Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 27, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

CF BULBS....A year ago Marian and I replaced about 20 bulbs around the house with CF bulbs. Hooray for saving energy! But one of them just burned out, and it occurred to me as I was replacing it that this is the fourth or fifth one I've had to replace. The first one I figured was just bad luck. Nobody has a perfect manufacturing record. The second one seemed like more bad luck. The third one made me think something was going on. Now I'm up to four. Maybe five, if I've forgotten one.

Now, maybe this has nothing to do with the bulbs. Maybe the wiring in my house sucks — though ordinary incandescent bulbs have never given out on me like this. And the CF bulbs are supposed to last practically forever. It's one of their selling points.

A 20% failure rate over the course of a year sure seems excessive, no? Anybody else have the same problem?

UPDATE: We don't turn the CF bulbs on and off a lot, so I don't think that's the issue. And we've used several different brands, so I don't think that's it either. (Though I haven't kept track of what brands we've purchased and which ones have failed, so who knows?)

However, I'm pretty sure that the failues have almost all been in recessed ceiling fixtures, not in table lamps. I wonder if that has something to do with it?

Kevin Drum 9:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (114)

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We've had very bad luck with CFs over the past two years. Particularly in areas where they are switched frequently.

Posted by: steve on October 27, 2007 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody else have the same problem? I have deployed about nine bulbs over the last four years. Only one burned out. And I actually use them regularly for illuminating the living space ... I don't have the packaging anymore, but I think they're the 15w GEs.

Posted by: clumpy on October 27, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Mine seem to last 3-5 years when heavily used vs about 1 year for brand name incandescents. Not sure exactly. The first wave of them I bought back in... 2000 or so are all gone now.

I think those first two were at least $15 each!

I once bought a box of super cheap incandescent bulbs with a roommate. Those were burning out while I lived with that person, and I only lived with them for three months. After that those became the bulbs I left in apartments I was moving out of.

Posted by: jefff on October 27, 2007 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Make sure you don't break one. Mercury vapor is bad news. If you do, open the windows and run away, and call in the haz mat team. Well, joking, but not totally.

I'll wait until the technology exists to make them mercury-free.

Posted by: luci on October 27, 2007 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I've had them installed in standard ceiling fixtures for several years, and I routinely have to replace 25-30% of them in any given year. I don't think the lifespan ratings are accurate under normal use.

I bought some LED bulbs, too - they put out a lot less light, but are supposed to last even longer. Within a week, two of the four I put in had wedge-shaped sections of the LEDs go out. Pretty irritating for bulbs that are rated at 10,000 hours and cost $25 each.

Posted by: Dave on October 27, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Me, too. These have lasted far less time than regular bulbs, despite the claim they will last longer. I think having them in a certain position (only pointing up?) is supposed to help. But count me ... underwhelmed.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on October 27, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ah-HA! Now -this- is Obama's new Big Issue!

Posted by: g on October 27, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

I bought a half-dozen MicroMax-Spiral 25 Watt bulbs back in July 2006. None has burned out yet, not even those that are heavily used.

Posted by: Swift Loris on October 27, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

We've had pretty good luck with the CF bulbs we put in. They're not turned on and off a lot and last a couple years or more.

Posted by: beb on October 27, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the rush to make these things cheap has resulted in shabby manufacturing standards.

The price on cfbs has PLUMMETED. I bought a couple for $5.00 each at Home Depot last year; units of the comparable size are now selling for a buck.

* * *

The "toxic mercury" scare aspect of CFBs underwhelms me. We've been using florescent tubes for decades. They have just as much if not more mercury. No one I know takes special precautions when the tube over the shop table in the garage blows. Offices regularly toss them out.

I'm not saying that this is the correct way to dispose of them; I just can't ignore a whiff of FUD when conservatives start smugging about the mercury content of CFBs. Like, why didn't you care before?

Posted by: Stefan Jones on October 27, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

We replaced a ton of our lightbulbs with CFs before it got hot last summer. Not a one gone, yet.

On the other hand, Kevin, if you use your heater in the harsh Orange County winter, you may want to switch back for the duration and go CF in the spring.

Posted by: TJ on October 27, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

I bought a bunch of no-name "CFL-your-business-for-the-tax-credit" bulbs that had a very high failure rate. Bought another bunch from Costco as replacements- havent had a loss yet - about two years now.

Posted by: sidewinder on October 27, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

I've seen a lot of posts about this. There is a lot of variation in reliability among manufacturers. Probably there is a site somewhere that tracks this. Also, I think heat will shorten the life of the device so putting them in a closed light fixture might shorten the life. Running them at voltages outside the specified range will probably also shorten the life (as with incandescents).

I replaced our two front porch lights with CFs over ten years ago. One died after six or seven years, the other is going strong. I haven't tracked the ones we installed recently. It doesn't seem we've had any particular trouble with them.

As for the LED, I think a similar caveat applies. The diode itself is very rugged and should last a long time. However, the device you purchase will consist of multiple diodes and some power management circuitry and something to hold all that together. Lots of opportunity to fail if not made well even though the parts themselves might be high quality.

Posted by: JohnK on October 27, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Kevin. What did you think of the USC loss to the Ducks today? Looks like it will be the Las Vegas bowl this year for Pete and the boys.

Posted by: Cade McNown on October 27, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

I bought a bunch of these in 1990, all of which lasted about 13 years and all burned out within a couple of months of each other. Ones I've bought since then have been much less reliable. My guess is that as they've become more popular, the electronics have become cheaper and less reliable.

Posted by: Kevin Miller on October 27, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Normal incandescant bulbs lose lifetime by giving off light -- the filaments grow weaker until they break.

CF bulbs have no filiaments, and can give off light for a very long time. Their failure point is in the electronics, especially the mini-transformers that convert the house AC power to DC. These components are stressed by the surge of power from turning them on.

