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CFL's in Recessed Fixtures

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by TreePapa, Jan 27, 2010.

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  1. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Can I put regular, cheap(ish) CFL's in (non-dimmable) recessed "can" light fixutres? Or do I have to use the more 'spensive ($10 @ home dope for box of 2) "flood" style CFL's. These are in closets so I don't give a hoot about appearance.

    Thanks,

    Peace,
    - Sequoia

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  2. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    So long as they fit, I see no problem. The only issue I've had with CFL's is that some won't fit into certain lights as the base is just too wide and the light was designed around a traditional bulb.

    pen
  3. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    +1... I use em in my recessed fixtures...
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    All of my can lights have the cheap curly-Q CFLs in them. Yes, you can look inside and see the stickers put inside the can to warn about max wattage and they aren't as pretty as the big lights with the fancy reflectors that fill the can hole but they certainly do work well and are much cheaper.

    Only negative is that I use the eyeball cans that you can aim. When you intall a non-reflectored CFL you lose the ability to aim the light by adjusting the angle of the dangle.

    I get very good life from the CFLs mounted upside down.
  5. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    Highbeam:

    "the angle of the dangle" :lol:

    Shari
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's a technical term used out west in more sophisticated remodeling circles. :)
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    FWIW, I had crappy luck with using CFLs in recessed cans in the beginning. I got several free bulbs in exchange from Philips because their CFLs were short lived when used this way. Seems the electronics would overheat. I date the bulbs on the backside to keep track and found that the newer generation is lasting longer, but no better lifespan than the halogen floods they replaced.
  8. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    In my area halogen floods are about 6x the cost of a cfl, so even if the cfl doesn't last any longer, I'm still saving energy and alot of money over the lifetime of the bulb.

    My houes is now about 7 years old and I'm just starting to replace the cfls I put in when we were done wiht construction. My outdoor lights are atill the same 30w cfl's I installed when we put the fixtures in...they take a bit longer to warm up when its 12 below outside, but they always work.

    You cna put regular curly cfls in, but varyin by brand and such you may have heat problems wiht the ballasts. There are alot of new CFL configurations out there now, and they do make CFL lamps that are designed to work in recessed cans and have a nice flood pattern that will get an experience much closer to that of the "standard" flood light you would normally put in a recessed can.
  9. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    The biggest difference is in the quality of the light.

    A flood lamp will distribute the light evenly. Putting cheap CFLs into the fixtures instead of reflector CFLs will probably result in uneven light.

    In a closet, that might not make any difference. If you put the plain CFL in and you can no-longer see what's in the corners, then get the other kind.
  10. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    I just had a dimmable Feit curly burn up hanging upside down in a can over the sink.
    Lots of smoke, but no flame. There was a pair. they both went out in the snow bank right quick.
    Kinda glad I was home.
    Regular bulbs back in there for now.

    Otherwise I've had good luck with cfls. (except for those dimmables and 3 ways don't seem to last, either)
    I've noticed the outdoor flood cfls take a while longer getting to full brightness when it is real cold, too.
  11. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    i have the CFLs in my cans too. I think it looks silly, but i don't care. at least yours are in a closet. My biggest problem with them is that they have a warm up period before you get the best lighting. in a closet this might suck because you expect to walk up and flip the light on and be able to see ASAP, thats the whole point of a closet light.
  12. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Good point Danno ... mebbe I just leave the existing bulbs in there. This is in the guest house we refer to as "the cottage" which we will be renting out when painting etc. is done. My in-laws lived in it for the last 8 or 9 yrs, but FIL has passed and MIL (w/ advanced dementia) is now in nursing home. No separate meters, so we pay utilities. I've replaced as many of the other bulbs as I can w/ CFLs to keep 'lectric usage down. On 2nd thought, I'll just experiment w/ the CFLs and see whether the light is acceptable and the warm-up isn't too long.

    Thanks guys,

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  13. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    BTW, don't get me wrong, you get instant light, it just isn't as bright as it will be in a few minutes. If you keep your house very cold then it'll be even worse. you might just compensate by using some of those 100w equivalents.
  14. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    My CFLs don't come on instantly. There's a definite pause between hitting the switch and getting light.

    My soloution is to use them in places where it doesn't matter (like the can light over the shower) and in combination with other bulbs. So our kitchen has four bulbs in two fixtures. I put 60w incandescent bulbs, one in each fixture, and brighter CFLs, one each. Seems like a reasonable compromise.
  15. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I like the warm up period. Especially in rooms that I may be walking into after just waking up in the morning like the bathroom. Since I have been banned from peeing in the dark, I must crank up the lights and my eyes burn like fire if I don't use those slow warm up CFLs.

    Yes, we use the angle of the dangle pretty often in the NW. I just hope it isn't some sort of offensive term to some group of people.
  16. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Compared to where most of ya'll live, our house never gets "very cold." This is so. calif. after all; I don't think it gets cold enough to effect light bulb performance here, at least not that often. And the cottage is much better insulated than the main house, so it is "really cold" even when there is no heat at it's cold outside (for so. calif., that is).

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  17. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Some of mine have a delay even in the summer here in South Carolina (when it's freekin' hot).

