Friday, November 11, 2011

The CFL is coming and Im not referring to the Canadian football league....

The way of the future?
I was doing some reading in the November issue of CQ and in the U.S the incandescent light bulb will "somewhat" come to an end as of January 1 2012....hmmm not to far away eh! Maybe a pre New Years Eve resolutions should be to get out and grab up the incandescent lights before they are gone. Not all is lost there is a reprieve for the tri-light, the appliance bulbs and get this flamed shaped chandelier bulb???? Light bulbs from 40 watts to 150 are soon to be no more!! Up here in Canada as of 2012 the light bulb will still populate the store shelves, for at least the time being anyway. As for the VE3WDM household we have gone (well almost) compact florescent (CFL) for about 4 years. Now back then these puppies were not cheap and well to be honest they have come down in price but not a whole lot. So how many of you ham's out there are into the
CFL thing??? Now since I have had them for some time now I do want to clear up some myths and truths about these types of lights. One of the myths is they just don't last long....well for 4 years I have not changed one CFL!!! Oh and believe me we do not live in the dark here either. I get my exercise up and down stairs turning off lights that somehow just get left on???  They do take some time to get to full illumination that is an annoying truth and if the room is cool it's even longer. There are some newer ones out there that are supposed to be "instant on" I have seen these CFL's in action and  they are not at all like our friend the incandescent light were we are used to poof and there is light.  Another myth....well for my home is that they cause RFI. I have not found this to be the case my rig (Elecraft K3,K2) does not show any S meter change if the lights are on or off. It's the Plasma TV here that kills me!!! Another truth is they do cast a "different" type of light from the light bulb, you do get used to it. The CFL market now offers cool white, warm white and reading lights so they have come a long way. I have not had a chance to test these as my darn CFL's wont burn out!!! Here is a myth and a truth combination, the myth is you will save on your hydro bill each month.....the truth is not until you have paid for the out of pocket cost of the CFL's!! Speaking of cost I did say in the opening paragraph that our household has "almost" gone CFL. In our bathroom we have a vanity light that is just great. It takes what is called 6 fat Albert 40 watt bulbs. I still have the incandescent ones and this past weekend replaced them all guessed it with the BAD incandescent ones. Why you ask???? well for 6 it cost me 12.00 to go with CFL fat Albert's your looking at 96.00!!!! It sure would take a long time to get that money back in hydro savings.


  1. Hi Mike - we're about 50% CFL at home...made the switch about 4 months ago and two bulbs have gone bad since then. What I do like about these bulbs though is their availability in various color temperatures - daylight white, warm or even warmer incandescent-equivalents. For photography, some are balanced to typical camera flash temperatures so they can be used with studio lighting in photography. Your wife should give them a try as you're able to see immediately the effects of their intensity and position...pretty neat.

  2. Hey Mike, CFLs aren't that bad. I would advise getting a name brand. Some of the cheapie no-names didn't last long for me. But the Phillips and GE ones are lasting a long time. They're not the RFI noisemakers that they were portended to be, either. My neighbor's plasma TV is a way bigger offender. How do you tell your neighbor that his multi thousand dollar TV is screwing up my radio reception? :)

    Larry W2LJ

  3. My YL has them here in France. I insisted that she get top-of-the-line (Phillips) and not the Chinese junk. I don't think they are causing RFI.

    I have the last "old" bulb in the table lamp sitting on the radio desk. One of the transparent ones. Provides the light and atmosphere of a 1930's radio room.

  4. There's more to tell about them than will fit in this comment box. I use CFL's in places where they stay on for a longer period of time. Light bulbs are still used in places such as the hall, toilet, cupboard and all other places where I want light immediately. I stockpiled them.

    CFL's are regarded as energy savers and environment friendly. After reading two independent research papers, I seriously doubt the latter. Production appears to cost more energy than a CFL will ever save, the use of mercury makes the lamps potentially dangerous to your health (they're actually labeled as such here), and recycling is only partly possible.

    Hans PD0AC

  5. Good morning John, I have been lucky I guess with the lights and having them last. I told Julie and using the lights and it seems she is ahead of me and doing it already.

    Good morning Larry, it's true you should stay away from the less expensive CFL's as in the long run you end up spending more on replacements. As for the TV I have found the MFJ 1026 has done wonders in reducing the interference.

    Good morning Dick, yes I have some hold out light bulbs but in my bathroom as they are just to costly to change out at this time.

    Good morning Hans, there is sure something to be said for instant light!! There is some places here were the lights just don't seem to come on fast enough. Other place like the bathroom were it would be great if they came on slowly. But in the washroom I have the old fashion type and first thing in the morning its POOF!!

