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Californias Bright Idea

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, Feb 4, 2007.

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  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Pundits are already taking a california legislator to task for suggesting a law which mandates choosing compact flouresent bulbs instead of the standard light bulbs.

    They say the savings would only be .36 of one percent, or .36 percent.

    The kicker here is that type of savings is quite large. That is a savings of about 1/270th of all emissions. If just one action can save that much, imagine what could be done with similar actions cross the board?

    The sad story is this - the electric light bulb is the same as when it was invented by Edison. It is about 5 percent efficient and the rest of the energy created is heat - something they don't need in many buildings - it adds to the air conditioning load!

    Also, the TOTAL savings from a compact Flour bulb saves the customer (the user) from $20-$50 or more over the length of the bulb.

    I am not saying that such a law should go into effect today or tomorrow, but what I am saying is that it will take a BUNCH of baby steps like that to create real change in our energy habits.

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  2. CrazyAboutOrchids

    CrazyAboutOrchids New Member

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    While I love the energy savings of CFLs, the light stinks. I think more people would opt for CFL's, at least I would, if they worked on the light output of them. I have recessed cans in my kitchen and use daylight bulbs in them. I've tried CFLs for them and they just stink in those two locations. I'd love to see a daylight CFL for recessed cans that provides similar strength light output. I've changed many bulbs to CFL's but the two rooms we spend the most time in, kitchen and family room, I keep the daylight bulbs. They are brighter than their CFL counterparts and have a much nicer, cleaner light.

    I don't like the proposal CA is shooting for. While I like the energy savings, I don't like the lack of choice.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Our first attempt at CFLs in the kitchen wasn't very pleasing either. But the newer generation of warm white units are much better. We've been running them for about 6 months and are pleased.

    RE: the governator's proposal, I don't think so. It's a tough thing to mandate without a lot of exceptions. Craig's approach is better - several small steps at first. CFL's are not a good idea for applications where the light is switched on/off alot. They wear out quickly when used this way. Also, how about the whole life cycle of the bulbs? What is the energy cost difference in assembly between the CFL bulbs and conventional units? Certainly CFLs have a much greater impact when disposed and should be accounted for. And I haven't seen any CFL Christmas lights yet, LEDs yes. Personally, I really prefer halogens for some applications like my desk light. Talk about longevity, we have a halogen in our living room that is going on its 22nd year and working fine still.
  4. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    I have to agree that the new CF bulbs put off a much nicer light. They are still not good for every location but are becomming much more versatile.

    Locally, we can apply for a rebate of $2.00 per bulb, there is a maximum per household of I think 10 bulbs. I think this type of encouragement to switch is much better and more effective than being forced to by the government.
  5. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    I bought a pack of 6 from the local Home Depot for $7, it is the 60Watt equivalent (14W CFLs) and they need a minute or two to get up to full brightness but it's in the eye of the beholder and it is getting better.

    However, they aren't practical for lights on a dimmer switch. They make CFLs for lights on a dimmable switch but they're like very expensive..something like $7-$9 per light.

    Jay
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The cfls I have all take a minute or so to warm and brighten up.
    How are the led replacement bulbs?
  7. detmurds

    detmurds New Member

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    Oh no! This means I can't use my "Betty Crocker's Easy Bake Oven" when I go to California! (LOL!) ....Just kidding guys, I don't have one, but I do remember watching my female cousin bake a cake with a light bulb! ....That thing was such a fire hazard.

    In my house, I have these new lights,...good stuff.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yes CFLs require a warm up period. They are much better for constant use rather than quick on/off use (like a bathroom or closet light).

    Good LED lamps with adequate light output are very pricey. So far I haven't seen one I like. The light is very bluish and cold.
  9. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I just did a quick search. The one place I saw had edison base replacements that threw out the equivalent of, like, a 35W incandescent. My experience with leds is that they are quite directional: maybe good for recessed lighting? The leds could be dimmed, though.
  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I really appreciate the warm up period of the CFLs in the bathrooms since first thing in the morning my eyeballs hurt like heck if I flip on 240 watts of full power incandescents with a mirror backdrop. The slow to brighten quality is handy. I have never gotten the claimed long life from any of my CFL bulbs, 7 years my butt. Since I don't leave lights burning for fun - most all of the applications for CFLs are non-ideal which may contribute to the short life I am experiencing.