    But some come on right away even outside in the winter.

    So there must be differences between the bulbs.
  18. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    All of my CFLs are instantly lit, there is a delay to full brightness and the dely is longer the colder the air temps are.

    One thing I do want to point out is that at least in MA, it is a building code violation to put recessed cans and non fluorescent fixtures into a closet. Technically the only allowed in htere (as of the time I was under construction in 2002/2003) are fluorescent tubes, but only the smaller strip lights...which are the kind that take a solid 5-6 seconds before they flicker a couple times like a flashbulb and then finally turn on. I hate them and will eventually change them.
  19. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    I have heard that cfl's are not a good choice if it is a light fixture that is turned on/off very frequently or if the light is not going to be left on for long periods of time. For example in pantries, closets and other short term "rooms". Is that true? I heard that is makes the life of the cfl shorter every time you turn them on.
  20. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    @Mayhem ... that's a strange bldg. code. We built the cottage in '01 or '02 (I think) and I'm purty sure the code here actually required recessed fixtures in the closets. I know the one thing that was prohibited was the old-fashion, inexpensvie exposed-bulb incandescent, due to fire hazard. I'm fairly certain any surface-mounted incandescent fixtures were verboten in closets, but for safety, not energy, reasons.

    Most of the CFL's at my house have a warm-up period, it just does not seem to be affected by weather, temp, etc. And I turn off all lightes, including CFLs, as quickly as possible after turning them on. Hall lights esp. are on for short periods; doesn't seem to have any effect that I notice. Most of our ceiling fixtures have the same CFLs we put in them when the house was rewired sometime around '02.

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  21. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    There's no appreciable electricity use savings . You won't be saving money by replacing an incandescant there.

    Flourescent tubes used to be rated by on'off cycles rather than hours. Course it was always maintenance people that told that tale.
  22. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    from what i'm told from the supply house and lighting reps fluorescent bulbs life is shorten by turning it on and off. they last longer when you leave them on. shutting off a 15 watt light for 15 to 30 mins and turning it on is not going to save a whole lot of money. tuning it on and off and buying new because of the shorten life costs more in the long run.
    i made a cfl fixture for my driveway. took a 150 watt high pressure sodium fixture and stripped the guts out. installed two 27 watt cfl bulbs in the fixture with a foil backer for a reflector. i burn just under 60 watts and get a light that is at least as bright if not brighter than the street light.(when the bulbs are new) they lose light power as they get older. these lights go on before dark and shut off a dawn. they are 6 almost 7 years old and still going.
    in a closet in mass recessed lights are allowed they just have to have a cover over the bulb. aka shower trim. but that way you can only get 40 watts in most fixtures and the trim suck up light so they are not very bright. if you put a 15 watt curly bulb in a recessed fixture and compare the light output from the same wattage reflector, it's like have a higher watt bulb in the reflector fixture. if you want some serious light out of your recessed fixtures go get the 23 watt reflector bulbs and install them so that the light comes down 1/2 inch below the ceiling and you'll get loads of light. these light my kitchen brighter than the 75 watt halogens i took out. the only problem is they take 5 minutes to warm up. cheap bulbs. as in quality. we got a hardware store in billerica mass call o'connor hardware. only place around here that sells this brand called maxlite. these bulbs are the curly type they cost under a dollar and when first turned on they are at 3/4 brightness and only take 1 minute to come up to full brightness. compared to most other cheapys that start at 1/4 brightness and climb to full in 5 minutes. best cheap bulbs that i've seen. and they last 10,000 hours. some of the cheaper quality cfl's only last 6,000 hours.
  23. RustyShackleford

    RustyShackleford Minister of Fire

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    I have the Halo 6" "can" fixtures. I replaced all the trims with ones that
    were a reflective metallic finish. Thus I can use "regular" (cheap) bulbs,
    be they incandescent or CFL. These trims are hard or impossible to find
    at regular home improvement stores. I assume it's a scam to keep you
    buying the crazy-expensive reflector bulbs, be they CFL or not. I ordered
    them for about $10 a pop off the google, and took a tax credit. As an
    added bonus, they are air-tight.
  24. RustyShackleford

    RustyShackleford Minister of Fire

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    Another issue is that CFLs take a while to come to full brightness. I had one
    in my walk-in closet, and it was frustrating, because you walk in , flip the switch,
    and want to see what you're looking for NOW. Then I realized how little time
    I have that light on, and just put in an incandescent.
  25. StackedLumber

    StackedLumber New Member

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    One thing for consideration is the new generation LED light bulbs-they use even less energy than CFL's and IMO they give off way better light. They are supposed to last much much longer too from CFL's. There's one catch, at least around here, they are super expensive, probably b/c they are a newer concept. (I think here a CFL costs roughly $6-$7 and the LED's are $25-$30)

    That's a great idea to write the date on the bulb base to see what kind of life span your getting from those bulbs. I've had some that I swore lasted about as long as a reg. incand.

    The Electrician I used to work for would go out of his way to talk people into putting CFL's into their can lights. To this day he's convinced that CFL's are the way to go if you can't afford the LED's.
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