The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

26 May 2006

Let there be less-expensive light

I am a big fan of compact fluorescent bulbs, even if they do look rather like the wrong end of a glass boa constrictor. The one unsolved problem with them is that they give off a fair amount of heat, to the extent that the packaging now tells you in letters less small than before that you should not install them in closed fixtures, such as the recessed ceiling lights I have in the hallway and the living room.

The answer, or at least an answer, is a lampshade designed to accommodate the twisty tubes of light. I have two such: they're a bit more conservative than these, but they do seem to work, and the meager 22-watt bulbs, once up to speed — they're kind of dim at power-up, but give them a minute — produce plenty of that lovely dark-banishing stuff. Assuming that's what the mood calls for, of course.

Posted at 1:13 PM to Family Joules

Er, you mean the incandecent lamps, right?(emitting heat)
Because fluorescent are the coolest lamps on the market, which in turn prolongs their life cycle and makes them the most efficient in cost/maintenance analysis.

In fact, it makes them also the most desirable light source for recessed downlights; I specify compact fluorescents in almost every commercial (office) project I'm working on, and that's about 90%.

Posted by: Tatyana at 2:38 PM on 26 May 2006

It must be the radiation pattern or something, because every package I've ever seen warns against using them in an enclosed fixture. (I'd love to have them over my sink instead of the two 60-watt incandescents that last 90 days, tops, but Thou Shalt Not Put The Curled Bulb In A Globe.)

Posted by: CGHill at 2:57 PM on 26 May 2006

2 clicks-speed:

Lightolier has widest distribution, but there a hundreds more Co's with bigger selection.

Posted by: Tatyana at 5:32 PM on 26 May 2006
It must be the radiation pattern or something, because every package I've ever seen warns against using them in an enclosed fixture.

What kind of off-brand made-from-gunpowder CF packages are you reading? I have here in my hands a standard blister-pack of five GE "soft white 100" CF 26W bulbs, designed to replace 100W bulbs. Nowhere on the front or back of this large package does it say anything like "don't use in an enclosed fixture."

The closest it comes is "not intended for use with emergency exit fixtures or lights, electronic timers, photocells, or dimmers." (CF bulbs require steady voltage and have a warm-up period to full brightness, so they're not appropriate where a dimmer or photocell might supply lower power, or in a fixture that needs to be instantly bright.)

I had to really search on the GE lighting site to find an answer to this question, and it's not quite as bad as you think:

Can I use a compact fluorescent light bulb in an enclosed light fixture?
Compact fluorescent light bulbs may generally be used in enclosed fixtures as long as the enclosed fixture is not recessed. Totally enclosed recessed fixtures (for example, a ceiling can light with a cover over the bulb) create temperatures that are too high to allow the use of a compact fluorescent bulb.

I have CF bulbs in most lamps in the house, in a few overhead fixtures, in the light over the stove, and just about every place else that I leave lights on while it's dark. I don't use them in the bathrooms because of the warm-up period; they're just about full strength by the time I'm done and turn them off again.

So unless your fixture is a totally enclosed recessed fixture, GE (and their phalanx of lawyers) say go for the compact flourescent.

Posted by: Matt at 3:21 PM on 27 May 2006

The ceiling fixtures are indeed totally enclosed.

On the strength of these recommendations, and inasmuch as I truly hate changing the bulbs over the sink, I will duly replace the 60-watt clunkers therein with 14-watt CFLs, which I am out of right this minute.

The garage ceiling light is also a candidate for a CFL, once it goes.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:48 PM on 27 May 2006