Sunday, March 07, 2010

another review of CFL's

Well, it is getting warmer - or at least less cold. If you are at all concerned with your electric bill, one of the things you probably consider is whether to switch to compact fluorescent lights (CFL's) I write this at the end of winter, since any extra heat from your lights in the winter is no problem, as it merely warms your home. In the summer, which will be here soon, extra heat must be pumped out by your AC, so a 100 watt incandescent bulb actually costs you for about 120 watts of electricity.

I have written about this subject in the past:
In my first article I recommended them and warned that LED lights are still not ready for household use. In the second article, I clarified that I didn't mean to go out and buy one for every light in the house, discussed improvements they have made in quality of light and size of the bulbs. And in the third article, I said that I am still not satisfied with the state of the art, that they need to get a little smaller yet, but that it may put a little green in your pockets if you switch some of your bulbs. I have switched about half of mine.

So, here is this year's update:

Most of us have pretty good electric rates this year, so I am of the opinion that this isn't too critical yet, and anyone who thinks they don't want to buy CFL's this year won't really lose a lot. And for that matter, I am disappointed in how little progress there has been in the quality of CFL's. They are still half an inch or so longer than their incandescent counterparts (I thought I found some that were the same size, but am very disappointed with the quality of the light output).

On the other hand, the price has come down, so you can get good quality CFL's for $3 or 4$ each (the ones I bought that I didn't like the quality of were 6 for $10, so stick to brands you trust) rather than the $6 to $8 they used to cost. Don't believe the reports you hear of them quitting after only a month or so, those people either had an ax to grind, or were just extremely unlucky. I have bought about two dozen over the last 10 years, and use dozens of them at work, and I have only had one of mine, and maybe a couple at work, die prematurely. Buy four at a time, from a descent quality name brand, and the economics should work in your favor.

LED lights are still not ready for home use, except if you find the little 1/4 watt LED night lights for a couple dollars. Those seem to be good. And a friend of mine has had good luck with LED Christmas lights. But overall, I only recommend them for things that run on batteries, and I will write more about that later.

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