This means that CF bulbs only last longer when turned on and left on. They're meant for long-use applications. Every time you switch them on and off they lose a little bit of their lifetime.

I use CF bulbs as the house lights in rooms that I spend a lot of time in and leave the lights on for hours at a time. In rooms where I quickly switch the lights on and off -- bathroom, garage, etc -- I stick to incandescants.

The CF bulbs still save you energy in other places, but they're only cost efficient when they last a long time. If you have the money to spend, use them everywhere and you'll be helping save the planet a little bit more.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on October 27, 2007 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

All the bulbs in my house are CF, and have been for seven years, and I've replaced, um, six. In seven years. So, less than one bulb per year, for the whole house, a mix of heavily-used and lightly-used lights.

Posted by: Lis on October 27, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

I've got a couple of dozen CFs in the house, and I've had to replace four of them since we moved in eight years ago.

I think the ones that failed were all cheapies from Costco. Maybe you got unlucky in your choice of brands.

Posted by: Evan on October 27, 2007 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, and yes, and yes. I have problems with them too and I've bought no name and GE and it's the same across the board. Bad luck with CF bulbs. I have a house built in 1939, so i've wondered too if it is wiring or what?

Posted by: The Critic on October 27, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

All the non-appliance lights in our house are CFLs, and have been for ten years. Some of the original lights are still in place, but most of them have been replaced once or twice. Unsurprisingly, the ones that are on more are the ones that have been replaced the most.

Usually I bought really cheap ones (there was a place near here that sold them 50 cents each) but I didn't notice any particular difference in how long they lasted. I have some weird flat B-shaped ones from GE that have lasted really well, I think a couple of them are still the original ones.

Recently I bought a couple at Home Depot that made a really unpleasant noise, so I didn't use those, but other than that I can't really say I've had any problems, and I am pointlessly fanatic about turning them off in rooms where they aren't needed.

Posted by: matt wilbert on October 27, 2007 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

The CF bulbs still save you energy in other places, but they're only cost efficient when they last a long time.

Depends on where you live, perhaps. In California, they're subsidized; you can get cheap ones for around $1 each, sometimes less. I haven't done the math, but I suspect that it still works out to be cost effective at that price.

Posted by: Evan on October 27, 2007 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

I heard the same as Remus above: it's an on-off issue, so you have avoid flicking them on and off.

Posted by: Bob M on October 27, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

[I'm standing here with my friends with my hands folded alaughing at you]

Serves you right, Kevin. I buy what's the best value for me, and don't allow my purchases to be fooled by Al Snore and Sheral Crow.

Guess what, I also leave my lights on WHEN I"M NOT EVEN IN TEH ROOM! Just to piss you liberals off. Heh Heh. I'm teaching my bride too be to do the same.

Posted by: egbert on October 27, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt the wiring has anything to do with it, but how about power quality? I live across the street from a factory that undoubtedly has some large inductive loads that go on and off, and my UPS is constantly bitching about line noise (i.e. the UPS will take over because it doesn't trust the line AC). what is the effect of large voltage spikes or power factor changes on CFs?

Posted by: supersaurus on October 27, 2007 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

I switched entirely to cf bulbs about three years ago. Mostly they are the 75 Watt equivalent type. One is in the living room where I turned it on when I installed it three years ago and it is still working. I put another into the front porch light, and have replaced it once. The incandescent bulbs went out there every six months, and I have to disassemble the fixture to replace the bulbs.

When I moved into the house eight years ago, the kitchen overhead lights were two 40 flourescent bulbs. They go out together, and I have had to replace them twice in the eight years. I am having about the same time with most of the CF bulbs. And my electric bill did drop noticeably.

I think I will start logging them, though, and writing the replacement date on each in grease pencil. Should be interesting. I'll also list whether they light is indoor or full spectrum. My bet is that will make a difference.

Posted by: Rick B on October 27, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

we have a fixture (recessed) which eats cf light bulbs. I think they are more sensitive to surges or something than are incandescent bulbs.

Or maybe I'm seeing a pattern where no pattern exists.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on October 27, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, being in recessed fixtures is the problem. Ordinary CFLs overheat in recessed fixtures. You either need fixtures built for CFLs or to use reflector CFLs, rather than the spiral types.

Posted by: Markt4 on October 27, 2007 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Guess what, I also leave my lights on WHEN I"M NOT EVEN IN TEH ROOM! Just to piss you liberals off. Heh Heh. I'm teaching my bride too be to do the same."

I wonder where she was ordered from.

Posted by: DBake on October 27, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

They don't like heat, that's for sure. In any enclosed or semi-enclosed fixture where they heat up they will burn out in about 8 months in my experience - although they last longer in that service than incandescents.


Posted by: Cranky Observer on October 27, 2007 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think they're supposed to be used in recessed fixtures. In fact, I'm almost positive. I've been using them for years and have never had one fail.

On a similar note, if you shop online, it's easier to find different wattages and more importantly, color temperatures so that you can get better variety from electrical supply distributors.

Posted by: George on October 27, 2007 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

I only buy water cooled CFLs.

The water system runs from my computers through cooling loops in the walls into the CFLs back through a UV sterilizer into the fridge and back into the CPUs.

No problems so far, except for a few drips that are unfortunately right over the couch.

Posted by: jerry on October 27, 2007 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK


"Guess what, I also leave my lights on WHEN I"M NOT EVEN IN TEH ROOM! Just to piss you liberals off. Heh Heh. I'm teaching my bride too be to do the same."

Yep, it is self evident that rightists are anti-social (in a clinical 301.7 sense) twits.

I've had some Phillips dimmable bulbs that have lasted over 5 years now. But I haven't had good luck with budget cf lamps.

