katgod, please understand that not all Chinese products are bad, and in truth it is a minority of such products. However, due to the economic circumstances of the people producing the goods, as well as the unwillingness of most non-Chinese companies to place on-site representatives at the Chinese manufacturing plant, many EE's (myself included) have seen multiple cases of unauthorized substitute parts that were disastrous, and known of many more. The counterfeit parts phenomenon was only in the fringes until recently and is now a BIG problem in China. Replacement of specified materials is a longstanding problem (lead-painted glasses, sulfa-drugs in pig intestines, cadmium alloy cast princess crown toys, etc.).
I agree whole heartedly with Schweber. See my analysis here. [http://www.electroiq.com/blogs/insights_from_leading_edge/2011/08/iftle-63-bidding-adieu-to-lester-lightbulb.html]
This is yet another example of politics trying to sell something to the citizen with incomplete and incorrect science.
To the fellow who contends that all of his CFL are lasting many years, I have had the opposite perspective. Everyone I know is having premature failures and are complaining that these $5 bulbs are lasting less than a year (same as incandescents)
Interesting you trash the Chinese products because they basically have a free for all mentality and then say you want no regulation so we can produce the same kind of junk here, I am not sure which it is you really want. I assume it is the self regulation they have in China because you feel we are shackled here. While I am sure most of us agree that sometimes we are over regulated, I am pretty sure there is a line that needs to be walked.
In my opinion you are correct about the the base size, I found that even though one of my Edison bases was full size when I looked at it closely it turned out to have almost no metal in it
(I assume this makes it very cheap) I replaced it with an Edison with much more metal in the contact area because I put an LED bulb in it. LED are more efficient which I think everyone here knows. LEDs don't radiate IR energy away as an incandescent would so the heat sinking and ambient temperature are always a concern for both the LED and the electrolytics if you want long life.
I've heard about people having longevity problems with CFLs. Personally, I've had pretty good luck with them. In general, they've lasted far longer than the edison bulbs in typical fixtures around the house, but I did have a problematic fixture at one time that continuously popped both edison and CFL bulbs. While I was later upgrading the outlets in the room, I discovered a loose connection. These outlets were on the same circuit as the fixture. Once I tightened it, no more problems. I think many of these reported problems have as much to do with older house wiring and wiring/switch fatigue as anything else. These bulbs, after all, are being installed in unique "systems" that comes with their own issues.
Tom, a minor comment on your referenced article: I grew up with a classmate named Tom Petters (google him and you will see what he ultimately achieved) who became the penultimate money-ipulator. I agree with dAnconia that money, like a gun, is not bad in and of itself. However, the temptations and greed it feeds often are, and this was a hidden point of my letter in the first place.
I find that CFL's sometimes don't even work right out of the box when purchased from stores such as CVS pharmacy! An industry standard and a consumer-recognized logo could help here. Retailers that care about quality will keep counterfeits off their shelves.
For the most part, MTBF is calculated by two methods:
a. MIL-HDBK-217F has well intentioned, but vague component ratings dated from 1991. Many components we use now did not exist in 1991. Calculating MTBF with this commonly accepted method often results in fairy-tales at worst, and wishful thinking at best.
b. Monitoring excruciatingly controlled field-failure data. But only after the product has been put into customer hands. The "real world" value of this data is a function of how tightly you control the application and environment. To what degree to you think this is being done with new light bulbs from China?
Using a lab power supply, you can make a bulb last longer than you'd care to monitor. In the real world, lightning spikes, sags and dips on the AC mains are a huge contributor to component fatigue and "unexpected" failure. Maybe a private entity like UL could be sustained by testing and publishing real failure-rate data for a fee.
China enjoys selling counterfeit electronics that puts human life at risk. We may design with the proper capacitors and reliability ratings. But the 105C cap maybe a 70C reject. China pollutes the distribution channels with garbage parts melted off of discarded PCB's via campfire heat.
We enable China, and gleefully punish high-achieving domestic companies with unions, taxes and regulations that force them to move off shore.
We get excited over wiz-kid gov't bureaucrats who will make wise decisions as to what bulb we use, and toilet we flush.
Does this move from a technological question, and off to a philosophical point?
Yes - and it already has, if you're paying attention!
Read what Francisco d'Anconia has to say:
We can regulate ourselves, but not until we're unshackled.
Or, would you prefer that gov't regulate your life, protect and feed you, and to dictate the products you use?
You can have that life in any penitentiary.
"I forgot to mention one possible issue with CFLs, which may also apply to LEDs. It seems that you're better off with the full size Edison base, than the miniature base. My take is, the full size base dissipates heat better." - Bert22306. I have been going nuts trying to figure out what is going on. It makes sense to pay attention to heat dissipation possibly with an adapter, Edison-to-Edison or candelabra-to-Edison adapter. They are not free but compared to replacing a prematurely burnt out CFL or worse, LED, they are cheap.
You're right, Duane. CFLs, or preferably LEDs, have to become more universally applicable.
My thinking is, though, that as long as incandescent bulbs are sold, this will never happen. Because the bean counters won't invest in improving these more advanced lighting products.