Tuesday, May 12, 2009
CFLs versus Incandescents
Being the good greenies that we try to be, we have, by now, replaced every single incandescent bulb in our house with a CFL (except for appliances). But I'm noticing a disturbing trend, and I'm not the first to cite it: My CFLs are burning out at the same rate that my incandescents did!
Apparently, the problem is with our well-ingrained and well-meaning habit of turning off lights when we leave a room. The constant on/off wears down CFLs faster than just leaving them on for long lengths of time. Make no mistake, it's not the leaving on of the light that lengthens their lives. It's the lack of switching from on to off and back again. And I can't find any hard data in about 20 minutes of googling on how long is long enough to be gone from a room before the benefit is worth turning the light off: two minutes? five minutes? 30? I don't have an answer.
And how much does this reductions extend the life of the bulb? Are we talking an extra year? An extra couple of hours? There seems to be no way to know.
I've also heard/read that older light fixtures, such as are found in older homes like my own, are not entirely compatible with CFLs and thus result in a shorter life expectancy.
Does the brand matter? Popular Mechanics seems to think so.
Personally, I'm a big LED fan and can't wait until LED production is mainstreamed and I can replace all my CFLs with LEDs.
What do you think? What's been your experience with CFLs? Any tips on maximizing their performance?