Neon CFL BulbsThe Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI), a nonprofit organization that conducts research on electricity usage, recently addressed several concerns related to replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The EPRI assures consumers that manufacturers have rectified many of the issues related to using CFLs, including usage in three-way fixtures, non-compatibility in dimmers, the high price of CFLs and CFL use in fans and candelabras. Additionally, CFL users should understand the lifespan of the bulb and causes of flicker.

Here’s what else the EPRI had to say about CFLs:

  • As manufacturers phase out incandescent bulbs in accordance with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, consumers can be assured that CFLs will act as a formidable replacement for the bulbs of the past. Manufacturers have developed three-way CFLs suited for standard three-way sockets; just like incandescent bulbs, the three-way CFLs are available in different wattage/light output combinations:

*A 12/23/29 W CFL is equivalent to a 50/100/150 W incandescent bulb.

*A 14/19/32 W CFL is equivalent to a 40/75/150 W incandescent bulb.

  • Similarly, new designs ensure that CFLs will fit in fans and candelabras. Frosted glass bulbs are available along with “flame” lamps, curled lamp tips and traditional incandescent shapes.
  • If you are concerned about using a CFL in your dimmer, buy CFL bulbs that specify “true dimmability” on the box. These bulbs are likely to be compatible with both rotary and programmable dimmers. Of course, one should always conduct a home test before buying large quantities of CFLs for dimmers.
  • If you are concerned about purchasing CFLs due to the high cost, check the price again; manufacturers are selling CFLs for less and less as consumer demand rises. The spreading use of CFLs has also ensured that several facilities offer safe disposal of the bulbs. While a typical CFL contains less mercury than a can of tuna, you should dispose of your bulbs properly. You can do this through your local waste management provider, retailers that provide free disposal of CFLs or check online resources like
  • Some people are deterred from buying CFLs because they have heard that CFLs cause flicker. The only flicker experience with a CFL bulb is line voltage flicker, but this sort of flicker is more noticeable in incandescent bulbs. Another myth exists that CFL lifespan is not as long as advertised; however, lifespan depends on the user. You must properly install the CFL for optimal use — to avoid cracking the glass, hold onto the plastic part of the bulb as you screw it into the can. Also remember that most CFLs are not designed to last as long in recessed cans. The lifespan of your bulb essentially depends on usage and how often you turn the bulb on and off. Look on the box: generally the manufacturer provides the recommended number of times you can turn the CFL on and off in a day to get the lifespan that you expect.

In the long run, switching to CFLs will save you time and money without making you sacrifice luminary style. Enjoy high-quality light while saving the earth: kick the incandescent habit!


5/14/2013 1:48:34 PM

VaporLok Products has come up with a CFL storage bag for consumers that is made with mercury vapor proof barrier and contains an activated carbon adsorbent pad that adsorbs vapor from broken bulbs. It doesn't address the fact that the CFLs contain mercury but at least protects the consumer if the bulbs break. It is partnered with in the U.S. to promote proper recycling. Check out their website for other useful information as well.

5/12/2013 6:59:07 AM

Myths exposed? where?
CFLs contain mercury.

CFLs emit high amounts of EMFs

CFLs are FAR from safe and clean.

mark c
4/2/2011 12:54:54 AM

CFL lights will definitely help you save time and money. Aside from having CFL lights in your homes and buildings you can also try to do other things like installing window films in your windows because for every dollar spent, window film delivers 7X more energy savings. This item that can be added in this article is available in and get totally independent quotes for solar control window film, you will find that people can reduce consumption without any visual effect on their windows for much less than other energy saving technologies. Window tint is a known and trusted "Green" technology, it is cost-effective, energy-efficient and above all, it is eco-friendly.

3/13/2011 8:37:34 AM

The CFL's I have used have not lasted nearly as long as advertised, but they do use less electricity than an incandescent. Check the lumin/watt ratio and you'll find the LED's aren't as cheap as they are touted to be. LED's are great for DC/battery use, or for emergency lighting, but the CFL will use only a fraction more power at the same lumin level which is more than offset by the lower cost and availability of the CFL. The reason I use CFLs is for the lower heat output. I live in an area that we're more concerned with cooling a home, and the CFLs save me 1 ton of A/C cost. That said, I have recently replaced my living room dimmable hanging light incandescents with screw in (Edison base) halogens. 60 watt equivalent using only 43 watts of power. Great light, lower power, less heat, long life, low cost.

timothy croom
3/12/2011 7:53:49 PM

Place that next brood of chicks under your CFL. Candle your eggs using a CFL or LED lamp. Sadly even the Infrared bulbs will be removed from the market shelves as I understand it. Of course halogen bulbs which are highly inefficient will still be available.

maxie coale
3/9/2011 1:47:09 AM

LED lights may be more efficient but they contain high levels of lead, about 8 times more than the allowable level).

3/5/2011 11:22:09 AM

The trace amount of mercury contained by most CFLs is actually less than the amount of mercury released from coal fired plants from the greater energy demand of an incandescent. Basically, less mercury is released into the environment from CFLs.

3/3/2011 8:58:00 PM

What about the mercury? Cleanup is a problem, and the procedure advocated by the EPA is at least 45 minutes worth of work per breakage... (see

3/1/2011 2:49:03 PM

I use CFLs because they use less power. However, they are not the perfect light bulb. I don't believe the claim that they last longer than incandescent bulbs. Seems I am always changing out CFLs. I can't just throw them away either. I save them up and take them to the hazardous waste disposal station. I find that CFLs take time to warm up in cold weather. The good thing is SoCal Edison helps subsidize the cost of CFLs in my area so you can usually find a multipak at the 99 cent only store for less than a dollar. Costco also sells CFLs at a good discount.

john haendiges
3/1/2011 1:49:58 PM

While I would concede that CFLs are better than incandesant bulbs in general, they are more toxic to the environment, and far less efficient than newer LED lights.

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