Posted by: Porco Rosso on October 27, 2007 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I replaced all mine during the Enron/energy crisis in California. Since then I have moved to Oregon and brought some of the bulbs out of that house and installed them here. Very few have gone out...I can only remember replacing one.

A friend of mine was living in a tiny apartment in an old building in San Diego and running several servers on the single 15-amp circuit that served both bedrooms and the living room. The breaker was always popping until he replace all his bulbs with CF's; this spared enough wattage to keep him going..no more popped breaker. Just a physical demo of how much pwer they do save.

Posted by: matt in eugene on October 27, 2007 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

"However, I'm pretty sure that the failues have almost all been in recessed ceiling fixtures, not in table lamps. I wonder if that has something to do with it?"

It's the recessed fixture, or any tightly enclosed space. Not at CF bulbs are equal in that respect. Heat seems to be the problem.

There are often warnings about all that sort of thing on the packaging, which few people bother to read.

Posted by: e.R. Beardsley on October 27, 2007 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Same experience here. They burn out way too often. We live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, though, and I don't think the power is any too clean, so perhaps that's a contributing factor.

Posted by: Dave Trowbridge on October 27, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

I have had about 2 CFs fail over the past 18 years, plus 2-3 more that broke due to dropping or other rough handling. Most of the house was converted about 5 years ago. CFs are also nice in utility light fixtures - the fixture doesn't get hot like it does with an incandescent (or halogen incandescent). The failures were in the same fixture. Perhaps the contacts are bad in it or something similar.

I have one GE unit that looks like a very big lightbulb that has been in place for about 18 years, light duty. Keep waiting for it to fail because it takes a couple of seconds to turn on, but it never fails.

Home Depot (was just there an hour ago) now has CFs with different phosphors, including "warm white". Bought a few but haven't tried one yet.

egbert: I buy what's the best value for me, and don't allow my purchases to be fooled by Al Snore and Sheral Crow. Guess what, I also leave my lights on WHEN I"M NOT EVEN IN TEH ROOM! Just to piss you liberals off.
CFs (or other fluorescents) are the best value ATM, unless you're living in a place with electricity cheap enough to heat with, and it's a heating season - then lighting with black-body radiation (incandescent) can make sense.
Outside, motion detectors can be very good. The major advantage of motion detectors is that the light bulbs almost never have to be replaced, which can be a pain if the fixture is mounted high enough that a ladder is required for bulb replacement.
Also less light pollution, which is nice if you're in a rural area and like to see stars at night and aren't afraid of the dark.

Posted by: Bill Arnold on October 27, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

CFs live long enough... They've been cheaper over time than incandescents for years. A decade ago they were $10 each, and now?

They give the same light for a quarter to a tenth of the power.

Even replaced the bulbs in my refridgerator - had the refridgerator for five years, replaced the CFLs once. You'd need to open the door only one tenth of a second for an incandescent to only that same amount of power... Let alone release the same amount of heat.

Now, my 7 watt LED lighting that lights up my hall and entrance has failed once... It was kinda annoying. But it lights up two halls and a stair with about as much light as dozens of 7watt incandescents would. The twelve dollar price is more than alright.

Posted by: Crissa on October 27, 2007 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

We have been running CF's in two different houses and now we have moved into an apartment. We have used CF's whenever possible. Not one has ever burned out. We have used the ones that go into canned lighting, track lighting, and floor lamps. Love 'em. Longest running CF's have been since 2002.

Posted by: LJ on October 27, 2007 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Moths and other teeny-tiny insects are drawn far more strongly to CF bulbs. CATS are drawn to the teeny-tiny insect activity. Your cats are batting those insects about around your lamps causing damage! Need to mount a tiny camera on Domino's and Inkblot's collars so you can check out what they are doing around those bulbs to rule out the cat's possible involvement in the CF mortality statistics.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on October 27, 2007 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Any chance there's a dimmer switch on those circuits? They work by chopping up the duty cycle, and, if folks here are correct that the tiny transformers are sensitive, the back emf might be blowing them out.

Posted by: Matt on October 27, 2007 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

I've had mixed experiences w/ CFLs.

In my previous house which was pretty spotty with regular incandescent bulbs, I think I had to replace one after a few months.

In our new pad, we've had 3 inexplicable failures (way less than a year) on them in

Others continue to chug along without issues for years. All purchased from a 2005-ish GE batch.

Posted by: Pete_in_PA on October 27, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've bought all my CF bulbs from Ikea. Began buying them about six years ago. Now every single bulb -- every lamp, every ceiling bulb -- is CF, including the bathroom. I only have 1 setting lamps and no dimmer switches. Have moved several times (and always take the CFs with me). Never had any trouble with any of the Ikea bulbs. I did have problems with an outdoor CF (probably Philips or GE) on an outside light that did not have steady current -- flickered in the wind. Went through 2 bulbs in one month and gave up and went back to incandescent. And went through a bulb there too before we moved again.

Posted by: Inaudible Nonsense on October 27, 2007 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

My impression is they either fail quickly or last practically forever. We have one in the basement stairwell that I think is about 8-9 years old.

I bought some not-cheap 3-way CF's to go into some 3-way lamps of ours. Count me unimpressed. The bulbs are so large they won't fit into some of the fixtures, the three different modes are tightly bunched in terms of light output, one stopped being 3-way and reverted to simple on-off, and another failed completely after a few months. Meh.

OTOH we've replaced a lot of our other lights with CF's with good results. I especially like them in our automatic garage lights that have a light sensor (you need a special doohicky to make them work well in that application). They work best in a traditional shaded lamp that warms up the light color a bit.

Posted by: jimBOB on October 27, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK


Recessed ceiling fixtures typically have temperature-sensitive power cutoff switches built in, to prevent fires. It may be that your bulbs haven't burned out. Did you check the bulbs you removed in another fixture - like a table lamp - to be sure it's really the bulb and not a failure of these series switches. Alternatively, if you put an incandescent in the ceiling fixture, does it work?

