sylvania CFL bulb burned out after a few months!! What is up with this CFL bulb? It burned out after a few MONTHS in a bathroom fixture where the previous regular bulb had lasted several YEARS because we hardly ever use that light. The CFLs are expensive, but I thought I was doing the right thing to conserve electricity. Now I have this burned-out bulb that I can't even throw away because of the mercury. This is nuts!!! I won't be buying any more of these.
asked by 13 Is the New 18 author on November 30, 2007
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I'm a retired electricsal engineer and senior member of the IEEE. Before retirement I worked in the electric power industry (specificsally hydropower).

Why don't GREEN advocates tell people the true total costs rather than just a small part of the costs of "saving the planet" when they try to convince (and if necessary force) everyone to save energy? It costs time, money, and energy (yours or the postal service's) to collect on a warranty. I have replaced all my incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs, and am sorry I did. Despite the claim of 6,000-12,000 hour "typical" lifetimes (depending on manufacturer and bulb power rating), my experience is that CFL failure rates are atrocious, and not just in high on-off switching locations. I doubt if I will ever recover in lower energy costs what I spent perforing the changeout. And the planet won't be saved either. How much additional polution is created by the CFL manufacturing process over that of incandescents? If you don't recycle CFLs, you are adding to the mercury problem. If you do, you are adding to the transportation-generated polution (burning gasoline, diesel, or coal/fuel oil to recharge your electric vehicle). High failure rates mean the wasted bulbs in landfills will more than make up for lowered polution elsewhere.

Come talk to me again about my duty to help "save the planet" when the "typical" CFL bulb lifetime can be demonstrated under real-life operating conditions. Until then, I'm highly skeptical, and consider it a good policy to follow the money to see who benefits and by how much because of the "save the planet" pollution hysteria.
Malin L. Jacobs answered on August 8, 2008
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I am in complete agreement. I had a quite similar experience with CFL's. I replaced all of the incandescent bulbs in my house with CFL's. It seemed a no brainer. The quoted energy savings were impressive. They were said to be more "environmentally friendly". And, they quoted a lifespan of 10 years...guaranteed! So, I replaced them all. Big mistake! The first one failed within 2 weeks. I took it back to Walmart and replaced it. Then, they started failing on a regular basis. I replaced a couple the first month, and several others in the next few months. After 90 days, Walmart said that I needed to contact the manufacturer for the warranty service. Great! Now I have to contact the manufacturer, arrange shipping of the burned out bulbs, and replace them. All so that I can do it all over again the next couple of months. I am now reverting back to incandescents. When one burns out, I replace it with incandescent. My advice?? Avoid these bulbs until real-life reliability and overall costs are calculated and publicised. Then make an informed decision as to whether you want to switch.
SJC answered on December 23, 2008
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I have cfls in all of my light fixtures. The only ones I have a problem with are the ones from Sylvania. I have some from another manufacturer that have been in place for over 3 years. about 15 of the Sylvania bulbs have quit working and 2 have burned out, spewing smoke throughout the room they were in. I do not have a problem with the cfls, just the ones from Sylvania.
P. Hinkle answered on January 27, 2010
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CFL lights DO have their usefulness, IF they perform as they are specified, they DO reduce energy costs AND reduce maintenance costs. The problem is that there are too many variables in quality and too many variables as to the operating conditions that are and are NOT suitable for CFL's. Many of my experiences have been far more negative than positive. For example, the restrictions on using these bulbs in enclosed or recessed fixtures. Most lighting fixtures which are permananty attached (as part of the house) are in fact enclosed and/or sometimes recessed. Since these are the lights that are not easily accessable, they are seemingly prime candidates for lights that do not require frequent replacement. In contaast, a table lamp is usually not enclosed and is easy to access and replace the bulb.
I naturally wanted bulbs that would require little maintenance and replacement in light fixtures which require the removal of a globe or cover and a stepladder in order to gain access. These are the same locations where the failure rate of CFL's has been FAR WORSE than the incandescent lights I was using before. When you factor in the higher cost as well as the inconvenience, it ends up costing MORE, NOT LESS. You cant put a pricetag on the possibilities of an accident in replacing "hard to reach" bulbs. CFLs may be nice in table lamps and easy access locations, but these are often the lights that I rely on far less than the "general lighting" in the house. Some table lamps may not accomodate CFl's or may become top heavy or the shade or shade support (harp) may not accomodate them.
To compound the problem, most CFL's cant work on a circuit or device that dims the light. The CFLs that ARE dimmable, are far less reliable then ones that are not. This means that you need to remove dimmers which for some people will require a "professional" if you are not comfortable with electrical work. They also will not work with some elecronic switching devices shuc as wireless switches or a "clapper" etc. Certain switches or dimmers which are hidden in your wall, may indicate "incandescent lights only". This means NO CFL"S.
