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How Long Does a CFL Last? October 21, 2010

Posted by bowmanlamps in Uncategorized.

Generally speaking, a compact fluorescent light bulb (or lamp as it is known in the lighting industry), lasts 13 times longer than a standard incandescent light bulb. And covered CFLs (standard shapes with a CFL hidden inside) will last 10 times longer.

The average life of a CFL is 10,000 hours of use compared to 750 for a standard incandescent. At four hours a day, that ‘s well over six years of use.  Covered CFLs average 8,000 hours (over five years of use at four hours per day) while the standard incandescent bulbs still last 750 hours. The lives of covered bulbs are shortened by heat which builds up inside the cover.

That said, there are a number of other factors which effect  the longevity of a CFL. Consider the following:

  • Price! The saying “You get what you pay for” holds true for CFLs. Lower cost, off brand bulbs may be poor quality and  usually don’t last as long.
  • Flipping the switch. The number of times a CFL is turned off and on will affect how long it lasts. When a CFL is turned on, a higher voltage is needed to get the light started, putting stress on the bulb.  Flip the switch too many times and the bulb burns out sooner.  A CFL does best if it is turned off and on no more than five times a day.  More than that, and the life of the bulb is reduce by about 30 percent  – which still leaves plenty of room for savings over standard incandescent light bulbs.
  • Vibration. If a CFL is used where there is a lot of vibration, the electronics in the CFL base may be effected, shortening the life of the bulb. For instance, you wouldn’t want to put a CFL along a roller coaster.
  • Using the right bulb in the wrong place.  Heat is the enemy of CFLs. A consumer may be tempted to put a higher wattage bulb than recommended inside a fixture.  However, this could lead to heat build-up which again stresses the electronics in the CFLs ballast, causing early failure. Dimming a non-dimmable CFL will also result in a shortened life.
  • Too hot or too cold to handle….  Well, not really. Extreme temperatures effect how a bulb operates. You may want to reconsider using a CFL for outdoor lighting if the temperature is frequently well below freezing. Or, consider another option for a sauna. Check the CFL boxes for minimum and maximum operating temperatures.

When it comes to CFLs, there are many options available. Check out a few long lasting CFLs here.



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