Best CFLs

Some people have commented that they’ve had bad experiences with compact fluorescents. Others have written in to say they’ve had terrific luck with them. I’m not surprised.

Like most consumer products, CFLs vary in quality…a lot. There are differences in the color of their light, brightness and the amount of time they actually last (as opposed to the amount of time they say they do) — as well as the amount of mercury they contain.

I wish I could tell you the brands that have worked best for me, but unfortunately, I haven’t kept track.

What I can say is that I am going to try the MaxLite MicroMax next. It gets high marks on both the performance front from Popular Mechanics and the mercury front from the Environmental Working Group.

If you have your own recommendations, please post them here to help everyone out.

To check out other options, see EWG’s shopper’s guide to low-mercury bulbs, and Popular Mechanics’ lab test results.

By the way, one thing to know as far as brightness is concerned is that the non-spiral bulbs that look like incandescents tend to be dimmer than the label would indicate (because the spirals are actually inside the outer covering, dimming the light). So when you buy one of these bulbs, you might want to go with a little higher wattage.


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9 Responses to Best CFLs

  1. Joanne Cage! March 27, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    Sheryl – Thanks for the article on CFLs. I have already replaced the incandescent bulbs in all my lights except for a reading light or two, and a tall 3-way floor lamp. It’s good to know what to do if one breaks, which hasn’t happened yet. In more than 6 months of heavy use, no CFL has burned out yet–and I will recycle when they do.

  2. Elle Jordan March 28, 2009 at 5:44 am #

    I have replaced all of my light bulbs with CFLs. There are two kinds: one puts out a blueish light and the other is a white light. I didn’t know this until my husband accidently got the blue ones for the bathroom. I can say this, I have saved on electricity. Since I very concerned about saving our enviornment, I will try anything feasible to help curb the abuses that our planet has incurred.

  3. Anonymous March 28, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    I visited this site It is a great site. You can make a profile, colaborate with other green activists, and do your part to help the enviroment.

  4. clay1432 March 28, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    HI Sheryl,
    If you really want to save on energy and help the environment switch to LED Lighting. See

  5. tim March 30, 2009 at 7:44 am #

    I am a passionate environmentalist and am extremely distressed by CFL conversion. Recycling systems are not ready for widespread usage and mercury is extremely toxic for the environment. Please do us a favor and stop pushing CFL’s.

    Many people will not recycle the bulbs because it is too difficult to pack them up and bring them to Home Depot. I live in New York City and do not own a car and getting to Home Depot every time I blow a CFL is a pain. Until recycling is done at the curb, I will continue to just try to keep my lights on minimally and use low wattage incandescent bulbs.

    CFL’s do not last as long as the packaging stipulates. The hours are rated for the bulb to be on all the time. Most people turn their lights off and on which cuts the life of the bulb to as much as 20% of it’s lifespan.

    Yes, the bulbs save power while they are on, but at what cost? They poison our lakes, rivers and oceans. We would all be better off with another alternative like LED’s or just turn your lights off whenever possible.

    • bruce October 21, 2010 at 1:32 am #

      Tim, May I suggest that you put the burnt out bulbs in a closet.ina box.
      And when you get 4-6 and your on your way to Home Depot for another item which i’m sure you will be going back for you just simply take them with you and drop them off.
      I will do the same when I get several bulbs.
      Take care and good luck,

  6. Anonymous April 16, 2009 at 7:25 am #

    Thanks for giving us the links to the real scoop on these new bulbs. We need to address everything about over consumption and energy conservation is just a small part.

  7. Anonymous April 21, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    Aloha. . . wanted to comment on use of CFLs and new bulbs. I have worked with those exposed to high levels of mercury and other chemicals and EMFs sensitivites at Environmental Health Center in Dallas and became exposed myself while they went t hr ough process of detoxification. I have also worked where we used the new bulbs and found that instruction for clean-up given with bulbs are VERY unclear and are often t hr own away with packaging when bulb is inserted and most of those who did read instructions did not care about potential hazard or understand the risk. Bulbs are often used in areas where ventilation not existing or other circumstances (high traffic, busyness) make it difficult to clean properly. I do feel that they are a benefit to the environment, but personally will choose not to use until these issues are addressed. Any comments? Appreciatively, Skye

  8. Boo July 10, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    The amount of mercury in a CFL is tiny compared to the amount discharged into the atmosphere from all of the coal fired power plants in this country.