Posted by: Greg in FL on October 27, 2007 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it's because you're putting them into recessed fixtures. Unless the CFL package specifically labels them as approved for recessed or enclosed lamp fixtures (as some do), don't put them in there. Even though they're more efficient than incandescent bulbs, they still do generate heat, and that will cause them to fail prematurely. Either stick with incandescents in those fixtures, or replace the recessed light fixtures with ventilated ones (expensive).

Posted by: Leszek Pawlowicz on October 27, 2007 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

There are CFLs which are rated for recessed fixtures. Search the web Otherwise, the electronics in them will cook, especially if they are operated base-up. Even in CFLs rated for high temp, running them in enclosed fixtures will shorten their life compared to operation in open fixtures.

The electronics in a garden-variety CFL are only rated up to 85C, and typically will heat up a fair amount even without being locked in a sealed container. Typically, an electrolytic capacitor will dry out and either short, blowing the CFL's internal fuse, or develop so much internal resistance that other parts fail (typically the MOSFETs that serve as high-speed current switches) from voltage spikes.

Sealed units (e.g. reflector lamps) are designed to tolerate higher internal temps and so may do better.

I have about 50 CFLs in my house (everywhere except for oven, range hood, and outside motion-sensor-controlled fixtures), but I changed fixtures in a number of places such that only two recessed fixtures remained. The latter are in the kitchen ceiling -- they have a large internal space, and operate the lamps sideways. (They were made for 200 watt incandescents.)

In the three years since we moved into this house (I did the CFL conversion before we moved in) I've replaced three lamps (a no-name spiral, a TCP globe, and a Westinghouse dimmable spiral.)

Posted by: idlemind on October 27, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

You aren't supposed to use them with a dimmer switch. If you do, they won't last any longer than a conventional bulb. At least that's what it says on the package.

Posted by: Herb on October 27, 2007 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

second what herb said. that's the first thing i thought of when you said recessed...we've had no problem with ours but not enuf of a sample to draw any conclusions...

Posted by: mudwall jackson on October 27, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

I've not had good experiences with CFL's. Maybe it's just me, but...

Short on/off cycles demonstrably kill CFLs, and can reduce their life by more than 80%. The result--all other things being equal--gives you about the same life of an incandescent. Which suggests that dirty power also likely reduces their life. While they use less power when on, the TCO is not necessarily better than incandescents.

That said, and while I consider myself energy conscious, I'll pay a premium not to have to screw around replacing bulbs. So I'm now moving to LED's.

Posted by: has407 on October 27, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Holy shit Kevin!

I think we've had ours for about 7 or 8 months, and haven't had a problem. It sounds like they must not be designed to be hanging upside-down. That's the only thing I can think of (don't know much about lightbulbs, though) and it seems like it's obviously the thing. None of ours are in upside-down fixtures, only in right-side up lamps.

Posted by: Swan on October 27, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe you wanna try switching to halogens...

I say, call a really smart nerd if you know one, or try an engineer from a university, or shooting an e-mail to those guys at Popular Science or Popular Mechanics. It's my guess that a lot of practical knowledge about these hasn't trickled down to your garden-variety electrician yet.

Posted by: Swan on October 27, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Now I see why you needed all that donation money-- you're running out of lightbulbs.

Posted by: Swan on October 28, 2007 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

have not had one burn out - we don't have too many, but they clearly last far longer than incandescent bulbs.

someone is sabotaging your lights kevin!

Posted by: tarylcabot on October 28, 2007 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Just remember, it takes two to tango, and two very small people to screw in a lightbulb.

Posted by: lampwick on October 28, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

I've been using them for years and most all of them live past their expected lifespan. The ones I've had go early were in those funnel shaped clip-on light fixtures like people use for art tables (can't remember their common name, sorry). I think they don't like heat buildup around them.

Posted by: jim p on October 28, 2007 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

I started using them about 8 months ago and have had no problems. I had to get used to the second or so delay after flipping the switch and also the different glow compared to standard bulbs.

Posted by: nightjar on October 28, 2007 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

At my house we have the cat pedalling on a little stationary bike, providing power to the lights. We have him doing practical things, not lying around like some college kid on spring break.

Anyway it's topical because it saves us money even if the lights go early.

Posted by: Swan on October 28, 2007 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, switching to CF to save energy means you're contributing to the nation's energy independence. Yet your bulbs fail, defying your best efforts. Why, oh why do your CF bulbs hate America so?!?!

Posted by: steve duncan on October 28, 2007 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

I had a similar problem. The cause turned out to be dimmer switches. Most CFs don't work right with dimmer switches, even if the switch is set to full power. Satco makes a line of CF bulbs that do work with dimmer switches.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 28, 2007 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

I have 15+ CF bulbs deployed in the house and haven't had a failure in 2+ years of use.

Posted by: Paul Larson on October 28, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

I get back reading some of this to sober up and find bulbs? WTF... well I have one myself. I've had it about 14 months and it's still going strong, it's on a regular table lamp. It's on a lot, and once I even left it on for a month just to see if anything would happen. Since the lamp is in a central location in my apartment, I can just use it as a central light unless I have company.

Nope, still going strong. Maybe the bulbs just aren't very compatible with your recessed ceiling lights because of current or something.

Posted by: MNPundit on October 28, 2007 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Yes, being in recessed fixtures is the problem. Ordinary CFLs overheat in recessed fixtures. You either need fixtures built for CFLs or to use reflector CFLs, rather than the spiral types."

I believe this is true. In fact, the ordinary CFLs I recently purchased included the warning not to use them in overhead fixtures (pointing down). The reflector CFLs which can be used in overhead recessed lights are available at Costco and elsewhere.

Posted by: Ben Brackley on October 28, 2007 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

The quality control on cf's stinks. The bulbs purchased from the local dollar store work as good as the expensive ones.

Posted by: JerseyMissouri on October 28, 2007 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

I've been using those since they came out. I don't recall ever replacing one. I may have but if I did, I didn't notice any early failures.

Posted by: AndyS on October 28, 2007 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

This topic is like a microcosm of the blog, which is a microcosm of the Democratic Party -- there are tons of interesting ideas, but the best one doesn't bubble to the top.

Posted by: Bob M on October 28, 2007 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Made in China.

Posted by: CaveatEmptor on October 28, 2007 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Name brands seem to last much better than others. We've been using flourescent bulbs almost since they came out.

Posted by: v430 on October 28, 2007 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Why, oh why do your CF bulbs hate America so?!?!

The quality control on cf's stinks. The bulbs purchased from the local dollar store work as good as the expensive ones.

It's all part of the Chinese Communist conspiracy to destroy us, dontcha know. Most incads are made in the US, but few CFs are.

I've had mixed experience with CFs, some have lasted for years, others die after six months. The most noticeable problem I have with them is that their light output after a few thousand hours is substantially less than their initial output. Still, a 100 watt incadescent that lasts for its rated life of 750 hours will cost $7.50 in electricity, while the 26 watt equivalent will only cost $1.96 (with electricity at $0.10/kwh).

Posted by: freelunch on October 28, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

idlemind has it right, I think -- electrolytic capacitors are fingered in failure of cheap PC electronics, as well. Google for "pc motherboard tantalum capacitors" to read more.

Posted by: dr2chase on October 28, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

CF bulbs are toxic. I'd avoid them. Plus, even if they could be made to last forever, there's no way they WOULD be --- it's a cash flow issue, you know.

Incandescent bulbs that last a 100 years are documented. (http://www.centennialbulb.org/facts.htm) But capitalism just doesn't work when things last too long.

So we stay chained to the wheel....

Posted by: pcscipio on October 28, 2007 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

I read somewhere (seemed authoritative) a month or two ago that the Lowe's bulbs last longer than the Home Depot equivalents.

Posted by: Alan in Toledo on October 28, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I first got into CF bulbs some years back when I found my employer was tossing out dozens of them! (Why, I don't know.) They were used, but still working. I grabbed up bunches of them and also got some into the hands of my co-workers.

I may still have a few in the house - they work fine in the open fixtures in the basement and out in the garage, even at below freezing temperatures. I also use them in other locations and haven't had any noticeable failure problems. I've stopped buying incandescents because these last so much longer.

When I went to visit my parents a while back, I made the effort to replace burned out incandescents with CF bulbs in some of the harder to reach fixtures, like in the bathrooms. My parents are not real big on climbing ladders these days. The CF bulbs are still going fine, last I knew. This might be a helpful thing to do for anyone you know who shouldn't be replacing bulbs in hard to reach places.

There's one fixture where they've been a big help - in the stairway to the basement. I have a teen aged son who tends to come down rather hard on the stair landing above - which is the ceiling of the basement stairs. The vibrations were trashing incandescent bulbs - once he even managed to shake loose the glass globe on the light fixture. The Basement CF bulbs seem to hold up better for the same reason - the normal vibrations from people walking on the floors above seemed to cut down on incandescent bulb life.

Posted by: xaxnar on October 28, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Are the lights on a dimmer? CF bulbs are not compatible with dimmers, even, I believe, if you're not actually using the dimmer.

Posted by: digitusmedius on October 28, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

I've noticed that they tend to burn out when there are multiple CF's on the same circuit. (e.g. a ceiling fan fixture). I haven't noticed any heat problems for the most part.

Interestingly, the el cheapo no-names I bought at Walmart are still going strong, while the GE's mostly burned out.

['We bring good things to life... for like, 3, 4 minutes.']

Posted by: max on October 28, 2007 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Yes - They are crap. I save the packaging and return them for replacement. I'm sure I'm doing more damage to the world with the packaging than the use of incandesents. But, I will continue to use the CFs.

Posted by: r on October 28, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

You can't use the CFs in receptacles that are on dimmers. Otherwise they work fine.

Posted by: hollywood on October 28, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

If the fixtures are a commonality then a logical cause would be something specific to fixtures, like, say, how much heat they let out. Any chance they have little ventilation and those literally cool and complex CF bulbs are more sensitive to heat? Any chance this happens more on hot days? Its just that I seem to recall some stories about the weather there lately.

Hey, what do you know, the google side of my brain agrees: Since Compact Fluorescent Lights have solid state electronics in them, they do not like water, or hot environments. They do not like light dimmers. [..] As to respects to the possibility of heat damage. Just remember that CFL's do give off some heat. The larger the rated wattage of the CFL is the more light and heat it will also give off. So if a CFL is in a open light fixture heat should not be a problem. But when the CFL is inside a glass enclosure were the hot air can't escape from fixture easily. This will result in a higher CFL operating temperature. If it gets too hot it will destroy the the CFL electronic ballast. To avoid this use a low wattage CFL. Reduce the number of CFL's inside the light fixture. Or change to a different style light fixture. Or change the fixture to a fluorescent type.

Thinking back to high school physics I suspect wiring either works or it doesn`t. With wires I have seen molten insulation and short circuits. Melting should be a less of problem with a bulbs that draw less electricity. (same with temperature sensors, I suspect) Replacing stuff in things with bad wiring could cause short circuits, which should be evident right away.

Its sad how I will do any debugging halfway across the globe just to get away from debugging this shared memory problem right in front of me. No it isn`t synchronization. Its a crash in a read operation that shouldn`t care what it reads. So its probably where it reads it... I have no debugger. Anyone has more electrical problems before I go back to this mess?

