Re: CFL Bulbs: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, or Both?
Interesting .... while reading through many of the posts here I can agree on some of the inconvenient shortcomings in CFL's.
Things like the spiral types are taller than common bulbs .... needing to purchase special CFL's for use with dimmers ... hit and miss using them outdoors in very cold temperatures .... etc..
When they first came onto the market I admit to blindly jumping on the bandwagon expecting wonderful and great things from CFL's. Once things didn't always live up to my expectations I started reading .... creditable sources .... what's what with CFL's.
However .... what's more interesting are comments about the hazards with the mercury also the longevity and efficiency of the CFL's.
The mercury content seems to have raised quite a stir with folks.
Meanwhile the standard fluorescent tubes commonly found everywhere from commercial buildings to people's homes contain mercury and have been used for decades with little frenzy. These are and were disposed of with little regard and some folks can remember how cool it was to see them exploded when throwing them into the dumpster.
CFLs are safe to use in your home ..... no mercury is released when the bulbs are in use and they pose no danger when handled properly.
An extremely small amount of mercury .... an average of about 3 - 5 milligrams .... is sealed within the glass tubing ...... roughly the amount it would take to cover the tip of a ball-point pen.
By comparison :
So, people that have the manual style of thermostat in their homes to control the heating/cooling contains 600 times more mercury than a CFL ... or watch batteries that have 5 times the amount ..... with little regard for concern.
- fluorescent lamp ... 5 milligrams
- Watch battery ... 25 milligrams
- Dental amalgams ( fillings) ... 500 milligrams
- Home thermometer ... 500 milligrams – 2 grams
- Float switches in sump pumps ... 2 grams
- Tilt thermostat .... 3 grams
- Electrical tilt switches and relays ... 3.5 grams
Research indicates that there is no health risk to you or your family should the bulb break as there is such a small amount of mercury in CFLs. The greatest risk is getting cut from the glass shards. However ... there are some published safety procedures that can be followed ... like opening a window and wearing gloves while cleaning up the broken bulb.... no need to call in a hazardous waste team.
As for efficiency and longevity .... CFl's have a warm up time delay. Once they reach their warm up the light output reaches peak emitting and that's when the CFL is becomes energy efficient. They will be efficient in using them for areas where they will be on for extended periods of time .... longer than the 3-5 minute warm up. In areas where they are short cycled only for a few minutes .... like a quick trip to the bathroom .... they won't benefit.
Short cycling the CFL's also reduces the life of the unit.
For example ... almost 4 years ago I purchased a 3 pack of CFL's . Two of those were installed in a bathroom and the third was installed in a light fixture on a timer which stays on for extended periods each and every day.
The 2 in the bathroom have both been replaced while the third one is still operating to this day.
The reason the 2 in the bathroom had been replaced is they are short cycled frequently whereas the third isn't.
Just some thoughts.
Last edited by canuk; 06-26-2008 at 01:39 PM.
"" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "