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Thread: CFL Bulbs that really last for 5 Years

  1. #91

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    Oh, Mercury, good old Hg, I have a couple of test tubes (with covers) full of it here in the house from old science projects.
    But dont plan to eat or drink it either. How about some swordfish, we eat it when ever a fresh one comes in.
    Got the old Honeywell thermostat too. Those old mercury switches still work without flaw, 50+ years in our living room, I brush the dust off it once in a while.

    But I do not want any lights that would cook off my house, which those 2 would have loved to do if I had not been in the same room.
    Interesting to know what works well and what doesnt.

  2. #92
    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    It takes only about 1000 CFLs to add up to the amount of mercury in your old round Honeywell T-stat with the mercury switch. The exposure you'd get from smashing a CFL and grinding it up under foot to ensure that ALL the mercury was in the air, and you closed the windows & doors for a week long nap would be roughly equivlant to eating nothing but tuna sandwiches for a coupla weeks. If instead you cleaned it up quickly and double bagged it, the exposure for the cleanup guy is about a tuna sandwiches worth.
    Yep. And the bulbs I use have between 46-70% of the old 5 mg average.

    CFL's actually reduce the amount of mercury in the environment because burning coal for the extra consumption of incandescents results in more mercury emission than a CFL...even if one didn't recycle any of the CFL's.

    Nearly all CFLs in the world are made in China, and most will last several years if used in a non-abusive environment. In recessed lights, base up they'll crap out sooner by cooking the ballasts, or wrecking the glue, particularly with 18W+ versions. (A typical 100W replacement is 23W.) But side burnouts like that are pretty rare, and SFAIK non have resulted in a house fire- just a fizzle & flash followed by the stink of burning electronic. No mercury is released unless you break the twisty-glass.
    I've had one ballast fry so far, with the sweet, acrid burning plastic insulator smell. It was on my oldest set of bulbs, and was a known issue with them, although none of them caused fires that I'm aware of. It gets the attention, but is less of a fire hazard than a hot incandescent touching a flammable material...which is perhaps more common from what I've seen.

  3. #93
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    The primary failure mode of CFLs and linear fluorescents is the breakdown of the filaments inside the tubes. The filaments are necessary to pre-heat the mercury into sufficient vapor that it can strike an arc at a suitably low voltage. Once it's arcing nicely and staying warm the filament current is reduced. The "instant on" versions fail quicker due to rapid heat-up thermal-shock, and with anything it's more about the number of turn-on cycles than the total number of hours. They last nearly forever if you never turn them off, but if you flash on/off 1000 times an hour you'll be lucky if it lasts more than a coupla weeks. The very low power cold-cathode CFLs don't have filiments, and have rated lifespans similar to LEDs, and are sometimes used in flashing displays because they outlast incandescents by a good factor.

  4. #94

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    This is also very interesting, as we dont leave lights on when we leave a room. So we turn them on and off lots more than many other people do. We live in an area with almost no light pollution, so our eyes are not wanting bright rooms. Maybe that is a problem too. Thanks for letting us know that this is another drawback for those lights.
    The more I read about the doggone things, the more I am glad Ive stockpiled my 100watt ones.

  5. #95
    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    The "instant on" versions fail quicker due to rapid heat-up thermal-shock, and with anything it's more about the number of turn-on cycles than the total number of hours. They last nearly forever if you never turn them off, but if you flash on/off 1000 times an hour you'll be lucky if it lasts more than a coupla weeks.
    What is strange is that I've seen nearly the opposite effect with CFL's. The crappy GE's that are far from instant on have been short lived. This was true even when they were turned off/on only about once/day (I don't think I have any of the GE 60W equivalents left for this reason...they all burned out rapidly being used as "nightlights" for the kids.) The instant on types I've used have been long lived. And I've been keeping quite a few in short duration services like garage door openers, bathrooms, closets, etc. I've seen high failure rates with incandescents in this kind of service, but so far I haven't seen that with instant on CFL's.

  6. #96
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    I have used the same type CFL bulb in a dual fixture and one quit working much earlier than the other.