Some claim that they are not suitable in bathrooms, or areas of high humitity. Some claim that the life is shortened by turning them on and off too frequently. They have almost NO value whatsoever in most closets or store rooms where they are used infrequently or for very short periods. They may be relatively useless in areas where the full brightness is needed immediately, like a stairwell. These are often the ones that are hard to reach too. CFL's require a "warm up" time to reach full brightness.
You need to pay close attention to the "color" of the light you buy. Most people want ones that closely resemble the warmth of incandescent lighting. A "daylight" bulb, for example, is cold and more "harsh" than a standard "cool white" fluorescent.
I could go on, but you see the "variables" I am talking about. When the consumer is faced with ALL of these things to consider, it simply does not support the idea of making dramitic changes in home lighting.
A reliable product and careful planning can make it a very viable alternative in a business environmant; however. You may need a knowledgable and reliable consultant with a reliable product, to initiate such a change. For a home environment it ends up as a trial and error experiment. It is plain to see why people may not have the patience to experiment, particularly after several failures.
FIRST AND FOREMOST; stand up against ANY proposals to ban incandescent lighting. If such a ban takes place, there will be immeasurable backlash. There ARE and probably always WILL BE applications where incandescent is the ONLY choice or the logical choice.
The lighting industry needs to continue to find ways to improve quality and function and reduce the "Limitations" under which these will function adaquately. They should work in most "real life - day to day" applications and operate within stated expectations of life expectancy, light output, power consumption etc. People will look to known and trusted brand names to lead the way; so major manufacturers must consider the importance of their "good name". This is NOT to say that some "store brands" or lesser known products may not be just as good or even better.
Buy brands that you trust and/or buy from stores that you know and trust and will stand behind what they sell. Stay away from anything you find substandard. This is the only real way to ultimately benefit from the changeover to CFL.
Mr. Bill answered on July 9, 2010
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CFL's have warning on most packages warning to use only in dry environment. CFL's in bathrooms, are exposed to steam/moisture daily, if not continuously due to the humid conditions.
Lavena Ball answered on March 9, 2009
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Make sure you follow the instructions that come with the bulb. Many CFLs are not suitable for enclosed fixtures (such as glass globes where there is no ventilation to dissipate heat). I've installed CFLs in an enclosed ceiling fixture and the CFLs failed in less than a year. But the CFLs that I installed in lamps with open-air lampshades are still working after several years.
poscogrubb answered on January 22, 2009
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I too have these 'bubble-drips' near the bottom of my Sylvania 13W CFL candellabra base. I called Sylvania 1-800-LIGHTBULB customer service (08March11) & told them about this problem & the guy didn't even ask any questions, he just said how much did you pay for them & what's your address to send the voucher to. That works for me.
NavyArmy answered on March 8, 2011
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what about LED instead of CFL?
D. M. answered on March 10, 2011
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I have been using Sylvania CF23EL/mini, 23 W, in a table lamp. I keep getting white flakes all over the bulb, lamp base, and table. These are not round specks, but V-shaped. They seem to be coming from my bulb. Help! Is this dangerous? I have tried several different bulbs. Lamp is an old three-way. Would that cause the bulb to behave like this?
Mary answered on June 27, 2011
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I have had similar issues with Sylvania. Within one week 2 bulbs failed from a 4-pack. After calling Sylvania, the good news is that they mailed me a voucher for the two failed bulbs without any hassle. The bad news is that I learned from the representative that these bulbs are not particularly suited for 1.) Use in ANY "enclosed" fixture (if it has a globe over it, it will experience shortened life). They are also not suited for damp environments such as laundry room, bathroom. They have a reduced life when mounted horizontally, and even more of a reduced life when mounted vertically in a "base up" fixture. Shockingly, the Sylvania rep said cycling on and off frequently should NOT shorten the life of their CFLs... hmmm... other manufacturers say it does... So if you're planning on using the bulb(s) in a "base-down" vertical fixture that is non-enclosed (table lamp), I guess you're o.k. By the manufacturer's own admission, nearly ALL OTHER FIXTURES are unsuitable... Too damp, cycled too often (some manufacturers), too vertical (base up), too horizontal, too enclosed. Since I like to turn my lights on (in ANY room) just long enough to see what I need to see, then off again, I experience CFL failures at least 3x more often than the standard incandescents. I am mathematically certain I can save hundreds of dollars by going back to even the "cheap 1000 hr." incandescents. Factoring in that I can still buy long life 20,000hr 120V incandescents for $1.13 ea. or "Rough Service 130V 14,000hr. ones for $0.75 ea. - I may never buy into the "CFL scam" again.
Amazon Customer answered on August 23, 2013
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