CFLs-for All Ills? (part 1)

The so called “Ban the Bulb” program by the EU is now under way. Right now it is 100w lamps.
Soon 60w Filament Lamps too will be phased out from store shelves. CFL Lamps are supposed to replace them. While many are the proponents there are some who question the wisdom of this move.

Are we on the right track?
Energy consumption for lighting takes up about 25% of the total that consumed in a building. This amounts to quite a chunk of the power generated and is therefore clearly responsible for a proportionate amount of CO2 emissions as well. Any reduction by any means is a commendable achievement. Those who favor CFLs are convinced the savings in energy in relation to that of incandescent lamp is about 80%.

Others say while in many a common application they are well adept, CFLs even today carry a lot of unresolved issues with them.

Here is what CFLs lack!

1. For example many of us have a need for dimming our lamps either in home or place of work. It is not always desirable to have a bright full strength light day or night. The filament Lamp has no problem on this issue and works well with any kind of dimmer. On the other hand the CFLs unfortunately have no viable solution for this .True there is new technologies which have emerged to meet this need. Unfortunately these are beyond the means of the average Joe.

2. OK let’s assume that you have gone for your new dimmable CFL .What you will note is that the additional circuitry enabling dimming has also contributed to a bulky base and multiplied dimensions.

3. Dimmable or not the incorporated electronic ballast does make the CFLs bloat –up. How many of us have encountered the problem where the replacement CFL protrudes out of the fitting grotesquely unlike its filament predecessor. Some estimate that in the case of UK the over 50% of the existing lamp sockets are unsuitable for retrofitting with CFL lamps.

4. What shade of light makes you feel in the mood when you want to relax after a hectic day? For a many of us it is “warm firelight orange “sort of color. No way has a CFL produced this ambience in your room.

5. In colder countries like Ireland an incandescent lamp may be a good thing because it shares at least some amount of heat energy to your winter heat load.

6. If your CFL is in a totally enclosed fixture and the ambient temperature is high the lamps life tends to reduce. Mind you it is not cheap to replace CFLs frequently.

7. The same way unclean power supply too effect CFLs. For example many CFLs (unless it is a premium price item) can easily get affected by spikes and surges of voltage during adverse weather conditions.

There are many more in this controversy than that meets the eye.

See part 2 of this article for more controversial observations. That said one must not look at these negatively but treat these revelations as an education process which will help him to understand the CFLs better.

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