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Old 10-24-2007, 07:56 PM   #21
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CFLs, like all fluorescent lamps contain small amounts of mercury and it is a concern for landfills and waste incinerators where the mercury from lamps may be released and contribute to air and water pollution.

Any idea how to dispose of them when they die?
Raygun: Is there a reason your nouns have hyperlinks?
Anyway:

My county has a "hazardous waste collection day" once per month, they'll accept these bubs and all kinds of other stuff.

On a note related to CFLs: I was surprised to learn that CFLs are much more energy efficient than LEDs. Present generation LEDs available for home lighting give approx 20 lumens/watt, a CFL gives 45-60 lumens per watt. Want to save the earth? Replace your fixtures: the frumpy T-8 4' tubular fluorescents give 85-95 lumens/watt. For comparison, a 100W incandescent bulb gives 17 lumens/watt.

I'm sure LED-based lighting will improve, but right now it costs much more than CFLs, is less energy efficient, and the light quality (color rendering) is worse. At least at present the LED-based lights seem to be a good bet only as long-lasting energy-efficient replacements for incandescent/halogen lights in highly directional applications.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:15 PM   #22
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But don't you end up with mercury in the land fill? Does that polute the water table.. No one is talking too much about disposal.. Only energy .. Wonder how much the clean up will cost if it get to be a hazardous waste?
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:45 PM   #23
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But don't you end up with mercury in the land fill? Does that polute the water table.. No one is talking too much about disposal.. Only energy .. Wonder how much the clean up will cost if it get to be a hazardous waste?
Check into recycling the bulbs--it can be done fairly easily in most populated places. Regarding the mercury--yes, it is nasty stuff, but using CFL bulbs reduces mercury in the environment if your power is produced from coal (as most US electricity is) A CFL contains approx 4 mg of mercury. To power it over its lifetime, a coal plant will release another 3 mg of mercury. To power an incandescent bulb over the same timeframe would release 10 mg of mercury.

Since the 1980s, most landfills have been constructed with liners of various types as well as leachate collection systems. These are not foolproof and mercury from various sources in landfills can still contaminate groundwater. Still, I'd guess that most of the mercury in a broken fluorescent bulb ends up evaporating and therefore in the air--just as it would have from a coal-fired power plant. From there it can contaminate the environment in various ways. So, use CFL bulbs and recycle them when they die. If your county/municipality doesn't have a recycling program, ask them to start one (and tell them you'll leave your HAZMAT in boxes outside government buildings until they do. Just kidding!)
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Old 10-24-2007, 10:35 PM   #24
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I had been looking for the dimmable CFLs for months, I even contacted GE. They told me that WalMart, Lowes, Target and Home Depot should have them in soon. I found them at WalMart a few weeks ago and I bought 4 of the 15 watt (60 Watt equivalent). They are called GE Energy Smart Dimmable and they were $11.77 each.

I've put them into 2 different ceiling fan light fixtures. The store also sold a larger wattage version but those did not fit in our fixtures. I'm very pleased with the brightness level and the color of the lighting. The only drawback is that our ceiling fans and their lights are on remote controls. You have to hold the button longer than normal and when the light comes on it's not the full brightness. It's not in a dimmed mode, it's just that the CFL takes a while to fully light. After about 30-60 seconds (I haven't timed it, I just know that it's a noticeable pause) the light is full and very bright.

I thought the cost was high ($25 for 2 bulbs including tax, per fixture ) but I had been looking for these for a while and really wanted to try them. One of my pet peeves is when my husband and sons leave lights on in empty rooms. With these being CFLs I'm far less bothered ...... even though it cost $50 to put them in.

I'm thinking that in the long run it's worth it.

Our city has it's own electric company and twice a year they give us free lightbulbs. When CFLs were very new our city started giving them out as an option. I've been sold on them for at least 10-12 years, using them originally in the light over the kitchen table. We've had them long enough that we have had a few burn out.
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Old 10-25-2007, 03:12 AM   #25
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I've heard that putting CFLs into enclosed fixtures is a bad idea. Anybody know why? And anybody doing it with long-term success?
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Old 10-25-2007, 04:41 AM   #26
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Yes, I have a number of CFL's in enclosed fixtures, and no problems. In fact, even less problems due to so much less heat produced...
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Old 10-25-2007, 08:52 AM   #27
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I've heard that putting CFLs into enclosed fixtures is a bad idea. Anybody know why? And anybody doing it with long-term success?
Dunno, but recently replaced a CFL in a 2-bulb enclosed kitchen ceiling light that had gone bad. It was paired with an incandescent (my idea - instant on + efficiency). The plastic CFL base was deformed and discolored from the heat. Guessing that the CFL wasn't up to the heat produced by the incandescent and failed.
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Old 10-25-2007, 09:16 AM   #28
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I really wonder about some of the comments that people have replaced 70% or more of their incandescent bulbs. Unless your usage is far different from mine, this could be bad for the environment.

