be wrecking our health, I see so many improvements to public health with each year, many of them directly or indirectly caused by the technology they're telling me is unhealthy.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 6:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have gone through your discussion about Light Bulbs.Its very useful and thanks for providing this information.

Here is a link that might be useful: light bulbs

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 8:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

An electrical distributor can get you 130v design incandescent that will be reasonable priced and last much longer than the standard 120v bulb. Slight loss of lumen's - minimal, unnoticed by most people because its not actually operating at design voltage but a significant increase in hours or bulb life.

But compact fluorescent is savings lots of energy, 4 - 5 times the lumen output per watt over incandescents,, with of course a higher bulb cost and significantly longer average life. Fluorescent lumen's depreciate as it ages though and cold ambient starting is slow until the bulb wall temperature increases to nearer optimum temps.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 2:37PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
I would like to start checking out coupons to save...
alameda/zone 8
Quite a few made big savings on Amazon
Due to a quirk in their pricing software ... quite...
hail damage
is it necessary to have hail damage insurance in MN...
kitchen sink size???
What is the best size for a kitchen sink? I am thinking...
Saving money when using an air condiioner or dehumidifier
This will actually save you money only if you pay for...
Sponsored Products
Lamp International | Sibilla Six Light Chandelier Li1134
Francoise Row Light - Five Lights
Signature Hardware
White Cotton Drum Cylinder Shade 8x8x11 (Spider)
$19.99 | Lamps Plus
Serena & Lily Lila Lamp
Serena & Lily
Millbridge Swag Light Oil Rubbed Bronze
$92.95 | Bellacor
Bromi Design Orion 1 Light Pendant Chrome - B7902
$100.80 | Hayneedle
Minka Lavery Paradox Modern Contempo Flush Mount
Bronze and Antique Brass Elkins Sconce
$293.90 | Bellacor
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™