What the CFL is Wrong with these Bulbs?!?

While working on my little 7″ netbook hackintosh I turned on my energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) only to discover it’s “6000 hour nominal life” CFL bulb failed after only about 27% of it’s rated life (let’s see: about 4 hrs average use per day, roughly 400 days… 1600 hours total use…yep, about 27%!)

The troubling part is that (a) I think only 3 of the couple dozen CFLs I’ve installed have lasted anywhere near their rated life, and (2) I’ve used them according to instructions (don’t touch the glass bulb when installing, don’t turn it off if you need it again within 15 minutes, don’t use it with dimmer switches, don’t install it in a moist environment, etc.) Fortunately, a CFL bulb only costs 4-6 times that of an ordinary incandescent bulb available 3-for-a-buck at the local dollar store. Gee, this “going green” sure is expensive!

Which reminds me: I read a few years back that a company (General Electric perhaps? Maybe not.) was working on a high-efficiency incandescent bulb whose filament was coated with a fine layer of ruby atoms: This increased the bulb’s efficiency to near that of a mercury-containing CFL bulb, while using no mercury at all. (BTW: If you have any information on this technology, kindly let me know.)

I was about to write “I digress”, but the mercury in that failed CFL bulb means I can’t simply toss it out – I have to put it into a sealed plastic bag first before gently placing it in the trash. I’m just glad I’ve never broken a CFL bulb – I’d rather have the EPA show up at the landfill containing a few million traces of toxic mercury, each in it’s own non-biodegradable plastic bag, than visit my house when I don’t follow their CFL hazardous waste cleanup procedure to the letter.

Thankfully, it’s just one light bulb out of hundreds of millions to be sold each and every year. I’m sure we need not worry about those lithium automobile batteries, old wind turbines, new wind turbines, innocent birds, or snail darters.

Update: Looks like incandescent bulbs might receive a Congressional reprieve, but, unlike Liberty and Peace, it may only be for 90-days. And, thanks to Dale’s “Out of Order” Blog for an excellent Daletoon involving CFL bulbs.

Update 01-03-13: Seems that touch of mercury in a CFL bulb might not be the only risk. A study by Stony Brook University in New York suggests that CFL bulb exposes you to high levels of of potentially cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation if the protective coating inside the bulb is cracked or incomplete: A condition they saw in every single bulb they tested!

Thanks for reading!

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