Good CFL, bad CFL...user recommendations

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by Celtic Blue, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Thanks for reporting back on these, I picked up two on your recommendation. They are really sweet bulbs for many of the more difficult fit applications and just saved me some headache. They truly are small and the base taper is ~45 degrees, so they should be able to fit into some recessed bases that no other CFL's seem to fit at present.

    I can confirm they are instant on as well. The package isn't lying on this one. They aren't cheap though, $9 for a two-pack at present.

    Lowe's website doesn't list any of the micro mini's, but they have three different wattages of them on the shelves in stores that I've been to. I was able to find the 100W equivalent (23W) on Lowe's site, but it didn't give the name (I could see "micro mini" on the image of the package, and it matches the one I bought.)
     
  2. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    I've now tried the 60W Sylvania micro-mini @ $7.48/2-pack at Lowes. They do appear to be instant-on. They are truly tiny! Unlike the 75 and 100W variants the base is curved rather than at ~45 degree angle. They did fit in the restricted base of my fridge fixture, but not in the garage door opener. The garage door opener has really cheesy recessed plastic sockets and small metal tabs as contacts.

    They seem to work about as well as the n:vision bulbs, but in an even smaller form. Unfortunately, they had a difficult task replacing fridge appliance bulbs. All CFL's would suffer from having a more diffuse and yellower light (although a "bright white variant might be a better match.) The cold temperature also reduces light output. Perhaps I should have tried the 100W equivalent micro-mini instead.

    I just tested these as replacements for some miserable small GE enclosed reflector CFL's in track lighting. They clobber the GE's despite lacking the reflector enclosure. Rated lumens is 825 vs. 400 for the GE's (and the GE's start up at a small fraction of that.) So it looks like these fix one of the persistent problems I've had.
     
  3. Boo

    Boo Boola Boola Member

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    It would be great if Sylvania were to come out with a 23w/1600 lumens micro mini that could take a standard clip-on lamp shade.
     
  4. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    The one area I refuse to use CFL's is for a reading lamp. CFL's cause me eyestrain, but a 60 watt light bulb works fine
     
  5. ronhowell

    ronhowell Active Member

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    Strange that no-one has mentioned FEIT Electric CFLs in this thread as far as I can tell.
    I have been getting these from our local Costco from time-to-time, on sale when SCE offers a subsidy. Apart from the occasional bad batch which FEIT have replaced, I have been quite satisfied with them, both the shrouded and un-shrouded twisties. They are not instant-on, but so what! Being retired, I have time to wait!
    I have replaced all of the formerly incandescent bulbs throughout the house and outside, except for those in areas that are only on occasionally, for short periods of time. The electric bill savings were dramatic, especially from replacing the external lights that burn throughout the night.

    The new GE Energy Star rated refrigerator we recently bought has a bottom freezer with a double french door configuration. It has LED lighting at the top of the refrigerator section, and the lighting excellent! Very bright so you can see everything inside, even when full. I like it a lot.
     
  6. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Both are problems I had heard about with FEIT CFL's, so I have not tried them and likely never will. I am using two sets of their LED's despite their incredibly uninformative packaging and non-existent website information (good luck determining the LED's wattage.)

    Instant on is mostly an annoyance, but "random on" also unnecessarily gives fixtures a "cheap" appearance. Why buy such a bulb when there are better alternatives that are not objectionable? (And the n:visions tend to be some of the least expensive and best fitting out there.) If we as consumers reject the non-instant on bulbs, then we will get better CFLs. Reward the folks with better mousetraps. When the anti-CFL knuckle draggers no longer have the slow-start excuse for condemning CFL's, then CFL conversion will occur even more quickly. For that reason I won't suggest bulbs that immediately give the new user a bad first impression.

    A bigger problem with all of the enclosed/shrouded types I've seen is the extremely low initial brightness. So far this appears to be independent of the manufacturer/brand--which is unfortunate. A bulb that is slow to reach even 50% brightness is impractical in many applications. (Who wants one in the toilet area or bathroom vanity...or garage...or storage areas...or anywhere when you want to be able to see within the first minute or two of hitting the switch?)

    P.S. One of my GE's that I moved to the range hood because it is so godawful slow to start seems to be getting worse. It takes nearly 3 full seconds to come on now (stopwatch)--so long that I keep thinking it has died even though I expect a long delay from it.
     
