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CFLs: The Phaseout

2/10/2017 8:50pm

Just two years ago your two best energy-efficient alternatives to the traditional incandescent bulb were either CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs) or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. Both provided a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective substitute to the traditional bulb, which was in the process of getting phased out.

But now that it’s 2017, CFLs are about to get the boot as well. General Electric announced last year that by the end of 2016, they would stop manufacturing these bulbs- and in place, put their focus on LED lights.

CFLs have always been the inexpensive option between the two (CFL and LED) for anyone trying to be environmentally responsible. Why, then, would these affordable and eco-friendly bulbs be phased out?
To start with, CFLs had one main selling point that put it above LED bulbs- its price. Now, LED lights are no longer as expensive as they used to be. With its cost in the single digits, LED bulbs have taken over the role of the being both cost-effective and best performing.

Since its inception, CFLs have always had a fair share of drawbacks in comparison to LEDs. When it comes to quality, there’s no question that LED bulbs last much longer than both incandescent bulbs and CFLs. Since CFLs burn out quicker, they also need to be replaced more frequently. This comes as an inconvenience, especially because CFLs contain mercury in them. This isn’t an issue normally- until it breaks or has to be replaced. CFL bulbs have special disposal rules that apply, which make clean-up and replacement a bigger hassle.

Another major drawback of CFL bulbs is how sensitive it is to frequent on/off switching. Because it’s so affected by the switch, the lifetime of the bulb is drastically reduced. Couple that with it’s slow warm-up time, CFLs face issues that LED bulbs do not.

Beyond this, LEDs use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs whereas CFLs only use about 30% less energy than incandescent bulbs. While CFLs did qualify in the past, following the updated Energy Star standard, CFLs no longer meet the required minimum for any utility rebates. Under this new standard, consumers have a much greater incentive to go for the LED bulb.

Ultimately, LEDs have always been far superior to CFLs, but in the past they were not cost competitive. Now as the cost of an LED bulb continues to decrease and rival that of CFLs, the clear choice when replacing bulbs is to pick out LEDs.