Environment

GE turns out the lights on CFLs

GE turns out the lights on CFL...
GE will cease production of CFLs (left) in favor of LEDs (right)
GE will cease production of CFLs (left) in favor of LEDs (right)
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GE will cease production of CFLs (left) in favor of LEDs (right)
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GE will cease production of CFLs (left) in favor of LEDs (right)

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that could fit into standard light sockets only hit the market in the 1980s, but the signs are their days may be numbered. GE has announced it will cease production of CFLs this year and instead switch its focus to producing LEDs.

GE says that although CFLs managed to reach a high sales mark of around 30 percent of the US light bulb market, thanks in large part to an endorsement from Oprah in 2007, they fell to around 15 percent of sales in 2015.

While they're much more energy efficient than the incandescent globes they were ushered in to replace, many consumers didn't take to the quality of light they produce. CFLs also don't work with dimmers, take time to warm up to full brightness, and contain toxic mercury.

While LED lamps produce better light on a par with incandescent globes, last longer and are even more energy efficient than CFLs, when the first LED globes intended as direct replacements for incandescent globes appeared on the market they were prohibitively expensive. When GE unveiled its GE Energy Smart LED bulb in 2010 in readiness for the phasing out of incandescent globes from sale in the US from 2012, the price was to be in the US$40 to $50 range.

Now LED bulbs are available for a few dollars each, which has led to them accounting for 15 percent of annual bulb sales in the US, with GE anticipating LEDs will be found in more the 50 percent of light sockets in the country by 2020.

GE made the announcement to cease CFL produciton in a "Dear John" letter to coiled CFLs, which ends saying, "CFL, I'll always remember the first time I saw your sweet spiral shape and the way you could light up a room. It's bittersweet to admit that our relationship is over, but I can see clearly now that LED is my future, and my future couldn't be brighter."

The US government introduced a new lighting specification in January that means many CFLs will no longer qualify for the Energy Star rating, so it's likely that other CFL manufacturers will follow in GE's footsteps.

Source: GE

8 comments
Aross
I'm all for LED bulbs replacing CFLs and incandescent lighting but they seem to have one drawback. They don't work with most if not all timers. So to put them on timed circuits requires the purchase of expensive replacement timers. So much for the savings.
Bill Bennett
My home has been 100% LED for over four years.
Basil
There are NO LED bulbs that give all-round light, both vertically and horizontally, such as the spiral CFL and incandescents. LEDs are wonderful for task lighting, spots etc, but look awful in chadeliers and decorative lighting designed for all-round light sources.
Mr T
Basil, you obviously haven't seen many of the newer LED bulbs, try these for instance: https://www.earthled.com/collections/vintage-antique-style-led-light-bulbs
Daishi
@Basil Check the color temperatures of the bulbs you buy. "daylight" bulbs are 500k and bluish. Most LED's are 2700k or 3000k with 2700k being the warmer light more like incandescent bulbs. You generally want to buy LEDs that are 2700k to replace incandescents and CFL's for household lighting. Here is a spectrum chart: http://www.seesmartled.com/images/general/led-color-temperature.jpg LED's will run at mostly any color in the spectrum, you just have to make sure to make sure you aren't buying daylight bulbs. My outdoor lights are only 3,000 Kelvin http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GOZYC9U
Timelord
I gradually switched all CFL in my home to LED last year and haven't had incandescent bulbs in ages. At $2.50 a bulb when Walmart or Home Depot have them on sale, it's a no-brainer. 1/7 of the energy consumption of incandescent, 10x the lifespan and much less heat generated for my air conditioner to deal with in the summer. As Daishi says, just make sure to look for "warm white" LED bulbs. Cool white looks pretty bad and I wonder why anyone even makes them.
Scion
Of course in Australia we pay the Australia tax and pay substantially more than a couple dollars each. I bought an LED to replace my bathroom light and the cheapest cost $8.50. You can still easily pay $15 / light here in Australia. Having said that the light is excellent and quite similar to incandescent. I see no reason to use anything else (beyond the exorbitant price).
Saigvre
GE is notable for having their bulbs in grocers and hardware stores in singles for $13ish (last I looked in Kansas City, 2015) which only makes sense if their Federal contract customers can somehow get 65% or more back via voucher and other cross-promotion. And of course a weirdly sticky seller agreement, otherwise they'd only drop-ship to the office. Whatever design points GE's ticking, they're not individual humans'. @Timelord (what does BangGood look like when you see its LED pages I wonder) look at the price over time...CFLs are crossing $2.50 and sticking, because Hg recycling is not super ace fun, and LEDs are still cruising down from $40-7 (unless you really do want 5W single bulbs, though the FEIT ones that were recently 4/US$20 for candelabra replacements...at Home Depot...are ace.) (The $40 example came from early 2015 when CREE introduced fixture-included outdoor spots; it's nudged to $38 but contractor arrangements must have been good from installs I spotted.) That reduces the trick to confidence that the bulb can dissipate the (20% of its rating) power lost to heat during summer doldrums well enough to last 20-40 times what an incandescent did. (Also, cleaning what just needed replace/clean treatment before; power factor worries, etc.) Hard data to come by in short time. I love the daylight versions; but of course they need alternates. Do those enclosed 'filament' style ones really last with no whisper fans or air knives or whatever built in?