  7. Rae Vynn

    Rae Vynn Artist In Residence

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    We picked up a pair of LED flood lights, and a cheap fixture, and have now replaced our porch light with incredibly low wattage, cool LED lights! Yay!! :)
     
  8. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    I picked up a package of the Home Depot "ecosmart" 60W equivalent soft-white CFL's today from Home Depot. They appear to be identical to the previous "n:vision" and prior to that "Consumer Electric" bulbs from Home Depot . The bulbs have the same model number EDXO-14, same 9 yr warranty, 10,000 hours, 14W, 900 lumens. The package does state "Up to 70% less mercury than standard CFL bulbs" which is new. Performance so far is identical to the other Home Depot store brand standard CFL's: true instant on, full intensity. Same price: ~$6 for a 4-pack.

    I bought these as part of an upgrade to the shower/toilet area which had a single can fixture. The enclosed CFL's I had tried came up at very low luminosity, so this was a real problem. Therefore I went to a flush mount ceiling fixture that will take two bulbs and removed the can. Probably should have only put 40W equivalents in the new fixture since the two 60W equivalents are putting out about 4 times as much effective light as the 60W enclosed spiral in a can would even after it was warmed up.
     
  9. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    As long as we're resurrecting this thread, I've got more input
    for it. I used my huge-ass TCPi 68W units for an event or two
    and they were great, even in rain. I've got another one coming
    up and need to throw together more lighting, so I wanted to try a
    couple of different avenues and one of the options I stumbled across
    was the "bright effects" line from Feit Electric, sold by Lowes.
    What a piece of crap. Another fine example of how offs(w)horing
    is killing our industry potential. By comparison to the TCPi
    ones [available at the Orange Box, as noted] it's a night and day
    difference [and especially in this case, "night" because the bulb I
    bought didn't even work] This is the essence of what I sent off to
    Feit's supposed customer-service department, also posted over
    at CleanMPG:
    ________________
    .
    I recently bought one of your large spiral compact-fluorescent lamps,
    the "bright effects" model L65TN, to try as part of a low-budget
    area lighting solution I'm working on. I was sorely disappointed.
    .
    Apparently some shipping or in-store damage had happened because the
    unit didn't work, or at least flickered briefly and unsuccessfully
    *tried* to work when the base was gently tapped. When shaken,
    something in the ballast base was obviously loose and felt about
    the weight and sound I'd expect from one of the small transformers
    typically used in these ballasts rattling around. Other lamps in
    the same case I checked in the store were also like this, so perhaps
    the whole pallet fell off the truck and they decided to try and sell
    them anyway -- who knows, but what I noticed while examining all
    this were some much more serious issues.
    .
    Compare the two units in this picture:
    .
    http://techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/pix/misc/bigCFs.jpg
    .
    The one on the left is from your competition at TCPi, and here are
    several reasons I'm going to continue buying *their* CFLs instead
    of yours:
    .
    Your ballast is much larger, indicating some poor engineering
    choices regarding how to pack the electronics into the base. From
    the damage that the units I looked at seem to have sustained, your
    engineering staff apparently doesn't see any point in good physical
    restraint of some of the heavier parts, leaving them to bash around
    and come detached with a relatively mild impact. I figure if the
    glass didn't break, NOTHING else should have happened to these as
    I'd expect the electronics to be much more robust than the tube.
    .
    Your housing doesn't even make a pretense of being weather-resistant,
    since it has ample ventilation holes in the top, sides, and bottom.
    Neither unit is claimed to be completely weatherproof like a true
    outdoor unit, but the TCPi ballast is completely sealed, listed as
    weather-resistant, and I *have* used them at wet outdoor events
    already with no problem at all.
    .
    Look at the top surface of the TCPi ballast: it's a sheet of
    aluminum, used to couple what minimal heat is lost in the ballast
    to the outside air without ventilation holes. Using a heat sink
    like that eliminates the need for the holes and probably allows
    for a more compact arrangement of parts underneath. The TCPi
    ballast is *very* efficient, producing almost no heat of its
    own and sending all the power used to the lamp tube.
    .
    The tube area of the TCPi unit is larger, yielding more light-
    emitting surface overall.
    .
    The TCPi lamps come in a nice form-fit clamshell plastic inner
    packing sleeve that snaps apart, easily re-usable as protective
    storage when moving the lamps around. Your cardboard packaging
    leaves a lot to be desired, and wouldn't last long in damp storage
    environments as where one might commonly find special-event
    equipment spending a lot of time.
    .
    With all these disadvantages, your units are about $2 MORE expensive,
    and apparently sold on some exclusive basis through Lowes where a
    choice in large-format CFLs is not offered to the consumer at the
    shelves so they feel locked into solely buying these.
    .
    In short, I would warn all potential buyers of large-format CFLs to
    100% avoid your product line until some major rework is done. Right
    now you are not competing in the market, you are losing and simply
    lowering everyone's overall expectations and standards. Don't do
    that, especially with a relatively new product type. You have every
    motivation to not only fix this problem TODAY, but to also revisit
    similar design issues in your lines of lower-wattage lamps as well.
    .
    Escalate this up the chain until something is done about it.
    .
    The unit in question has already been returned, so I don't expect
    any particular response to this, other than perhaps going into
    a Lowes a few months from now and either see greatly improved
    product on the shelves, or just continuing to find the same old
    disappointment. But while you're in there reworking some designs,
    how about something truly innovative to go your competition one
    better? How about a 100W native unit that can produce a 500W or so
    incandescent-equivalent, and maybe with an improved spectrum at the
    same time?? That could put a nice ding in the halogen-worklight
    market, which from the standpoint of energy-inefficiency needs
    to die anyway, and be a desireable part of various large-area
    lighting solutions.
    .
    _H*
     
