questionsanyone having any luck with cfl light bulbs?


I find it difficult to read with them.
My electric bill is not much lower and they don't last as long as advertised.


CFLs seem worthless to me. i switched over to LED. our power company has deals at various times and i can get them for $2 each. i'm never messing with CFLs again.


They served me pretty well. We had our last house using all CFL (except on ceiling fans with dimmer switches) and we swapped them back out for the original incandescent when we left. Most of them lasted a couple of years in the new house. It seems they always go out in the bathroom...maybe the humidity.
We're still mostly CFL, but for our celieng fans out the new house, we got dimmable LEDs and they're pretty nice. A nice bright white light and they are only like 6 watts each. As for savings, I'm not sure. I don't follow the electric bill that closely. The air conditioner use usually skews everything. I like how both CFL and LEDs don't put off as much heat as incandescent. With 5 x 40 watt bulbs in a ceiling fan, you can really put off some heat! I would say our average CFL lasts 2 years. These new LEDs are supposed to last 20 years, but they are like $6 per bulb. The only issue we've had is the LEDs will hum or flicker out when the light is set very dim.Otherwise they're great.


Everyone laughed at me when I cleaned the shelf (and back stock) of Made in Ohio, General Electric, 60-Watt incandescent bulbs (in the handy four pack, for $1.50). I have a big house, and plenty of storage. I've used a few, and each time I do, it makes me happy all over again.

I checked the packages to make sure they were from Ohio and not China (noted only in the fine print on the side), and have been rewarded with bulbs that last, and provide that warm rich light that incandescent bulbs do. I've never liked CFL bulbs, and I note that some incandescents are still available (but you really have to look). LEDs are okay, but I prefer the kinder, warmer light.

The forced move to fluorescent lights always seemed like a scam to me.

The factory in Ohio is closed, now...

...but may be gearing back up...


Maybe it's the state y'all live in, but I've never felt forced to switch. Still plenty of old school bulbs at the stores here. I couldn't say where those bulbs are made though. In fact, I had to buy my LEDs online because that selection is really limited in stores.


You're not really going to notice a difference in your electric bill unless you run your lights 24/7/365. What you will notice is a couple pennies difference here and there. Most of your energy bill is your fridge/freezer and heating and cooling your home. Swapping out some light bulbs isn't going to do anything for your perceived total. That being said, I've been using CFLs for years and years and the only time I have an issue with one burning out prematurely is if I've got some funky voltages going on or I break one.


@zuiquan: If you're using a bunch of 60 watt incandescent bulbs, this will make your air conditioner have to work harder to compensate for the heat all those inefficient bulbs put off, so that could account for some savings too. On the other hand, it might be nice to have those warm lights in the winter...


I switched to CFL over 7 years ago. Since then, I've replaced maybe 2 bulbs. I think a lot of it has to do with the quality of your electric supply and a little to do with buying the right brands of bulb.

The savings are huge as a percentage of lighting costs, but not your total electric bill. Each 60W bulb replaced with a 13W CFL will save about 31 KWh per year assuming 2 hours of usage per day. That's a total of $3/year.

That means my bulbs paid for themselves somewhere around the middle of the second year. Some of them before even the end of the first year. Most of my bulbs were purchased with utility company discounts at a home improvement store.

But even if you have 30 light bulbs, and they're all on for 2 hours a day, that only adds up to about $7.50/mo. savings, so it would be hard to find that difference on your bill.


@bsmith1: Except most of that warm air stays at the top of the room unless that room also has a ceiling fan. And not everyone even switches the direction on their ceiling fans every season...


@omnichad: Good point. Probably more noticeable for me as our ceilings are pretty low. (8 foot-ish)


I started switching to CFLs probably 6-7 years ago. To date, I've still NEVER had a CFL bulb burn out. I still have the very first CFL bulb I ever used, and it still works, and it's on for several hours a day, every day.

If your bulbs are burning out quickly, it's likely an issue with your socket or wiring.


My grandparents stock piled 60W incadescents before they passed away. I use half and half CFL and incadescents in each fixture and try and match light color (where possible). I get the instant on light which gets brighter over a few seconds as the CFL warms up. It's always the incandescents that blow, so I can slowly use up the stock pile. I use halogens in the bathrooms to get brightness with lower wattage (it's a 1 bulb fixture, not those round vanity lights). One this I have noticed is the cheaper CFL's sometimes don't want to screw into older fixtures. If I get a name brand GE or something they will go in fine. The socket is the same, but I assume maybe the threads are cheaper on the China bulbs.


