Fiat Lux, from Henry Gifford

April 16, 2007 |

 The efficacy of white LEDs is about 12 to 19 lumens/Watt, which is much less than the 36 to 55 claimed by manufacturers. Compact florescents have efficacies 1.5 to 3 times higher than LEDs.It it said that compact florescents last indefinitely, which is far from true. The screw-in types last much longer than incandescent bulbs, but don't last forever, and their life is shortened by the fact that the "ballast," the electronic guts, is located very close to the bulb, thus the heat shortens its life.

It used to be true that compact florescents were expensive, gave off a harsh light, and could not be dimmed. But now the screw-ones cost less than $2.00 in quantity (not everyone agrees with this, but I'll sell anyone who doesn't believe it as many as he wants for $2.00 each).

The best deal is a real florescent fixture, as the reflector is shaped optimally for the bulb, and the ballast is remote, thus protected from the heat, and is seperate, so it doesn't need to be replaced when the bulb goes bad. The bulbs are available in five different colors and more and more of them are dimmable, especially those made by Phillips.

florescents are now hard to tell apart from incandescents without taking the fixture apart and looking, so energy geeks are resorting to using fancy light filters to tell them apart without climbing on a ladder.

Rich Bubb remarks:

Our firm has been using the spiral bulbs for five years. Recently I was in the room where we'd installed the earliest ones, and noticed an odd smell. Then the bulb burned out. Probably the mercury in the bulb vaporizing.

I didn't know they contained mercury at the time of the first burn-out. From now on we'll raise the windows and go outside to let the fumes dissipate. Maybe go get a cup of coffee in the meantime. 


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