Compact Fluorescent Lamps – Reliability Log

CFL

Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFL as they are called are all the rage for environmentally friendly people. Being much more energy efficient, everyone seems to be on board. Some states are actually considering banning incandescent light bulbs!

With all of the environmental hype, no one seems to be addressing the significant increase in manufacturing carbon emissions as compared to an incandescent light bulb. Also, no one seems to discuss the ramifications of the Mercury these bulbs contain and that will affect our environment – i.e. dumps.

But regardless of that, being an energy frugal family, we decided to switch most of our light bulbs to CFLs. One thing that is evident is their high price as compared to a similar incandescent light bulb. To calm price conscious customers, companies such as Lights of America and General Electric claim that CFLs last 8-10 times longer than a standard incandescent light bulbs.

To my surprise, all the CFLs we purchased from Lights of America died after less than one year. Being that I found that odd, I contacted them to ask for an explanation. Needless to say, I got no explanation, and they refused to replace the bulbs without the original receipt.

So, I decided to start keeping an online log of the lifetime of all our CFLs. The way I keep track is simple: every CFL that I install, gets marked with the date it was installed. Since CFLs have a large base, it is easy to mark them with a sharpie. From now on, every CFL that goes dead, will get added to this page. Based on this, we will be able to determine if CFLs really are cost effective -or is it just a cash cow fad that lighting companies jumped on to increase profits.

04/06/2008:

All three CFLs (model 2725) by Lights of America died within one year. Since these bulbs were not marked – I can’t state exactly how long they lasted.  The failure of these bulbs got me to start tracking CFL bulb lifetime; after all we now pay 5-10 times the cost per bulb – shouldn’t we get that much more performance?

01/17/2009:

GE Helical 20W CFL model FLE20HT3/2/SW dies on 01/16/2009.  This CFL was installed on 12/21/2007 meaning this bulb lasted for a bit over one year. Assuming this bulb was on for 2 hours a day, this would put its lifetime at 392 days * 2 hours = 784 hours! Pathetic!  This bulb is rated at 8000 hours.

05/02/2009:

GE Helical 20W CFL model FLE20HT3/2/SW dies on 05/02/2009.  This CFL was installed on 12/21/2007 meaning this bulb lasted for a bit over one year. Assuming this bulb was on for 2 hours a day, this would put its lifetime at 498 days * 2 hours = 996 hours! Pathetic+! This bulb is rated at 8000 hours.

03/07/2010:

In the past week, I had two near new CFLs die.  Both were purchased at the Home Depot, and both are the Ecosmart brand.  Is it a coincidence, or just QA cutting corners on Home Depot’s behalf:

  1. Ecosmart Helical 14W CFL model EDXO-14 / 0936215 dies after 24 hours!
  2. Ecosmart vanity 14W CFL model EDG25-14 / 0950250 dies after about two weeks of use.  Also, I don’t like these vanity CFLs since they take a minute or so to warm up.

03/07/2010:

More Lights of America bulb model 2725S die.  This bulb is less than three years old.  BTW, don’t try to exercise the lifetime warranty on any Lights of America bulbs.  Their warranty useless as they want the original receipt.  It’s a classic case of a warranty they never intended to honor.  All of you who kept their light bulb receipts raise your hand.

06/29/2010:

GE Helical 20W, model FLE20HT3/2/SW dies.  It’s installation date is 01/06/2008, i.e. this one lasted 2.5 years.  Based on the standard 2 hours per day, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 1,810 hours.  This bulb is rated at 8,000 hours.

09/01/2010:

GE Helical 20W, model FLE20HT3/2/SW dies.  It’s installation date is 01/17/2008, i.e. this one lasted 2.6 years.  Based on the standard 2 hours per day, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 1,916 hours.  This bulb is rated at 8,000 hours.

05/03/2011:

GE Helical 20W, model FLE20HT3/2/SW.  It’s installation date is 05/03/2009, i.e. this one lasted almost 2 years – or 728 days to be exact.  Based on the standard 2 hours per day, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 1,456 hours.  This bulb is rated at 8,000 hours.

07/26/2012:

Greenlight 18W, model 18W/ELS-U.  It’s installation date is 03/22/2010. This one lasted almost 2.3 years – or 857 days to be exact.  Based on the standard 2 hours per day, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 1,714 hours.  This bulb is rated at 8,000 hours.

03/01/2013:

Greenlight 18W, model 18W/ELS-U.  It’s installation date is roughly April of 2010. This one lasted almost 3 years, and since it was installed in the patio light with an automatic on at dusk and off at sunrise sensor – it probably worked about 8 hours per night. Based on that, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 8,540 hours.  Ding ding ding, we have a winner.  The first bulb to actually meet its stated lifetime.This bulb is rated at 8,000 hours.

08/02/2013:

Great Value 23W, model edxo-23.  It’s installation date is roughly April of 2010. This one lasted a bit over 3 years, and was installed in the bathroom so it didn’t see more than two hours per day.  Based on that, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 2,438 hours.  Another fail.

08/21/2013, Bulb #15:

EcoSmart 14W, model edxo-14.  It’s installation date is roughly May of 2010. This one lasted a bit over 3 years, and was installed at the front door with a sun sensor (on at dusk, off at dawn).  For this one, I will assume it’s on for 7 hours per night.  Based on that, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 7,248 hours.  That’s just 10% short of 8,000 – I’m getting excited!

09/14/2013, Bulb #16:

EcoSmart 14W, model edxo-14.  It’s installation date is roughly February 27, 2010. This one lasted over 3 years, and was installed in the walk in closet.  For this one, I will assume it’s on for 1 hour per night.  Based on that, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 1,295 hours.  That’s just 16%  of the 8,000 lifetime.

10/12/2013, Bulb #17:

Greenlite 18W, model 18W/ELS-U.  It’s installation date is roughly August 13, 2010. This one lasted over 3 years, and was installed in the walk in closet.  For this one, I will assume it’s on for 1 hour per night.  Based on that, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 1,156 hours.  That’s just 14%  of the 8,000 lifetime.

10/29/2013, Bulb #18:

GE 14W, model FLE14HL/2/SW.  It’s installation date is August 13, 2010. This one lasted over 3 years, and was installed in the garage.  For this one, I will assume it’s on for 1.5 hours per night.  Based on that, the total estimated lifetime for this bulb is 1,760 hours.  That’s just 21%  of the 8,000 lifetime.

09/03/2015, Bulb #19-23:

August was an exciting month for CFLs.

Ecosmart 14W EDG25-14: total lifetime = 5.4 years.

Topso TP120-23MSL/GU24: total lifetime = 5.4 years.

Greenlite 18W/ELS-U: total lifetime = 5.4 years.

Ecosmart 14W EDXO-14: total lifetime = 5.4 years.

I am starting to replace CFLs with LEDs.  Hopefully their reliability will exceed that of CFLs but I won’t hold my breath since the industry has a strong incentive to keep reliability as low as the public will tolerate.  The public was oblivious to the incandescent light bulb cartel for decades, I doubt that would change going forward.

11/15/2015, Bulb #24:

FEIT 11W CE1-1G/4: total lifetime = 5.5 years.

One Response to “Compact Fluorescent Lamps – Reliability Log”

  1. Reliability of Compact Fluorescence Lamps « The Second Law of Life Says:

    […] I am not the only on suffering from this problem. See the kiloxray.com blog (http://www.kiloxray.com/blog/?page_id=8). The author is actually logging the number of failures (there are many!!) he is experiencing and […]

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