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CFL vs. incandescent: can you tell the difference?

I’ve heard just about every excuse out there for not switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs): they cost more; they look funny; they’re a hazard because they contain mercury. It’s pretty easy to rebut these arguments, but another common complaint — the quality of the light — was an issue for quite some time. Not so anymore… and New Zealand’s Electricity Commission now has data to support that claim.

The Commission’s RightLight Challenge worked a bit like the Pepsi Challenge (if you’re old enough to remember that): “Shoppers in Auckland and Christchurch took part in the experiment in which were they were shown two identical booths lit by the two types of light bulbs on July 17 and July 24.” Most thought they could easily identify which type of lighting was which… and most were wrong. Of the 850 people who participated, 68% either guessed incorrectly, or just couldn’t tell the difference.

Of course, there are better and worse CFLs… Popular Mechanics did lab testing in 2007 to determine the best bulbs at the time (and found that all of the models they tested outperformed incandescents).

Another reason for not making the switch bites the dust? Let us know about your experiences with CFLs.

via The Sydney Morning Herald


Image credit: Paul Keller at Flickr under a Creative Commons license