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Fluorescent Lights

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by tonybelding, Apr 14, 2007.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    I've been a fan of fluorescent lights since 1972 when we moved into our ranch house out at Pottsville. We had fluorescent lights put into the living room, the kitchen, and the large den that we had built (it was expanded converted from an old back porch). They were great! The two fixtures in the den -- each with four four-foot long bulbs -- produced a lot of warm, pleasant light, but they didn't glare like incandescents and we rarely had to change them out.

    I didn't even know how much less electrical power they used, we didn't think about that kind of stuff. As time went by I noticed other people never seemed to catch on, nobody else was putting these lights into their homes. As near as I can figure, the main reason was because of bad experiences people had with fluorescents in schools, workplaces and stores. It's not too uncommon to walk into a store and see "blue and yellow" mismatched fluorescents with one or two of them flickering madly (and maddeningly). I heard comments from people who simply hated fluorescent lights because of the flickering and would never dream of putting them in their home.

    Here's what they didn't get: A flickering fluorescent light is one that's burning out. It needs to be replaced. If you replace them as soon as they start flickering, there is no problem. They last a long time, so they don't need replacement often. Fluorescents also come in varying color temperatures. I prefer the cooler (more yellowish) lights, but what's really important is to not mix them. If you do, then the contrast between the colors becomes very obvious and looks tacky.

    After some years "compact fluorescent" (CF) bulbs that could screw into a standard incandescent socket started to appear. These were touted as a painless way to save energy. I had some real problems with the early models of these. They were very large and heavy, which meant they wouldn't actually fit into many places or light fixtures where incandescent bulbs could go. They weren't available in higher outputs, the brightest ones being -- optimistically -- equivalent to a 60 watt bulb. If you needed to replace a 100 or 150 watt bulb you were out of luck. The color quality of the light produced wasn't great. Finally, probably the biggest drawback of all, they didn't immediately come on when you flipped the switch. There was a second or two delay with a flash and a pop or two as the light finally came on.

    A lot of people tried them and got a bad impression. My argument was, why not install the standard and well-proven fluorescent fixtures with two-foot or four-foot tubes? It doesn't cost that much to change out a light fixture, seriously!

    CFs have been on the market for a while now, and it's amazing to see how they've improved in every respect. The newer ones light up instantly. They're available in a full range of wattages. The color quality is often better than incandescent lights. They've also become much smaller and lighter weight, though there are still some fixtures around that they won't fit.

    A more general problem with CFs is that they are expensive. Yes, you would eventually recover the cost and actually save money on your electric bill -- but spending more now to save money later is something that doesn't come naturally to a lot of people.

    My bathroom had a fixture that holds four incandescent bulbs. I wasn't too worried about energy consumption since I don't leave the bathroom light on all the time -- but the bulbs burned out pretty often and changing them was a nuisance. The way it was designed, there was no possible way to fit even the newer CF bulbs. So, I put up with it until recently when I had the whole bathroom remodeled. The workmen took out the ancient fixture and put in a new one with three bulbs. These were arranged so the bulbs point straight out from the wall with no shade or covering. The bare bulbs looked a bit harsh, but now there was nothing to prevent me from using CFs.

    I went to the local hardware store, but they didn't have much to choose from. They had some 15 watt (60 watt equivalent) GE bulbs on sale: original price $15.50, new price $2.00. Wait. . . Surely that couldn't be right?

    It turned out, these were the early CFs that had been on the shelf for years and years and are now completely outdated. For $6 my bathroom problem was solved. The new fixture can handle the size and weight with no problem, and three of them ganged together provide adequate light. They each have a built-in globe diffuser, so the light is much less harsh. The only annoyance is the delay and then flashing when I flip the light switch: they put on quite a show. I'm going to try living with it. :)
     
  2. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Here's what I've been waiting for. . .     Recently Michael Bloomberg gave a speech in Houston in which he outlined an energy plan for America.  He's not an official candidate for president yet, but it's not hard to see what he's thinking.  Anyhow, one of his talking points was to phase out the incandescent light bulb.  Others have talked about this, but what was striking to me was this comment somebody posted on CHRON.COM:

    Phasing out incandescent lights is a good enough reason for me to vote against him. So far the only alternative is fluorescent light, which contains mercury and phosphorus poisoning, therefore making fluorescents difficult to be easily recycled and they are too expensive. Target sells 4 incandescent lights for .77cent per pack. The simple solution is to phase out air-conditioning and sealed building, install more skylights and real windows so we don't consume as much energy and so we can use natural lighting as often as possible. It a no-brainer that the typical filthy rich will not be lighting their dining rooms with sickening, nauseating fluorescent lights. They will certainly find legal exclusions & generate & publish many good excuses for themselves much like Gore with his energy consumption of 20times the average household, while the rest of us are expected to walk to work and switch our one light bulb per room to buzzing, humming, flickering, nauseating fluorescent light. I am going to vote for anyone who says we can keep using incandescent, non-polluting light bulbs and who uses ceiling fans instead of air-conditioning.

    This is what I've heard people say before, and I just don't get it.  When and where, I wonder, did he ever find a "buzzing, humming, flickering, nauseating" fluorescent light?  The only place I have ever seen buzzing, humming or flickering lights was in workplaces where the janitorial staff couldn't be bothered to change a burnt-out bulb.  I'm not sure what "nauseating" means in this context, but today's CF bulbs produce higher quality light than incandescent bulbs.  They look better.

    I'm also not sure who said "one light per room", I'm pretty sure Bloomberg didn't.  This sounds like the old "freezing in the dark" idea of conservation that went out with the 1970s.  It's just another straw man to knock over, I guess.
     
  3. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    >> They look better.

    If they are better, what is stopping people buying them? I for one, do not want goverment telling me what I should and shouldn't use.
    It is already doing that to often.
     
  4. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Well, I have to agree there. I don't think incandescent lights should be banned either. I'm against banning things, generally, unless there's a really urgent pressing reason for it. It is frustrating sometimes, though, to see some of the biases that people have.
     
  5. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Some people notice flicker from fluorescents even when they are new and working properly.

    ======================================================================
    LED bulbs are even more efficient.

    An example of some for sale:
    http://www.thinkgeek.com/clearance/gadgetscomputing/7aa8/

    The current crop of LED bulbs is still too expensive, and the light output is still somewhat weak, but I hear the next generation should start to give CFs some competition.
     
  6. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    I'm all for that. It's amazing to see how LED flashlights have improved since they first appeared, only a few years ago.
     
  7. Takumi

    Takumi Member

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    #7 Takumi, Mar 25, 2008
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
    Forget LEDs, I want to see this one mass produced. Better yet put this one in as the Roadster headlights.

    Luxim LIFI lighting system

    What's the efficiency rating of an average halogen based system? HID?
     
  8. cakeLedm

    cakeLedm New Member

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    #8 cakeLedm, May 13, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2009
    It sounds like very well But I want to know how to buy one led flashlight? Can you tell me ?
     
  9. johnr

    johnr Member

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    You can buy LED flashlights at a lot of local stores now. Sporting goods stores would be my first pick as they often have several different types to choose from.
     
  10. Takumi

    Takumi Member

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    Yes, but those in local stores are generations behind. If you want to get a good one at a great price, you're better off searching for it online. I suggest getting one that has 250 lumens or higher. Unless of course you're going for portability.
     
  11. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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