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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am asked more and more about the pro's and con's of CFL bulbs.

When I install 6" can lights, I provide a white baffle with a 65 watt flood light.

Do any of you have a good link? (not written by someone who prefers one over the other for monetary reasons)

Yeah, yeah, I know it's the green thing to do but I would like to learn more about the pro's and con's so I can give more valuable advice to my clients.

Any thoughts or non-biased links regarding this subject would be appreciated.
 

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rselectric1: My favorite site for this is GE's CFL page (I don't have a link for you but you can Google it). I like it because of all the warnings, disclaimers, different bulbs based on where - how often - how cold -etc.

We're not sold on CFL's - and when customer's ask - we simply tell them that we don't believe the CFL is ready for prime time. :no: We also tell them that we hope some improvements will be made to the technology - because there will come a time when it will be the only option.
 

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Carpe Diem
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<deep breath> Here's my experience with CFLs. I've personally been using them for about 5 years. Once they got the color temperature (kelvin) to the right shade (no more crappy fluorescent yellow), I haven't had much issue with them....overall. There are a few exceptions though. Since you're talking about recessed lighting, here's the beef with CFLs:

*While turned off a PAR30 CFL looks fine to the eye but when lit, even though it's enclosed in a glass wrapper, you can distinctly see the twisted bulb inside.
*Warm up time particularly on the PAR style bulbs is insanely slow. In a 65° room, turned on from a completely cold start, the bulbs can take almost 1 minute to achieve full brightness. That may be an issue with a cheap China-made bulb but I have yet to see PAR style bulbs that are instant on.
*Yes, they do make a dimmable CFL PAR bulb but they are insanely expensive compared to a standard CFL or incandescent bulb. Also, if you get a dimmable CFL, they don't fully dim. They will dim to a certain point and then just shut off. There's a discernible "gap" in their dimming specs compared to incandescent.
*My big gripe with ALL CFLs is the disposal requirements. This is NOT an issue with the bulbs themselves but an issue with the distributors. I have never seen a respectable display describing the proper way to dispose of mercury-filled CFLs. Most big box stores sell standard CFL bulbs pretty cheap. However, they don't notify customers that they contain mercury and must be disposed of in a specific manner. My local lighting supplier is the only business I've seen that has any form of visible warning on CFL disposal. They even give a URL and phone number for disposing in Will County. I suspect most CFLs are thrown into people's regular trash.

So, specifically regarding CFL usage in recessed lighting....:thumbdown

What I have seen recently and think may be a better alternative (in due time) will be LED bulbs. I saw a med-base LED bulb in a standard fixture and you could not tell the difference next to an incandescent bulb in the same lamp. Sure, it cost $85 but hey, it had a 50,000 hour life span!!!! Once LED prices drop (dramatically) I think they will be the death of CFL
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've seen the same problems. Particularly in kitchen cans where they take a while to warm up. It's dismal when you first turn them on. Plus there is the appearance issue, the disposal issue, and the cost issue when you want something like a dimmable bulb.

I like the long life, but that's it so far.
 

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I will keep my respose short:

- They contain mercury.

- They require alot more energy during their production.

- They cost 5 times as much.

- They cannot be dimmed unless you get the bulbs with the dimmer ballasts that cost 20 times as much...and the dimming is a very short band and does not look smooth.

- Their light looks terrible and makes reading difficult.

- We have invested sooooo much in CFLs even though LED lights are right around the corner...what a bunch of wasted resources.

By using CFLs your making alot of people rich not saving the planted, they are as green as I am communist. If I had the money I would buy every CFL on the planet and have then drop-shipped ontop of David Suzuki's house.
 

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It seems ironic about everyones concern about the mercury in the CFLs given that recent fluorescent technology has probably the lowest levels in years. Also how many millions of tubes with the higher levels of mercury have been used for years with no concern for the disposal?

At least here unless you have a significant quantity you are being told to dispose of CFLs in the household trash.

