A plan to kill off fluorescent lighting
— By Kirsten Korosec on May 5, 2014, 9:18 AM PST
Love the idea, but...
The ballast is the most energy-hungry part of the fluorescent lighting fixture--it's a big transformer converting AC voltage to a high enough level to arc through the tube. If you're going to replace the tube, then replace the ballast as well. With LEDs you should be able to get by with lower voltage and still get more than enough light for the purpose. Each LED only needs 0.7 volts to light, it's the current draw once lit that determine how bright it is.
I would LOVE to see LED's take over for all lighting, but the cost is certainly a problem. CFLs were the the energy break through on paper and I started buying them LONG before government forced them down my throat...and they were JUNK. When I called one of the companies who was claiming superior longevity (to the incandescent) to complain about the two month life span, I was called a lier. CFLs have gotten better, but it has taken more than a decade for the color, longevity, and lumen out-put to match the claim.
I have been using LED head lamps and flash lights for years now also. Color and brightness are getting better, but at brightness approaches halogen equivalent levels, watt consumption is surprisingly similar. Bang for the buck is not here yet.
I am 100% solar as a free market choice. Government forcing any kind light-bulb on me is an anathema. I will buy LED when I can trust that the product is as claimed and free market forces get the price inline with my pocketbook.
I think all this is going to hurt everyone financially. I really despise the folks who are ramming these LED lights down our throats. One LED lamp costs 10x what a light bulb used to cost, and there is no way the trivial energy savings will pay for that. That they are brighter with less current is great for a flashlight, not so important in the home. When CFL lamps came out, they were touted to last 5 years or more. Actually, its more like 6 months - 1 year, and they cannot be dimmed. They are useful in some applications, such as a garage door opener, but that's about it.
I remember pulling apart my PC case in the early 90s, connecting an LED to a 9v battery and wondering why those weren't used as lightbulbs. 20 years later, I still don't have an LED light bulb in my house.
T8 shop lights can be had for $10, with a set of bulbs. Cree's cheapest bulb is a 40w or 60w regular light for $10 at Home Depot. I don't know what the T8s are priced at, or what the economies of scale are, but using 20watts instead of 32watts per T8 won't get me to buy these anytime soon.
Similarly, 10yrs ago, I couldn't justify a CRT to LCD upgrade based on the power savings. I suspect it'll be another 5 years before LEDs are mainstream and affordable - especially after the longevity failures of CFLs, consumers are going to wait and see if it's REALLY worth the cost this time.
@Bruce in San Jose Agreed. LEDs are no where near living up to their promise. I've been experimenting with them for several years now. When I install a LED light, I'm expecting never to have to replace that bulb ever again. And yet, after only a few years I'm having many of them (even the "premium" brands) go bad. When a 40-cent incandescent bulb goes bad, I don't care beyond the inconvenience of having to physically replace it. When a $40 bulb fails, I am pissed.
My suggestion? Keep a log of where and when you install these about your home, and the receipts. When they fail years or decades short of their expected lifetime, call or return them to the company. Phillips has sent me checks for failed bulbs, and I'm about to head to Home Depot with some I bought there as well.
Let me add, bang for the buck is not here yet. Also, one has only to look at all the LED traffic signals with non-functioning sections to worry about another claim of longevity. LEDs individually CAN have multi-decade life spans, but traffic signals tell us another story about the application of the technology!
@Starman35 Weird! I have several standard-socket CF bulbs and two LED household bulbs in operation right now and the CF bulbs have been in use for 5 years or more for now. What are you doing to kill them? What conditions are happening to cause them to die? I'm sure the manufacturers would love to know.
@Bruce in San Jose While I don't know about San José, what LED traffic lights I see up here in the NEC don't yet have any dead elements. Is it possible that the dead elements your way may be due more to malicious mischief and vandalism than to durability issues?
@Vulpinemac @Starman35I have several CFL bulbs in different places in my house. The one in my kitchen range hood has been there for years. And I keep that one on almost 24/7. I leave it on all day (in the winter) so that when I get home from work, I don't walk into a totally dark house. And it is left on all night as a night lite. I tried 2 3-way CFL bulbs in living room lamps that lasted less than a month. Also, the lamp in my study uses 2 CFL bulbs, and 1 socket goes through a bulb every 6 months, while the other socket has had the same bulb for as long as I can remember.
As for LED lights, after having to buy new sets of outdoor Christmas lights for 2 years in a row (parts of the strings would stop working), last year I switched back to the good old fashioned kind.
@Vulpinemac @JohnMcGrew @Bruce in San Jose I'd love to know as well. I expected a high failure rate from the barely-engineered chee-pee bulbs that first came from China. But I certainly expected better from Phillips and the ones available from the reputable home centers.
Cruising about town, one finds many traffic lights with many failed elements. Haven't kept a mental number as to the percentage, but will start paying more attention. I suspect that in the case of the traffic signal failures, it mostly has to do with the extreme range of temperatures that these must endure; from the single digits in winter to 3-figure in summer.