  10. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Hobbit, I've been continuing to post to this thread as a resource and encourage others to do the same.

    Thanks for the report on the Bright Effects and the comparison to the ones at Home Depot. Now I know which ones to replace mine with if/when they eventually fail. I think I'll update the first page with the essence of your comments.

    My monster Bright Effects have worked well enough in the garage (look identical to yours that was defective.) They are a little dim on start up but are instant on. I'll try to roughly quantify that with a luxmeter later.

    The several types of Bright Effects I have all appear to be FEC (Feit Electric Co.) I rank them little better than GE CFL's, and most of them are no longer in service. I tried to sell some B.E.'s I don't need at a garage sale and didn't succeed even at about 1/3 price.

    I've been replacing some old builder-standard fixtures again and this has prompted a few more CFL purchases (as in some old GE's didn't fit...and I needed dimmer bulbs for some new doubles replacing singles.) The Ecosmart 100W and 40W equivalents are the same model as the n:vision/Commercial Electric. Same size, same instant on performance. And at $8/four-pack the 100's are priced well.
     
  11. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Good for you. So many folks out there get a bum product, they may quietly grumble to themselves, but never take it any further
     
  12. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    The best customer experiences I've had come from U.S. made niche products. When something doesn't work as expected, you contact the vendor (often the owner/designer/creator) and try to figure it out. It's not like with multi-nationals where no feedback ever makes it to the designers and no corrective action is taken. I've sometimes had positive experiences with foreign specialty products too so I don't see this as a function of ownership nationality. I assume this is more of the impact of small scale operations with those answering the calls being passionate about making the best product possible

    I'm involved in a bit of collaborative troubleshooting of this sort on two products at the moment (not lighting.) I'll update elsewhere if/when the issues are resolved.
     
  13. Boo

    Boo Boola Boola Member

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    October 2009 Consumer Reports tested 24 CFLs. Here's the Ratings Chart (Sorry if the image appears small on your screen -- I think the PriusChat software sometimes automatically resizes it, and sometimes it doesn't. But if it's too small on your screen, just zoom in/blow up the view to 200% and it'll be very legible.):

    [imglink]http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/resources/images/magazine-archive/october-2009/home-garden/compact-fluorescents/ratings/cfls-rate.jpg[/imglink]

    Guide to the Ratings

    Overall score combines life and rapid-cycle testing, 3,000-hour brightness at 3,000 hours of use, and warm-up time performance. Life testing reflects how many 3-hour on and 20-minute off cycles a bulb survives after 3,000 hours of the "on" cycle. Rapid-cycle testing reflects the average number of 5-minute on and 5-minute off cycles each bulb survived. Brightness indicates the brightness (lumens) of each bulb after 3,000 hours of life testing, as compared with the brightness of a comparable incandescent. Warm-up time is how long the bulb took to reach near full brightness. Actual brightness (lumen) is the averaged measured brightness of 10 bulb samples after being life tested for 3,000 hours. Actual color temperature (kelvin) is the averaged measured color temperature of 10 bulb samples. Those with 2700 K are closest to incandescent bulbs; ones with 3000 K are similar to halogen bulbs. Claimed equivalent wattage is equivalent incandescent bulb that a manufacturer says the CFL will replace. Claimed life is how long the manufacturer says the bulb will last. Price is approximate retail.
     
