Re-lighting the basement

Our basement has a bunch of recessed can lights in the ceiling.  Like, 16 of them total, if you count the two in the stairwell.  Originally they were all populated with 65 W incandescent flood lamps.  Quite a while ago, I replaced them with CFL bulbs that only required 15 W each.  Since I was using the basement as my home office, that was quite a savings.  Assuming the lights were on around 12 hours a day, it saved roughly 9.6 kWH of electricity daily.  Those CFL lamps were not cheap, about $14 each as I recall…  but they paid for themselves in under a year, if I remember the math right.

Of course CFL lamps don’t turn on at full brightness immediately.  They took a few seconds to get up to snuff, maybe half a minute or so after they were installed.  It was OK, not great, but not bad at all considering the energy saved.  Over time, though, they took longer and longer to turn on.  They were also getting dimmer and dimmer over time.  Lately it’s been turn on the lights, then go do something else for five minutes or so — and the light is still not great.  It was time to replace them.

I ordered a batch of Feit 90+ CRI 75 W replacement, dimmable LED retrofit kits.  These replace the lamp and trim, and give substantially more light for roughly the same power consumption.  They’re rated at 14 W and 850 lumens.  So far I’ve installed 10 of the 16, and the difference is striking.  Of course they reach full brightness as soon as you flip the switch, which is nice.  They’re also quite a bit brighter than the CFLs ever were, so the amount of available light as gone from inadequate or barely adequate to “plenty”.  And these were cheap, at an average of less than $7.50 per fixture after shipping. 

The real surprise was how long those CFLs had been in place.  I didn’t realize it, but I found a notation on one that it was installed in mid-2007.  I’m pretty sure that was a replacement for one of the failed original lamps, because they were supposedly warrantied for a few years.  I’ll say this — after eleven years, those CFL bulbs owe me nothing.  If I get the same life out of the LEDs I’ll be a happy guy.

Now to figure out how we’re supposed to dispose of CFL bulbs.  I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to go in the garbage, and I’ve got a pile of them now.