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Subject:Another LED lighting query
Time:11:10 am
I've now sorted the lights in most of my flat and replaced the CFLs with LEDs. At some point I will probably be dumping way too many CFLs onto Freecycle... but I digress.

The exception is my work room, which currently has a 4ft 36w fluorescent tube. I'd like to replace that, it's on for several hours most days, but it isn't as simple as the bulbs because the fluorescent fitting has a high-voltage starter, and CFLs don't need that. As I understand it there are two ways to do this - one is to rewire the fitting to bypass the ballast and starter, the other is to replace the fitting entirely and put up one designed for CFL from the outset. Fortunately the fitting can be taken down fairly easily - it hangs on chains a foot or so below the ceiling and can be unplugged - so either wouldn't be especially difficult.

Anyone done any of this, and have any information about the pros and cons? In particular, what's the service life of these things - will the cost of replacements outweigh the energy savings?
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nojay
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-17 11:35 am (UTC)
Is it an old-fashioned choke starter system in this fitting or does it have a more modern electronic ballast?

I've fitted electronic ballasts into a couple of older fluorescent tube battens -- it stops them flickering when they are switched on and substantially extends the life of the tube. Effectively it turns them into a not-very-compact CFL and is a bit easier (but not much easier) than replacing the whole batten. It does involve chopping wires and removing bits though.

Replacing a fluorescent tube unit with LEDs won't save you much on electricity. The big energy savings moving from filament bulbs to CFL aren't matched by the slightly lower consumption of LEDs with a similar light output.

100W tungsten = 20W CFL = 15W LED (roughly).

What might be better is to install some LED lighting in the work room to cover the areas you need good coverage (desk, worktop etc.) and leave the ceiling unit alone.
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ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-17 03:19 pm (UTC)
Old - very flickery, I probably need to replace the starter.

I was wondering about the overall economics. I've replaced the CFLs with LEDs in most of the flat because there were some cheap ones in Poundland, the tube is obviously a different ballgame.
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nojay
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-17 04:01 pm (UTC)
If the tube's flickering then it may be time to bite the bullet and go LED. You won't easily make up the cost in electricity savings though, LED lighting is only slightly more efficient than CFL or regular electronic-ballast fluorescent tubes.
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whswhs
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-18 02:39 am (UTC)
What are the environmental issues with LEDs? CFLs are supposed to be recycled, and our nearest recycling site is an inconvenient bus trip away, in a location I have no other reason to visit. And if you break a CFL, you have mercury released into your home environment. Officially you're supposed to vacate the location and call some government agency to decontaminate it. If LEDs are less hazardous that would be a reason to use them.
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nojay
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-18 09:19 am (UTC)
There's no particular hazard to disposing of LED lamps other than treating them as electronic waste, like a radio or TV set or a dead toaster.

As for the mercury in CFLs requiring hazmat and evacuation if they break that's an urban myth. The quantity of mercury vapour in a CFL is tiny. If one breaks in a room open a window for a few minutes and then clean up the glass. You will get more exposure to mercury in biologically hazardous form by eating a few cans of tuna.
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whswhs
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-18 01:47 pm (UTC)
My recollection is that I found it either on the packaging for a CFL, or on some sort of official Web site where I looked them up. I don't think I heard it from just some random person; I would have discounted that, or researched it and gone by what a more official site said.
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nojay
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-18 01:55 pm (UTC)
Here's a link to the Snopes report on CFL breakages:

http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/cfl.asp

There was some worry about breakages in the early days of CFLs but it was vastly overblown. Considering the numbers of regular fluorescent tubes around and the likelihood of them breaking and releasing larger amounts of mercury vapour it's a little surprising that CFLs induced such panic. I presume because they were a new design -- most homes have at least one or two fluorescent tube fittings in garages and workshops. I even have a ring-shaped fluorescent tube in a stand-mounted magnifier.

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robby
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-17 12:30 pm (UTC)
You're way ahead of me with lighting. I only have two led bulbs, and I still have a drawer full of unused incandescent and cfl bulbs.
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ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-17 03:22 pm (UTC)
Poundland stores in the UK now have 3W and 5W lamps for £1, about $1.42 at the current exchange rate. It seemed like a good time to try it!
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robby
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-17 04:16 pm (UTC)
I haven't priced them lately, here in the US, but the next one I'll buy should be a 100 watt equivalent. My strategy is too replace the most commonly used bulbs first.
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whswhs
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-17 02:28 pm (UTC)
Earlier this year we acquired our first two LED bulbs, by buying clamp-on desk lamps that use them. One of the two has already stopped working. Buying a replacement cost over $10; I certainly hope it works!

I remember when CFLs started coming out. They were pushed with the argument that their expected lifespan was much longer than that of incandescent bulbs, which would make up for their higher cost. But I kept being unpleasantly surprised by having them stop working in about the same timeframe. I've come to suspect that these new lighting technologies are oversold a bit. The saving in power consumption may still make them worthwhile, but it seems a bit more marginal than if they actually lasted forever. I'm wondering if LEDs will turn out the same way.
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ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-17 03:29 pm (UTC)
They're currently available very cheaply in the UK, £1 (£1.42) for 3W or 5W lamps, so trying them isn't much of a risk. So far they seem OK, there's one room where I may put a CFL back because it feels a bit gloomy with the LED, but on the whole they work well enough. Lifetime is another matter, of course; I doubt that there will ever be perpetually working lamps (apart from the hideously expensive ones sold for some public service uses that have been deliberately over-engineered for long life since putting up scaffolding or a ladder is too expensive/dangerous to be done frequently). I'm going to keep the CFLs for a while, and see what happens.
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robertprior
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-18 01:33 am (UTC)
According to an engineer at Phillips, CFLs last longer when you leave them on for long periods. Turning them off and on a lot greatly lowers their lifespan.

(I had one melt on me and sent it back so it could be analysed.)
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ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2016-04-18 10:04 am (UTC)
I can believe that - the light for the stairs and hall in my flat is always on, I think I've only had to change it twice since I started using CFLs. But that's why it was the first ceiling light I changed to LED - it was a 23W lamp, needed to be that bright to light the stairs above and below the main floor of the flat, two 5W LEDs are replacing it pretty well. Allegedly LEDs don't have a problem with being switched on and off a lot.
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