Posted by: asdf on October 28, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Strange. I've been using CF's for some time now. I have some in outside fixtures, hanging upside down, lights that are NEVER turned off and I can't recall the last time I had to replace them! I've been very pleased with the lifespan.

Posted by: dk on October 28, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

When I buy a back of CFs I put the receipt in the package. Then when one burns out I just slip the dead bulb back in the package. I usually refill the package before the 5 year guarantee is up. I then return them to the store and get a new pack of CF bulbs.

Posted by: R L Guthrie on October 28, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

When I bought my house 9 years ago, the bulbs were all brand new. All but one was an incandescent. The only one I have had to replace was the fluorescent, and will have to replace it, again, soon.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on October 28, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I specified fl bulbs in the new house i had built in 2000. approximately 40 in total, including two outside lights. I have replaced a total of 4 in the 7 years of ownership. the two outside units were just replaced. they were very expensive originally but the replacements are now about 3.00 at home depot.

Posted by: pdg on October 28, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK
egbert: I buy what's the best value for me,

By which he means that he is willing to pay extra to have his hate & incoherent rage against the world changing (some people don't adjust to change well) reinforced.

He's still in broken-hearted hysteria over the demise of the buggy whip, and longs for the days when he could have left a trail of buffalo carcasses across the plains, having killed them only for their hooves & tongues.

Posted by: sidewinder on October 28, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I’ve have worked in the lighting industry for nearly 20 years and when it comes to replacing incandescent lamps with CFL here are the problems I’ve seen.

1. CFL are sensitive to excess heat, so in a recessed fixture where the heat is trapped inside the can, I have never seen a CFL last its rated life. I know this may sound strange since CFL produce less heat than an incandescent lamp, but the incandescent lamp is designed to handle the heat. So if this is the case with yours, try a lower wattage lamp. You’ll get less light but you will also produce less heat.

2. I’m sorry to say, many of the CFL replacements are not of the best quality. Trying to get prices down to be competitive with incandescent, most the lamps come from China. And even though you have try many different brands it is very likely they came from the same manufacture, or the very less the same specification. This is especially true if you are using the lamps shaped like a swiggle or soft ice cream. Fluorescent lamps work best in linear configurations.

3. Third, you cannot dimmed most of the CFL replacements.

Posted by: Lighting Guy on October 28, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

No one has mentioned brand names here except for GE; my experience is with Phillips CFLs almost exclusively. These are excellent bulbs. I have not had one fail yet (purchased in the last 4 years, fyi), and one is still going after 4.5 years of nearly continuous use (this one is in the front foyer of the house). The others are in our living room, left on for hours at a time, and in the housemate's space as she never remembers to turn off lights. We don't use CFLs in the quick turn on/off applications, like our bathrooms, and we don't use them in enclosed applications, where they can overheat and die early deaths.

The flourescents I will never buy again are the thin designer tubes of odd sizes (like 13" and 21"); they're very hard to find replacements for, and they don't last as long as the thicker GE types. When we redo the kitchen, I'll be using GE undercabinet lighting, something I know I can find replacement bulbs for easily.

Posted by: KLS on October 28, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

There are two probable issues: one is needing CFLs built for recessed cans (they are out there, just look in the lighting aisle at a big box home center) and the second is brand name.

What has happened with CFLs over the past 6 years is that as they became popular the retailers wanted the price point lower to overcome consumer resistance. Also coming into play was the fact that the states that have progressive energy efficiency programs started massive CFL buy-down and give-away programs. Those programs put the product out to bid for the lowest per unit cost. So, whoever had the cheapest product won the bid. We are talking millions and millions of CFLs here. In response to this price pressure, all the manufacturers who participate in these programs began putting out cheaper product so that they could undercut their competitors and win the utility bids. Bottom line is that easily 60% of the product out on the market right now is crap being produced in China as a result of this race to the bottom.

The only manufacturers I would buy (as was suggested above) are Sylvania, GE and Philip's (usually found at Lowe's.) Avoid product bought at Costco and discount stores.

Posted by: arteclectic on October 28, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Since S.Cal is all going to burn away anyhow, I would buy the cheapest bulbs available.

Posted by: Rula Lenska on October 28, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Very high failure rates on CFs, name brand and otherwise, even with relatively clean power. Some do provide long service though. Once I had a sleeve of four incandescents that each failed with less than an hour of use.

Posted by: m on October 28, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

The instructions with the CH bulbs I've purchased warn against using them in enclosed fixtures. Presumably, this would include recessed ceiling lights. If your bulbs are doing well in table lamps, this may well be the problem.

Posted by: Barbara Chew on October 28, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

My experiences with lighting in general:

Overall, it seems the name brands (GE, Sylvania, Phillips) more than pay for themselves in replacement costs. This is true even more so with fluorescents than incandescents.

Fluorescents in general do not tolerate heat or freezing temperatures well, & are not designed for dimmers or applications where vibration is a factor (such as ceiling fans).

3 way bulbs in general seem to have a much shorter life span than standard bulbs. CFLs would be even more so due to more compact heat producing components.

While it is true there are 100 year old bulbs still in operation, they are much less efficient & the companies that manufactured those particular bulbs are no longer in business. (I wonder why?)

Most of my lighting is from CFLs. I've seen a very noticeable reduction in my elec bills & have replaced only one since I first started using them 3 years ago - that one was an off brand that lasted only 3 months.

Posted by: bob in fla on October 28, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Lighting Guy. What you wrote agrees with the experience I've had, when I replaced kitchen recessed spot lights with CFs.

Kevin, the specific bulb I'm now using the kitchen is Satco S6255, which is called a "dimmable reflector". It's working for me. Hopefully, that will work for you.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 28, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I have about six that have been going for the past year, most, incidentally, on recessed bulbs with dimmer switches. Only one failure so far.

