Friday, December 21, 2007

CFLs - good news and bad.

One of the indoor floods that makes up one of our three kitchen ceiling lights went out the other day. I went to the local supermarket to buy a few needed items as well as a replacement bulb. The type of bulb I needed looks like the one to the extreme left and top in the photo.

Much to my dismay, the store was out of "normal" incandescent lamps. All they had were compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs. I have dreaded using these in the house because I've heard the horror stories that some Hams have experienced. I have read on the QRP reflectors that some of these lamps are the worst RFI generators this side of the Russian Woodpecker.

It was either walk around in a dark kitchen or bite the bullet; so I decided to bite the bullet. I bought three to replace all three fixtures in the kitchen. It turned out that they were only a couple of bucks more expensive than what I would pay for a "normal" lamp; so, so far so good! And if you believe the packaging, each lamp gives off the equivalent of a 65 Watt incandescent lamp; but only consumes 16 Watts of power in the process. So if you do the math, it works out that ALL three lamps will use less electricity than just one of the older style lamps that I had been using. In addition, based on an average of being on for 3 to 4 hours a day, these little wonders are supposed to last for three years.

The good news is that after I installed them, I ran downstairs to the shack and turned on the K2 and noticed NO detectable hash, noise or other trash on 80, 40 or 20 Meters. The ones I has purchased are really electrically quiet. Maybe because they are made by Phillips, which is a pretty reliable company. Maybe it's because they aren't "el-cheapo" no named "10 for 5 bucks" bargain brand lamps. Whatever the reason, I am glad they seem to be RFI free.

The bad news? I hate the light they give off! They're plenty bright enough - no problem there. The light however, is a cold and somewhat harsher light than the warm, soft yellowish glow that I have come to expect from "normal" incandescent lamps. Also, when you turn them on for the first time after they've been off for a while they are dim until they warm up. When you wake up at 6:00 AM in the Winter and it's dark outside; it's nice to be greeted by the warm, steady comforting glow of regular light bulbs. This dim for a few minute thing is going to take some getting used to.

Lastly, I've discovered that you cannot just throw these babies out when they finally go kaput. Unh-unh. These little demons contain mercury and must be recycled or turned into somewhere where they accept hazardous household waste. Wonderful! Now I'm going to have to take these to a County facility when they eventually give up the ghost. Luckily for me however, is that one of the County sites is right here in South Plainfield.

I suppose this is a small sacrifice to go a little "green" (you have no idea how much I hate that phrase!). However, I've been reading that in the next few years that new rage will be light bulbs that use LED technology. I just hope the LED bulbs will be made slightly more warmer and comforting than what they've come up with so far for these CFLs. Call me old fashioned or an old fogey; but a light bulb is supposed to be a light bulb. Why mess around with something that has worked perfectly well for over 100 years?

73 de Larry W2LJ


  1. Larry,

    I have been thinking of giving those lights a try in my basement, where everytime I look one is left on.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Anonymous11:57 PM

    Larry --- I've been using these bulbs (even the cheap ones) for years. No RFI problems and I can definitely see a difference in my electric bill. They are worth it.