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Thread: Longest-life outdoor CFL for enclosed fixture?

  1. #1

    Default Longest-life outdoor CFL for enclosed fixture?

    We have over 100 coach-style (single bulb, enclosed glass) outdoor lights in my neighborhood all using 23 watt CFLs (100W equivalent)

    Electricity costs dropped by 2/3 when we re-lamped from incandescent, but bulbs are not lasting as long as I would like.

    $50 labor charge from our management company to replace each, seems like we have to replace around 3/month.

    Hot climate here.

    Which brand would last the longest in this application?

    Thanks for any feedback.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Indianapolis
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    Default Re: Longest-life outdoor CFL for enclosed fixture?

    Great question, but I can almost guarantee all you are gonna get for replies are anecdotes - stories of how one brand lasted for years, or another brand sucks. Having 3 burn out every month is really bad. This is one area where a 'name brand' probably helps. Assuming you are already are using GE/Philips or similar, you probably have a heat problem. Can you tolerate a smaller wattage lamp? That is the simplest approach to a cooler-running lamp. 23W in an enclosed fixture, especially if it's base-up orientation is gonna be an issue for any CFL. The (very rough) rule of thumb is the life of electrical components will double if you lower the temperature by 10C.

    CFL life at elevated temperature is something I'd like to see more data on, too...

    BTW, if you do switch to a different lamp, watch the visual appearance. IMHO a mixture of different color temp lamps in these types of 'whole neighborhood' fixtures looks nasty...

    One other random thought - how is power to these lamps controlled? Some photocells 'leak' enough current to cause trouble for some CFLs.
    Jim

  3. #3

    Default Re: Longest-life outdoor CFL for enclosed fixture?

    If you are replacing 3/month that means you will replace (statistically) all of them in about 33 months, which means they are lasting a little less than 3 years. If they are being run a lot of hours per day it is possible that you are not going to be able to do much better than you already are far as I have seen CFLs are rated for 5 years or so but probably not at the hours you may be operating them. If LED bulbs were better output and you knew they would last considerably longer they would cost you more in the short run but the savings in maintenance could offset the cost perhaps even save you money. The problem with LED bulbs is that they are not quite there yet and also have heat issues.
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  4. #4
    Flashaholic*
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    May 2010
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    Default Re: Longest-life outdoor CFL for enclosed fixture?

    Post a picture of the coach-style lamp. It could possibly modified for better airflow or cooling, if that is the cause.

    Make sure that you're using name brand CFL bulbs. This might be an issue in the lowest bid mentality from your management company or their contract electrician. So, find out exactly what brands/PN/source... are being used.

    Don't rule out dirty electricity. Might be a time to add surge protection... to the fixture or its power source.

    Are they on a timer switch or dusk:dawn sensor?
    Dusk:dawn sensors sometimes flicker the CFL on and off because of clouds, vehicle headlights, or other light or shadow sources. Timer switch(that you adjust the on/off times with) is a must. Or, a dusk:dawn sensor, with a timer buffer to prevent unwanted cycling, should be considered.

    Try some LVD bulbs. They cost more but supposedly last 5x as long as a CFL.

    I think that the management company's electrician is enjoying his profit changing out the $1 CFL bulb for $50.
    Last edited by deadrx7conv; 08-02-2011 at 01:43 PM. Reason: the english teacher

  5. #5
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Longest-life outdoor CFL for enclosed fixture?

    I think my post above is wrong. With 100 lamps, each burning 10 hours/day, you'll rack up 30,000 hours per month. Replacing 3 lamps seems pretty good on average...
    Jim

  6. #6
    Unenlightened
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    2

    Default Re: Longest-life outdoor CFL for enclosed fixture?

    A few questions come to mind:

    - Is there a possibility of voltage spikes or mechanical shock in your area?
    - Are these integrated or non-integrated lamps?

    Maybe I don't understand something about these lights.

    Marty

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