    I use them in all places possible. I really like the light quality and noticed the energy consumption reduction immediately.

    I do not support mandating their use.
  11. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    I have tried some CFLs and generally hated all of them, but I haven't bought any in 3-4 years. I used one on an outdoor porch light that we often leave on, but for our recessed lights, we use halogen. I find that the color is much nicer/warmer and makes the wood floors look much nicer.

    If anyone has tried a specific brand/type that is supposedly improved in color response, then I would be up for trying. I'd love to find one that looks OK, but so far I can't find anything with a warm look. I'd be fine paying up to $10/bulb as the halogens already are over $5. As much as I like saving energy, I still use halogens most places. They are a little better on energy than regular bulbs, last a really long time, and are much nicer looking in recessed lights, but still nowheres as good as CFLs for energy cost.

    By the way, those energy savings probably aren't quite as huge in NY where half the year, lost efficiency in the standard lamps is still going to heat and helping to warm your house :)

    -Colin

    ps - I don't support mandating them, but am OK with incentives to keep costs low to encourage use for those that choose to...
  12. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The CFL's I've got have a warm look.
    I like the look of recessed lighting, but it seems to me to need a lot of watts for acceptable lighting. Maybe the reflective cans work but then that would take away from the look.
  13. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    As to the first part of this - I'm still no big fan of government mandates - especially not what type of light bulb I have in my house. With that said, I find it hard to believe that a switch to fluorescent bulbs would "only save 0.36 percent" Maybe if you term it as "people in California switching bulbs will only save .36 percent of the electricity generated on the planet" But on an individual basis, I would think the number would have to be much higher.

    About the CFL's themselves - I have put many in different spots throughout my house...I have several different brands bought at several different times - some observations:

    Some brands "strike" much sooner than others. Meaning, from when the switch is first thrown to the time the bulb lights. Some seem to light nearly instantly, others have a delay of nearly a second...which borders on annoying when you flip the light switch and take two steps into the still darkened room before the lights come on.

    Some brands have higher initial output, some have noticeable "warm-up" period I actually like the low initial brightness / slow warm up in the master bathroom. It is especially nice in the morning when my eyes are still adjusting to the light anyway. The CFL's start out a little dim and brighten slowly giving the eyes time to adjust.

    Cold has a noticeable effect on the lights - I run a couple in some storage rooms in the basement. Sometimes they start out pretty dim and need some time to ramp up. Likewise with the garage. Although the CFL's seem to do better than the fluorescent tubes above my work bench.

    I've had to search a bit and locate bulbs for specific areas. In some exposed lights, I have CFL's that have a plastic housing that helps diffuse the light and makes the overall appearance look very similar to the incandescent bulb that came out. In my ceiling cans, I have bulbs that have a glass envelope with a reflective interior coating. This redirects the CFL light down and increases overall output of the can...I haven't noticed the CFL's to be any dimmer than the comparable incandescent.

    Lastly, it seems the 'dimmable' fluorescents still have a ways to go in technology. The last bulb I bought still had a 'strobe' effect and didn't seem to work too well. I still run incandescents above the stove and in that room, but I have them on dimmers and usually only run about 30-50% of full output - something about the warm orange glow of the lights and the fire just seem to go together...something that the blue and/or 'warm' fluorescents still can't match.

    As for the LED's - BeGreen - have you looked into any of the 'warm white' leds? The standard whites definitely seem to be very rich in the blue spectrum - even to the point of throwing out a good portion of near UV light. I have seen some 'warm white' leds and plenty floating around on ebay, for example

    http://tinyurl.com/3ak8vw

    (on a side note, these numbers don't seem to match up...he claims something like '216 lumens comparable to a 50-60 watt incandescent bulb...but most of the true 60W bulbs I have seen are about 850 lumens)

    that look to give more of a yellow light (pic below) but have never seen any first person.

