Upgraded to (Almost) All CFL (Fluorescent Light)

Turns out CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamp and not Light (which doesn’t make sense to me since a light bulb isn’t exactly a lamp by itself).

Anyway, my mom alerted me a week or 2 ago that SCE (Southern California Edison Company) was subsidizing CLFs at Costco with instant discount/rebate. I recall seeing something similar, but PSE (Puget Sound Energy) is the one subsidizing them up here in Washington. The reason she called was not because that they were subsidizing the CFLs, but because Costco now carried bulb shaped CFLs (instead of the typical twirly tube ones). She suggested that I replace the bathroom bulbs with these, which made sense since each of my bathroom has 6 to 8 regular light bulbs above the mirror, which obviously wastes a lot of electricity when turned on.

So while I was at Costco today getting my tires rotated, I decided to take a look. Indeed they now carried bulb shaped (or as the box called it: globe shaped) G25 CFLs. A 4-pack of them was $10.39 – $6 (instant rebate) coming out to $4.39 or $1.10 per bulb. They even featured a picture on the box showing the fashion light bulbs above a mirror. At 40W, these light bulbs were a bit weak, but oh well. There wasn’t a limit, so I picked up 6 boxes of these since I had to replace 22 of these bulbs.

Next to them they also had the 65W R30 Reflector CFLs. My house has a bunch of these and these were also being subsidized: 6 pack for $17.89 – $12 (instant rebate) coming out to $5.89 or $0.98/CFL. This was the only type in the bunch that had a limit of 6 per membership. I picked up 2.

When I got home, I started replacing all the bulbs and things went pretty smooth. It got a bit tricky to unscrew bulbs in little to no light (one thing about light bulbs is that you can’t unscrew them when they’re on or you’ll burn off your hand), however I survived.

When testing these bulb, I noticed they were still the twirly tube fluorescent bulbs inside, but they just had a globe/bulb shell to make them look nicer. One thing I notice pretty much immediately about these CFLs was that there was a warm-up period. They start off dim, but reach pretty much full brightness in about 30 seconds. I’m not sure if it has to do with the shell, or maybe it’s this particular manufacturer (Feit Electric Conserv-Energy), but I’ve never had a problem like this with my existing CFLs (Philips Marathon – also purchased at Costco). A bit annoying at first, but maybe I’ll get use to it. Worse case, I’ll return them to Costco.

I hit into a bit of snag with my kitchen lights as it was on one of those adjustable/dimmer controls and even on max, it started flickering like crazy after a few minutes. If I sat there and held the knob at max, the flickering would stop, but once I let go, the flickering came back quickly. I unmounted the light switch and tried holding the 2 wires together and the flickering went away. Obviously it’s the dimmer causing the problem here. Luckily Lowe’s closed at 10pm on Saturdays and I went to electrical department armed with a $10 off $25 coupon.

I found the regular light switches and apparently there are regular, 3-way, and 4-way light switches. I understand a 3-way light switch allows you to control a set of lights at 2 opposite ends (typically top/bottom of the stairs), but what the heck is a 4-way light switch?

As a tangent, I had a problem awhile back where I discussed with Xyon because I had 2 flight of stairs, the bottom being the garage, the middle being the front door, and the top being the living room, and I would like to be able to control all the lights along the way with 1 switch located at each of those points. Currently it’s split as 2 separate 3-way switch circuits, each controlling lighting for one flight of stairs. Doing some searching on what a 4-way light switch after I got back, it appears to fit my scenario exactly! I’m not going to go too much into details now, but with 4 way switches, you can have as many switches to control the same set of lights as you want! To find out more about it, see: Wiring a 4-Way Switch and 3 Way Switch & 4 Way Switch.

Now back to the original story. I picked up a standard light switch and was about to head out to the checkout counters, when I noticed the decorator switches (the big rectangular ones). I thought neat! These were cheaper and I prefer them as light switches over the regular flip ones. So I went with the decorator light switch instead. As I was about to enter the freeway, I thought wait… the current switch panel has 2 small holes, big enough to fit only the regular light switches. Sigh… I needed a new switch panel. I turn around and head back to Lowe’s and purchased a switch panel that had one small hole and one big hole. Total still came out cheaper purchasing the decorator switch + new switch panel.

