Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This is why I don't like Compact Fluorescent bulbs

I understand the spirit of compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. They save energy (and money), are more efficient and less wasteful than incandescents. And they last longer. I have several of them myself, now in use in various little-used locations around my house.

But I can't use them anywhere that I plan on being for any length of time. The light they emit still sucks, and probably always will. I tried to put one in my living room, for example, and here's the comparison:

What the hell color is that supposed to be on the left? My guitar is red, not purplish black. You can see that the amount of light between the two bulbs is roughly the same, and the color of the wall and other objects are similar (I also made sure the color temperature setting of these photos was correct), but man, the CFL is having some serious trouble rendering that red. I have not adjusted the color or saturation of these photos at all.

Here's the deal. Incandescents have a color rendering index (CRI) of 100. They're the baseline. Sunlight also has a CRI of 100, though the color temperature itself is a lot bluer (the point is it will render colors accurately given its color temperature). Both this CFL and this incandescent are rated at ~3100K color temperature, so that's not the issue here. The issue is that the CFL above has a CRI of 84, vs. the incandescent's 100. That means it will never render colors as accurately as the incandescent. Some CFL's have color rendering indexes a bit higher than that, but not by much, and not in "soft white" color temperatures. You need to go to bluish "daylight" color temperature bulbs to get CRI's over 90, and nobody wants blue light in their living room.

Some people might not notice this inaccurate color, but I can't deal with it.

I'm waiting for LED bulbs to become more practical (and better). I've given up on CFL's ever matching the quality of incandescent light.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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