Meanwhile at the House of Duh

I suppose it takes the Boston Globe — which is, after all, owned by The New York Times Company — to consider this revelation newsworthy:

There are signs that hoarders have been busy. Sales of standard incandescent bulbs are up by 10 to 20 percent over a year ago at The Home Depot, according to the chain’s chief bulb buyer. A 2010 survey by Osram Sylvania, the Danvers-based light bulb maker, found that 13 percent of consumers plan to stockpile. At Lucia Lighting & Design in Lynn, some customers are trying to figure out how many incandescents constitute a lifetime supply.

As Glenn Reynolds would say, “There’s still time to stock up!”

Disclosure: I had a CFL fail Wednesday night after eighteen months of presumably-faithful service. An identical fixture four feet away has a Real Bulb (60-watt), now six years old. Subtract the cost of the CFL from the cost of the extra energy used by proper lighting, and I have enough to pay for the gas to drive to the city’s hazmat-disposal unit. (What, you think they allow these things on the bus?)

Bonus excellent Fark blurb: “The most effective government stimulus yet — hoarders have increased sales of incandescent light bulbs by 20%”. Yep.


  1. Dick Stanley »

    6 August 2011 · 9:08 am

    A working, six-year-old Real Bulb! Hitherto, I have not heard the like. But fear not. Mexico’s drug cartels soon will be supplemented by Real Bulb cartels. The nice thing about federal rules is that lack of manpower makes them impossible to enforce.

  2. Tatyana »

    6 August 2011 · 10:23 am

    How did you manage to install two of extreme outliers in each category simultaneously?
    Incandescent A60 average lifespan is 2,000hrs, for CFL – 10,000hrs.
    I have a CFL in table lamp for over 3.5 years now: so far so good.

    Every light source has its proper application. Some require fluorescent, some incandescent, some LED or even metal halide. It is quite silly either to prohibit sales of one or to use it exclusively for every possible condition.

  3. CGHill »

    6 August 2011 · 10:42 am

    It’s odd, since I bought that entire box of CFLs at once. One of them is in arguably a worse place — center of the garage, where it hasn’t dropped below 90 degrees in weeks — and it’s doing fine.

  4. McGehee »

    6 August 2011 · 10:52 am

    Thing about advertised average lifespan is, while the testers may try to simulate real-world uses in the proportion they will occur, they will never actually succeed. During a transitional phase people are almost certainly only buying CFLs to replace incandescents that failed, and most of those will have failed prematurely.

    Some of those will have done so because manufacture quality varies; most, though, will have been put to more stressful use than average. And it turns out CFLs are even more sensitive to usage stress than their predecessors; they burn out quickly in frequently-cycled locations, such as windowless half-bathrooms or little-used basement stairways.

    I think I’ve only had one CFL failure since I’ve been buying them. They’ve been lasting long enough that since I decided to get LEDs instead I’ve only bought one of those, and it’s replaced three incandescents (in a windowless half-bathroom) that hadn’t failed. The small, enclosed space is perfect for it.

  5. CGHill »

    6 August 2011 · 11:19 am

    I am aware of three situations for which CFLs are not indicated: “completely-enclosed” fixtures, such as the one over my sink, where two of them died in less than six months; fixtures controlled by dimmer switches (don’t have any of those); areas subject to vibration, which in my case would be “attached to the garage-door opener,” where I have not tried one. The existing CFL in the garage is only a couple of feet from the opener mechanism, but apparently this isn’t enough vibration to, um, rattle it.

  6. Tatyana »

    6 August 2011 · 12:46 pm

    CFLs have been used by corporate facilities and commercial real estate management companies for a decade now, almost exclusively. I believe the industry conducted their own research and have recommendations for maintenance supervisors. I tend to trust their observations more due to a large scale of “experiment” – they simply have more data to base their conclusions on. If I remember correctly, some of their recommendations are:
    -changing bulbs according to schedule and all at once. Scheduled exchange date is determined by the bulb that burned quicker than all others.
    – regular cleaning of dust and grease, in cold condition (after a bulb was off all night)
    – never use in closed fixture
    -use the ones with electronic ballast wherever possible
    -use them in conjunction with motion sensors, wherever possible

  7. Dan B »

    6 August 2011 · 6:44 pm

    CFLs (and it takes effort for me to not read this as Canadian Football League) are much less forgiving on fluctuating current and voltage levels. If the light fixture is a bit off, it will chew thru CFLs quicker than incandescents, but that fixture is also a fire hazard and needs to be replaced.

  8. CGHill »

    6 August 2011 · 6:55 pm

    Then again, this time of year, everything fluctuates because we’re sucking every last amp out of OG&E in a desperate attempt to avoid the heat.

    Still, checking the fixture is on the agenda, since it hasn’t been done in a while.

  9. Dick Stanley »

    6 August 2011 · 7:13 pm

    How exactly do you check a fixture? I have an overhead one that’s been ripping through incandescents. I considered putting a CFL in it, but decided to see how long an LED would last. The light is dimmer, though.

  10. CGHill »

    6 August 2011 · 7:25 pm

    My usual expedient is to summon the electrician and ask “What the hell is wrong with this fixture?” I already have an excuse to call him in — porch light is wonky — so this will not incur an additional service-call fee.

  11. Dick Stanley »

    6 August 2011 · 7:59 pm


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