Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

United States
January 24, 2007 8:02pm CST
I have been hearing alot about these compact fluorescent light bulbs or CFLs. General Electric (GE) says that by simply replacing a standard light bub with A GE Energy Smart Light bulb, you will be able to save $35 - $59 on energy bills over the life of the bulb. They also say it uses 75% less energy. They are supposed to last 8-10 times longer than standard light bulbs. I purchased a compact fluorescent light bulb by Sylvania. It makes a contant buzzing sound. I cannot use it.I keep a headache all the time and this is something that I will not be able to use. The constant buzzing is loud. My husband can even hear it. I have noticed that regular fluorescent bulbs also make a buzzing sound. My husband cannot hear them but they really irritate my head quickly. For me, these bulbs will not save money as I will have to spend the savings on pain meds for my head. Note that it is not GE. I have not tried the GE brand. GE has a lot of useful information on their site about these new bulbs. For instance, they do have some mercury in them. Ok, how can that be good for the enviroment? What if one of these bulbs break? GE says that research indicated that their is no immediate health risk to you or your family as long as it is cleaned up properly. Ok, how do I clean it up properly? Will I need to change my cleaning habbits. It seems that you should never vacuum up the fragments. You must place broken pieces in a sealed bag and wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up any stray shards of glass. Put the used towel in a plastic bag as well. Now here is the kicker: If weather permits, open windows to allow the room to ventilate HUMM? I am getting more concerned all the time. I am serious. GE gives all this info on their site. Check it out, http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/ask_us/faq_compact.htm#breaks These new bulbs are qickly becoming popular but I am wondering"Are they as good for us as the companies want to lead us to believe?" Do you think they are safe?
7 people like this
32 responses
• United States
25 Jan 07
Well, I've been using them for about a year in some of my lamps (haven't had to change one yet), and haven't had a problem. I've never noticed them buzzing, but I'm not very sensitive to that kind thing. I could count on one hand the number of times in my life I have broken a light bulb, so I can't say I thought about the dangers of breaking one. Although I have broken a regular tube at work, and cleaned it up the recommended way, with no problems or ill effects. However if the bulbs give you headaches, you should definitely not use them. Some people can't stand fluorescents because they flicker at a very high rate, that some people can still percieve and it annoys them. Saving a little on electricity is not worth the headaches.
2 people like this
• United States
25 Jan 07
That is exactly what I thought. I am glad you like yours. Can you tell if it is saving on your power bill?
1 person likes this
• India
25 Jan 07
i have been using then 4 past 9 months and they saved me a lot of money which was used in watching atleast a dozen of films.they save a lot of power and also are far better then any pther in all aspects
• Italy
25 Jan 07
that great thing!
@bonbon50 (659)
• United States
25 Jan 07
I think you need to re-read the article again, as you seem to have concentrated on the negatives. It's just like everything else where they need to point out any possible (but very slim) hazards. Ever read the labels on OTC medications? Very scarey. But these are more the exception than the rule. I doubt that just because you got buzzing from trying one bulb that it would be the case in other sockets. Switching your household over to these bulbs only makes sense in the fact that it does save on your electric bill while also saving energy that is generated to burn them, thus contributing less to global warming. And they do last quite a long time! Less to go into the landfills as well.
• United States
1 Feb 07
I tried switching to another outlet and that did not work. I am very sensitive to sound.
@brokentia (10396)
• United States
25 Jan 07
Oh my gosh! That can't possibly be safe if one should air the house out if weather permits when you break a bulb! And if we are supposed to clean up the glass and out in a plastic baggies, should we be throwing it away in our trash? Is there not a proper disposal method? Goodness, I understand saving energy and such, but to go as far as to use a bulb that could be potentially hazardous to your family's health? I would love to conserve energy and spend less money by changing bulbs. But I would not be able to take that hum either and I would not want to worry about "airing" the house out if weather permits.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Jan 07
This is a copy and paste from the GE site. check it out for yourself. What do I do with a CFL when it burns out? What is the proper disposal of a CFL bulb? Follow these guidelines to dispose your CFL properly: • Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check www.earth911.org (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call 1-877-EARTH911 for local disposal options. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community. Additional information is available at www.lamprecycle.org. Finally, IKEA stores take back used CFLs, and other retailers are currently exploring take back programs. • If your local waste management agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in the trash. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a CFL or other mercury containing product to an incinerator. • ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs have a two-year warranty. If the bulb fails within the warranty period, return it to your retailer.
