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Mar. 30, 2009

Bad Light Bulbs

by Ira Flatow

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Thank goodness! I thought I was going nuts. I have been changing my compact flourescent light bulbs over and over again wondering why they were burning out so quickly. I thought it was just my imagination. But a story in the NY Times made me realize I wasn’t the only one suffering burn out.

In my case I notice that the base of the bulb is literally cooking itself to death. It turns a coffee-colored brown and smells like burnt electrical wiring. It’s hot to the touch. No wonder the bulbs don’t last the rated “ten years” as the advertising says. I’d be surprised if they last 10 months in some cases. I swear some of my old incadescent bulbs lasted longer.

Why? I’m guessing cheap parts. I first started using cfl’s over ten years ago, when everyone laughed at me for being such a whacko. And some of those early bulbs made by Philips are still working a decade later. But once everyone started buying the bulbs and mass production drove down the cost of making the cheaper (China?) bulbs the quality has gone to hell.

But here’s the real problem. If crappy bulbs make people believe that going green means worse quality then we will all suffer. Who wants to switch over? We need to make the next generation of bulbs better, not just cheaper.

And why not make them here instead of overseas? Let’s make the US the home of reliable, quality made parts -again. Let’s start by making good light bulbs and move on to other green consumer technologies. I’d gladly pay a buck a bulb more for a product that creates green jobs now and for years to come.

And I’m already looking into LED’s.

About Ira Flatow

Ira is the host and executive producer of Science Friday.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

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