    Attached Files:

  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yes, 216 lumens is more like a 20watt incandescent bulb. I haven't followed progress in the past year. Thanks for the update. It should be possible to make them warmer, though I haven't seen this in the ultra-brites yet. However, I would think that one could mix in some red and yellow leds to warm up the overall light.
  15. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I think part of the 'ultra white' rage is that this led technology is really maturing just as blue is becoming a really popular color and the xenon driving lights are the pop fad of the year. As you say, mixing some reds and yellows should also make a more yellow light.

    One thing I have been toying with as a little side project is a giant 'pixel' light...I don't know what the true term is, but I decided that while the weather was cold, I might try to wire together some red, green, and blue leds as a single light source. With a fairly simple circuit, you can drive the RGB strings individually and 'in theory' get a nearly infinite color spectrum out....just the way your TV or monitor makes a full spectrum of colors...of course this light would only amount to a single pixel on the display.

    Corey
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Cool. Sounds like fun. Keep me posted.
  17. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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  18. TrailRunner

    TrailRunner New Member

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    CFLs have gotten better and I use them where I can. However, one issue that is not well known is that they have mercury in them. They need special recycling, something US consumers aren't into.

    Dan
  19. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I probably have around 2/3's of all my lighting in florescent bulbs (CF and tube) now. I am either accustomed to the color difference compared to incandescent and halogen, or they have gotten better. When they are behind a lampshade or a frosted globe, I sometimes can't tell which is which without eyeballing the bulb. I've even removed several dimmer switches (which seem to shorten their life, even if positioned at full power) to facilitate their use. I use them in canned, recessed fixtures, as well. Even over the kitchen island and cook top. Not even the ladies complain about them, and they sit and work beneath them.

    I was going to make the same point Trailrunner made. What happens when all these CF bulbs start appearing in landfills? It's a lot easier to just throw them into the trash (and that's what will happen) than it was the tube-type florescent bulbs (they didn't fit in there). Recycling these by homeowners will almost never happen. Most people probably aren't even aware there is mercury in them or they likely don't care. "It's just one bulb, for God's sake! What is that going to hurt? What am I supposed to do with them, keep them until the once a year recycle event that we wasted 3 hours in line (idling the car, too, BTW) last year?"

    I don't support government mandates for stuff like this. I think it's intrusive government with regard to freedom and I think it is impractical since technology always moves faster than Congress, and new developments such as this high efficiency incandescent bulb might actually be discouraged or derailed if everyone had to buy CF's to keep out of jail. I like to think I make better decisions for my household than some idiot in Congress with his hand in a CF maker's pocket, or even some well intentioned green advocate.

    On another front, I saw this in financial news for GE, but can't find a link I can post, so here are excerpts regarding a new, high efficiency, incandescent bulb.

    The new high efficiency incandescent (HEI(TM)) lamp, which incorporates innovative new materials being
    developed in partnership by GE's Lighting division, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, and GE's Global
    Research Center, headquartered in Niskayuna, NY, would replace traditional 40- to 100-Watt household
    incandescent light bulbs, the most popular lamp type used by consumers today. The new technology could
    be expanded to all other incandescent types as well. The target for these bulbs at initial production is to be
    nearly twice as efficient, at 30 lumens-per-Watt, as current incandescent bulbs. Ultimately the high
    efficiency lamp (HEI) technology is expected to be about four times as efficient as current incandescent
    bulbs and comparable to CFL bulbs.

    "In addition to offering
    significant energy savings comparable to CFLs, the 21st century version of Edison's bulb provides all the
    desirable benefits including light quality and instant-on convenience as incandescent lamps currently
    provide at a price that will be less than CFLs.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's exactly my concern too. Where is the analysis of the life cycle of these bulbs? They take more energy to make, have more toxins and are less recyclable. I'm not anti-CFL, but think that this should be viewed as a short-term intermediate step. We need a national program that will bring the cost of ultrabrite LEDs or other longterm lighting alternative, down to a viable consumer level.

    This is what bothers me about many of our current energy programs. Another case is ethanol. This is policy not based on science, but on legistlation created by lobbyists, in this case ADM.
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