2 people like this
@kgwat70 (13396)
• United States
25 Jan 07
This is great information to know. Thank you very much for sharing this information. The energy star light bulbs have a 7 to 10 year lifespan depending on how much usage. I will definitely check this website you mentioned about the cfl bulbs and the disposal methods.
@beyonce03 (2331)
• Canada
25 Jan 07
I just want to add something about the 2 years garanty. They are suposse to last that long only if you use 3 hour everyday. That's how they count for all the garanty in light bulbs. Also if you use a CFL outside (if its cold outside) it will last a little bit less.
25 Jan 07
We had one brand of CFL which used to make a buzzing noise. There are many things to consider before buying them. There are some interesting posts about them at www.microgreen.blogspot.com
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Jan 07
Your blog has some intresting points in it. Thanks for sharing. I did go check it out. What brand of CFL did you have that made the buzzing noise? I am very sensitive to sound.
25 Jan 07
It was quite a few years back that we had the ones that buzzed. I think the technology has moved on since then and the newer ones do seem to be much improved. The light output has also improved, the old ones we had took ages to warm up and even them they never seemed to be as bright as the bulbs thye were intended to replace. In our house we have 50/50 between CFL and incandesant bulbs. We use the CFLs for landing lights that are left on for long periods, but use traditional bulbs for living areas. A lot of our lights have dimmer switches fitted which will not work with CFLs.
• United States
25 Jan 07
We use compact florescent bulbs in some of our lamps. I have never noticed a buzzing sound from any of them. The part about leaving windows open when weather permits does sound rather alarming. Why would they suggest that? Do these bulbs give off some type of radiation that we are not aware of? If so, we should be informed about this and any other risks associated with using them.
• United States
25 Jan 07
The suggestion to leave the window open was reccomended by GE if you break a bulb. You can read this on their web site at the address in the article.
• United States
25 Jan 07
I am selective about where I use them. For instance in my barn where I used to use 9o watt incandecants, I now use about a 200 wat cfls. There are different types that put out differnet colors of lights. You can't use them with dimmer switches. Try different lamps and see if they all hum. It may be the lamp. I use all types of flourescents at work and home and love them, as long as they are used in the proper places. There are even eco friendly ones that can be thrown out in large quantities with reg trash.
• United States
25 Jan 07
You are the second person to suggest trying the bulb in a different lamp so I did and it buzzed in all of them. I am going to purchase a GE one and see if I can hear it buzzing. thanks for the comment.
@rhinoboy (2129)
25 Jan 07
We are also converting over to energy efficient bulbs here in the UK. As you say, there is mercury and other chemicals inside the bulbs, however the amounts are tiny, so are not really a health risk. You should also be aware that most bulbs have nasty chemicals trapped inside. These are required to make the bulbs work properly. Halogen is used for spotlights, outdoor security lamps and many automobile headlights. High Pressure Sodium is used for larger outdoor lighting as in sports stadiums and lighting up monuments etc. Neon and Aargon (and also mercury) are used for the specialist lit signs etc (Vegas). As I say, these are all harmful in any quantity, but necessary to make the respective bulbs work.
1 person likes this
@rhinoboy (2129)
25 Jan 07
I omitted to agree with a previous poster, that these bulbs, like regular fluorescent tubes do emit a slight buzz and flicker at a fast rate. This will be the cause of your headaches if you are sensetive to it. Don't worry - it's not deadly chemicals leaking!!!!