Posted by: sj on October 28, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Certain sockets in my house eat bulbs. They eat the curlies at the rate of 2 or 3 a year -- but that is a lot better than the number of incandescents they used to eat!

Posted by: Scorpio on October 28, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

We tried a 6-pack of "ultra mini spiral lamp" 60 watt compact fluorescent bulbs from Home Depot. The brand is Commercial Electric. The package claims it will save us $276 and the bulbs are guaranted to last 7 years.(based on 4 hours average use per day.) False.
We put three of them in a light fixture in the study because it is a pain to change the bulbs in this fixture. One bulb failed within a few days. We replaced that one,but I think another has failed or fails intermittently because the quality of the light in the room is poor, much worse than with regular light bulbs. The package of cf bulbs was not particularly expensive, so we didn't bother to return them to Home Depot, but we wil not buy them again.

Posted by: Myrna on October 28, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

heat will kill a cfl therefore a recessed can fixture is not a good application for the self-ballested cfl like you use to replace an incandecent bulb.

Recessed fixtures need to be replaced with one with a built in ballest so you just plug the lamp into it. Otherwise expect to replace them more frequently than advertised.

Posted by: bsd on October 28, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

The spiral CF bulbs are not to used in ceiling cans or in enclosed outdoor fixtures. Or so it said on the package of those I bought.

Posted by: Ed Cray on October 28, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

How can there be problems with the bulbs? They're Chinese manufactured items!!

Posted by: john_manyjars on October 28, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

I've switched most of the house over to CF over the last 2 years. Like others here, the only problems I have had have been with dimmer switches/recessed bulbs.

They do make dimmable CF bulbs as well as bulbs for ceiling fan fixtures. I've found the fan ones are hit and miss. Most of my fans have worked out fine but one stubbornly refuses to light one of the bulbs. Oh well. The only other drawback is as the weather gets colder, the CF bulbs in one hallway take a little time to brighten all the way. But it's not that big a price to pay for both the power bill savings and the fact that we are using less power.

For what it's woth, the recessed CF bulbs in my basement have been fine for almost a year, but we definitely had issues earlier on. Can't explain why.

Posted by: Hacksaw on October 28, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I have been using n:vision CF bulbs. Generally speaking, they have been great.

Posted by: Hacksaw on October 28, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Been using them for years. As cost of bulbs have decreased switched from just using them in the most heavily used sockets to nearly all. The claim of a seven year average lifetime seems wrong to me. I haven't kept statistics, but I the failure rate is probably about twice the advertised rate. I don't worry about the mercury. Mercury content has been reduced several fold in the last few years. But we do take them in for recycling.....

It will ne nice when LEDs get cheap enough that we won't need CFLs anymore. But I suspect that is ten years off.

Posted by: bigTom on October 29, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

We use them where we can (non-dimmed, non photocell controlled locations). Quality and longevity have dropped as prices have plummeted--the typical tradeoff. The first CF lamps I bought (15 or so years ago) were about twenty bucks. Now they're down to a couple bucks each, if that.

Generally, they last longest in base-down configurations, where rising heat doesn't cook the electronics. Enclosed fixtures seem okay so long as they're the lowest wattage variety, therefore, cool running.

Lightbulbs of all kinds used to be short-lived in our house, especially halogens, which often failed spectacularly. We upgraded from 100-amp to 200-amp service, and now bulbs (and dimmers) last far longer. Such a deal.

Posted by: Trollhattan on October 29, 2007 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

I've had two circular GE fluorescents in the kitchen that I last replaced at least 25 years ago.

I've been using compact fluorescents for several years now, and my suspicion is that many don't last the advertised 7 years. Probably most are made in China and quality is spotty.

I put one in the hallway burning continuously with the installation date nearby on a Super-Sticky Post-it note to test longevity under continuous use, and that one's been going since January.

Posted by: Luther on October 29, 2007 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK


You need to use 1 higher bulb rating than the rated one.

When they say 11W CF = 60W CF, try a 15Watt.

The light also tends to be 'whiter' and you may need a yellow-coloured shade to get the same effect. For reading lights, we don't use CFs, generally.

Note to all:

as several posters have indicated, in winter your heating bills will go up, as a lightbulb is an efficient electric heating tool (most of the energy is converted to heat).

However gas heat in particular is normally much cheaper than electricity per unit of energy dispersed. A modern gas boiler has 90% efficiency (condensing type, Energy Star rated), whereas a gas powered electricity generating station has an efficiency of c. 55%, and loses another 8-10% in shipping you the power. A 15 year old furnace can have 50% efficiency, it's a great place to look for improvements in gas bills (after insulating your attic, and installing modern windows).

Often your utility will do a free energy efficiency review. I've had friends in Texas who went from $300 pcm to $100 pcm utility bills, for spending $1500 on the advice of a free survey.

Another factor is if the CF lightbulbs aren't heating your hallway, the thermostat thinks it is colder, and runs the furnace more.

Of course, in the summer, the gain of a CF is large because an incandescent is heating the air, for your AC to cool it. For the reverse reason that in the winter, gas heating is relatively cheap, air conditioning is relatively expensive (and very polluting: most utility 'mid merit' ie off-peak load comes from coal, even in areas with nuclear power sources).

Replacing your lightbulbs with CFs, and replacing a more than 10 year old fridge with the latest Energy Star rated model (a modern fridge uses 1/3rd of the energy of a 30 year old one) can pay big benefits, above and beyond the savings from the bulbs.

The other big energy saving is putting a retractable awning &/or modern heat reflecting windows on the sunny side(s) of your house-- normally south and west.