Decorator Light Switch Once I got home, I installed the new switch and panel and things worked! Yay! Unfortunately I didn’t take a better look at the color of the original set of knobs/panel before I left and since my walls were egg shell colored (light yellowish), I went with the light beige decorator light switch and the light beige switch panel. Now there’s this white knob that stands out in front of it. If you’re wondering why there’s still a knob, that’s because there’s 2 switches on this panel, one for the kitchen lights, the other for the dining room which still uses light bulbs.

Why light bulbs for the dining room? There are still 3 places in the house which still uses regular incandescent light bulbs:

  1. The chandelier above the dining table (which is the reason why I left the dimmer for that switch)
  2. The ceiling lamp in my living room which is like 2 stories high (I thought about attempting to use my telescoping ladder, but decided against it)
  3. The ceiling lamp in my storage room/basement which uses these very tiny light bulbs

All in all, I’m happy with CFL upgrade for my entire house. Now I have a bunch of spare incandescent bulbs.

9 thoughts on “Upgraded to (Almost) All CFL (Fluorescent Light)

  1. My biggest problem with switching over to CFLs is that I have a hard time finding ones that are instant-on and also cheap. I think the very first time I bought a pack at Costco, I was really happy with the bulbs. Unfortunately, I neglected to write down the manufacturer, and the bulbs I’ve picked up since had the warm-up period and took a few seconds to even turn on at all.

    Sylvania makes CFLs that are marked “instant-on” on the box; they even make mini CFLs (mini compact?) that are even shorter so they stay hidden in upward-facing fixtures. The problem with those is that I can’t find them at Costco, and they cost a bit more than I’d like to spend regularly. Of course, if they last as long as they claim they will, I suppose that won’t be a problem.

  2. Ah… I didn’t realize there were instant-on ones. The previous ones sold at Costco as I mentioned was Philips Marathon and those are instant on, but I don’t recall them selling them not in the swirly tube form.

  3. The local Asian supermarket near my parents’ house sells cheapy CFLs for either 3 or 4 for a buck.

    Sure, they’re not going to last anywhere close to the ~ 10 years that good quality CFLs are spec’d to last, but for a quarter a pop, I’m not complaining.

    Re: warm-up period: that has never bothered me before, but I can see how it would be annoying in a really dark room (hallway closet, bathroom, etc.).

    BTW, when you say “40W” or “65W” bulbs, is that the actual power consumption, or do those numbers refer to their incandescent equivalents (example: a “100W” equivalent CFL really uses something like 20-25W)?

  4. Glad to hear that you made the switch to CFLs! I am curious, what did you think of the color? I have tried a few different ones, but they still seem to produce this almost “sterile white” characteristic. I found an article over at http://www.modernmom.org that states the new ones come in different colors, but the prices have been hiked. What temperature (color) were your bulbs? Have you tried any different colors?

    Also, regarding the wattage, if you light socket is rated for 60watt, can you put a “stronger” CFL (say, rated for 100watts) because the actual wattage is less? Or should you limit yourself to the max wattage?

  5. The bulbs I got from Costco were soft yellowish. Not sure exactly how to describe the color, but definitely not white. They reminded me the yellowish color of regular light bulbs.

    As for wattage, given that it’s pulling in a lot less than a standard incandescent light bulb, I’m pretty sure you can use higher wattage if you prefer. I personally never really look at wattage compliance. Usually, I’m more concern about how bright it’ll be.

    Also, a lot of wattage concerns is that they don’t want the bulb to get too hot and cause a fire, which CFLs also don’t have a problem with.

  6. I like what you wrote about how CFL bulbs are a good idea. I switched all mine out with CFL bulbs I bought at WALGREENS drug store. I also noticed that there are the small chandelier bulbs you mentioned in your blog, but they are not CFLs. I think they are LEDs instead which use less energy that CFLs, but they are for decoration and not really for really lighting up a room or anything. Good luck!

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