  6. For most applications I've found CFLs fine and now that the price has fallen considerably it's almost acceptable that they don't last as long as the claims in areas of high on-off cycles. I think it's the ballast that usually fails before the tube.

    Recently we moved house & I presume it's a bilding regulation here in the UK these days for new properties, all the recessed downlighters were 11w CFL replacements for 50w quartz reflectors. Their performance as a low energy replacement is very poor, I presume that compared to the quartz reflector they have little direction of beam and this is the problem. The ones fitted here were in cool white too giving a horrible quality of light. Please note the word WERE, on closer inspection I noted that the fittings were still OK for the old type 50w quartz reflector bulbs so I've changed the lot and what a difference, normality and quality of light has been restored. More power consumption yes, 55m in contrast to 300w now, but do I really want to eat my evening meals under a quality of light that resembles street lighting? NO!

    On the RFI front I know that the separate ballast that drives the two T5 tubes for my aquarium is a real problem, S8 noise across all HF band & up to 2m.

    Charles GW0LVH

  7. Well good afternoon Charles, I feel the same way about my bathroom I kept the light bulbs and did not get CFL's for the price and the poor lighting....I need all the light I can get to get gussied up in the morning!!

  8. Hello Mike, nice subject. We use a lot (90%) of CFL lightning but also LED which is even more energy saving. First CFLs years ago were very sensitive for off/on switching and broke easily, but they solved it with a kind of softstart later. By the way we use the "Chinese" brand and do not have interference nor do they break earlier. That will say, if you're lucky. Sometimes we have a "bad" one between them. I guess quality control at Philips is a lot better. 73, Bas

  9. Good evening Bas, when Julie and I were in Europe for our vacation this past spring CFL"s were all over. Yes they sure have come a long way. The only LED we have at this time is a twin reading light in the bedroom. I find it gives great light once it warns up. Seems we are used to instant results including our lighting.

  10. Regarding LED lights...from the recent Norwegian DXpedition to Bhutan:

    We have located one of the sources for the QRN, being a very widely used LED light fitting that they use in the ceilings “all over the place”. We garden located one of the sources of the QRN, being a very widely used LED light fitting That They use in the ceilings "all over the place." We figure that the total number at this resort; main building and bungalows, is abt 400!

  11. Good morning John, not to much exposure to LED lights here. We do have a new Christmas tree full of LeD lights see what happens with that. Only other LED lights is a pair of reading lights in our bedroom.

  12. Mike,

    I think LEDs or some other technology is the future, CFLs have been around forever. The power companies in the U.S. used to susidize the retail cost so you could get a lot of them cheap then.

    Unfortunately, CFLs are not the panacea some tout. They actually get less and less efficient as they age. They are also not suited for being in enclosures because they need to be cool and not good for locations where they are on for very short periods repeatedly. Kills the life of the bulb. As for brand-name vs. generic, there is something to that but I've had brand-name bulbs with short lives, too.

    You can get LED lights now fairly cheaply and they are fantastic. Instant-on, bright, and sip the electricity. We use them in the bathroom and I'm gradually replacing the CFLs with them where I can. Haven't noticed any RFI from them yet.

  13. Good afternoon Casey, the LED's up this way are still pricey and we only have the for the Christmas tree and in the bedroom as reading lights. I have seen more and more of the around so I hope in time they will go down in price. As for the CFL's I did not know that over time they go downhill in efficiency. Thanks for the info.

  14. 15 years ago when my wife and I bought our first house, I was very into replacing with CFLs. My wife balked at the cost of a immediate replacement. The compromise was to replace as they existing incandescents failed. We recorded the details of the new CFL as it was installed: type, rating, estimated life, brand, and source. This allowed us to see that installing a particular style and brand in a ceiling fixture (hanging down from the socket) resulted in very short life. There was also the irony of the master bedroom. The ceiling fixture has 3 bulbs. As the existing bulbs failed, we replaced with CFLs. The last of the existing bulbs out lived one of the replacement CFLs (possibly 2, I don't have those notes handy).

    The newer CFLs are much better behaved than the old ones. We have replaced most of the bulbs in the house. The only exceptions are a closet where the bulb is almost never used and hasn't failed and the lights attached to the garage door opener. We have even had good luck with CFLs in enclosures outside in Michigan.

    We will likely investigate LEDs when they get a bit more capable.

  15. Good evening Clark, yes the CFL's have come a long way. There are many more styles out there but those are still pricey up this way. As for LED's we will have to see how they come along..if they are like the CFL's at first. Then get better and cheaper in time.