Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bright Effects CFL Light Bulbs for Vanities

One of my goals for September has been to replace incandescent bulbs with cfls (compact fluorescent lights) in one frequently used light fixture. Last night I decided to take a trip to Lowes to see what I could find.

Since most of my fixtures are on dimmers, it is a bit tough to replace all my light bulbs. That's ok, because I still haven't found any cfl that I like as much as I do my incandescent bulbs. Believe me, this is a tough transition! Still, if I can make a major impact on my electricity bills it will be worth it. I have to confess though, I am thinking more seriously about making sure each room has a mixture of bulbs I can have some of each kind of light. We will see how it goes. In an ideal world I would find a brand of cfls that I love just as much as incandescents that comes in a dimmable bulb and be able to replace them all!

The fixture I decided to tackle this month was the downstairs bathroom vanity. It has four large bulbs - like a backstage mirror. Since this is the bathroom that is used the most and where I shower, this is a fixture that is used a lot. Fortunately it is one of the few fixtures not on a dimmer.

They had several brands at Lowes, and one of the things I am trying to do is also check out different brands of cfls and see how I feel about the light. This time I chose the Bright Effects 9 watt/40 watt equivalent bulbs, model #123757. They came in a pack of two and were a little under $10.

The light is... okay. I can't say I am in love. I chose 40 watt bulbs because I have found that cfls feel brighter than their incandescent brothers. Since there are 4 in this fixture, I didn't dare go any higher. Unlike the nvision or the GE bulbs that I have tried, these take a few moments to come to full brightness. True be told, I rather like the lower light, because once all four get to full power, it's pretty bright. Still, the warm up process feels strange to me and a bit old fashioned - dated. Haven't we come further in technology than this?

Even though these are listed as "soft white," in my opinion, the Bright Effects bulbs are pretty stark. I found the shading to be slightly green-white (like the nvisions) as opposed to peach-white (like the GEs). This is probably better in the long run for applying make up, however, I don't find it very flattering.

EDIT: After showering with this fixture on and these new bulbs going at full power, I have discovered another reason not to like them - they buzz. I can hear them. Yeah, not a fan of these at all!

My current grading scale is as follows:

Top Pick: GE Energy Smart Soft White A-
Turns on instantly, has a pinkish hue, nice for reading lamps and living areas. Don't forget - there is a rebate at Dollar General stores!

Middle Pick: nvision Soft White B+
Turns on instantly, has a greenish hue. This was Popular Mechanic's favorite. I find it is ok in lamps with shades, but too stark for reading areas.

Last Pick: Bright Effects Vanity Bulb D
Came with converter for various sized sockets. Takes time to warm up to full brightness, has a greenish hue. Feels very bright for 40 watt bulb.

This is just a list of the ones I have tried so far. I have another fixture that is very similar in the upstairs bath. But unless I stumble across another great rebate deal, I'll save that one for next month!

Now, if I could just find one that looks like it can handle a dimmer switch - without flickering and without having to be brought to full power first. I found some on Amazon but they looked a little shady, if you'll pardon the pun. I prefer to purchase bulbs from a name brand company not Shifty McFly's Magical Dimming Bulb company.

My CFL Experience:

Comparing CFL Light Bulbs to Incandescent Light Bulbs

Systematically Replacing Light Bulbs with CFLs

The Problem with Installing CFLs in My Home Fixtures

CFL Rebates from Dollar General

EDIT: Here's how my bill is doing after 4 months of slowly switching to CFLs: Electric Bills Even Lower, Thanks to CFLs

Photo by Duane Storey


Catie said...

Popular Mechanic rated CFLs on color and their top 2 picks were Westinghouse Natural Light and Philips Marathon. GE came in fifth. Again, this is just on color.

Also, I read that you shouldn't use CFLs in lights that are only on for 15 minutes or less (like a closet) as frequent cycling shortens their life.....

Johnny 5 said...

As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I am constantly bombarded with questions about how much energy is actually being saved by using compact fluorescents and whether they live up to all of the hype that they receive. It seems to me that a lot of the negative things said about incandescent bulbs and their energy usage is borne out of a poor understanding of basic physics. The law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, just changed from one form to another. So many people speak of incandescent bulbs “wasting” energy as though they are defying the laws of physics and destroying energy. I live in a fairly cool climate and during the winter I use an electric heater to heat the particular room that I am in. If I use an incandescent bulb and 90% of its energy usage is for the production of heat, then it is simply generating heat that I would have to generate anyway with my 1000W heater. It’s June here and we are still dealing with cold and rainy weather, so there is a significant portion of the year where the heat energy produced by incandescent bulbs indoors is useful and not “wasted.” For me, it is an obvious choice given the mercury content and poor light quality that comes from compact fluorescents.

Dawn said...

Hey Catie - thanks for the info on not using cfls on lights that aren't on for long. That makes sense since they take so long to warm up!

Johnny - I see what you mean. I think I am going to end up using a mix of bulbs, depending on each situation. I won't be miserable to save a dollar, but if I can make them work, I will.