There is more of an issue if one is broken in the house with the potential for mercury exposure through vapors.
 

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I read an interesting article on CFL's (wasn't in favour!!) One thing people have not discussed much is the increase in heating costs during the cold months (lots of those up here!). Of course some of this would be offset by cooler running in the summer, but, it is one more thing to consider.

I have used Par Style CFL's and agree with Angus on many of his points.

LED is the way of the future, once they become mass produced and mainstream.
 

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It seems ironic about everyones concern about the mercury in the CFLs given that recent fluorescent technology has probably the lowest levels in years. Also how many millions of tubes with the higher levels of mercury have been used for years with no concern for the disposal?

At least here unless you have a significant quantity you are being told to dispose of CFLs in the household trash.

There is more of an issue if one is broken in the house with the potential for mercury exposure through vapors.
What is really ironic is that the folks pushing CFL's are the same people that pushed for the elimination of paper bags - plastic is what we should be using. Now the dumps are full of plastic and paper is looking pretty good to them.

As I said - We're not sold on CFL's yet.

"significant quantity"? Who said this? Need definition:rolleyes:
 

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Most Whole Foods grocery stores have a CFL recycling bin in their foyer.
I have found that CFLs don't like fixtures with motion sensors and burn out prematurely.
The cost is down to $1.50 each at Menards. I gladly pay that for bulbs that lasts 5 years.
I think they're a good "interim" technology.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Interesting "coincedence".
4 out of 5 questions I get about these lamps are pursuant to their school age children saying "you have to use bulbs-they're good for the planet"

Has someone made stepford wives out of our kids? Yikes!
 

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Carpe Diem
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Most Whole Foods grocery stores have a CFL recycling bin in their foyer.
I have found that CFLs don't like fixtures with motion sensors and burn out prematurely.
The cost is down to $1.50 each at Menards. I gladly pay that for bulbs that lasts 5 years.
I think they're a good "interim" technology.
I use them for my home and recycle them properly when they burn out. But the question on the table is, what do you think about them for recessed lighting?
 

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I own stock in FotoMat!
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Most Whole Foods grocery stores have a CFL recycling bin in their foyer...........
So do they evacuate the store whenever someone breaks one?
 

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I read an interesting article on CFL's (wasn't in favour!!) One thing people have not discussed much is the increase in heating costs during the cold months (lots of those up here!). Of course some of this would be offset by cooler running in the summer, but, it is one more thing to consider.
:rolleyes:

Maybe you could just leave the oven running to offset those "cool running" CFLs.
 

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I am not a fan of CFL's, but in a recessed light in a kitchen they are OK. No being able to dim the lights and the poor lighting quality is just too much to overcome in a residential setting. I prefer CFL's in garages, closets, storage rooms, and attics to traditional florescent lighting because there is no ballast or starter.
 

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Just a little food for thought on the mercury issue. They are getting much lower counts in the current generation of bulbs and from what I hear about the "next generation". They also use less electricity to operate. In most parts of the country there is a good chance your electricity is from burning coal. That is the number one source of mercury in the environment, has been and continues to be.

Who has not sent a 4' tube in a javelin throw to its death in the past? Lots more mercury in those and people broke em for fun when they burnt out. Suddenly everyone is in a panic about these little cfls.

I do not mind the light, and I think the quality of light is getting better. I think the made in China bulbs at the home store suck. They burn out way too fast. Bought my first cfl in the early 90's and it lasted forever. New home store ones do not last a year. Just ordered some new ones from an internet site, going to date them when I install and see if they are better.
 

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Here in California (a beautiful place to live, work and shop by the way) because of our energy conservation codes, I have installed hundreds of fluorescent cans in kitchens. I use 26 watt PL lamps and a trim with a reflective chrome finish. Yeah, takes almost a minute to warm up but they're not as bad as I initially expected. As far as dimming, these are always in the kitchen and I just don't think that's an important area for dimmers. For subdued lighting we generally install pendants over the island.
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