Posted by: Valuethinker on October 29, 2007 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

I had problems with CFL's failing frequently until I realized my electricity supplier used coal-fired power plants, resulting in particularly dirty electricity. After installing some charcoal-canister line filters just upstream of my electric meter, the power supply to my house was noticeably much cleaner, and I haven't had a bulb fail for the last eighteen months!
The canisters last about a year before they have to be replaced, but it's easy to do for the average homeowner. Yay for CFL's! Yay for the planet!

Posted by: Stile on October 29, 2007 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin -

Recessed ceiling light fixtures are the worst type of fixture. Why? They trap heat. Architects love them, but we engineers hate them. Because they trap heat, they shorten bulb life. In addition, they have a poor light distribution pattern (basically a small circle on the floor), and they cause problems with ceiling insulation. If you have insulation above the fixture, you should check that the fixture is rated for installation next to insulation (basically, it has a box around it). At worst, the heat is sufficient to cause insulation to ignite.

Recessed fixtures are a very energy-inefficient fixture.

Frank Starr, P.E.

Posted by: Frank Starr on October 29, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I've had problems with CFs burning out too. I've traced it in my case to gnats. Whenever I have a cf burn out I see little bugs on them. I suspect they are getting into some part of the bulb they shouldn't.

Posted by: crack on October 29, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

If you've got a second floor, and these are ceiling fixtures between floors, it might be vibrations causing problems with the electronics.

Posted by: Mike on October 29, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I have only had problems with those CFs installed in recessed ceiling receptacles. All others, such as those in lamps, seem to last a long time.

Posted by: Redleg on October 29, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I had this problem with CF lights that we installed where they were on a dimmer circuit. It didn't really matter that we kept the dimmer all the way up. Everywhere else they were fine. Basically, you're going to want to use an incandescent bulb here, and just replace everything else with CFs.

Posted by: Eric L on October 29, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

"The "toxic mercury" scare aspect of CFBs underwhelms me. We've been using florescent tubes for decades. They have just as much if not more mercury. No one I know takes special precautions when the tube over the shop table in the garage blows. Offices regularly toss them out."

Well, it is illegal in California to throw them out, as it is any florescent tube. Not that the police are likely to come arrest you for it, but they are toxic waste, so they should be disposed of at a toxic waste facility. We live in the country and I don't even know WHERE the nearest toxic waste facility is. We had one blow last week and the smell was awful. Toxic-type metallic awful. Had to open up doors and windows.

To me, the disposal issue is the A-No.1 reason why it is stupid to even TALK about making incandescents illegal as was the California legislature. Compact forescents' unsuitabiliy in dimmer applications is another. Third is their failure in recessed fixtures.

We've had frequent burnouts, but from reading these posts, I'm sure its because we are using them in cans. Not recessed can, but wall-mounted ones that point down over the kitchen counter. The ones in lamps and up-pointing glass fixtures work fine, and one in our water closet we keep on 24-7-365 to keep down mold. (Living in the California rainforest is beautiful but requires incredible vigilance against mold.)

We're going to try two things. First, hubby is going to drill some ventilation holes in the fixtures. (Because they provide the counter light in the kitchen, pointing the fixtures up won't work.) If that doesn't stop the burn out problem, we're going to try the straight-line bulbs rather than the curly ones.

Posted by: Cal Gal on October 29, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

As you can see from the comments, CFL life is all over the map. It's hard to draw conclusions from anecdotal data. I believe it was Ireland that had a countrywide incandescent replacement program a few years ago. IIRC, they reported a 25% failure rate in the first year which was blamed on low cost bulbs from China (which doesn't have the best phosphors). It might be of interest to see whether Cuba and Venezuela, which have recently instituted country wide replacement of incandescents, fare any better.

One other factor to consider is that while they save on your bill they do not reduce the utilities' costs by quite as much. Most have a 0.6 power factor which means the utility has to generate 1.67 times as much current as is actually put to use.

Posted by: Old Yeller on October 29, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

The day after you write this, my 8-month-old ceiling CFL burns out. Thanks, Kevin.

Posted by: Ripzaw on October 29, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Very interesting range of comments. I replaced about 100 of our incandescents, most of them recessed cans, with CFLs starting about six months ago. I had practically immediate failure in one type of recessed light (only one bulb, an R-30 65W equivalent), and maybe 4-5 (out of 60 or so) of the R-20 50W-equivalent bulbs. I don't recall seeing on the boxes that the R-20s either were or weren't appropriate for a recessed-fixture application. Home Depot and my local hardware store were pretty good about replacing the defective bulbs, one of which was a GE and others (the R-20s) were Feit, IIRC. Since the failures (maybe three months ago), no more troubles so far.

No failures at all in the spiral ones or in the ones that sort of look like pregnant incandescents, though these last don't get much use. My power bill dropped by maybe 7%, less than I anticipated. Somewhere I got the idea that it wasn't good to use these in an outdoor fixture where it gets cold (and here it's routinely -20 F. in the winter) -- is this right? Finally, from a company called TopBulb, I found a great bulb for the many wall sconces I have that use torpedo-base bulbs, a 3-watt frosted bulb that provides what subjectively seems to me like more light than the 40-watt incandescents I replaced with them. They're very expensive ($14), though.

I haven't seen any LED bulbs for domestic fixtures around here (western Massachusetts). Is there a chain that carries them? I've tried only Home Depot.

Posted by: BlueStater on October 29, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

The person who mentions the heat trapped in a recessed fixture is the one with the key to them burning out. CFs don't work as well there because the heat rises into the housing and reduces their life. Soon, I hope, LEDs will solve this problem.

Posted by: Stan Fan on October 29, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

My experience has been that the regular twisty CFLs last a fairly long time, but the specialty bulbs - the round (for the vanity) and torpedo shaped (for chandeliers, etc) - burn out even more quickly than incandescents. It may be that going to a different supplier would help.

Posted by: Sean Peters on October 29, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK



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