Fact and Fiction on CFL and LED Light Bulbs

CFL light bulbs

CFL light bulbsAre you hesitating to make the switch to LED or CFL bulbs for your home? Recent legislation is going to make it harder to find incandescent bulbs, so what’s holding you back? Consider these common myths, and separate the truth from fiction so you can make informed decisions.

Fiction: CFLs do not fit in my light fixture

When they first came to market CFLs often did not fit candelabras or ceiling fans. This led to a wide-sweeping myth that you could only use CFLs in other types of lighting fixtures. If you wanted that flame-shaped lamp for your chandelier, you had to go with incandescent.

Fact: CFLs/LEDs come in all shapes and sizes

The truth is that CFLs and LEDs are now available in a wide range of shapes and sizes to fit just about any need. These can now be inserted directly into candelabras, wall sconces, ceiling fans and any other type of lighting fixture you have.

Fiction: CFL/LED bulbs are too expensive

When you walk down the aisle of your favorite retailer and see CFLs for a couple of dollars next to incandescent bulbs priced at less than $1, you may find yourself wondering why you should switch. After all, the higher purchase price is a shock for those who are buying these energy-efficient options for the first time. Yet, you have to look at the overall cost of the bulbs to see the real truth. Purchase price is just one factor to consider.

Fact: CFL/LED bulbs save enough to counter the higher price

Yes, buying energy-efficient bulbs is more expensive, but consider this fact: CFLs use less electricity and have a longer lifespan than their counterparts. Not only will you be buying fewer bulbs, but you will also save between $30 and $50 on your electricity expenses over the bulb’s lifetime. Since the bulb will last between six and 10 years, these savings really add up.

Fiction: CFL bulbs are dangerous because of mercury content

There’s no denying that mercury is a problem, and CFL bulbs do have mercury in them. If they break, your family could be exposed to mercury. Disposing of them is also a hazard for the environment. This has caused many to label CFLs as dangerous.

Fact: Mercury risk is low with proper handling

So is mercury a risk? Actually, not as much as many people think. The CFLs have only a tiny amount of mercury, less than what you would find in a can of tuna, and if they break, only a fraction of that small amount is released. Your family’s exposure is minimal. When the time comes to dispose of the bulb, all you need to do is take it to your local hardware store for recycling, rather than dumping it in the trash.

Fiction: CFL/LED bulbs do not last as long as advertised

Some people who have switched a few bulbs to CFL may find that they do not last for 10 years or more, and they claim false advertising as a result. However, it’s important to realize that 10 years is simply a best-case scenario.

Fact: 10-year lifespan is an ideal use lifespan

The advertised 10-year lifespan on CFL bulbs is the lifespan in an ideal situation. As with any device that’s used with electricity, your usage will determine the lifespan. A bulb that’s left on all day long, for example, is not going to last as long as a bulb that’s only used occasionally. Also, bulbs need to be installed properly to preserve their life. Avoid touching the tubing whenever possible when installing the bulbs to increase the lifespan of your bulb. Finally, remember that even if the bulbs do not last for 10 years, they last much longer than similar incandescent bulbs.

Fiction: Energy-efficient bulbs will not work with dimmer switches

Plugging in a CFL to a dimmer switch will not work. These bulbs require a steady flow of electricity that’s not conducive to the dimmer switch setup. This has caused some to believe they cannot switch to a more effective bulb if they want to be able to dim the lights.

Fact: LED bulbs work with dimmer switches

While CFLs will not work with a dimmer switch, you can get similar energy efficiency from LED bulbs, which do work with dimmer switches, so you can still upgrade. Just make sure you buy bulbs marked for use with dimmer switches.

These myths are preventing many people from making the energy-conscious decision to switch from incandescent bulbs to a more efficient option. Know the truth behind these bulbs so you can make an informed decision for your home.

[box]Stuart Simpson is the marketing director at Lightbulb Wholesaler, America’s leading wholesale distributer of light bulbs & ballasts. Lightbulb Wholesaler works with homeowners across the country to get energy effiecient bulbs in their homes.[/box]
image: mlinksva via Compfight (Creative Commons BY)
  • Show Comments

  • RD

    Contradict much? LED’s have been failing in large quantities in all markets… the “10 year” longevity has been replaced by”2 year” warranties and 25000 hr life expectancy.

    Manufacturer first hand knowledge.

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