When my wife and I bought this house in 2011, all of the lightbulbs in the house were gone (with most of the fixtures -- Forclosures -- Who knew!?). The first thing I did was replace all of the fixtures that were broken and/or missing and install CFL bulbs in ALL of the sockets. I ended up putting in over 60 light bulbs. Here we are nearly 2 years later and I've only had to replace a handful of those CFLs and overall, I'm happy with them. Here are some thoughts:

CFL light bulbs do save money over the lifetime of the bulb, but they don't last as long as advertised - at least not as you would think. The lifetime of the bulb is based on the bulbs being left on for four hours at a time (not four hours a day). Each time you turn them on for 2 minutes for use in a bathroom, you shorten the lifespan by 3 hours and 58 minutes. The starters within the bulb can only be used so many times before they're done. Because of this, they're not ideal in sockets controlled by sensors or dimmer switches


@djp519: Me too! My first CFL from a few years (like 4?) ago is on 24/7 in a lamp in the middle of our house. Works great.



The color of lighting you get from a CFL can vary greatly depending on how much you want to spend. There also seems to be a huge price difference based on the brand (surprise surprise!). I found that the Utilitech brand from Lowe's I bought on sale to be the same quality as the GE bulbs that I bought not on sale. Both have lasted about the same amount of time and both give off the same lighting color.

I also discovered that disposing of CFLs in the garbage will kill unicorns and every other creature of the woods. They have to be dropped in a disposal bin provided free of charge at most home stores.

I can't say that I noticed a big difference in my light bill because I've always used them in this house. However, I can say that the 60 or so bulbs I've got installed would HAVE to save some money off my bill each month (13 watts x 6 hours a day x 30 bulbs) /1000 = 2.34 kwh a day. (60watts x 6 hours a day x30 bulbs) / 1000 = 10.8 kwh a day. The savings is about $.70 a day



The savings for my family comes out to about $20-25 a month. I know it's not an exact calculation, but I think it's safe to say that they are saving me money, even after the initial investment. It is also doing something to reduce power consumption in my household which will keep the hippies happy.

I just wish they weren't so damaging in our landfills. I have had a few spark up and fizzle on me and the smell they emitted was concerning. Is it safe to breathe that odor?

I think they're doing what they're intended to do, which is help us reduce power consumption until something better can come along. I think our future is in LED lighting, but the price at this point is too high for most to make the switch just yet.


I don't notice any change in our electric bill but they do last longer. My whole house is using CFL's including the porch light and so far I've only had to replace two in 5 years.

LED's cost too much, they are better in every aspect except price. No mercury, last 10 times longer than CFLs and use a fraction the energy.


@capguncowboy: That smell is not good. CFLs and regular light bulbs contain small traces of mercury for them to run.

Most people also do not recycle/dispose of CFLs and regular light bulbs correctly. You need to give burnt out bulbs to recycling centers or home improvement shops if they participate in the program.


@flamemonkey: LED's work well for places you don't want to replace, ever. Say, if you had high ceilings or something and you need a large ladder everytime a bulb goes out. Then 20 bucks a bulb or so might be worth it for the next 10+ years.


@shrdlu: Here here. Me too. I've stockpiled sweet 75- and 100-watts babies.

I feel like the CFL's that I've tried out seem to gradually dim over time and I have a feeling that's bad, bad, bad for your eyes. One day you just realize you're in an almost dark room. Just one more reason for me not to like them I s'pose.

I'm hoping the'll have a truly good alternative by the time my incandescent days run out.


Lots of responses! Thank you all! Interesting to see that some folks have good experiences and others have experiences like mine.

To those who say I must have a problem with my power, I can only say that I left a line monitor on the house for two weeks and nothing showed up. As for socket issues, I do have one light with socket issues and it has LED bulbs these days. As for the rest, no one is going to convince me that all the sockets in my house (more than 60) are all bad, so that's out.




Another issue is that when the bulbs go, mostly it seems like the seal on the glass element is the problem. It seems that the quality just sucks, no matter what brand I buy. I do intend to try to find the Utilitech brand that someone mentioned. It's hard to find GE where I live - everyone seems to sell Sylvania and I never had any luck with their incandescent bulbs either. They never lasted very long. Same with Philips. I don't mind paying for the GE CFLs, but I can't find them locally. If anyone knows a reasonable online source for GE CFLs, please post it.

Thanks again!


I never noticed, but I do mostly use GE. Maybe that's the key to my success.


I switched to CFLs 10 years ago. I found a supplier (1000bulbs) stocking commercial 6500k bulbs because they are sunlight bright. Most cheap CFL bulbs offered today are 2700k, a warm yellow glow, not bright and white. (google color temperature and you'll learn the vivid difference).

This was when I had glaucoma, before the eye surgery to replace both lens, and bright lights helped. They still do. I chose 6500k because I could start a painting in daylight and finish up at night without noticing the sun went down.

