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Old 08-26-2014, 08:38 AM   #41
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I replaced most incandescents with CFLs about seven years ago. Have had one failure, in a flood-light fixture in a bathroom. Have LED under-cabinet lights in the kitchen.

Hard to pin down the exact energy savings, since I installed radiant barrier, and my DS moved out, all about the same time. But the summer temps around here, and the resulting A/C bills, mean that I save both on lighting, an admittedly small part of my energy usage, and also save on the lower heat output of CFLs.
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:44 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by travelover View Post
I was being somewhat facetious about mercury, but I think that the hazard from CFLs has been overblown, similar to asbestos. It is a long way from grinding asbestos in a ship yard 8 hours a day with no respirator, to shuddering over an undisturbed, well wrapped and sealed pipe in one's basement.

Maybe I'm wrong though. Anyone seen any data indicating a big flare up of mercury poisoning due to CFLs?
I haven't seen any real data on mercury poisoning.

Consider that CFLs made after 2008 have much less mercury than older ones. In a 13 watt CFL the amount ranges from 0.17 milligrams to 3.5 milligrams. California and Europe mandated bulbs to be less than 2.5 milligrams in 2013. Since California is a major consumer in the US, this will drive most US suppliers below this level. The Mercury Myth: How Much Mercury Do CFLs Actually Contain? | EarthTechling

When a CFL breaks the mercury in it becomes a liquid very fast. Due to the vapor pressure of mercury it then releases mercury in to the air very slowly. It can take up to 2.5 months to release it all. Breaking a CFL and not cleaning it up immediately is a bad idea. And as others have pointed out small varmits like kids and pets are at greatest risk to exposure. See proper cleanup and disposal at Cleaning Up a Broken CFL | Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) | US EPA

Even when CFLs had up to 5 milligrams of mercury their use reduced the mercury released into the atmosphere due to burning less coal to power them as opposed to using incandescent bulbs. Just depends on where your electricity comes from.

But the great news is that CFLs are/were just a stepping stone on the way to LED lights which provide the energy savings and no mercury.


ETA: I should have pointed out that the comment about the "mercury in it becomes a liquid very fast", assumes you break the bulb when it's on. If it's off when you break it the mercury is already liquid. Current mercury amounts are so small that if it was all collected in one place it would not cover the head of a ballpoint pen. You need about 5 milligrams to do that. In other words, you are not going to see it if you break a bulb.
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:48 AM   #43
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We have a half bath adjacent to the kitchen. This bathroom has a 6 bulb light fixture above the mirror. Family members are not well trained to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

When I had incandescent bulbs in the bathroom the room would get unreasonably warm and the bulbs would last only about a year or less. I replaced them with CFLs and that help the heat issue.

Next I replaced the light switch with a motion sensor switch with a variable time delay to turn them off. This caused a flickering of the CFLs when no one was in the bathroom and the garage door was open allowing daylight to reflect into the room. This flickering, I think caused a high failure rate of the CFLs.

When LED bulbs of the needed luminosity became available and affordable, I replaced the CFLs with 60w equivalent Cree bulbs.

The flickering stopped but two of the 6 LED bulbs failed within 6 months.

I have replaced the motion sensor light switch with a normal light switch and am waiting. The room does not get warm from the LEDs and I turn off the light when I see it has been left on.

I continue to attempt training family members but I am not optimistic of success.

Electricity usage today is less than before since the majority of the light sockets in my house have LEDs in them.
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:57 AM   #44
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Maybe I'm wrong though. Anyone seen any data indicating a big flare up of mercury poisoning due to CFLs?
Speaking for myself, I wasn't concerned about direct poisoning, I was wondering about the mercury in landfills and groundwater, but that will probably take many generations to manifest.
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Old 08-26-2014, 09:44 AM   #45
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Speaking for myself, I wasn't concerned about direct poisoning, I was wondering about the mercury in landfills and groundwater, but that will probably take many generations to manifest.
This is what I would think is the biggest problem with CFLs. Improper disposal. It's still less mercury in the environment than burning coal to run incandescent bulbs.