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  14. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Tom,

    Thanks for posting. That image is tough to read until you blow it up to 200% but works then.

    The Ecosmarts (n:vision/Consumer Electric) take top honors. This despite CR's idiotic failure to include an "instant on" factor. Want to see the Feit's and GE's fail miserably? Just test instant on. They suck so bad that the resultant vacuum of testing it will pull your eyeballs out. They don't work at all for instant on. Massive fail.

    Consumer Reports testing fails compared to what it did 10-20 years ago. This is like testing cars without including some component for acceleration or braking. Warm up time is not sufficient. I could teach them a few things about useful testing from a consumer perspective and I don't have 1/10th the gear they do to perform a test.
     
  15. drees

    drees Senior Member

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    You know, the Feit's I've bought recently (past 2 years) are actually pretty good. Yes, the spirals I've bought turn on instantly. Only issue is that some seemed to die an early death.

    The only CFLs I've bought recently (in the last year) that aren't instant on was a PAR40 and a globe-style CFL and some outdoor floods.
     
  16. fjpod

    fjpod Member

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    I like my color temperature about 3,000 degrees Kelvin, but these are hard to find except by mail order, and they are more expensive. Incandescent is about 2800 and "normal fluorescents" are 3500 and up.

    I've also had a lot of bad luck with CFLs burning out in enclosed fixtures.

    And I find that in order to have the equivalent light of a 60 watt incandesceant bulb, I have to buy one rated for 75 watts.
     
  17. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    While I would like a true 3000 or so CFL, standard CFL's are about 2700 K (soft white) same as basic incandescents. They are NOT 3500 and up! Not sure what bulbs you are using, sounds like the very old CFL's that were rather blue. You can get higher color temps at the Big Box stores, but they tend to be substantially higher temp, bluer than I want.

    CFL's have done better for me in closed fixtures than incandescents. I can even go up in lumens if desired because of the reduced heat. It's nice being able to put a higher output bulb in a fixture previously rated for only 60W incandescent.

    I've had to actually go down in equivalent watt rating for several CFL installations compared to the previous incandescents because they were too bright. This was noticeable in baths where I could use four 40 W equiv CFL's to replace four 60 W equivalent globes. In the other two baths I replaced an 8 light fixture with a 6, and a 6 light fixture with a 4, same equiv. wattage (much less actual of course.)

    My present loss rate is about 1 CFL per year. The old GE's I have (roughly 4 years old) are the only ones I've had fail in the past 2 years if memory serves. They take increasingly longer to strike...the last one was taking 4 seconds before it finally died.


    drees,

    The several Feit's (Bright Effects) I've tried in the past two years have sometimes started well but noticeably declined within two weeks of installation. So far none have died as others report, but they start up much dimmer than many other CFL's. I just can't see any reason to buy them when much better performing CFL's are available at a better price.
     
  18. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    I need some that are small candelabra based for 3 ceiling fixtures that I do NOT want to replace. I also have 2 fixtures that use flame bulbs, what can replace those? They are also candelabra based.
     
  19. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    I've put the ongoing "outdoor lighting" saga and more of its
    developments here for general amusement. There may be a little
    more added after the event in question and we see how it works.
    .
    _H*
     
  20. drees

    drees Senior Member

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    Don't know what to say. I bought a bunch of Feit 13w & 23w spirals about a year ago from Costco for something insanely cheap - like 10 bulbs for $5.

    Out of the 20 or so bulbs I've put in use, I've had 2 die (which I took to Home Depot to recycle/dispose of). The rest still fire up instantly and provide good light (they all have some sort of shade on them).

    At Home Depot they have a couple different candelabra bulbs under the EcoSmart of CFLs they have. They had some really small, low power ones that take a while to warm up but barely provide any light. They have other spirals that are 13w I think and those fire up instantly and are pretty good. Read the lumen ratings on them - that will tell you how much light it really puts out and watch out for the "pretty" enclosed ones which tend to take a while to warm up.