Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CFL power factor hidden energy cost

Slashdot has a post commenting that due to the power factor of the CFL bulbs utilties are having to use a lot more resources than you think to power the bulb. LEDs have a near perfect power factor according to this article which jives with my very limited memory of EE. Still though you are still using less resources with CFL (and consumers are paying a lot less in the short term until utiltiies figure this out and/or the costs to replace those used resources and clean up after them come to bear)
"We've seen compact fluorescent lamps start to take over shelf space at the local hardware store. Replacing a 60 watt incandescent with a 13 watt CFL seems like a great savings, though many consumers are disappointed with the slow warm-up times, lower-than-advertised lifetimes, and hassles of disposing the mercury-containing bulbs. Now EDN reports they may use more energy than claimed due to their poor power factor. Mike Grather, of Lumenaire Testing Laboratory, 'checked the power factor for the CFLs and found they ranged from .45 to .50. Their "real" load was about twice that implied by their wattage.' The good news: you're only billed for the 13 watts of real power used. The bad news: the utilities have to generate the equivalent of 28 watts (that is, 28 VA of apparent power for you EEs out there) to light that bulb. Until they fix these issues, I'll hold on to my incandescents and carbon arc lamps, thanks."
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