The CFL, Good idea or Bad

The CFL, Good idea or Bad

The CFL

The CFL Good idea or Bad

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I have spoken about this bulb before and how we as Americans have been duped into paying for expensive bulbs to replace the .25bulb with one that cost several dollars.  Today I had one of these bulbs fail and it was not a normal failure.

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Seated inside base of the CFL bulb is this circuit board with a couple of dozen components on it.  Fluorescent bulbs work by ionizing the gas inside the tube where it interacts with the phosphor coating the inside of the tube making light.

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Let me stop here for a moment and say that I am a large fan of folks who think outside the box.  Huge fan!  I like it when people don’t accept status quo and look for a better way to do something.  The fluorescent bulb is one such invention.  LED bulbs are another.  I think we can do better and we should.

Having said that I have issues with the government forcing it down our throats by doing away with the incandescent bulb forcing us to adapt “pay for “much more expensive technology.

These CFL bulbs have mercury in them which is bad.  These bulbs if broken have special cleanup procedures that just about require a hazmat suite.

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CFL bulbs are expensive. Researching the issue I think that they have finally come out with models that work in dimmers but that was not the case with my failure, it was a simple on-off lamp.

  • The pluses are that these things are supposed to last much longer than a normal incandescent bulb.
  • They uses about a 4th the wattage of an incandescent. 

When an incandescent bulb goes out there is typically a flash associated with the energizing current hitting the filament and poof, you are groping around in the dark looking for a flashlight or other lamp to find a new bulb and replace it.

CFL bulbs start out much dimmer than a normal bulb and while they may get to a brightness that is acceptable, most need that brightness when they flip the switch, not 10 minutes later after it warms up.

woman-holding-light-bulbs

CFL bulbs should never be used in places where the light needed is just for a few moments i.e. closets or bathrooms.  CFL bulbs should not be turned off before they are allowed to reach operating temperature as doing so shortens their life.

LED bulbs start out bright and as they age lose their intensity or luminance as they age so, a bright bulb will eventually turn into a very dim bulb.

The prices of the alternatives are still higher than they need to be to rationalize an ROI on the product.  The average house does not use enough electricity on bulbs to generate an ROI to justify using expensive bulbs.  Stores and office building do but, the average home does not.

Typical government thinking is that one house, no, two houses no, a neighborhood full of houses all using $6 bulbs vs .25 bulbs, and you save some energy and the bulb companies make a hell of a lot more money than on a few $0.25 bulbs.

The energy company then has to raise their rates to make up the difference in the losses of lower usage, so everybody wins!  Everybody except you the consumer.

Because larger incandescent bulbs are being removed from the market, we are forced to buy an alternative whether we want to or not.

When a CFL bulb just stops working instead of dimly glowing or flickering before its time, why?  What happens to it if it simply stops!

The circuit board which I alluded to earlier produces the voltages necessary to make the bulb work.  As I have done with the Wall wart in an earlier post,  I have also done with the bulb.  In my job, I have to determine the “root cause analysis!”  What failed and why.  In this case it is a design flaw.

Scott's Bulb Look at the dark area on the board you can see where it has gotten plenty hot!
Scott’s Bulb
Look at the dark area on the board you can see where it has gotten plenty hot!
Scott 100 watt CFL that died prematurely.
I am not sure if you can tell but, the solder joints that hold on that three legged component which I think is an SCR of some sort (guess) has become much too hot and actually melted the solder away from the pins. This part should have a heat-sink on it. Using the rule of thumb method of engineering. If you cant put your thumb on it because of the heat, better re-engineer it. This is the 100 watt model of the CFL which uses 23 watts.


Here you will see the circuit board and its associated components.  You can see where the board has gotten hot, so hot in fact that the solder connection to this part have come loose causing the failure of the bulb.

burned-bulb
Failed bulb found on the internet. There are many such stories out there but I am trying to determine why.

One cannot help but wonder how much of a fire hazard that these bulbs are.

I would not leave my house with these things on, as I don’t think that they are that trustworthy.

I would certainly make sure that my smoke detectors had good batteries as well.

-Best

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