But it's a catch 22. You scare people into proper disposal and then they think the CFL bulbs are so dangerous that they keep using incandescent bulbs and cause more mercury to be released into the environment. On they opposite side you convince people they are less of a threat and they start tossing them in the garbage which is still bad.
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:32 AM   #46
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... But the great news is that CFLs are/were just a stepping stone on the way to LED lights which provide the energy savings and no mercury. ...
Agreed, and I just did a little research that indicates that LED efficiency improvements are still ongoing. The LED 'bulb' I just bought to try out is ~ 63 lumens per watt (850L/13.5W), and CREE has lab samples of LEDs at 300L/W - lab is different from 'on the shelf', but at least there is some room to grow, and predictions indicate we will see ~ 2X improvement in the next 10 years. Now that has diminishing returns on energy savings, but it directly relates to heat generation in the 'bulb', and if heat is cut in half, cost comes down (half as many LEDs for the same light), weight and size come down, reliability goes up.

So yes, I think CFLs will fall out of favor in a few years. I wish they'd drop the stupid filament ban, as I'd rather put a super-cheap, reliable filament bulb in my low use sockets than a CFL, and LEDs are still too expensive for those sockets. The 'loop-hole' is to use 'rough service' bulbs in those sockets, those are not banned - and they are less efficient than standard filament bulbs.




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Originally Posted by Brett_Cameron View Post
We have a half bath adjacent to the kitchen. This bathroom has a 6 bulb light fixture above the mirror. Family members are not well trained to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

When I had incandescent bulbs in the bathroom the room would get unreasonably warm and the bulbs would last only about a year or less. I replaced them with CFLs and that help the heat issue.

Next I replaced the light switch with a motion sensor switch with a variable time delay to turn them off. This caused a flickering of the CFLs when no one was in the bathroom and the garage door was open allowing daylight to reflect into the room. This flickering, I think caused a high failure rate of the CFLs.

When LED bulbs of the needed luminosity became available and affordable, I replaced the CFLs with 60w equivalent Cree bulbs.

The flickering stopped but two of the 6 LED bulbs failed within 6 months. ....
Here's a work-around for those types of motion detectors or timers - if you replace 1 or 2 of the CFLs or LEDs with a low wattage filament bulb, that will very likely make the motion detector/timer work properly and eliminate the flickering. Basically, those devices need a small constant load on them when they are 'off' - CFLs and LEDs don't provide the same kind of simple resistive load as a filament does.

That flickering is bad for the device, and bad for the CFL/LEDs. But 1 or 2 small filaments should be enough to provide an 'off' current, and damp out the reactive loads from the CFL/LEDs.

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Originally Posted by Chuckanut View Post
Two thoughts on CFL and LED bulbs and their life expectancy.

According to articles I have read, some of the cheap ones will fail early not because the the light emitting part of the bulb fails but because the electronics that control the bulb fail. I have had CFL's that have lasted barely 2x the life of an incandescent bulb and others that have worked for many times that. ...
Yes, there are electrolytic capacitors that degrade with heat. They may have a life expectancy of only 2000 hours in some designs. Higher life caps cost more, and there is a cost war going on, so it's hard to make an informed purchase, but don't expect anywhere near those 25,000 hour ratings...

Quote:
Second thought: I understand (please correct me if this is wrong) that the published lifespan of the bulb is an statistical midpoint. They line up 100 bulbs, turn them on and when the 50th bulb burns out, that midpoint becomes the expected lifespan of the bulb. So, if you are unlucky enough to buy a bulb that is in the first few percent to fail you will wonder why you bothered. OTOH, if you buy a bulb that is in the last few percent to fail, you will congratulate yourself on a very wise purchase.
It's even worse than that, far worse. Yes, it is based on a median figure, but that figure is NOT based on how long the bulb lasts. It is a measure, based on extrapolation of much shorter test times, as to when half the 'bulbs' will reach 70% brightness. But the test is done over a shorter time, so they may not be hitting the failure modes of the other components.

Those capacitors are fairly well characterized, they have a good idea of how long they will last at elevated temperatures, so they can make reasonable predictions of bulb life based on the components and the temperature they see in an LED bulb. But they are not doing that, they are using this stupid 70% dimming value.

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Old 08-26-2014, 10:47 AM   #47
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And a little geeky 'fun' info - our standard filament bulbs in the US are more efficient than the standard filament bulbs in Europe! With their higher voltage, the filament needs to be longer, and needs more supports, and each support draws away the heat that is needed to create light.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incand...and_resistance

Quote:
Lamps designed for different voltages have different luminous efficacy. For example, a 100-watt, 120-volt lamp will produce about 17.1 lumens per watt. A lamp with the same rated lifetime but designed for 230 V would produce only around 12.8 lumens per watt, and a similar lamp designed for 30 volts (train lighting) would produce as much as 19.8 lumens per watt.[40] Lower voltage lamps have a thicker filament, for the same power rating. They can run hotter for the same lifetime before the filament evaporates.