@kgwat70 (13396)
• United States
25 Jan 07
I have replaced almost all of my regular light bulbs with these fluorescent light bulbs and they work great. I am waiting for my first electric bill since I started using these to see how much money I am saving by going to these light bulbs. I had started up a discussion on this a while ago but yours is more detailed information and a different brand. I will have to keep you posted to see if I actually save money on my bills with these bulbs.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Jan 07
Waiting for the day when CFL of 2watt can Lite up to 100Watt equivalent Bulb.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Feb 07
I've been slowly replacing my regular light bulbs with the fluorescent ones. I have 2 teenage daughters that leave every light on in the house, so I had to try something to lower my electric bill. I think the lighting is a little lower too, but we've learned to live with it. I haven't had them in long enough to notice a difference on my electric bill, but I hope I do, since my electric bill averages about $100+ a month!!
• Australia
26 Jan 07
I have had compact lights for years, not sure they are the same brand that you mention. Never had to worry about a buzzing sound, and I do believe they save us money. But the money saved on the lights is now used in the computer being in myLot.. lol
• United States
25 Jan 07
I have a couple of energy saving bulbs and I don't hear any buzzing sounds. Maybe it is because of my tinitus. Hubby hasn't heard anything either and he would let me know if he did. Thanks for posting the information. Too often people do not read labels and do not know what hazards the product can bring.
1 person likes this
@nikaka (185)
• Canada
25 Jan 07
they are safe but not practical
1 person likes this
@nikaka (185)
• Canada
25 Jan 07
yea they are loud
1 person likes this
@kathy77 (7488)
• Australia
25 Jan 07
I have been using these General Electric light bulbs now for over 7 years now and believe me they do save a lot of money in regards to your electricity bill, and they do last a lot longer than the normal other light bulbs that we usually buy, mine don't make any noise otherwise I assure you they would be out in the rubbish bin, but General Electrical bulbs are very safe and I have never had any problems with them after these 7 years of using them.
1 person likes this
• Canada
25 Jan 07
Wow I use these light bulbs all the time , the one's I have I have never heard any buzzing coming from them . But I didn't know there was a specific way to clean them up . I have never had one break but figured if they did you would just sweep and vaccuum like any other light bulb . I am going to have to do more research on them now after reading this .
1 person likes this
• India
25 Jan 07
Yes it is true. The CFl gives much savings in E bill. I have been usin these for the last 3 yrs and have noticed a quite change in my Electiicity bill. Apart from that the CFl are smaller in size and aquire very less space. and they also look beautiful and comes in many shapes.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Jan 07
You are absoulutely right about the hazards with these. In fact all flourescent lamps carry the same hazards. It is true the light tube or bulb itself can save on entergy but there is a trade off. All require a ballast or transformer to raise the voltage high enough to get the gas inside to go into inozation. The gas is toxic and coating on inside of glass is poisionous. Both carry a real danger if broken. The transformer or ballast isn't all that efficent and you waste entergy in heat buildup and the loss normal in any transformer of ballast. And if you noticed the sizes they recomment do use less power than standard bulb but light is harder to read unless larger size is chosen. The only real better choice is new LED lighting and it is very efficent but has to major draw backs, cost is high and beam with of light is narrow. They are very bright and last years but beam with of light is usually 20 to 60 degrees so you have more of a spot light. It takes many in different angles to give same light pattern we are use to with normal light bulbs.
• India
25 Jan 07
I have heard a lot about CFL anf have tried myself a lot and it is proven fact that it is very good and saves a lot of electricity bill
1 person likes this
@dhouston (417)
• United States
25 Jan 07
Those are al valid concerns. I've been thinking about these bulbs.
1 person likes this
@lifeiseasy (2292)
• United States
25 Jan 07
I have been using them for over a year, haven;t heard any buzzing noises. I don't care to much for the light it seems darker to me. If you take pictures the light alos makes a very bad glare so I always heve to turn the light off. As for the benefits its great not to have to change the bulbs . I haven't had one break or burn out ..yet . As for the mercury I had no idea that was in them. I am going to look at the website you put up . I am very curious now too. Thansk for the heads up on that.