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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    99

    Default Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    I just moved into a 1965 house with BX wiring and a renovated main Panel in No. VA (you know, CIA, Pentagon, etc.). It's my first house that didn't have Romex cable.
    I put in ALL new CFL's with 3500k and 4100k temperatures because I hate soft white.
    In 2 months, 8 CFL's (new out of the box) have failed. They were 3 different manuf labels - Home Depot house brand, FEIT and a 3rd brand named Maxim. The Maxims are PAR40 CFL cost $9 each so this is getting expensive. I had used PAR40's with a dimable switch (but went to non-dimable after 4 failed in 3 weeks. I always kept the power at max but then got the conventional switches.
    The fact that that CFL's from 3 manuf are failing is very odd.

    My experience with CFL's is 2-3 years life (never the 8 years 10,000 hours promised), but I'm talking service hours in the several hundreds here.

    Does anyone have ideas on what's going on.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    I've had terrible luck with dimmable CFL's and if the standard CFL's are run on a dimmer they won't last very long either, even if run at max. Probably because they're designed for a perfect sine wave not a Triac output from a dimmer.

    I've had pretty good luck with Home Depot standard CFL's but have seen pictures of other imported CFL's that arched through the side and caught fire. Not exactly green..more like soot.

    I save my receipts and return them all the time. I too am curious what others have seen.

    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,081

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    It seems like the experiments to save money on energy and become energy efficient "green" is full of failures (and tons of money into manufacturers' pockets).

    Your best solution is to make HD stand by their refund policy.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    I too think that CFL's are a load of garbage. They're full of mercury, which is as harmful to the environment as all the nuclear and coal powered electrical plants. Let's face it, not everyone returns a dead CFL to the store for recycling, most go to the trash or get broke over some moron's head in a backyard WWE brawl. On top of that, they're extremely expensive, so any energy "savings" is completely offset by the initial cost that isn't likely to be recouped over the life of the bulb.

    It's like paying $35K for a hybrid car that gets fewer mpg than a standard gas powered vehicle of the same size that you can get for around $20 - $25K. That 10 -15 thousand dollar expense will by you a whole lot of gasoline for a vehicle that is easier and cheaper to maintain. You can look at it as buy the cheaper car and get free gas for the life of it with the cost savings.

    In an attempt to be helpful, let me offer this:

    If the light fixtures are cheap or dirty with bugs and cobwebs (common to exterior fixtures ), this can cause undue resistance within the fixture and cause bulbs to burn out more rapidly. Another thing to check is the wire connections of the fixture to the electrical system of the house. Again, it's common for these to become loose or fouled from a poor installation.

    I have taken fixtures down, cleaned the wiring connections the fixtures themselves, and reinstalled with twisted wire connections at all points, and have cured excessive bulb burnout. This may or may not help in your instance, there's only one way to find out.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,360

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    Here's a rather long article about CFLs and LED replacements for incandescent lamps. It's written by an Australian who really wants to like CFLs, but admits that there are lot of problems with them.

    A couple of probable causes for your problems: CFLs will have dramatically shorter life if used in enclosed fixtures. They like to be kept cool. If you have dirty power, that will lso shorten the life of CFLs.

    Years ago I worked on a farm. The shop and the house were on the same transformer. Between the 5HP air compressor and the welder in the shop which caused lights to flicker, incandescent and regular fluorescent lamps in both the house and the shop exhibited a short service life. This was before CFLs became popular, but I'm sure that they would suffer as well.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    IF a CFL is used on average 4 hours a day, it will save almost $8/year. So yes, they can pay for themselves. I've only had problems with premature failure when they were in freqeunt on/off locations where they are not advantageous anyway. You want them in places there the light stays on for hours and hours at a time.


    The other savings in is less heat generated. Every Watt a light bulb generates in the summer, you have to spend approx 1/3 that much energy in you A/C use to remove it. In the winter it's less of an issue, but if you have gas heat, electric resistance is less efficient.


    I'm guessing with the OP there are issues with voltage droops or something similar.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    Fencepost thanks for that really great link to the Australian guy. I learned a lot from it and confirmed many of my suspicions.

    He confirmed that CFL's generate a lot of heat and if confined in a tight fixture will destroy themselves very quickly. The other is that they won't start in cold weather, and don't do well in high humidity, which I've also seen.

    However, in a -40 degree freezer application I've seen savy electricians carry Home Depot CFL's under their jackets and install them in vapor tite fixtures where they stay lighted 24/7, for years. This has saved this company thousands of dollars in labor alone.

    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    jersey
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    Quote Originally Posted by motoguy128 View Post
    electric resistance is less efficient.


    You meant to say electric resistance heaters are the most efficient right?
    Help us name our new Hidden Content

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    All I can add is that the cheap CFL's don't last. The higher price of the good ones are worth it as they last multiple times longer than their higher percentage cost. As LED technology catches up and becomes cheaper CFL's will become a thing of the past- and I say good riddance to them!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    jersey
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Burning Through A Lot of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastercarpentry View Post
    All I can add is that the cheap CFL's don't last. The higher price of the good ones are worth it as they last multiple times longer than their higher percentage cost. As LED technology catches up and becomes cheaper CFL's will become a thing of the past- and I say good riddance to them!
    Good riddance indeed. In the mean time Phillips Halogena bulbs are a good alternative. There energy saving, dimmable, long lasting and, affordable.
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