The wires used to support the filament make it mechanically stronger, but remove heat, creating another tradeoff between efficiency and long life. Many general-service 120-volt lamps use no additional support wires, but lamps designed for "rough service" or "vibration service" may have as many as five. Low-voltage lamps have filaments made of heavier wire and do not require additional support wires.

Very low voltages are inefficient since the lead wires would conduct too much heat away from the filament, so the practical lower limit for incandescent lamps is 1.5 volts. Very long filaments for high voltages are fragile, and lamp bases become more difficult to insulate, so lamps for illumination are not made with rated voltages over 300 volts.[40] Some infrared heating elements are made for higher voltages, but these use tubular bulbs with widely separated terminals.
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Old 08-26-2014, 11:02 AM   #48
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And a little geeky 'fun' info - our standard filament bulbs in the US are more efficient than the standard filament bulbs in Europe! With their higher voltage, the filament needs to be longer, and needs more supports, and each support draws away the heat that is needed to create light.
That's interesting, thanks. Despite the inefficiencies with incandescent bulbs, I'd bet the 230V service produces lower line losses/waste heat overall than the 110V US setup.
I was using an clothes iron in a GE hotel room and was surprised by the impressive arcing when I (inadvisedly) pulled the plug from the wall without assuring it was turned off. There's a reason the poles are so far apart on those plugs!
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Old 08-26-2014, 11:26 AM   #49
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That's interesting, thanks. Despite the inefficiencies with incandescent bulbs, I'd bet the 230V service produces lower line losses/waste heat overall than the 110V US setup.
...
I doubt there's much difference. I'm pretty sure most European homes are single phase 230, while most US homes are 110 two phase, which is really just distributed as 220V with a center tap - so very similar in that regard. And most of the distance covered is done at higher voltages in both cases.

The losses internally in the home are minor. A 100W bulb, 250' from the panel (500' of 14 ga wire) would lose 0.86% in the home wiring (1.25 ohms in wire / 144 ohms in bulb - I used 120V for that calc). I'd also assume that they use the next smaller ga wire size in Europe, since currents are lower for the same power, so even these very small losses are probably in the same ballpark (pitch?).

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Old 08-26-2014, 12:55 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Brett_Cameron View Post
We have a half bath adjacent to the kitchen. This bathroom has a 6 bulb light fixture above the mirror. Family members are not well trained to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

When I had incandescent bulbs in the bathroom the room would get unreasonably warm and the bulbs would last only about a year or less. I replaced them with CFLs and that help the heat issue.

Next I replaced the light switch with a motion sensor switch with a variable time delay to turn them off. This caused a flickering of the CFLs when no one was in the bathroom and the garage door was open allowing daylight to reflect into the room. This flickering, I think caused a high failure rate of the CFLs.

When LED bulbs of the needed luminosity became available and affordable, I replaced the CFLs with 60w equivalent Cree bulbs.

The flickering stopped but two of the 6 LED bulbs failed within 6 months
You need motion sensor switches that are specifically compatible with CFL or LED bulbs. There are several available as well as dimmers and timers.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005WM392C/...ter_B00IJRIQMU
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Old 08-27-2014, 05:36 AM   #51
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Maybe I'm wrong though.
The risk isn't absolute - the risk depends on weight. A 170 pound man would need to be exposed to 34 mg to be at risk. A 7 pound cat would need to be exposed to only 7 mg. There's more mercury than that in two CFLs. While one animal won't absorb the entirety of the mercury released from a broken CFL, the mercury accumulates. Furthermore, we already have to contend with the degradation of the food supply (both human food and cat food) in terms of mercury concentrations. The combination of the two effects is very troubling.
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Old 08-27-2014, 06:53 AM   #52
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Just bought 4 4-pack CFLs for $1.99/pack at Costco. There was a automatic rebate at the register from the local electric company. That comes to $.50/bulb for the 16 bulbs. That's at least 16 CFLs for the cost of 1 LED. I couldn't pass up the deal and I have a few places with burned out bulbs that need replacing. I may have to go back for a few more packs before the deal expires. There are about 50 light bulbs in the house that will need replacing at sometime in the future.

