Let’s talk about compact fluorescents

28 03 2008

You must have heard it a million times: The only sure-fire way to save energy with very little trade-off is to replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. Let’s talk about it.

My living room has unfortunately become a graveyard of CFL experimentation. Last summer, we bought 6 very expensive ($24 each!) dimmable CFL’s (2700˚, 8,000 hour rated) for the recessed fixtures in our living room. They looked great and there was very little noticeable difference between the previous incandescents and these. Unqualified success right?

Fast forward 10 months and 2 are burned out already (by my calculations, they have been on fewer than 2,000 hours (6 hours/day x 7 days x week x 42 weeks). We replaced them with less expensive (but non-dimmable) CFL’s from Lowe’s but they buzz when my toddler dims them and the quality of the light is not as good.

So now my husband is on the hunt for the perfect CFL’s for our house. One very interesting fact he uncovered is that the spiral kind thumbnail_fc23-feiis23w27-100x.jpg doesn’t distribute heat very well in recessed fixtures and we’d be better off with the reflector kind thumbnail_reflector-cat-100x.jpg. The always helpful folks at Energy Star also recommend special Energy Star rated 3-way or dimmable bulbs for those applications.

The color of the bulb is also very important. 2700˚K is slightly yellower than incandescent and 3000˚K is slightly whiter. If you want a halogen-type white, choose 3500˚K.

One gripe I have though, is that the stores where I shop for bulbs carry ones without the color listed so I generally have to buy online. I tried to take a pictures of the bulbs to show the color but it didn’t work so here is a good rendition by our friends at Energy Star.

Here are some useful tools I found while searching for bulbs online:

Color rendition chart (1000bulbs.com): Beware, while “full spectrum” may sound appealing, we installed a 5100˚K bulb by mistake and my Living Room instantly looked like a morgue….just one architect’s opinion.

Incandescent replacement bulb selector (topbulb.com): This can get you started if you have absolutely no idea what to get. One caveat – this is the company that sent use the deathmask 5100˚ bulbs instead of the lovely residential 2700˚ bulbs I requested. They did, however, send us the right bulbs after we requested an exchange.

Next we’ll look at LED fixtures. We found (we think) a great LED undercabinet light but we have to purchase one to check the quality of the light.

Stay tuned.

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31 07 2008
How to calculate comparable CFL/incandescent wattage? « brooklyn green

[…] Color: The color is listed by temperature, 2700 degrees is a little yellower than incandescent, 3000 degrees a little whiter. Everything we wanted to say about CFL color, we posted here. […]

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