Outdoor Compact Fluorescent Floodlights

15 Oct 2007Steve Schwarz

The previous owner of my house had installed fixtures for three pairs of incandescent floodlights lights pointing out to the yard. This time of year I need to use the lights before and after work for playing and training with Meeker. It has always bothered me that together these lights use over 600 watts of energy, more energy than running the washing machine. So I thought I’d use Blog Action Day to post about what I did to reduce my energy consumption to only 144 watts.

I few months ago I was in the local Home Depot and saw that a company called n:vision had created an outdoor compact fluorescent floodlight (CFL) PAR38 (floodlight style) bulb. I took a look at them and they only use 23 watts of energy to put out the equivalent of my existing 90 watt bulbs. I was a little concerned that they might not start up when the weather was really cold, but the package claims they will start at as low as -20F (-28.9C) and I’m happy to say it doesn’t get quite that cold here in Chicago-land (although I’d take the dogs out in that weather if they wanted to go…).

So I bought six new bulbs (IIRC they cost about $8 each; about double the cost of standard incandescent bulbs) and installed them. An interesting side effect of the CFL bulbs is they aren’t at full brightness when they are turned on. In this use I actually like that. It used to be that turning on the lights on a dark morning was kind of blinding; now that they take a minute or two to get to full brightness it is easier on my eyes too.

When I found they also make a small floodlight that fits in ceiling “can” lights I decided to replace the five 50 watt halogen bulbs in my kitchen ceiling too. The equivalent light output CFLs only use 14 watts of energy. They should also last longer. The halogens got pretty warm in the cans and I think they were failing early due to the heat. It seems like I was replacing one every couple months.

In this usage the initial dimness of the CFLs is more noticeable. But again in the morning or in the night it is easier on the eyes when you turn on the lights. There are smaller traditional halogens over the counters, that I didn’t replace, that still give the bright initial light when I turn both sets of lights on.

So I’ve been looking at switching to CFLs all over my house, as traditional bulbs burn out I replace them with CFLs. With longer life, a choice of soft, bright, and day light colors; and a 75% reduction in energy usage they reduce my energy consumption and lower my energy bills.

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