Cheers!
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Old 08-27-2014, 07:27 AM   #53
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Just bought 4 4-pack CFLs for $1.99/pack at Costco. There was a automatic rebate at the register from the local electric company. That comes to $.50/bulb for the 16 bulbs. That's at least 16 CFLs for the cost of 1 LED. I couldn't pass up the deal and I have a few places with burned out bulbs that need replacing. I may have to go back for a few more packs before the deal expires. There are about 50 light bulbs in the house that will need replacing at sometime in the future.

Cheers!
Oh sure, you are happy now, but what about in a couple of years when the mercury in those bulbs kills you and all your pets?
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Old 08-27-2014, 08:47 AM   #54
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The risk isn't absolute - the risk depends on weight. A 170 pound man would need to be exposed to 34 mg to be at risk. A 7 pound cat would need to be exposed to only 7 mg. There's more mercury than that in two CFLs. While one animal won't absorb the entirety of the mercury released from a broken CFL, the mercury accumulates. Furthermore, we already have to contend with the degradation of the food supply (both human food and cat food) in terms of mercury concentrations. The combination of the two effects is very troubling.
A CFL bulb has 0.4-0.7 mg of mercury.
Separating Myth From Fact on CFL and LED Light Bulbs: Five Concerns Addressed – The Great Energy Challenge Blog
snopes.com: CFL Mercury Light Bulbs

Mercury is excreted pretty quickly from the body. I wouldn't recommend adding chopped CFL bulbs to your salad for extra crunch, but the risks are still exaggerated a bit.
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Old 08-27-2014, 08:47 AM   #55
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You need motion sensor switches that are specifically compatible with CFL or LED bulbs. There are several available as well as dimmers and timers.

Lutron MS-OPS2-AL Maestro 250 Watt Single Pole Occupancy Sensor Switch, Almond - Electrical Outlet Switches - Amazon.com
Quote:
Here's a work-around for those types of motion detectors or timers - if you replace 1 or 2 of the CFLs or LEDs with a low wattage filament bulb, that will very likely make the motion detector/timer work properly and eliminate the flickering. Basically, those devices need a small constant load on them when they are 'off' - CFLs and LEDs don't provide the same kind of simple resistive load as a filament does.

That flickering is bad for the device, and bad for the CFL/LEDs. But 1 or 2 small filaments should be enough to provide an 'off' current, and damp out the reactive loads from the CFL/LEDs.
Thank you.
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Old 08-27-2014, 09:21 AM   #56
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Why is everyone picking on Mercury?
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"Three-way" LEDs?
Old 08-27-2014, 09:37 AM   #57
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"Three-way" LEDs?

The bulbs that we have on most of the time in the evening are three-ways. Maybe this is "old fashioned" but we like the easy-to-select low-medium-high where the high is 150W. I wouldn't mind replacing these with something more efficient. Are three-way LEDs with equivalent light output available?
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:00 AM   #58
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The bulbs that we have on most of the time in the evening are three-ways. Maybe this is "old fashioned" but we like the easy-to-select low-medium-high where the high is 150W. I wouldn't mind replacing these with something more efficient. Are three-way LEDs with equivalent light output available?
Yes, but I think your choice will be limited, and bulbs will be $$$.

Feit Performanceled A21 3-way - 22 Watts - 600/1100/1600 Lumens - 30/70/100 Watt Equal - - Amazon.com

A better solution, IMO, is something like this (a CFL/LED compatible dimmer that plugs in to the cord):

Lutron TTCL-100H-BL Credenza Dimmable CFL/LED Dimmer, Black - Plug In Dimmer Switches - Amazon.com

They make ones that connect right to the cord, some minor assembly required.


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Old 08-27-2014, 10:06 AM   #59
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The bulbs that we have on most of the time in the evening are three-ways. Maybe this is "old fashioned" but we like the easy-to-select low-medium-high where the high is 150W. I wouldn't mind replacing these with something more efficient. Are three-way LEDs with equivalent light output available?
They'll probably become more readily available (other brands) and less expensive, but here's one: 50 / 100 / 150 Watt Replacement 2700K Remote Phosphor 3Way LED
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Old 08-27-2014, 01:26 PM   #60
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Oh sure, you are happy now, but what about in a couple of years when the mercury in those bulbs kills you and all your pets?
I wonder how we will know it's because of those light bulbs after all the decades of working in environments with fluorescent lighting. I just can't win. Maybe I'll just live in the dark and grow mushrooms.

Cheers!
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