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Compact Flourescent Lights (CFL)

May 25, 2013

Eons ago, when I was at Texas Tech working for my degree in History, I used to lie in bed and read by te light of a clamp on light attached to my headboard for prodigious amounts of time.  The biggest downfall of the experience was that I read by the light of an Edison bulb (incandescent) bulb which after a fairly short time felt like it was cooking my brain.

I remember going to Walmart and finding my first CFL and buying it, even though it was around $10 (as a college student, such staggering costs tended to stick in my head – especially for a single bulb!).  The major selling point was that it was cool to the touch.  I took it home and screwed it in only to discover that it performed exactly as advertised.  I was a convert.  I could now read in bed for as long as I wanted without cooking my brain.  That was a HUGE deal at the time!

Later, when my wife and I lived in Phoenix, we bought a town home.  In case you don’t know, it gets HOT in Phoenix during the summer.  We were on a program they had with the electric company to not use power from 7am-7pm (or something like that) and then unlimited consumption for a flat rate after 7pm.  We’d work through the first couple of hours after getting home and then crank the AC down as low as it would go to try to build up the coolness so that it would last until 7pm the next night.

I noticed that I could tell a significant difference between the lights that used incandescent bulbs and the couple of CFLs we had.  One day after walking past a hall light that had been on for quite a while, I was stunned to feel how much warmer the whole downstairs was near that bulb.  I went out and spent a couple of hundred dollars to replace all the bulbs in the house with CFLs.  At almost $10 a piece, we took them with us when we moved back to Texas. The change in heat output was noticeable and worth every penny.

Over the years, CFLs have changed a lot.  The first one I bought took several seconds (seemed like a minute) for the bulb to actually turn on.  It would flicker and sputter and then come on.  I was especially annoyed with the lights in the closet because I could be done grabbing my clothes in less time than it took for the bulb to come on.

The start up times went down, but the temperatures went up too.  The prices never seemed to have come down. I’m pretty sure the last pack of CFLs was close to $8/bulb.  We’ve owned our home for almost 7 years (I say owned, but really I mean that we’re paying a mortgage).  In that time, we’ve replaced many CFLs which supposedly should last 6-1o years.

After the government passed the stupid regulation that CFLs would be the only lights we could use and started to phase out incandescent bulbs, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m sick to death of CFLs.

I can’t keep a CFL over the stove for more than a  month.  The one on my porch is gone in less than a week.  Ones in the garage only last a couple of months, maybe a quarter of a year.  Today, while changing the bulbs in one of the bathrooms, as I was unscrewing the bulbs that I thought were burnt out, two of them turned back on.  When I screwed them back in, they went back off.  Another fixture which I thought might have had some wiring issues also had CFLs in it.  After seeing the primary light get weird on me, on a lark, I replaced the bulbs in both lights with Edison bulbs.  Both fired right up.  No screwing in issues, no flickering, just steady, dependable light for a mere fraction of the price and none (?) of the mercury hazard of a CFL.

There’s still the issues of the heat that Edison bulbs pump out, but I think I’m done buying CFLs.  I want bulbs that work.  All the time.  Without hassles.  That are cheap.  I’m sick to death of this nanny-state crap that would dictate what kind of lights I can have.  What a crock! If CFLs are so great, let them compete with cheap bulbs that actually work.  Maybe I’ll go back to them.  Hopefully, I’ll still have that choice.

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