As RunningBum said, incandescents are best in some applications. I also hope they are not banned.

The savings (and mercury offset from a coal plant) are based on using the bulb for something like 3 hours a day. I have not seen real good numbers on this, but clearly a CFL takes MORE energy and resources to produce and recycle than to just produce an incandescent - it's heavier, uses more glass, has embedded electronic circuits, etc. So, if you only use it only occasionally, your net energy use, and impact on the environment is very likely to be negative.

One morning, after reading about ideas to ban incandescents, I walked through our house as I had my morning cup of coffee. I tallied up the light bulbs. Of course, I can't find that sheet now, but it was an exaggerated Pareto Principle. I'd say just 10% of our lights are actually used the most, and several of those I have already put CFLs in. One is a long-tube fluorescent, which is even more efficient. Some of the others are on dimmers, and I'm not changing the dimmer, or paying $10 each for a dimable CFL.

I don't think replacing closet bulbs, or any other bulb that is used for just minutes/day on average makes economic or environmental sense. Of course, that won't stop our politicians from banning the incandescents, because it is such a 'feel good' measure, rather than anything truly constructive. Just what they are best at - and the public eats it up.

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Old 10-25-2007, 09:25 AM   #29
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My ideal spot was my living room where I have two wall sconces, with an up light and a down light each. I turn those lights on from dark til bed time. I put one in and it worked fine, though the light wasn't as soft as I'd have liked. Put the other 3 in, and all 4 just get a weak flicker and never come on. Why would this be? Is the fixture not giving enough power?
RB, is that circuit on any sort of electronic timer? My outside lights are on one. That timer needs a small 'trickle current' to keep it active. It gets that in an incandescent light - the element provides a current path even when 'off'. CFLs do not provide a path like that because of the electronic circuit in them.

My 'solution' was to put one or two 25W incandescents on that circuit (there are six outside lights total for me, 2 at the front door, 4 around the garage doors), and the remaining 4 are CFLS. That worked fine. W/o at least one regular bulb in there to provide the path, the timer would just flash on/off. I've seen that with light sensing ones too (on/off at dusk).

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Old 10-25-2007, 10:20 AM   #30
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RB, is that circuit on any sort of electronic timer? My outside lights are on one. That timer needs a small 'trickle current' to keep it active. It gets that in an incandescent light - the element provides a current path even when 'off'. CFLs do not provide a path like that because of the electronic circuit in them.

My 'solution' was to put one or two 25W incandescents on that circuit (there are six outside lights total for me, 2 at the front door, 4 around the garage doors), and the remaining 4 are CFLS. That worked fine. W/o at least one regular bulb in there to provide the path, the timer would just flash on/off. I've seen that with light sensing ones too (on/off at dusk).

-ERD50
Thanks for the reply, but no timer. And unfortunately it's at my other house so I won't be able to try or check anything (like seeing what else is on the circuit) for a couple more months, but if you or anyone else has another suggestion I'd definitely check it out then.

Probably my best hope will be to contact the electrician who wired the house. I was just hoping for some tip like yours that might apply to what I'm seeing.
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:32 AM   #31
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Thanks for the reply, but no timer. And unfortunately it's at my other house so I won't be able to try or check anything (like seeing what else is on the circuit) for a couple more months, but if you or anyone else has another suggestion I'd definitely check it out then.

Probably my best hope will be to contact the electrician who wired the house. I was just hoping for some tip like yours that might apply to what I'm seeing.
Strange. No dimmer ether, I assume?

It is unlikely to be low voltage at the sockets. The reg bulbs draw more power, so they would load the circuit, and lower the voltage more than the CFLs. So, one CFL and 3 reg bulbs would be the worst case loading on the circuit. That should make the one CFL flicker if it was a load problem on that circuit.

But just for grins, when you get back, try 1, then 2, and then 3 CFLs with the rest reg. That might tell you something. You can also get a cheap meter to check the voltage. Maybe one high output CFL and one low watt reg bulb in each fixture would work for you?

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Old 10-25-2007, 10:35 AM   #32
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Any chance that if you turn the switch to the lights off and on any of the bulbs not lit up before start up?
I have seen that if the bulb has a bad balist.
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:44 AM   #33
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I'm pretty sure there is a dimmer on the circuit, but definitely not on this switch.

I know when I tried one CFL and 3 regular it worked fine. I don't think I tried 2 or 3 CFL.

I could try each CFL with 3 regular to make sure all of the CFLs are good. It did kind of seem like a ballast issue if they have the same symptoms as flourescents, where they will kind of flicker for awhile before going on, or just staying in flicker. I was thinking that one bad ballast shouldn't affect the other CFLs. I did try off and on, and leaving it on for a few minutes, no change.

