Is The Quality of CFL Bulbs On The Decline?

I know many people don’t like them, but I’ve always been a supporter of CFL bulbs.  Some of the early bulbs were a bit hard to handle.  Plus,they developed a reputation early on about taking a long time to light.  Even though these have improved, many people don’t like them.  However, recent observations have made me wonder if the quality of CFL bulbs has declined.

Long Lasting Bulbs Was A Selling Point

I was really impressed with was how long they seemed to last.  It was a major selling point for CFL bulbs.The average bulb was advertised to last, on average, for around 7 years.  This would vary based on usage, and it was noted that if you frequently turn your lights on and off, the expectation would be reduced.  This made sense.

When we moved into our house in 2007, I went through and started replacing many bulbs with CFLs as they burnt otu.  It didn’t take long before most eligible bulbs were CFLs.

There was a long stretch where we didn’t replace any bulbs.  This was great.

Then gradually, we started having CFLs burn out.  And, they started going at a pretty rapid rate, where I was replacing 1-2 bulbs per month.  I did replace a couple of lamp bulbs with LEDs but most of the others were replaced with new CFL bulbs.

The timing made sense.   You figure most bulbs went in around the same time, so a big wave of replacements was OK.  I figured that I might see a big wave and then see it die down to a trickle.

Which is kind of what happened, but not really.

Bulbs Not Lasting As Long Suggest Quality of CFL Bulbs Is Changing

What I’ve noticed is that there have been a few bulbs that I’ve already had to replace a second time.  And, while I know that some of the bulbs are in places where the light gets turned on and off more frequently, they still did not last nearly as long as the original bulb.  I’m thinking that the first bulb might have lasted 5 years, and the second lasted around two years.

So far it hasn’t seemed too concerning to me, but I’ll definitely keep an eye on the trend.  One of the reasons is that the price has effectively negated the reduced output.  When we first bought them, it seemed we were paying $2-4 pre bulb.  It’s been so long that I really can’t remember.  When I last went and bought some more, they were $0.50 each.  We’ve been consistently buying the same brand of bulbs from the same store.  This means  that if the quality is not there, it’s not because we made any changes in our buying habits.  It could very well have to do with the bulbs themselves.

Readers, what do you think about CFL bulbs?  If you’ve avoided them, would you ever give them another chance or are you scarred for life?  If you use them, have you noticed any decrease in bulb life as time has gone on?  

7 thoughts on “Is The Quality of CFL Bulbs On The Decline?”

  1. I HAVE noticed a difference in quality. I just return them where I bought them and get replacements. I save the original packaging. As for the LED’s, I did buy a couple to try but the “numbers” just don’t work for me….

  2. I heard somewhere that the manufacturers weren’t making a profit when the bulbs lasted so long, so they had to make them not so long lasting.

  3. Well, we’re big fans of all types of energy saving bulbs but I must say we haven’t noticed a decline in their quality over time. That is probably because the prices and watts-consumed are low enough to keep us happy. If you’re not too happy with the quality, I would suggest you switch to a different company, one that is better known and see how that goes. The retailer you buy them from would probably also give you some good feedback about which CFL bulb is better.

  4. That’s an interesting observation. Wouldn’t be surprised: you can’t make money on lightbulbs that last for years and years. The logical solution would be planned obsolescence.

    I have a bunch of old ones I’d be happy to ship to you. I gave them an honest try, but after a year or two decided I really, really, REALLY hate the quality of light. Went out and hoarded as many incandescents as I could store before the gummint took the good ones away from us, and just now am using those.

    Also gave LED an honest try. Same issue: the quality of the light is just ugly! Worse, IMHO, even than the fluorescents: kind of sicky blue-green. And the cost is demented. After a few months, I couldn’t stand having it even in the lamp I use to light the living room when I’m out at night to make it look like someone might be at home. You can have that thing, too!

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