CFL Tips

March 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

I recently received this e-mail inquiry from a neighbor who hosted a household energy workshop in her home.

I have a new box [of CFLs]…  On the back it says ‘base up position only.’  Does this mean I can’t use them in fixtures that point to the side?

Some mini-CFLs say ‘not for enclosed fixtures,’ while others do not.  Can they be used in enclosed fixtures?

My son put them in all of his ceiling spot lights.  He has a new house and yet they burned out quickly.  Before I replace all my spotlights I’d like to know—will they will last?  Any ideas?

Let me shed some light on this issue – pun most certainly intended!

There is not a great answer to this.  The fact is that the electronics are in the base, and heat rises, so if the glass tube is pointing down the heat will rise and can lead to premature failure of the bulb.  This is less of an issue if the bulb is sideways.  Also, if bulbs are enclosed, the fixture inside can get hot and lead to premature failure.  The basic summary of this is that CFLs tend to perform the best, in terms of life of the bulb, when the base is down and the glass tube is up (i.e. in a table lamp).

All this said, I think the SEVERITY of the premature failure has to do with the quality of the bulb.  I say this because I have not seen this issue to be the case in my enclosed spotlight fixtures and enclosed fixtures that have CFLs.  The brand I happen to use in my house is the Home Depot in-house brand called EcoSmart.  But then again, maybe I have just been lucky.

I know that it is annoying if they burn out, but a bright spot is that most CFLs carry a 2-year warranty against premature failure—so if you save the box (or even better your receipt tucked inside the empty box) you can either return it to the store or call the manufacturer and they will usually send you a new pack no questions asked.


Entry filed under: Energy Tips, Woodcroft.

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