07 May 2006

Compact Fluorescent Review

I bought some Phillips "Daylight" 15 W compact fluorescents for my kitchen and I can't say I'm overly thrilled with them. My existing lights are all 13 W Silvania lights that are well known for their pink tint; they operate at a lower temperature than most fluorescents and have a slightly different emission spectrum. The "Daylight" models are supposed to better mimic the sun. I assumed that they added some phosphors to the glass. I'm not sure that I can tell any difference from them versus a traditional 2900 K fluorescent tube. They Phillips bulbs produce unsightly high contrast shadows -- the dreaded gray wall syndrome.

The other problem is that they emphasize the pink tint of my other lights -- something that I otherwise had an easy time not noticing. On the plus side the Phillips lights are silent. My Sylvania's do emit a hum from their iron transformer.


Robert Schwartz said...

I have a lot of Sylvanias as well, not that I notice a color difference (frankly the look pretty white to me) but because the form factor is very useful for putting in existing fixtures.

What I want to know is why are they so noisy, and can anything be done about it?

Robert McLeod said...

You don't notice the colour of the Sylvanias if that is all you have. They are largely less yellow and more red than halogens. The Phillips bulbs I was talking about use the same standard form factor.

The noise from the Sylvanias comes from the cheap magnetic ballast they use to regulate voltage and current. It's the reason why the Sylvanias are $1.00 - $1.50 cheaper apiece than most other types. There's nothing you can do about it unless the fixture is resonanting with it, in which case you might want to try jury-rigging some damping with an elastic band.


Scroll down to the noise header. I don't think any compact fluorescents use electric ballasts, but I can say the Phillips models are much quieter. Just don't get suckered by the 'daylight' hype that I did.

The ideal CFB would probably have a nice quiet ballast with a 3400 K colour temperature spectrum -- the Sylvanias are 3000 K and the 'daylight' Phillips are 4100 K.

daniel said...

I have a few phillips cf lamps that have been in use for about 12 years - and are used daily.
If you pick the particular lamp color temp for the area you need it, and avoid mixing different colors, i think they work well.

My biggest complaint about CF bulbs has been the poor quality of the cheaper units. The old phillips I have were relatively expensive, and apparently worth it. These 6 or 9 packs you can get for 7 -12 dollars allways seem to include a lamp or 2 that fail as soon as they power on, or within a week. Many of them have achieved nothing close to their rated life spans (not in enclosed fixures or funny positions either- no good reason except the ballast electronics were junk.)

Considering cost and mercury disposal issues, if they do not last a reasonable number of hours I am willing to bet they are WORSE for the environment.

I have seen this with Feit Electric, Commercial electric, and even GE compact spiral style bulbs 13 watt and 23 Watt. One pack from Commercial electric had 3 fail out of 9 within weeks. All are made in China, even the GE bulbs.

What brands have others had good results with? I have seen good life with phillips- and most were not the spiral style....

Anonymous said...

compact florescent lights create artificial light in very narrow color specific bands in comparison to natural sunlight and good incandescent light bulbs which have a fuller, more continuous spectrum.
this technology also creates high frequency electromagnetic radiation from the electronic ballast.
there may also be a magnetic component from the spiral shaped " coil" and current flowing thru the gas tube.
these will create another manmade health hazard as their use becomes more common among the masses.

Anonymous said...

Today I had a third CF bulb burn out in under a year. All three were NOMA brand and from different packages. I certainly won't be buying that brand any more.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I just had my third GE CF bulb fail in less than one year of use. To top it off it overheated, the plastic housing melted and started smoking in spite of it being used in an open fixture. Good thing I was home, it could of started a fire! I've had it with these so called money saving bulbs, and getting regular bulbs tomorrow. More made in china junk!!!