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Eco-friendly bulbs designed to save energy and last considerably longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

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Are they a scourge or a godsend????

  • Nov 3, 2009
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A couple of years ago a regional supermarket chain in conjunction with our local electric utility offered consumers in our area the opportunity to purchase an unlimited quantity of CFL's for just $1.00 each.  When you stop to consider that these bulbs generally retail for $6 or $7 each it seemed like a no brainer.  I grabbed around a dozen and a half bulbs and proceeded to replace just about every light bulb in the house. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the light being emitted from these new bulbs. And while the savings on my electric bill might not have been quite as substantial as I was led to believe it would appear that the new CFL bulbs did in fact save me money every month.  When you add to all of this the fact that CFL's are supposed to last for something like 5-7 years I certainly considered myself a happy camper. Had I rated this product after the first few months of usage I would have given them a +5 without hesitation.

But in the ensuing eighteen months I have read a number of articles that make me a bit concerned about this technology.  It turns out that there is a small amount of mercury in this product that makes it absolutely essential that they be disposed of properly.  I heard recently that Home Depot now accepts burnt out CFL's at their stores and will dispose of them properly.   Never ever toss one of these into your trash.  The other problem I have is a quality issue.  In just the first year about 20% of my bulbs failed.  That's a pretty high defective rate in my view. If these were an inexpensive generic brand I would not be as concerned but the bulbs that I purchased were a major brand name.  From what I have been reading these bulbs are much more fickle than traditional light bulbs.
So for me after a couple of years the jury is still out on CFL's.  I have certainly not given up on them and hopefully new technological breakthroughs will solve some of these problems.  At this time I am prepared to give them a rating of +3.  I would also be very interested in hearing feedback from other Lunch members on CFL's.     What has your experience been?

CFL 1 Scourge or godsend???? CFL 3 CFL 4

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March 09, 2010
Great review. I couldn't have said it any better. I also give CFLs +3. They last so much longer than incandescent bulbs with less energy used. The technology is great, but they do contain dangerous chemicals and need to be disposed of properly.
November 03, 2009
I'm with you on this! When these first came out, I would've give them a +5, too, based on the price and longevity, but now that I'm reading up about how toxic they are, I'm having second thoughts about that. I still use them, but I'm definitely more careful with them.

I haven't had any burn out on me yet, but when they do, I'll definitely look up eco-friendly ways to dispose of them.  I read an article a while back that says that if you break one of these bulbs, you have to leave the area for several hours to let the toxicity subside.  That's some serious stuff!
November 03, 2009
Totally agreed!! Sometimes I just buy regular old lightbulbs because of how creepy these are.
November 03, 2009
There is a lesson to be learned here. Just because a product is touted as "environmentally friendly" it does not mean that it necessarily is. DId you know that the government is seeking to outlaw the old incandescent bulbs in a fews years. Not so sure that is a good idea. I have always believed we can solve at least some of these problems with an intensive national campaign of energy conservation.
More Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL... reviews
Quick Tip by . March 11, 2010
Studies show not as eco friendly as claimed especially in winter time. Also a disposal nightmare!
Quick Tip by . March 09, 2010
I had an old bulb I had to change every month. I replaced it w/ a CFL & that bulb has now lasted over 18 months.Need to dispose of properly.
Quick Tip by . November 03, 2009
Cheap with a super long life, but oh-so toxic. I'll still use these CFL light bulbs, but with caution.
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on I never could … more
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The compact fluorescent light bulb revolution nearly occurred back in the early 1990s. When CFLs first hit the market in force, consumers bought them in large numbers — but they hated them. The bulbs were too big for many fixtures, expensive (up to $25 each) and they threw a dim, antiseptic light that paled next to the warmth of good old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.

Now, a new CFL revolution is at hand. Retail giants are pushing hard for the bulbs — Wal-Mart hopes to sell 100 million CFLs by the end of the year. In California, a legislator recently proposed banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs in the state by 2012. All the old benefits of CFLs are still significant — more so, in fact. They can use less than one-third the electricity of incandescent bulbs of equivalent brightness and last up to nine years. The new bulbs are smaller and far cheaper (about $5 each) than their predecessors, and more powerful than ever. Top-end 24-watt bulbs promise brightness equivalent to that of a 150-watt incandescent.

Still, when it comes to illuminating your home, brightness isn't everything. Can CFLs match the light quality of the energy-wasting incandescents we know and love?

Popular Mechanics designed a test pitting seven common CFLs against a 75-watt incandescent bulb. To gather objective data, we used a Konica Minolta CL-200 chroma meter to measure color temperature and brightness, and a Watts up? Pro ammeter to track power consumption. Our subjective ...
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Environment, Lighting, Energy Star, Light Bulb, Consumer Goods


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