Every fixture in my home has 6500k bulbs, even the fluorescent tubes in the bathroom and the fridge. I have replaced 2 or 3 over the years, and some are burning 24/7. Oh, no, my electric bill didn't drop much - I think I have too many computers running. I do know I've never paid more than $5 for a CFL, even a 200 watt giant that's over the dining room table.

As far as I am concerned, the warm yellow CFLs in stores are junk, commercial grade light bulbs are much better.


When we moved into our house about three and a half years ago we brought a bunch of bulbs with us, both incandescent and CFL, around equal numbers of each. For every light socket where we had to put in/replace a bulb, the only bulbs that have gone out since we moved in have been the incandescents. We haven't had to replace a single CFL and I like the white light they give off better (provided they're behind a glass fixture or in a lamp or something). I can't say whether there's a difference in electric cost because we've had basically the same setup since we moved in. Though as the incandescent bulbs go out, we're slowly replacing all of them with CFL. So cost, I don't know. But the CFLs certainly seem to last longer for me.


The CFL Bulbs come in different color temperatures so you don't have to have that bright white. You can get them in soft white (that warm yellowish color), bright white and daylight the same way you can incandescent.


@bigelowb: Mine are all GE so maybe that's why for me also. I think I got mine at either Walmart or Home Depot. Good luck!


I don't like LED lights because I haven't found any that are bright enough for most situations.

I've tested CFLs against incandescent and they do use less power. As someone else already mentioned, it isn't going to make a huge difference in your electric bill.

My experience is that some CFL bulbs don't last even as long as incandescent. I haven't checked the brand names. The next time I'll try GE.

I don't understand why they don't last as long as fluorescent tubes. The two 40 watt tubes I have in the utility room have been working for many years. We have a small 20 watt fluorescent light on in the kitchen 24/7. It's been operating for over 10 years.


@cebooher3: I think the reason that CFL's don't last as long as standard fluorescent tubes is the electronic "ballast" is built into the bulb itself. It's also part of why the light's a little nicer. Instead of getting a 60Hz hum (very audible to me) and a noticeable flicker (for some eyes), you get 40-50KHz current flowing through the tube. CFL's are much quieter and have less obnoxious flickering. BUt that comes at a cost- all of the electronics to do this are crammed into the base of the bulb. These electronics have a tendency to overheat because of the limited space and wear out the bulb prematurely.

So it's possible my bulbs lasted so much longer because I'm cheap in the winter and run the AC too much in the summer.


I've yet to replace a single CFL. The longest has been in daily use for maybe 6 years here in Fla. I never noticed a difference between CFL and incandescent though all my bulbs are behind a fixture of some sort (Lampshade, ceiling dome, etc) - I likely would notice a difference if I had any bare bulbs.


I've never liked CFLs but we've phased them in over the last 5-6 years just to "do the right thing" and maybe save some money.

The LED bulbs I've tried, I've loved. They're more expensive, but if you shop around you can find deals. The Cree bulbs at Home Depot for $10-15 are really nice, for example.

I'd skip CFLs and go straight to LED.


CFLs are florescent lighting, which means they have a ballast in them. It is only good for so many on-off cycles, period. When the ballast dies, your bulb dies. So if you are always turning them on and off, that's why they don't last too long. They are really meant to be on for hours, and then turned off maybe once a day.

If you are flipping the lights on or off and want energy savings, then you probably should look into Halogen or LED lights. Halogen lighting is an updated take on incandescent lighting - all of the pluses and minues, with usually twice the life and twice the price. LED lights work great if you buy the right one, and seemingly last forever. I'd personally recommend Phillips Halogena for Halogen bulbs. They are around $4 a pop and last considerably longer than an incandescent bulb. For LED, I'd recommend Phillips Ambient LEDs (or A-shape LEDs) or Kree LED bulbs. The cost is much lower on Kree (about $15 vs $22ish), but the build quality is higher on Phillip


I have to add to this... it's based on quality of components. The bulbs we buy today are cheap in all aspects... low quality low retail. I replace them fairly often here too. The orientation makes a difference in light output and lifespan too. Ballast above bulb reduces both noticably...which is how most bulbs in my house have to be.
Back in the early 90s when the first gen came out my parents bought 6 of them. They were straight tubes, about 6 in long. They only fit into 2 fixtures in our house - bathroom wall lights (only lights in the bathroom) and kitchen above the stove. They cost around $20 each . Over those 20 years only 2 quit... they have been in use in the bathroom daily for over 12 years.
It's not line quality, socket of your lamp, Aztec rain dance... it's quality of the componants in the tube seal, gas, ballast, etc.