    I think it is a shooting match, as to why they quit working.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  7. #97
    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by capecod12 View Post
    This is also very interesting, as we dont leave lights on when we leave a room. So we turn them on and off lots more than many other people do. We live in an area with almost no light pollution, so our eyes are not wanting bright rooms. Maybe that is a problem too. Thanks for letting us know that this is another drawback for those lights.
    The more I read about the doggone things, the more I am glad Ive stockpiled my 100watt ones.
    Hope you've got a huge stockpile, because the thing that kills incandescents the fastest is exactly what you describe. And that failure rate is many times worse than a CFL. The filament in an incandescent has a vapor pressure. Every time you flip the switch and the bulb cools, a little bit of the filament ends up deposited on the glass of the bulb. Eventually it fails.

    Back when I still lived on the farm I recall the most likely time for a standard bulb failure was switching them on in cold weather. When I was off at college and the farmhouse was empty and cold, I could just about count on losing a bulb every time I went in and flipped on a few switches. I'm not sure how much of it was extra material being lost to the colder bulb surface, how much was thermal cycling of the element, or if it briefly pulled more amps because it was colder and had less resistance.

  8. #98

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    Gee, thats interesting, as we have some bulbs which have lasted for so long that they get dirty from dust. I forget to dust them when Im doing housework, and if our wood stove is being used a lot the livingroom bulbs do get that fine gray dust on them.
    From what Ive observed, the CFL bulbs burn out way way quicker than the old ones.
    Yes, I have 2 boxes of various sizes, mostly 100 and 75s and a few 3way ones in the cellar.
    The bulb in our new garden shed, has lasted for years and years. And our outside spotlights, seem to go for ever.
    So I am sticking with the old bulbs until maybe someday there will be a newer and better technology. LED bulbs will probably be the way to go.
    http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html#d
    Just spotted this site, has some interesting stuff. Nice charts too,,,,,I love the first paragraph, here is the quote,,,,,,,,
    "LED light bulbs will eventually be what we use to replace incandescent bulbs CFLs are a temporary solution to energy-efficient lighting. The reason LEDs have not yet displaced CFLs from the market are twofold: the first generation LED bulbs had a narrow and focused light beam, and the cost of the LED bulbs was too high."

  9. #99
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Runs with bison View Post
    Hope you've got a huge stockpile, because the thing that kills incandescents the fastest is exactly what you describe. And that failure rate is many times worse than a CFL. The filament in an incandescent has a vapor pressure. Every time you flip the switch and the bulb cools, a little bit of the filament ends up deposited on the glass of the bulb. Eventually it fails.

    Back when I still lived on the farm I recall the most likely time for a standard bulb failure was switching them on in cold weather. When I was off at college and the farmhouse was empty and cold, I could just about count on losing a bulb every time I went in and flipped on a few switches. I'm not sure how much of it was extra material being lost to the colder bulb surface, how much was thermal cycling of the element, or if it briefly pulled more amps because it was colder and had less resistance.
    Incandescant bulb filaments do vaporize gradually over time, yes, but each time you turn one on, the inrush current is tremendous compared to the rated wattage. For instance, this morning I measured the resistance of 2 brand new incandescant bulbs; one 40 watt measured 26 ohms and the 100 watter measured 9 ohms.

    That means at 115 volts, for a very brief time, the 40 watt bulb will draw 4.42 amps (508 watts), and the 100 watt bulb will draw 12.78 amps (1470 watts) if my math is correct. The filaments heat up practically instantly, but for that very brief moment there is a tremendous shock to the filament, which I am sure does it no good. An incandescant bulb in my experience always fails when it is turn on. I have never seen one fail from being left on continuously. ON:PLINK! GONE!
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

  10. #100
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    I shot one once with a BB gun while it was on and it went out, does that count Hee, Hee, Haa, Haa

  11. #101
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Nice site for comparison.

    You can put a Diode in series with a Incandescent bulb and they will last much longer at a reduced light output. The filament don't get as stressed from ON/OFF cycles.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  12. #102

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    We too used to use burned out bulbs for targets. They would float and bob around in the ocean and they were hard to hit, but tons of fun.

  13. #103
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    I shot one once with a BB gun while it was on and it went out, does that count Hee, Hee, Haa, Haa
    Yes that counts , LOL.

    What is really cool is shooting the picture tube on the TV set.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  14. #104

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    Done that too, but didnt want to be the first to say it.

  15. #105
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    Yes that counts , LOL.

    What is really cool is shooting the picture tube on the TV set.

    Now that's really low Glass
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

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