Posts Tagged ‘CFL’

The recent article: LED Bulb Efficiency Surges, But Light Quality Lags states very well the findings of the DOE and others reviewing LED retrofit lamp performance. While well stated, there are severl missing dynamic issues in the conversation that need to be included if LED is to overcome the failure of the CFL to capture the consumer market it so desperately seeks to dominate.

While efficient, there has been no great interest in the consumer market to lamps with poorer quality at higher prices.

While efficient, there has been no great interest in the consumer market to lamps with poorer quality at higher prices.

The CFL lamp has failed in the consumer market for these reasons:

  1. Light quality is poor in comparison to the far cheaper incandescent lamp. This includes color quality, distribution (photometric) pattern is poor (flood type products)
  2. Appearance and fit of the product into existing fixtures – i.e. ugly to look at, stick out of fixtures, create dark spots in shades and fixture diffusers, etc.
  3. They did not last as long as advertised. When switched frequently, the life of a CFL screw base product can be shorter than a long life incandescent. In outdoor cold climate environments, some fail within a few months. In down-lights and enclosed fixtures most fail even more quickly.
  4. They cost too much compared to incandescent of higher quality
  5. They save some energy, but have so many other liabilities the consumer does not take this seriously.
  6. Flickering starts, flicker under dimming, and 120Hz strobe effects from cheap ballast designs
  7. Slow to warm to full brightness – often taking longer to get up to full light than many products are on for in many rooms (pantry, closet, hallway, etc.)
  8. Mercury disposal concerns for some

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Anyone in the business of SSL has either considered the fate of the CFL lamp, or used it as a whipping boy for marketing efforts. Why can’t this lamp catch a break? Is there anything we can learn from this product in deploying solid-state technology?

cfl-small

This is a residential lamp, rarely used in the commercial sector.

To truly put this in perspective, let’s separate reality from conventional wisdom.

First, the compact fluorescent lamp has been a huge success in the commercial market, where plug-in lamps are used with external electronic ballasts. These small lamps fill 90% of the decorative wall sconces, bowls, and surface ceiling luminaires, and over 50% of the recessed downlights in commercial, institutional, industrial, retail, and health care facilities around the country. The incandescent lamp was kicked to the curb for being an energy and maintenance resource consumer. Plug-in style CFL lamps range from 7 watts to 120 watts, in configurations that include twin tube, triple tube, and quad tube configurations. They are seen in 2,700k, 3,000k, 3,500k, and occasionally 4,100k. While there are many that are dimmed, most operate on simple switches or automatic controls. The hospitality market has adopted this lamp in new products, in combination with the screw-base retrofit lamp to eliminate incandescent table, downlight, accent and wall sconce lighting.

The residential market is another animal altogether. (more…)