Everything you wanted to know about Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, including the mercury problem

We've been looking in to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) to reduce energy consumption for lighting. Here's what we've learned so far.

Manufacturers say that a 13-18 watt CFL produces light equivalent to a 60w incandescent bulb, an 18-22w CFL is the equivalent of a 75w bulb, and a 23-28w CFL is the equivalent of a 100w bulb. This is based on the "lumens" rating on the side of the box. Full Story »

Posted by Kaizar Campwala


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Mark Monday
by Mark Monday - Oct. 1, 2008

Another story that sheds light on a confused situation. Good reporting!

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Fabrice Florin
by Fabrice Florin - Oct. 1, 2008

This seems like a well-researched, reasonable report on an important topic. I'd like to compare it to other reports on the same topic, but so far it looks like good, factual information, which bodes well for this community news source.

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Michael Unverferth
by Michael Unverferth - Oct. 1, 2008

Not really "everything you want to know", but does address the mercury issue a bit. Other things I'd like to know are: how does the actual life compare with claims? My experience with CFLs is that life is far less than package states. If mercury is so dangerous, why aren't warnings more prominant, and recycling or proper disposal so difficult? Most people probably just throw the burned out bulbs in the trash.

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Philippe Habib
by Philippe Habib - Oct. 1, 2008

light bulbs may not be the most interesting thing to talk about but this does a good job of informing the reader about CFLs.

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Patricia L'Herrou
by Patricia L'Herrou - Oct. 1, 2008

The importance for me reading this story is as a harbinger of stories to come. As the relevance to all of us of global warming becomes more clear, energy use and sources will take on so much greater importance that main-stream journalism and media will be providing information and analysis to the public about these uses and sources consistently. this story is an interesting and helpful precursor of what we can and should expect.

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Donald Carl Isenman
by Donald Carl Isenman - Oct. 1, 2008

Yes, as far as it goes. A couple examples: incandescent bulbs also dim with age, CFLs are less directional than incandescents & disperse the light more evenly eliminating shadows causing the illusion of less light. Also, 'dimmable' CFLs are not too hard to find. I have all CFLs since 2000 and even if they saved no energy, they are very pleasant to use. My resistance was overcome by having a solar power back up system in a power outage prone forest. Wanting to make battery power last I bought CFLs. They were a very happy surprise. The story left much of this out but did deal with the mercury issue which is important but probably is out-weighed by the benefits.

(comment refers to full article) More »

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Kaizar Campwala
by Kaizar Campwala - Oct. 1, 2008
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Jimmie Bise Jr
by Jimmie Bise Jr - Oct. 1, 2008

This is basic necessary journalism. It takes a question and attempt to find solid answers to as many of the questions as possible. It plays fair with claims from both sides and provides useful information.

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Mark James
by Mark James - Oct. 1, 2008

What bothered me about this story was the comparison of emissions by power plants needed to "replace" the extra energy consumed by non CFL bulbs to be exclusively coal. That is poor journalism. Had the author made an attempt to compare mercury emissions with the average mercury pollution averaged from ALL power sources in the US, it would have been unbiased. CFL is generally a good thing, though over-hyped. It is a poor light source for reading, so it should not replace all light bulbs, but for general lighting, I have used them for ten years. You don't need to exaggerate in articles like this to make your points.

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Thomas Foster
by Thomas Foster - Oct. 1, 2008

Every CFL bulb that is crushed in a landfill has the potential of eventually polluting the water with methylmercury, a neurotoxin, which then enters the food chain and is expecially toxic to children. Unless a thorough legislation is produced to govern the disposal of CFL bulbs, then we have no right to introduce them to general usage; the type of disposal can not be arbitrary or voluntary in nature. Because we have already an enormously polluting industry (power), does not mean that we are free to opt for alternatives that support gross pollution (the power industry) through means which we may be cajoled to think adds only a little--to the detriment of our children. Perhaps the better route is to push the rapid development of ... More »

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Jami Dwyer
by Jami Dwyer - Oct. 1, 2008

Really thorough -- I had been a bit worried about the mercury, and this article puts that in perspective with admittedly rough calculations. Uses the word "seems" a couple times, but other than that, uses facts and figures. Great story.

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John Burgess
by John Burgess - Oct. 1, 2008

The only 'error' in this article is that it accepts the hype about the apocalyptic dangers of mercury. It does note that the amount of mercury in the CFL bulbs is minuscule and that it evaporates very quickly, though. Yes, mercury has been shown to be seriously damaging for fetuses and small children. It's effect on adults is insignificant.

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Damian Lewis
by Damian Lewis - Oct. 1, 2008

Well done piece on compact fluorescent bulbs.

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Michael Karounos
by Michael Karounos - Oct. 1, 2008

Pros and cons are given. The benefit of CF bulbs is clearly stated; at the same time, their environmental value is not overstated.

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