Mixing one of each probably would be ok if it works. I'd have to see how it looks with different light qualities between top and bottom. Both top and bottom are open so there shouldn't be a heat issue like the one poster had.

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:01 AM   #34
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I'm pretty sure there is a dimmer on the circuit, but definitely not on this switch.
.
It just might be possible that a nearby dimmer is creating some line noise that is interfering with the CFLs. The reg bulbs could be absorbing that noise (being a resistive load). So, as you replace reg bulbs with CFL, the noise increases, and finally starts the CFLs into flickering.

Just a theory, and a pretty weak one, but it could be.

Let us know if you find out - I'm getting curious now!

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Old 10-25-2007, 11:18 AM   #35
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We tried CFLs perhaps 8 yrs ago, buying around 2 dozen bulbs of various wattages (from what I recall most were made by an outfit called Feit Electric).

It was a horrible experience. Most of the bulbs were very dim relative to their alleged "wattage equivalent" in the incandescent world, several buzzed, two "smoked" when their ballast resistors caught fire. We found that they worked very poorly in outdoor/garage fixtures when it was cold out. We eventually switched back to incandescents as the CFLs failed. I think now, 8 yrs later or so, perhaps 3 or 4 of the original 2 dozen or so CFLs are still alive and well.

I see now that perhaps we were early to the game with CFLs and despite prior experience I might try again at some point.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:19 AM   #36
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ERD50

Yes... I think you are probably right on the less used lights... I have 4 naked bulbs in a toilet room... have been there since the previous owner which is 20 years ago... I am amazed that not even one has gone out as the lights are used at least once a day and sometimes more... but only for a short time (well, sometimes longer, but TMI)...
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:33 AM   #37
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Spouse is really looking forward to mainstream LEDs...
I wanted to replace our 17 year old buzzing fluorescent kitchen undercabinet lights, two of three missing their diffuser covers, with LED's since we leave the dang things on almost all the time. There was nothing at the major hardware stores and what I found online was about $100 per 'bar'.

I happened to be in walmart and stopped to look at some outdoor CFL's for my front lighting and saw three packs of LED "pucks" for $19 each. The pucks wire directly to 120v without a transformer and have little mini-usb type 'daisy chain' cables so you can hook them up in series. I bought three packs for under $60.

I replaced two 17w and a 13w fluorescent bars with 2, 3 and 4 puck 'strings', cut the ends off the 120v cord and wired them in with a small plastic junction box, stapled up the cords, and voila...cheap LED lighting. Theres about a 3" recessed lip around the bottom of the cabinets, so you have to stick your head under the cabinet to see, but while it looks unconventional its not unattractive.

The pucks look to have about 25 white led's, and they take 2.5w per puck. So its about 22.5 watts total replacing 47w of fluorescent. Seems to me that they throw quite a bit more light. Its sort of a stark, cold light but I actually like it quite a bit. I like that if I want a little more light I could just stick another puck under the cabinet and daisy chain it to the existing set, couple of staples, done.

Wife Acceptance Factor is very good. Due to the energy savings, I've been able to lower my pants about 1" below the armpits and am now allowing some kids to play on my lawn.

Heres what they look like: LED Accent Lights Category Menu

My wife also has this mild dissatisfaction with fluorescent replacements, but also doesnt notice when I replace one and dont tell her.

I actually like that CFL's take a half minute or so to fully warm up. Its nice to not be blasted in the face by full wattage when flipping on a light in the middle of the night.

I also put in a 250w equivalent Fluorex fixture out back, and it completely lights up our very big back yard. Its supposed to provide a light similar to sunlight and be the warmest artificial lighting, but it looks more like a fluorescent to me than sunlight. Not displeasing though, and no buzzing or funny color effects like sodium or mercury lamps.
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:40 PM   #38
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ERD,

I agree about "CFL's in appropriate places, only". The places where we rarely use light have not received the CFL upgrade. Specifically, the laundry nook, foyer, and outside lights. I've also heard that temperature and humidity extremes can impact CFL lifespans and quality, hence another reason I don't have them installed outside.
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Old 10-25-2007, 03:00 PM   #39
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I've also heard that temperature and humidity extremes can impact CFL lifespans and quality, hence another reason I don't have them installed outside.
My oldest CFLs are the ones that I installed outside a long time ago. All are still working as good today as they did back then.
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Old 10-25-2007, 03:34 PM   #40
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My oldest CFLs are the ones that I installed outside a long time ago. All are still working as good today as they did back then.
Ditto - we have them in wall sconces along our apartment walkways - they are on a timer that has them on about 13 hours (evening to early morning). Very few failures - slower to come to full bright when it's cold, but no flicker or problem once they've hit their stride. They are getting better - used to be i had 4' flourescents in the garage and they were miserable in the cold.
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