January 6th, 2013

planet

my 2012 dimmable cfl adventure

I was reviewing my 2012 New Years resolutions to see how I did and post up an entry about it, and got to this one that was so complicated I figured it needed its own entry:

Replace the light bulbs we use a lot, like the ones in the living room, with CFLs

So we have these wall fixtures, and there were six 25 watt light bulbs, flame-tip so they look like candles, that we had on pretty much all the time. And they were ALWAYS burning out! Not at weird levels, just at the normal light bulb rate, but when you've got six it means you feel like you're replacing a light bulb kinda a lot.

Oh, and the lights are on a dimmer. So I was looking for dimmable, flame-tip CFLs to replace my 25 watt bulbs. They were not readily available, I had to order them online from 1000 bulbs. Cost: about $10 EACH. Wattage: 5W, for a "30 watt equivalent" bulb... hey that's cool it'll be brighter!

Well they weren't brighter. At all. Maybe because they were frosted white, and the previous light bulbs were clear, but the room was a lot dimmer.

AND we found out that for dimmable CFLs to work well and not flicker at dim levels, we had to have one incandescent bulb in the circuit. That's when Marc said he was horribly annoyed by "uneven lighting"... something he had never confessed before, and after five years of marriage you'd think stuff like this would have surfaced but when you commit to a person, you never really know what you're getting huh. Although even I had to admit that having this one bright, clear bulb in an array of these disappointing CFLs looked pretty hokey. After a very long time I did convince him that as long as the bright bulb was in the wall fixture behind where we'd normally sit, we'd live.

I ordered 12 light bulbs total when I did this big light bulb purchase. We lost the other six that we had in reserves. Seriously I have no idea where they are, somewhere in this house there's $60 worth of light bulbs but they were so precious I put them someplace special and now I have no idea what to do if one of these bulbs goes out or breaks (I already broke one). I realize that's a "me being dumb" rule, but it's also a risk you take when you have to special order bulbs and get a certain quantity for a discount.

I can now say the space is being lit by 50 watts instead of 150 watts, and we haven't had to replace a bulb all year and that's been nice. But I feel like the world of CFLs was not ready to light our living room, I went out on the cutting edge here and nothing good really happened. I love CFLs for everything else, for normal lights and lamps they're awesome. And I REALLY love them for photography, I have them in my light box I use for etsy and I can get the light I need without the fire hazard of 100 watt light bulbs. But the living room is just weird.